May flowers are blooming and warmer days are ahead.
May brings Mother’s Day and thoughts of our female ancestors; those strong, unique, and often elusive, women who contributed to who we are.
Finding female ancestors, and maiden names, can be a challenge. Even death notices may be written as “Mrs. Smith” with no first name given. Early censuses, before 1850, name only the head of the household. Or your ancestor may have used her middle name or a nickname and tracing her legal, or birth, name can be difficult.
But there is hope. Marriage records, or church records may name parents of the bride, or a witness or church sponsor may be related. Local newspapers often had social columns that told of family events and visits. Military pensions required marriage records from a widow to prove her relationship to the deceased veteran. Pension records can be requested from the National Archives.
Also remember to look at your ancestors in the context of time and place that she lived. War time? Did she serve or aid the military in some capacity. Immigration? Check naturalization applications for her or a family member.
Happy May! A beautiful month to remember and honor the women who shaped our lives.