Genealogy Questions and Answers,
from 1996 and 1997:

QUESTION: I recently went to my local LDS Family History Library full of excitement about finding information about my family.  Towards the end of my first session I met with some success.  Through the Social Security Index, I found 16 people listed with my family name.  . . .  I went to the Ancestral File Index which would provide me with spousal and child information.  My spirits were dashed when "no matching files" appeared  . . . The ladies who were working the library thought that this was the greatest thing, that I could now be the one to input all of my family history.

Riddle me this, Batman: How am I supposed to chart my family heritage when I don't have much to work with? If the Mormon Church doesn't have my family, who does?

ANSWER: You want your pedigree? Fine. Get your birth certificate. Get your parents' marriage license application. Get their birth certificates. Get similar info as far back as you can on every one of your direct line ancestors. When you get back far enough that you are back to 1920, start looking at the U.S. census. Check 1920, 1910, 1900, 1880, 1870. 1860, and 1850. Learn to use the soundex system. Get copies of wills for all of your direct line ancestors. Check out the cemeteries where they were buried. Read the headstones. Make contact with the genealogy societies in the various counties where your ancestors lived. Check out religious records. Check for military records. Check for land transfer records; they are always a barrel of laughs.

That's only a start. At some point, your ancestors were on the other side of the ocean. Learn a bit of the language so you can read simple phrases. Go back to the LDS to see if they have microfilms of various records from the towns and provinces where your ancestors originated.

Take a basic course in genealogy.  Go to your public library and check out a book about how to do basic genealogy. Learn to do genealogy. It's considerably more than sitting in front of a computer and telling it to search its data bases for a particular name.

Do you think Alex Haley went to his local LDS library and said, "Where do you have my pedigree?"

QUESTION: How can I find a man's birth record from Wayne Co., IN, for 1829 or 1839?

ANSWER: That's too early for a county or state birth record in Indiana. County birth records didn't begin in Indiana until about 1880. You might find a baptism record at a local church, but no government birth record.

The real question is what piece of info are you hunting for? His exact date of birth? The names of his parents? His place of birth?  There are other possible sources for all of that data.  Check for his death certificate, the census back to 1850, his tombstone, the will of his father (presumably a man with the same surname), a marriage license application in case he married after 1880, land transfer records, military records, pension records. You might want to contact the genealogy society in Wayne Co., IN, for further tips.

QUESTION: I have a widow listed in the 1850 census of GA. All of her children were born in GA.  The oldest is 23 at census time.  I have tried to locate her husband. He is not in the mortality tables.  I can't find a name for him.  I have looked at the children's names and at their children's names for clues.  John, William, Thomas all seem to be repeated names.

I have her name. I can't seem to find a will or any Bible records either. Any suggestions?

ANSWER: Find her death certificate. Her late husband may have been named on it. Find the marriage license applications for her children; parents may have been named on them if they married late enough. Find the death certificates for the children; parents likely were named on them. Those records can be ordered from the county courthouse. It's always better to deal with the county courthouse than the state records division.

This is the kind of basic "how to" info that new family genealogists can use. Some of us who have been doing this forever forget sometimes what we didn't know when we started. I had a recent contact by a 4th cousin. She was researching Orlando LANE of Vermilion Co., IL. I descend from Orlando's sister Cilinda. The woman's aunt had found a William Lane of the same county and same township who seemed like the likely father -- even buried in the same small grave yard. She was trying to "prove down." In other words, prove that William had a son Orlando. My suggestions were simple and obvious: get death certificates and marriage license applications on known siblings to find a parent named. And, if you want to look from the other way, get a will or estate settlement on that William. She had hunted for years, and in a matter of days was able to learn that Orlando's parents were named as Allen LANE & Hannah COOK, and that William Lane had no son Orlando. No apparent relationship even!

QUESTION: Is there any law that you have to wait so many years before getting a death certificate of a family member?

ANSWER: Generally, no, but it would be a matter of state law.

