Tree Rules #3

Trying to find the maternal parents of a couple in our family tree is almost always more difficult than finding the paternal parents.

In the decennial US Census, it is relatively easy to follow the male spouse backward from census to census because his first name (usually) and last name (almost always) stay the same until we find him living with his parents and siblings.

However, for the female spouse, we follow the couple back until the first census after they married, and we then do not know where to look in the prior census because her last name (virtually always) changes.

Here is a strategy to try with couples who were farmers.

Find the male spouse in the census prior to their marriage. This may take a little more work if he left his parents and siblings, and moved to a nearby farm to work for another family—his occupation now listed as farm laborer.

Now what?

Rule 3: Find the Farmer’s Daughter

Look at the daughters on the farm. If the female spouse is not there, apply Rule 1: Look Up, Look Down, and look on the nearby farms.

Quite often, you will find the female spouse, living with her parents and siblings prior to her marriage.

In America, from Colonial times up through the early 1900’s, the farming population represented a majority of the population. So this rule has broad applicability!