Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Not Married

From: Tee tngru@yahoo.com
DearMYRTLE,
I'm transcribing families into my database and just ran into an interesting one. One cousin "met" Annie about 1882, and had numerous children, then much later married another woman. How would you handle that one? e.g., I learned that you can put "Never Married" in the data on PAF. If I put it in the date section, it shows up on the screen when surfing through the data. I think to "save face" I shall put the 1882 in the date and the place as "Never Married." What do you think?

DearTERRY,
I would definitely NOT put in a date. If there is a date, it implies to the rest of the world that you found the date on some sort of marriage document. The "HELP" option for the PAF (Personal Ancestral File version 5+) marriage data entry screen states:

"If a couple had children together but never married, you must still create a marriage record to link children to their parents. You can choose to leave the Marriage screen blank, or you can type Not Married instead of the date."

I think it should be called a "union" rather than a "marriage record," but the latter is the term the PAF program uses. Since we're trying to associate children with their blood line parents, you will:
-- Add the mother's known dates/localities of birth, death
-- Add the father's known dates/localities of birth, death
-- Type "not married" in the date field on the marriage entry dialog box
-- Specify "of Hardin County, Kentucky" in the locality field, if that is where the couple lived for most of their relationship
-- Insert any other known details in notes

Regardless of the genealogy software program you are using, I personally would type "not married" instead of the date. That would confirm what I knew to be true, and save someone else from going on a wild goose chase trying to find a marriage record where none exists.

Try not to worry about any stigmas. We are attempting to accurately document our ancestors' lives. Co-habitation may have been acceptable in the community at the time. For all we know, this couple could have lived in an area where preachers only came through every 4-5 years. In such cases, marriages were solemnized and christenings took place on the same day for a couple and 3-4 of their children. The first time I saw this, I was a little startled.

Although "unusual" situations crop up in everyone's family tree, we are trying not to be judgmental. Attempting to look at things through 21st century eyepieces can cloud our understanding of an ancestor's life and times.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
DearMYRTLE,
6023 26th Street West PMB 352
Bradenton, FL 34207
http://www.DearMYRTLE.com

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