QUESTION: What can be used -- without harming the original -- to bring up faded ink penmanship on old letters?

ANSWER: Photo copy the original. Then, on the photo copy, use a yellow "magic marker" over the area you want to read. Alternatively, and less conveniently, purchase a yellow transparent film that you can lay on top of the original and read thru. Obviously, not everything will "appear," but it will make what's there easier to read.

QUESTION: Where might I find a copy of Mary TODD LINCOLN's genealogy.  According to my grandparents, a relative of ours married a PARKER and a TODD who were relatives of Abe LINCOLN's wife. 

ANSWER: Ah, yes, the TODDs, as in, "One 'd' was good enough for God, but the Todds needed two." That's from honest Abe. :-)

There is a manuscript available on microfilm that can be ordered thru interlibrary loan. Just go to your nearest public library and request an interlibrary loan from the Kentucky Historical Society in Frankfort, KY. You'll be requesting the "Helm Papers," manuscript 425, microfilm reels 12, 13, and 14.

The manuscript was written by Mary Todd's paternal half-sister Emily (who became Mrs. Helm) and Dr. Simeon Seymor Todd (1826-1899). It begins with Mary Todd's Todd great-grandparents and traces as many of his descendants as could be found.

Mary's parents were of course Senator Robert Smith Todd (1791-1849) and Eliza Ann Parker (1795-1825). The Senator's father was Levi Todd (1756-1807), and Levi's father was David Todd (1723-1785). David Todd is a DAR-established patriot.

QUESTION: What does one do when you come to a dead end root of the family tree? Even great-aunts and great- uncles who are still living don't "remember," or you get two conflicting stories. I've been searching the "web," but where does one search? Seems like when I get to where I think I'm going, it's another deadend. Sorry to sound so "duh!?" here, but right now I am. Any ideas would be appreciated.

ANSWER: Well, then you start doing genealogy! Not meaning to be flip, but talking with your relatives and surfing the 'net is not exactly genealogical research. Begin with the known, and move back into the unknown.

Obtain birth certificates, marriage license applications, death certificates, funeral home info, cemetery info, gravestone info, wills, estate settlements, land records, military records, church records, and bastardy bonds. Look at local histories of the areas where your people were. Check the U.S. census with ease back to 1850; with some greater difficulty before then. Find ship's passengers lists. Seek naturalization papers.

On the other side of the ocean, it's the same basic idea there.

Go to your local LDS Family History Center -- open free of charge to the public -- to see what records LDS has filmed for the areas that you are working. Order films, microfiche.

Check to see if genealogies have been published on the lines you are working. Check PERSIS, a listing out of Fort Wayne of the major genealogy periodicals.

In 1997, an 85-year-old Miss Bentley wrote the following:
QUESTION: I am searching for my daughter named Betty Lou born Sept. 30, 1928, in University of Michigan hospital, at Ann Arbor, MI.  My father Elton Bentley made me give her up for adoption and told me she had been adopted through the Job's Daughters of the Masons.  I have tried contacting them, but they don't respond.

ANSWER: All that is known is that a female child was born on 30-Sep-1928, at a specific hospital in Ann Arbor, MI. It is believed -- but not known -- that the child was placed for adoption with a Masonic organization called "Job's Daughters." I'm assuming that's something like "Catholic Charities."

Almost certainly the child's name was changed, and all records of the child were kept under the new name. Also, since the child was born in 1928, the child (now a grown woman) most likely changed her surname at least once with a marriage. All that's known for certain is the date of birth, and I've seen birth dates altered with adoptions.

The real puzzle in Miss Bentley's case is whether she signed for the adoption. I would think that in 1928 a 16-year-old mother would have had to sign away her parental rights in some way. The fact that Miss Bentley said only that her father told her the adoption was handled thru some organization seems suspect. WHY didn't the mother have to sign something? I wrote privately to Miss Bentley suggesting that she engage an attorney in the Ann Arbor area and try to get a judge to order that the records be turned over. The ideal situation would be to get copies of the hospital records and to get a copy of the original, unaltered birth certificate. Since the child was born in a hospital, there had to have been an original birth certificate.

