Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sarah's Maiden Name

One of the most daunting tasks in family tree research is finding a women's maiden name. This was particularly true before the Internet. Once upon a time you would have had to travel to libraries, archives (if you could find one), and county seats to troll through the records.

Imagine our Sarah. She had to rely on letters to distant cousins, some of which took months to reply. Any trips to county seats would truly have been a rarity, especially so for a female. Sarah lived in an age that firmly believed a woman's place was in the home. When a woman married, she took her husband's surname and, for all intents and purposes, her maiden name disappeared.

Marriage records certainly help locate maiden names, but many localities did not actively record these until late in the nineteenth or early twentieth centuries. Sometimes we can find church records, or family Bibles which give us the answer. Maybe their are probate records that identify a maiden name too. Needless to say, maiden name research can be the most challenging aspect of family tree research.

The Internet, along with the enormous amount of family tree research posted 'out there' has made finding information easier. Notice I didn't say finding the answers easier. Just because something is posted online, it doesn't mean it is correct! I guess I could have named this Blog 'Doubting Thomas'. One of the things I usually do is try to find the source of whatever statement I am reading. This can sometimes be more difficult than uncovering an individuals maiden name. Having said that, I certainly use the Internet as a research tool.

The vast majority of Sarah's research was for a surname of Holden. My working theory is that Sarah is a Holden. A quick search of Google Books, one of my very favorite sites, provided a pretty good indication of this. The History of Plymouth, New Hampshire, Vol. 2 by Ezra Scolley Stears and Moses Thurston Runnels published in 1906 provides a short biographical sketch of our family on page 173. The image on the right contains the family information.

I had mentioned in one of my earlier posts that the Pennsylvanian census taker had been incorrect in listing the oldest child as a son. I was the one who was incorrect! William and Sarah had two boys. This goes to show, always check and recheck your data. I had come across a Cummings genealogy which listed the oldest child as a female.

Not only have we found Sarah listed as a Holden, we have also discovered her husband was a Civil War veteran. This means we should also check to see if William H. received a pension for his service in the War.

We will use the excerpt above to help us locate the family beyond 1910...

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