The Sibling Never Known

It happens in many families over the years, there is a sibling rarely mentioned in family records or documents, not mentioned in a family obituary, or a Will, or even on a family history researcher’s family tree/ there can be several reasons a sibling is not mentioned.

They left home early and did not keep in touch with the rest of the family. The person may have even been barred from the family due to some unacceptable behavior — such as marrying someone outside the family religion or race. The sibling may have committed a crime and was in jail or prison out of the family hometown. Even a few siblings may have left the family to have their own adventures; such as joining a circus, go to gold fields, or move to another country. There are people who have even changed their names and moved to a new location — making it very hard to identify a family member.

So how to find a missing sibling. Start by tracing from the time the sibling was born into the family. Make sure you figure a birth year and any various given names. Early on, a child might be referred to by either the first or middle given name at different times. Using the censuses РFederal and any state, are a good start. If you can locate local hometown newspaper, check for articles on the family and who is listed. Contact the family hometown museum and see if they have anything on your family. Also, see what records are available from the family church and a hometown cemetery. A sibling may have died young and no obituary was written or recording of the death in the family Bible, but there might be a listing in the cemetery records.

As a sibling reached maturity, ages 16 to 21, many things may have happened. They could have married, joined the military, moved to another state or out of the country. Look for any clues in census or city directories during those years of a sibling.

Also go back over any family photos and see if there is a person not identified that just might be the missing sibling. They may have come for a visit and a photo taken.

Another clue of a missing sibling, check with the Federal census for 1900; questions #11 and 12, where a woman provides the number of children she gave birth to and how many are alive in 1900. Rarely would a mother give the wrong number of children she gave birth to.  Knowing how many were alive in 1900 could be more difficult.

Check a sibling’s grandparents’ obituaries. Many times all the names of grandchildren would be listed, so giving you a better clue when a sibling was still part of the family and their names.

So it can be quite a challenge to locate all of your ancestor’s siblings and what became of them over the years. Yet there can also be some quite fascinating information to discover on these siblings.

Photos: 1900 family with many siblings; 1920s a family in Nebraska and family group.

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Investigating an Ancestor’s Siblings

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