I also suggested phoning the local Masonic organization and asking them about the "Job's Daughters" group.

QUESTION: If you are looking for a Confederate soldier, would research at the National Archives be the way to proceed?

ANSWER: My understanding is that the National Archives does not have information on Confederate soldiers. The obvious reason being that the soldiers of the Confederate States of America were not in the military service of the United States of America.

The U.S. government did not pay pensions to Confederate soldiers (obviously) so there would be no pension records for them. The U.S. government did not have military records for them (obviously) because they were not in the military service of the USA. Some former CSA states did pay pensions, and there are libraries/archives in the former CSA that have military records. However, I've never worked those records so I could not tell you where to look.

The only ways I can imagine that a records for a CSA solder would be at the National Archives might be if he had been captured as a POW and held in a POW camp; if he had signed a "re-loyalty" oath to the U.S. government; if he had been captured wounded and ended up in a hospital under the control of the U.S. government; or if he actually served at one point in the U.S. Army and defected.  

QUESTION: Regarding publishing genealogies, how do you deal with the hurt feelings of those who thought their step-grandchildren's nieces and nephews would be included?  Some say to include stepchildren as part of the family; others say not to.

ANSWER: Include the stepchild in the notes, and mention who the child's actual father or mother was. HOWEVER, do
not attempt to attach a stepchild to a person as if the child were the actual child of a stepparent.  That is not genealogy; it's after-the-fact sire and dame selection.  Pardon my farm talk, but once your cow's bred, the father of that calf has been selected.

Let's not get into the social issues here about how Sally barely knew the father of her first child, and that she regrets her involvement anyway, and how her current husband is "such a good daddy."  And on, and on. Let's just get our genealogy straight. The reason to note stepchildren is because the information can help to place the individual or individuals on whom you are doing genealogy.

Stick with the facts in genealogy. Not the fantasy. And, getting back to the exact question, don't include anyone's "step-grandchildren's nieces and nephews." That's rather far afield, but your phrasing the question that way gets across the point that these people are not relatives.

QUESTION: Recently I found that a family cemetery of my ancestors was destroyed by the man who now lives there.  Are there any laws to prevent this?  This particular property is in Pennsylvania.  Does a person have the right to pull up gravestones for any purpose?

ANSWER: It depends on the state. Check with a genealogy society in that area, and you can learn both the state law and the local practice. In reality, stones don't last forever, and the earth moves them around. You know, to get my sympathy, it depends on how many stones were there, the condition of the site, how often any descendant visited to tend them, and how old the burials were. Life goes on. However, in Indiana at least, cemeteries may not be disturbed, and access must always be allowed. If you officially "own" a grave site in Indiana, you may never do anything with that land other than improve it as a cemetery; you must allow access -- even if across your property -- to the graves; and you are not taxed on the land. Cemeteries aren't exactly an "asset" anyone would want. ;-)

However, in Indiana at least, the practice is always to politely look up the official "owner" and politely "ask" whether he'll allow you to cross his property to visit the grave site. It's also proper to put in some "jaw jacking" time with the owner to show him that the folks he's got buried on his land lived lives such that the graves that he puts up with are worth his inconvenience. If you're really good at it, you can get him interested enough to tend the site and keep it "lookin' real purty."

At this point, deal with what you've got. Maybe you can get someone to talk him into telling where he dumped the stones so you can at least try to get info off the stones. Other than that, comfort yourself with the knowledge that your ancestors have returned to the earth.

QUESTION: How do you read inscriptions on old grave stones?

ANSWER: There's an ongoing debate among genealogists about using shaving cream on grave stones to read the engravings. I just returned from a week in Vermilion Co., IL, and Carroll & Clinton Co., IN. Arm-chair theorists and defenders of rocks can say what they want, but nothing beats shaving cream and a squeegee for being able to read old & often inaccessable stones. Some of these stones were so "cruded" with lichen that the lichen filled all the crevices and had to be brushed off first.

