Help!! provides an opportunity for readers to ask for assistance with genealogical queries. We invite our readers to contribute solutions to questions featured in this section. See the Contact section for e-mail and postal addresses. Put GFH-HELP!! in the subject line.
Q: I saw the phrase "dower rights" in a land sale document for my ancestors land. Is that the same as a dowry?
A: No. Dower rights refer to the law which provided that a widow would receive a one-third interest in her deceased husbands property during her lifetime. This was to protect the widow from poverty after her husbands death. A dowry refers to all of the property a woman brought to a marriage.
Q: What is a collateral line? Do I need to research collateral lines?
A: A collateral line would be the extended family of your direct ancestors. Direct ancestors are parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and so on. Collateral ancestors are your aunts & uncles, cousins, in-laws, and their direct ancestors. Many genealogists do extensive research into their collateral lines, and it makes for a very large, impressive family tree.
In some cases, searching a collateral line will help you break through a brick wall. For instance, there is a woman in your direct line for whom you have been completely unable to find a document with her parents names. However, you have a census showing the woman, her husband, and another woman in the household listed as "sister-in-law." Since your ancestors husband is the head of household, the sister-in-law is your ancestors sister. Researching marriage records, obituaries, or death records for the sister might provide the names of parents of both women.
HOME | KIDZONE | CATALOG |CONTACT US | SEARCH | HINTS