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30 April 2013

Did They Leave One Behind?

If your ancestors moved or immigrated with their children, is it possible that an older child stayed behind without making the journey with his or her parents? The oldest child in a family may have been married or gainfully employed when his or her parents decided to move. Sometimes these children would eventually settle where their parents did, but often they did not.

One relative and his three youngest children moved from upstate New York to Chicago in the very early 1900s. His two oldest daughters remained in New York. Don't assume the entire family moved together.


  1. Such a good point. I think I've hit my current West family brick wall because one son (my ancestor) stayed behind with his wife and her elderly father while the rest of the family moved from South Carolina to Georgia. If only they'd moved together, maybe I could have gone back a few more generations!

  2. It still happens today. I know of one family who left a college-age child behind with every move when the father's company sent him to new locations across the country.

  3. My Italian grandmother had a lot of siblings. The family came to NY in the early 1900s in 2 groups. The older ones came with the father first, and the younger ones came with the mother the following year. There was one daughter, one of the older ones, who remained behind for several years. The family story is that a relative or friend in Italy never had a daughter and liked this girl, so the girl stayed with this other woman. Seems strange to me, but for whatever reason, she didn't come with the rest of the family.

  4. I am researching an Italian family who left the oldest daughter who was 12 behind to live with her father's aging mother. She married and never immigrated to the US. Fortunately, her parents and several siblings returned to Italy several times to see her, and she was able to travel to the US once to meet her younger siblings who were born here.