These stones were inaccessable and would not have been read by anyone except for an old kook doing genealogy. And this old kook doesn't have the physical stamina to lug much more than a small bag over hills, dales, creeks, rocks, five-foot weeds, and fresh cow patties in a quest to get info from the old stones. In my small plastic bag from the grocery store, I kept a natural bristle scrub brush; a can of shaving cream; a rubber dust pan to use as a squeegee; small clippers to cut away brush; rubber gloves; a small pad of paper & a pen; and an extra roll of film. My camera hung from my neck.

Use the brush to clear off the crude. Spray with shaving cream. Use the rubber dust pan to wipe off the excess shaving cream. Take a photo, and write down what you are able to read.

Many of us who do genealogy are old, fat, & arthritic, with bad feet and breathing problems, and we've traveled a long way with only a very short time in any one location.

The info on any stone eventually will be lost. Stones don't last forever. Acid rain, bird droppings, lichen, and nature will eventually take them all. It's the information that we should want to preserve. Many stones on which I've used shaving cream over the years had information which had been lost to all for decades before me & my shaving cream wandered thru the woods to find them.

The object is the information, not the stone. A rock that no one can read serves no purpose. What a shame if the information had been there for the taking, but some "preservationist" preventing the taking of the knowledge when it was available.

QUESTION: How do you record children born to unmarried parents

ANSWER: I'm not a priest. I'm a journalist and a genealogist (genealogy is a form of journalism), and I record facts.

Please, to all folks even dabbling in genealogy, "Just the facts, ma'am." Except for the rarest cases, if a child comes out of a woman's body, the woman is the natural, legal, and genealogical mother. Generally speaking, we take her word on who the father is. Without proof to the contrary, her word (regardless of in what fashion) is accepted as proof. There are exceptions, but they are exceptions.

If your genealogy software will not allow you to enter a child without "marrying off" the parents, either change software, or tell yourself in your own mind that "spouse" means "conjugal companion for at least one brief moment, even if with the assistance of a turkey baster." If you're creating a chart, the standard symbol for a child-producing union that was not recorded in the county clerk's office is an equal sign (=) with a slash thru it. (The mathematical symbol for "is not equal to," which in genealogy means "was not married to.")

QUESTION: What if you're using someone else's transcription or translation?

ANSWER: If I'm using someone else's transcription/translation, I'm not really sure WHAT the records say. Let someone else be credited or blamed for his own accomplishment or error. If the translator/transcriber goofed, the error can be tracked to him. At the same time, naming the translator/transcriber can add validity to the genealogy report. If the translator/transcriber is known as a good one, the report has more credibility.

QUESTION: How accurate is the information on the microfiche at LDS?  Could it be that the date should have been 1863 and not 1873?  I am looking at the microfilm from Meurthe-et-Mozelle, France now.

ANSWER: I assume you mean you are looking at an LDS-made microfilm of some original record from France. If that is the case, you must judge the original record. All LDS does is go in with a camera and photograph what is found in all sorts of places. Look at everything in the record and attempt to determine what it is you are looking at: An original record? A hand-copy of the original record? Someone else's compilation of research?

When you say "accuracy of the LDS," you need to be specific about what records you are talking about. At an LDS Family History Center (genealogy library), you will find all sorts of stuff. Two sets of "stuff" have been created/compiled by LDS: the International Genealogical Index [IGI] and the Ancestral File.

The IGI is an index of folks on whom LDS members have done "temple work." The question to ask always is "what's the source for the info?" If the source is a submission by an LDS member, the info is only as accurate as the person who submitted the request for "temple work." If the source is "an extraction," the chances for accuracy are better, and you can go to the original record yourself to check.

