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14 January 2012

Don't Ignore the Late In Life Spouses

Some genealogists fail to completely research spouses of their ancestor from whom they do not descend, particularly spouses the ancestor might have married later in life. Keep in mind that the ancestor might have "known" this spouse when they were children, perhaps living in another area. The second (or third) spouse might even have been related by marriage to your ancestor or one of your ancestor's other spouses.

And in the case of females, it is possible that an ancestor qualified for a widow's pension even though the husband from whom you descend was not a veteran.


  1. I see it all the time where people do not add the other spouses to their tree, even if they have children with them, which makes them half siblings to the other children from the part of the family they do save. Personally, I add not only the extra spouse but his/her other spouse & children from his other marriage also. Never hurts to know how they tie in, even though they are stepchildren. Putting in the extra info keeps me updated. Sometimes they are adopted by the stepparent or have a legal name change or just go by the name of the step parent anyway. I document such cases as such, otherwise you wouldn't find them later.

  2. Amen. My gg grandmother is living alone in 1880. I assumed gg grandfather had died. But, NO!. Land records show him in another state. GG grandmother marries again. Her application for Civil War widow's pension on husband no. 2 has the divorce papers in it from my gg grandfather. (Courthouse had burned, so no record).

  3. Great tip - it is also possible that the spouse's descendants might have some heirlooms or the family Bible or photos they would be willing to share with you.

  4. I found my great-grandmother's maiden, birth date and parents name including her mothers maiden name in an Indiana county history under the name of her 3rd husband. Then I was able to check the census and it was correct.