Finding marriage records when your ancestor has been married multiple times can be a difficult task, specifically on the bride’s side. A woman who is married many times may very well go by many different last names over her lifespan. Every time she gets remarried, she is then married under her previous marriage’s last name. This can make it seem impossible to trace your ancestor back to find her maiden name! Here are a few hints to help you to trace your family tree back through marriage records.
I have often found myself in the difficult position of trying to track ancestors who have married many times. Different states have different ways of recording vital records, and the farther you go back, you take the chance that records weren’t recorded at all. Specifically if you don’t know the bride’s maiden name, it can be quite a task to track them down, especially if they lived in multiple states as well. The best advice I can give is to start with what you know. If you know your great-grandmother’s first name based on death records, start with your great-grandfather and search for marriage records for him. I did this on someone’s tree and found marriage records for him and a woman who had the same first name as the great grandmother but her last name wasn’t right. I then searched marriage records for someone with her last name at the time of the marriage for the groom and her first name.
For example: I knew that the great grandmother’s name was Marie Pillsbury. I also knew that her spouse when she died was Oliver Seevers, Sr. I couldn’t find any marriage records for them however. I started my search by looking for the marriage records of Oliver Seevers to a woman named Marie. here I found records of an Oliver Seevers to a Marie Baker just before the births of their children. I knew that this wasn’t her maiden name, so I now knew that she had been married once before.
Again, I searched for marriage records for a man with the last name Baker and a woman named Marie that fit my timeline as I knew it. I found marriage records for Kevin Baker to a woman named Marie Sanders during the correct time period. Again, this wasn’t the maiden name I knew, so I searched again under the grooms last name of Sanders and the bride’s name of Marie. Here I found a William Sanders marrying Marie Pillsbury just in time to have some of her children.
When I started my search, I had no idea that she had married so many times, let alone that all of the children were from different fathers. I backed all of this up by then looking at the census records for these couples, comparing that to the birth records and death records of the children and finally my timeline worked out. Instead of being married to the same man for over 50 years as we thought, she had been married three times and all of her children had taken the last name of her last husband. I could finally place where everyone had come from and how they all fit together.
There are many avenues through which you could try to track down vital records for your ancestors. There is little doubt that the best resource is Ancestry.com. Here you can find a wealth of resources in one place. For a free 14 day trial, click this link. Try Ancestry.com and get 14 days FREE! You could also try locating vital records through One Great Family. Here is their link for a FREE 7-day trial. You could also try WorldVitalRecords.com or archives.com as they have many vital records available.
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