The Ancestral File is the ultimate of "garbage in/garbage out." ANYONE can create a gedcom file with ANY info, submit it to a specific LDS address in Salt Lake City, and the info will end up as part of the Ancestral File. The info is checked in only one way: Folks born within the last 90 years who have no date of death noted are assumed to be alive, and their info is deleted for privacy. When you prepare the file, if you make the goof of noting the death as "after June 1993" as a way of telling yourself the person was alive at least as late as that, the person will show up in the Ancestral File -- even if he's alive. THAT can be embarrassing!

The rest of the records you will find at LDS were created by someone other than LDS. They are microfiche and microfilm of all sorts of records -- primary, secondary, tertiary, and so on. Some good, some garbage. And of course, there are books at any LDS library; again, the accuracy depends on the source and the researcher/writer. Folks seem to understand automatically that the LDS is not responsible for the accuracy of any books. The confusion seems to come in film and fiche since the LDS usually created the film or fiche.

QUESTION: Is the term "Collateral Descendent" an accepted genealogical term?  I have a problem understanding the use of this term.

ANSWER: Collateral descendant is a perfectly valid genealogy term. It means a person "came down the same line as another." It specifically does not mean direct descendant. Basically what it means is that you share ancestors with someone at some direct point. More often it is used to mean that one descends from a sibling of someone. So, when folks talk about being "collateral descendants" of George Washington, they mean they descend from a sibling of George.

Because it is so well known that G.W. had no direct descendants, some collateral descendants of G.W. sometimes refer among each other to being G.W. descendants. I'm sure none is trying to "fool" anyone; it's just a verbal shorthand.

QUESTION: A friend of mine claims his family roots have been traced to "Biblical times." Is this realistically possible?  What sources would be used?

ANSWER: The quick answer is that your friend is either being silly or is easily fooled. Take your pick. There are no genealogies considered "proven" before about 600 A.D.

However, most long time genealogists have seen silly genealogies tracing clear back to Adam and Eve. When someone mentions something like that, I make a quick judgment: Is the person who is saying this a simple fool who is not worth my time explaining why he/she is wrong? Or, is the person educable? If I judge the person to be a fool, I smile and say, "That's nice."

At the same time, some folks will do what could loosely be called "Bible genealogy": They follow the "begats" in the Bible to create a "Bible genealogy." However, none of those genealogies can be connected with known, provable genealogies of folks beyond times of the Bible.

QUESTION: I have been finding information on relatives that lists the place of birth as German-Poland. I don't understand the meaning of this.  The years of these dates are 1865-1881. Why is it two names instead of one?

ANSWER: History. Poland was "off the map" and under foreign rule from 1795 until 1919. By 1921, Poland had acquired all of its land back from Russia. In 1939, Russia invaded eastern Poland while Germany invaded from the west, and the Polish government went into exile. At the end of WWII, Roosevelt & Churchill graciously gave away part of Poland to Russia at Yalta -- because of the "help" that Russia had offered to the Allied forces. In reality, all Russia had wanted out of WWII was that eastern strip of Poland. The only reason the Russians fought the Germans is because the Germans almost took the strip. (Ya. Try explaining to Poles that Russia was an ally during WWII! LOL!)

And, at the Potsdam Conference after Germany surrendered in '45, Poland was given a strip of what had been eastern Germany.  Long story. Pull out any basic encyclopedia.

Now, what does this all mean for your genealogy while you're finding birth dates from 1865-1881 noted as "German-Poland"? Well, first thing it means is that you are not dealing with a primary source. Second thing it means is that someone who wrote it that way was likely trying to convey that the event happened in an area that would likely have been part of the Polish territory before WWII. But, to tell you the truth, it's anyone's guess what was meant by the phrase. You're dealing with a non-primary record and a phrase made up by you-know- not-whom to convey you-are-not-exactly-sure-what.

Best advise: Pull out some basic stuff on the history of Poland and make your own best guess.

QUESTION: Is there a proper way to ask someone whether his family is Caucasian or Afro-American?  I do a lot of telephoning to hopeful family connections that I get from phone books. A lot of my family names are popular to both races.  It would save me money and them time if I could ask this question at the beginning without meaning any disrespect.  I would like to ask the question the same way you might ask if your family has red hair or black hair.

