Most family tree websites use the terms “husband” and “wife” when entering information. In the past society viewed the family unit as two married individuals with children.
Today’s modern society has allowed unmarried individuals to have children without persecuting them. These men and women have children “out of wedlock.” They may stay together or separate and find new mates. Can you create your family tree from such a situation? Yes, you can!
Genealogy is the study of both the paternal and maternal sides of the family. If you exclude the other parent, you would be omitting half of the child’s legacy. As I see it, you need both parents’ heritage to grow this family tree.
I have several individuals in my Ancestry.com family tree that are not married. Some of the children have their mother’s maiden name. Some have their father’s surname. But, in either case, they are still tied to each parent.
Try to compare the single parent scenario with a married couple who obtained a divorce. They married but decided they could no longer live together as a couple. And, in genealogy, even if your parents divorced, you may still claim the right to add them to your family tree.
What if the unmarried parent or divorced parent got remarried and had children of their own? You can still add this person because of the connection you have with your biological parent. It means you can use the stepparents and children in building your family tree.
I found several situations in the late 1800s of women having babies before they married. In some cases, relatives took the child in to raise. On other occasions, the stepfather would adopt the child and give the child his surname.
Several years ago, my half-sister met her biological father when she was in her 50’s. She had time to spend with him before he passed away. And, if not for this contact, she may never have met his daughters and her other half-sisters.
It is vital to include all information to your family tree. As shown above, if my half-sister had not been aware of her father, she would never have known his side of the family. Or, that part of her family heritage.
I hope this article was of help in your decision to start a family tree. I would love to hear from you about your own experiences in this area.
Photograph by Alexander Dummer-150646 at Unsplash.