I Found the Maiden Name—But What Is It??

I Found the Maiden Name—But What Is It??

So I finally got my hands on a copy of the divorce case for my my third-great-grandparents, Thomas and Mary Frost (more later about how I got it). As I hoped, it has her maiden name! There's just one problem—I can't read it, exactly: Alanis Morrisette would call this...

So I finally got my hands on a copy of the divorce case for my my third-great-grandparents, Thomas and Mary Frost (more later about how I got it). As I hoped, it has her maiden name!

There’s just one problem—I can’t read it, exactly:

Alanis Morrisette would call this situation ironic.

I searched Ancestry.com for Mary Wol*am (the wildcard * can stand in for more than one letter). Some of the possibilities are Wollam, Wolam, Wolham, Woldham, Woltam and Wolfram.

I even found an 1850 census record for a Wollam family living in Ohio with a Mary of the right age, born about 1840. But this family has no Matilda, one of Mary’s sisters, who gives her name but not her age in a deposition for the divorce case. The same family (I think) in later censuses doesn’t have a Matilda, either, and is no longer in Ohio. (My third-great-grandparents married in Cincinnati in 1865.)

I can’t find a family in the census that fits Wolham, my first thought when I read the name. And no luck yet in my search for a Wol-something-am (or a Frost) marriage record.

I’ve looked through the rest of the 103-page file for another maiden-name mention and can’t find one, though the writing is really hard to make out in places. I need to spend some quality time with the document.

Are you searching for a female ancestor’s maiden name? Check out our new Family Tree University course Finding Female Ancestors (I’m planning to!), which starts this week—it’s open for registration through Friday. You’ll get help developing a research strategy for female ancestors, teasing out maiden names and more.

Here’s the link to learn more about the Finding Female Ancestors course.

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  1. my best guess is ‘Woltham’. A lot of my ancestors forgot to cross a ‘t’ and if you look at some of the other h’s in the excerpt, they look similar (that’s how my h’s look too, when I’m in a hurry). Good luck. 🙂

  2. Kathleen Dalton-Woodbury

    The first thing to do is compare the letters to other examples in the copy.

    The confusing letter does not look like any of the other Ls, so the name is probably not Wollam.

    The two letters after WO don’t look like the LD in &quot;children&quot; or in &quot;household.&quot;

    The other Ts in the copy are all soundly crossed, so I doubt the confusing letter is a T.

    Could it be a U (look at the U in &quot;household&quot;)? Woluam?

    The last letter looks a little like the EN in &quot;maiden&quot; though, so you could try Wol*aen.

    The last letter also might be UR so try Wol*aur.

    There may be other clues from the copy that are in words we can’t see in the sample above. If you can figure out how the clerk wrote every possible letter, you should be able to figure out the name.

  3. My first guess is Woltham…either almost Waltham or maybe it is that. I think the t is one of those fancy ending ones my mother used…and I think there is one other example of using it later in the piece. Should only be used as a final t on a word…but sometimes a person forgets to follow that rule.

  4. Having done a lot of reading old writing for indexing I would try looking for Wolkam. Especially since you couldn’t find anything under the other spellings. I would add Wolkam to the other spellings in your list of possible spellings.

  5. There is a Mary Wolkins, &quot;dau.&quot; of John, in Cincinnati Ward 9, Hamilton County, Ohio with a little &quot;sister&quot; Tilda in the 1850 census. My first inclination was Walkam, but if it is English, chances are better for an -ham ending. In that case I would go with Walsham, too. But maybe it is Wolkans, which fits with this 1850 census. Good luck!

  6. I agree with all who said &quot;Wolkam&quot; — have been working with censuses a lot lately, for various surnames. The handwriting ranges from excellent to horrific.
    I’d also go for spelling variations: &quot;Woolkam,&quot; &quot;Woolkum,&quot; &quot;Wolcom,&quot; &quot;Wolcham,&quot; etc.
    ALSO ~~ don’t believe that the clerk has the right name. They could care less most of the time and spelled phonetically. WWI Draft Registrations are an example.
    CYNTHIA TURK: You may have found it! &quot;Tilda&quot; is a nickname for &quot;Matilda&quot;!!