ANSWER: Unless you know and have met your 2nd, 3rd, 4th cousin (whatever), you really can't begin to guess if he/she's white or black. Better to begin your call by saying, "I'm doing genealogy research on the descendants of [fill in the name] who lived in [fill in the place] and who died in [fill in the year]."

The reason a lot of names are popular to people of a variety of shades is sometimes because some of those people are related.

For example, I work the CRIPE line. The immigrant ancestor was white, a German who arrived in the 1700s. While most of his descendants are white, one male descendant before 1950 married a black woman. Another line I work is the TODD line. As in Mary Todd, Mrs. Abe Lincoln. The immigrant TODD was a white Irishman. However, one TODD man sired a child with a black slave, claimed the child, and gave the child his name. The TODDs were outraged -- not because he'd fathered a child with a black woman, but because he claimed the child.

My point is, if you are white, you could easily have very close blood relatives who are black. And, if you are black, the same is true. The line between "white" and "black" is artificial, most especially in the USA.

COMMENT: The correct way to use the maiden name is to put it in parentheses between the first name and the married name; for example, Mary (Jones) Smith. Check out some obits and marriage announcements from the 1950s and earlier, and you'll see the maiden name listed this way.  Besides, the maiden name came before the married name.

RESPONSE: Actually, you are wrong. Or at least not 100% right. There are many ways to state a person's name. The traditional and formal way that is found from days of yore -- and even among the formal folks today -- is a bit different from what you've described.

There's a little French word that has come to be accepted in English. The word is "née." It means "born." Thus, if Mary as a married woman served as someone's matron of honor, her name would be written as follows: Mary Smith, née Jones.

Also, you will find in some documents that Mary's name would be written as follows: Mary Smith, born Jones.

I've seen the "born Jones" example on old wills and tombstones. Particularly among Germans. I guess they figured that they'd moved from German to English, but that French would be one move too many.

QUESTION: In Catherine Coulter's "The Wild Baron," the hero's brother is married in an illegal union where the brother deliberately hires a non-preacher to marry him to a girl so that she would be under the impression she was married. My genealogy question is this: If you had that illegal license and a christening of the resultant child, would that be enough to prove descent from the people mentioned in the license for one of the linage societies? If not, how much more would be needed?

ANSWER (1997): We have a man sitting in the White House who has a similar genealogy problem: William Blythe, Jr., now known as William Jefferson Clinton. Mr. Clinton's mother -- a gal whom even the far right media had no desire to tarnish -- was a young nurse when she met a smooth talker. He swept her off her feet and asked her to marry him. She said yes, and went thru what she had every reasonable reason to believe was a valid marriage. She met his family; his family never breathed a word. HOWEVER, the senior Mr. Blythe already was married, and the family knew it. Since a man may not legally have two wives in the USA, the "marriage" to the unsuspecting nurse was invalid.

Eventually the senior Mr. Blythe did divorce the wife, but since he did not again "re-marry" the nurse or actually marry her for the first time, the marriage to the nurse was never legal. In such a situation, the man could be charged not only with bigamy, but also with rape-by-deception. He used the bogus marriage for obvious purposes.

These things happen not just in books, but in real life. Now, would a lineage society accept it? Ummmm, I would guess it would depend on who was asking! Certainly if Chelsea Clinton were asking, she'd pass the test. If Betty Bumpkin were asking (or if the request were coming from one of those many half-siblings that turn up for the poor President), I don't know what the answer would be. Despite how any may disagree with politics on one side or the other, as genealogists I suspect we can all appreciate the awkwardness that Mr. Clinton has been forced to endure for reasons not of his making. This is one area he's handled with simple honesty as the story has unfolded for him. It's been a case of, "These are the facts; they're beyond my control; I won't try to hide them."

QUESTION: What is the meaning of "Member Post 629 GAR," found on a grave stone? This  inscription is on my gggrandfather's head stone. He was born 1844 and died 1921. Any  info would help. .

