20 February 2014

If Your Ex-Husband Is Dead, Does That Make You a Widow?

P. A. Troutfetter was dead by 1927. That is true.

Whether that technically makes Violet B. Troutfetter his widow as she is shown in this 1927 Denver, Colorado, city directory is another story.

The Troutfetters were divorced in 1901 in El Paso County, Colorado. There are no documents indicating they married again and P. A. (better known as Philip) at some point returned to Thomas County, Kansas, where he died.

1927 Denver, Colorado, City Directory, p. 2199; digital image on Ancestry.com 20 February 2014
It was not unusual for a divorced woman to pass herself off as a widow when in actuality she was divorced. In some locales and time periods a woman may be referred to as a "grass widow," but that's not often used on census enumerations.

Always take the term "widow" with a small grain of salt.

The Wm. J. Troutfetter in this post is a brother to P. A. Troutfetter and the Victor E. is Wm. J's son. Violet and Philip Troutfetter had no children.

Whether having a dead ex-husband makes a woman a widow or not is another question entirely. And...in some cases it doesn't matter what the answer is as people can tell the census taker or directory information collector any version of reality that they care to.
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