Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Records May Be Wrong Due to Stigma of Divorce

Genealogy Secrets
Although divorce has happened for centuries, it was often hidden from others. Therefore, a divorced woman's marital status may appear incorrectly in various records.

Caroline Betler Baker filed for divorce from my 3rd great-uncle after more than 20 years of marriage. The divorce decree was dated November 18, 1907. However, in each of the four census records after that, Carrie is shown as married or widowed. On her PA death certificate, her daughter listed Carrie's ex-husband as the spouse even though her parents had split forty years earlier.

My first cousin twice removed, Estella Jay Knoepp divorced in 1926. While her 1936 death certificate indicated she was divorced, a Pittsburgh city directory from two years earlier listed her as a widow. Actually, her ex-husband was alive in the state of California and would live another 30 years.

This is another reminder that records are only as accurate as the person who provided the information. And sometimes people didn't want to share the truth.

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1 comment:

  1. I've run into that with my great grandmother.


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