ANSWER: It means the man served in the Union Army during the Civil War and was honorably discharged. He then joined an organization for Union Army veterans of the Civil War called "Grand Army of the Republic." To join, he had to have been honorably discharged from the Union Army and voted into the GAR by the existing membership.

It also means you can find from the National Archives military papers on him, and [almost certainly] pension papers. You may find pension papers for both him and his widow if she survived him.

You also can likely find him on the various veterans censuses that were taken around 1890. They are usually in the state archives.

And, it means you could join the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War.

QUESTION: Should I share my info with a 4th cousin who is becoming interested in genealogy, or would the sharing would "spoil his fun."

ANSWER: My advice is share the info.  Let him spend his time verifying your data or finding new info. You and he share only one line; you won't have "given him everything." And, by giving him the info, you may learn more yourself. In the information game, two plus two generally equals more than four.

QUESTION: When a person has two spouses, are the grandchildren of the first marriage, half-cousins of the grandchildren of the second marriage?

ANSWER: Yes, you are correct. They would be "half first-cousins."

QUESTION: Also, what is the relationship of a great-grandchild of the first marriage to a grandchild of the second marriage?

ANSWER: They would be "half first-cousins, once removed."

QUESTION: When a woman was granted a divorce, did she automatically get her maiden name back.   I know that in 1861, this was the case for one woman, but this may have been requested by her.

ANSWER: Give her back her name? Who took it? The fact that a woman legally marries -- now or in 1861 -- does NOT mean she loses the name she used prior to marriage, and it does not mean she must use in any way any part of her legal husband's name. That's a fallacy believed by  . . .  well, fill in the blank!

The last I researched this was in 1974. At the time, there was only one state -- Hawaii as I recall -- that REQUIRED a woman to use her husband's surname as her own after a legal marriage. One other state required that it be used on her driver's license. I would not, however, be surprised if those laws have been overturned by now. My point is that no other states had at any time ANY laws about what name a woman would use after marriage. Also, there is no law against a person having TWO names (or more) so long as no name is used to defraud. Look at the Hollywood folks.

Whether a woman who married, used her husband's surname as her own, and then divorced would choose to continue using her "married name" or revert to her "maiden name" would be a matter of choice. The choice might depend on many things. The amount of bile felt at the mention of her ex-husband's name might be one of the biggest factors.

"Etiquette" is one thing; there's your version, my version, and the version of the man behind the tree. Law is another thing.

So, the woman may have gone back to using her "maiden name," or she may have continued to use her "married name."

QUESTION: I'm looking for any information on a little one-room school located in the SE corner of Saugatuck Township (Michigan). I want to know when it was built, and all about it. 

ANSWER: The best place to find any info about that school is in that county. Check with the historical and/or genealogy society specific for that county. If there is none for that county, hunt for the closest.

Check with the school system for that area. Find out exactly what piece of land the school was on, and start checking for land records.

QUESTION: What is the correct tombstone inscription when: Married couple Mr. & Mrs. A; the wife dies.  Married couple Mr. and Mrs. B; the husband dies.  Surviving Mr. A marries surviving Mrs. B.   The plan is that when the new couple dies, each will be buried with his/her ORIGINAL spouse in different cemeteries.

However, they want their respective tombstones to acknowledge their SECOND marriages to each other.

Is there a traditional way of inscribing this?

ANSWER: Well, how much $$$ do you want to spend on the inscription? The traditional way would be for the tombstone of the original "Mrs. B" who then became "Mrs. A" to be buried under the name "Mary B A." Generally, there would be no mention of her second husband except in the fact that she would have had his last name at death. The really sad thing about this is that "Mary" was born neither "B" nor "A." She was born "Z," and that name will be lost until some genealogist digs it from the old records.

The husband from couple A would be buried under his name: the same name he always had. No mention of any second wife.

This is "traditionally," but if you're paying for the engraving, you can do whatever you have the $$$ to do.

© Alice Marie Beard

Alice's Interesting Dead Folks