Vital Information Stats that will Change your Ancestral Quest

Richard Jensen, “Bicentennial Perspectives on Birth, Marriage, and Death…” National Genealogical Society Quarterly 65 (March 1977): 16-24. Jensen was director, Family and Community History Center, Newberry Library, Chicago IL. Have you considered these ancestral facts of life?

—Newborn children–25-30% died within first 12 months; abt 50% survived until age 20.
__Life expectancy—up to age 45 years in the Chesapeake Bay area.
__One half of all marriages were broken by death before the 15th Anniversary and before the oldest child was grown. Average marriage lasted 7 years before one partner died. Long-term relationships were not expected. Widows and widowers re-married quickly.
__Most children grew up as orphans or as step-children with half siblings.
__Wills and testaments are not instruments of old age—they were tools to protect widows and children from destitution.
__Only one in five baby girls lived a normal life span: childhood, adolescence, marriage, children, living with husband at age 55 when the last child left home.

Such high mortality required many children to be born or a high immigration rate to replace loss. Women had 8-10 children in a short time. They married younger—about 20 years of age. If a woman came to America as an indentured servant, she had to work her time. So she married later. This was common in the 17th century South.

So–you can expect your family charts to reflect these stats–short marriage spans and remarriages, lots of children born in a short span of time.  If these charts don’t fit–re-examine your evidence! Your favorite genealogist, Arlene Eakle.

PS An unusual family chart would be one with only 2 children and showing the parents lived to be over 50.  Be sure you re-check your evidence.



This entry was posted in Blog. Bookmark the permalink.