One of the things I was able to clarify, was the relationship between two women who had married into my family, Rena M. Fuller and Carrie A. Smith. While they aren't "my" ancestors, I thought the clues in their obituaries were worth sharing. I sure wish this kind of detail would happen to me more often...
Rena Mae Fuller was the wife of Levi "Lee" Ives, and lived from 1857-1944. In an obituary of 6 April 1944, in the Herald-Reporter newspaper of Brewster and Pateros, Washington, she is described as "a real pioneer," and "the first white woman along the Columbia River at the place now called Pateros." (The site was originally known as Ives Landing.) Her survivors are listed as 3 brothers: Frank, Arch and Scott Fuller, and one sister, Carrie A. Ives of Pateros. Looking at my records, and the 1880 census, I knew that a Carrie A. Smith had married Joseph Daniel Ives, brother to Lee Ives. So, did Rena's obituary really mean that Carrie was a sister-in-law, instead of sister? Or did it mean something else? Earlier census records were located for the Riley Fuller family, showing two young females named Rena and Carrie. Where did the name Smith fit in?
Luckily, I located an obituary for Mrs. Carrie Amanda Ives, in the Herald-Reporter of 5 September 1946, which brought clarity to the relationship. "She was born in Gloverville (Gloversville?), N.Y. October 4, 1862. Her father Edward Smith was killed during the Civil War. Her mother Mary Haggert Smith married Riley Fuller, and they located first in Illinois, then in Kansas." With regard to Carrie's marriage to Joseph D. Ives, it states, "They came to Washington state in the early 80's and homesteaded along the Okanogan river, near what is now the town of Monse. They were the first white settlers in that particular section of the country." (It's hard to imagine the loneliness these two women experienced.) Carrie's obit also states that her survivors are two half brothers, Arch and Scott. Information from Carrie Ives' death record can be accessed via the Washington State digital archives, at http://www.digitalarchives.wa.gov/ . The names of her parents are listed as being Edward Smith and Mary Haggert.
The relationships Rena Fuller Ives shared with those who appeared with her on the early census were varied: father, step-mother, no blood ties, and half-siblings. Blended families are certainly nothing new. The census record, however, doesn't begin to explain this complexity.
Another example of the drilling deeper for "the rest of the story."