Dead Husbands Usually Cause Women to Leave Better Records

Here are few of my female ancestors for whom I was able to locate a great deal of records and where those records were located:

  • Barbara (Siefert) Beiger Fennan Haase Haase (died in Illinois in 1903)–two divorces (1870s and 1880s) and the guardianship of her children in the 1850s.
  • Nancy Jane (Newman) Rampley (died in 1923 in Illinois)–her denied Civil War widow’s pension was finally approved in the very early 20th century, after a great deal of testimony which documented much of her life before and after her marriage to the Civil War veteran.
  • Antje (Jaspers) Habben Fecht (died in 1900 in Illinois)–a family court case after her husband’s death in 1877 documented her operation of the family farm after his demise.
  • Susannah Rucker (died in the 1780s [probably in Amherst County, Virginia])–deeds executed by her children in Orange and Amherst Counties in Virginia in the mid-18th century document her move from one county to another.

In every case, the husband was dead first.

There is no doubt that female ancestors are more difficult to document than male ancestors. One key is making certain you have researched everything you can get your hands on and have interpreted every document in the appropriate legal and historical context. Often records that are not directly about females indirectly contain significant clues about them.
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