Expert answers to your genealogy questions.
Q. I finally found a spouse for my ancestor Thomas Muse Sr. in an online database of family trees. It says he was married to an Elizabeth Sturman, but how can I be sure that she’s the mother of Thomas’ son James?
A. When looking at spouses, keep in mind that the era of multiple marriages didn’t begin with Liz Taylor, nor was it limited to royalty such as Henry VIII. Divorce is not a 20th- century invention. It’s also possible that an ancestor was widowed young and remarried. You’re right to be cautious about jumping to the conclusion that just because two people appear to have been married, their children all came from that union. While online pedigree databases can be useful starting places and offer clues from other genealogists’ research, you always should seek to prove—or disprove—such connections yourself.