Married in the “Wrong” Church?

It’s possible that your relative got married in a church other than the one they attended. Couples who “run away to get married,” may get married in a church of the same denomination miles from home. They may also get married by a preacher of a denomination whose practices are close to their own. Even couples who don’t run away to get married may not be married by someone of their denomination.

Keep in mind that “wrong” church may have been a church attended by a family member and you just are unaware of the connection. In some families, getting married in the “right church” or the “right denomination” matters, in others it does not.

Don’t assume your immediate family’s practices are what your great-grandparents or other relatives did. Not every family is alike.

Check out my 1950 census preparation webinar-1 April 2022 is coming up!

Those Derivative Ledgers

I had researched the late 19th and very early 20th century birth ledgers of my home county for several years before I realized what they were: transcriptions of the original birth certificates submitted by the attending physical, midwife, or occasionally parents. What was contained in those early ledgers was a handwritten copy of the certificate.

I also discovered that in the early days of recording births in my county, the certificates were mailed or taken to the courthouse where they were retained and the information written in the ledger. This meant that technically during this time period, the ledger was a derivative source–because it was derived from the original certificate. That does not mean there were incorrect transcriptions in the ledger, but just the potential.

In some cases, the ledger was more legible than the actual certificate. In some cases, it was the other way around. In some cases, there was an additional comment on the certificate that was not written in the ledger.

It always pays to know what you are searching. In this case, the certificate is the original document and the ledger is the derivative document.

Check out my 1950 census preparation webinar-1 April 2022 is coming up!

Teasing Titles

Some online databases like to tease users with titles that indicate the database is more encompassing than it actually is. Make certain you know what a database contains before searching it. The title may indicate that the marriage records are from 1800-1920, but there may be a twenty year gap of missing records in the mid-1800s.

Of course, that will be the twenty year time span you actually need.

Check out my 1950 census preparation webinar-1 April is coming up!

1000 Documents

Just because you see a “fact” written in 1,000 places does not mean that it is true. Genealogical analysis can’t be covered in a short tip and we’re not going to try, but remember:

  • Different records that say the same thing may have had the same original “source” if Grandma Barbara was the one who always gave the information. Just because she repeated it over and over does not make it true.
  • 1,000 online trees that agree does not mean they are correct. It just means that they probably have the same original “source,” right or wrong.

Whether a written reference to a “fact” is “wrong or right,” depends upon our perceived reliability of the record and the informant.

Check out my 1950 census preparation webinar-1 April is coming up!

Chronologize that Obituary or Biography

If you are fortunate enough to find a biography of an ancestor, consider creating a chronology from the events and dates it contains. This can be an excellent organizational tool as biographies do not always list events in chronological order and thinking about how every event in the biography fits into a larger timeline can be helpful.

Be certain to include all events–ones stated directly and ones stated indirectly.

The same approach can be used with obituaries.

Check out my 1950 census preparation webinar-1 April is coming up!

Visualize those Distances

Geography always matters in genealogical research. It is even more imperative that the researcher contemplate the distances between places during that time period when travel was more difficult and a ten mile trip would have been on foot or horeseback.

Sometimes with a map, it can be difficult for some to really get a feel for how far apart two places are. One way is to compare the distance between two places to the distance between your home and a local place with which you are familiar. The best way is to see the actual geographic area, but most of us are not able to travel to every ancestral location.

When I see that two towns are ten miles apart, I think of several places that are that far from where I live know–just to give perspective. Of course, I also need to consider the local geography of the area (mountains, rivers, etc.) and not the geography of where I live. Political lines that might have been crossed also are a concern in certain locations.

The modes of travel available to your ancestor in 1750, 1850, and 1950 were different–make certain you are aware of those as well.

Check out my 1950 census preparation webinar-1 April is coming up!

Multiple Obituaries

My grandmother’ sister died in 1990. She had obituaries in the local papers where she had lived most of her life. Those obituaries mentioned that she had taught school in Illinois and Utah–no further details were provided.

A search of located a obituary in a newspaper from Burley, Idaho. That obituary provided the name of the Idaho town where my aunt had taught school. The obituary was similar to the one in the Illinois newspapers with a few exceptions. In addition to naming the town in Idaho where she taught school the date and time of her graveside service in Idaho was mentioned along with the fact that she was survived by friends and family (relatives of her late husband) in the Malta, Idaho, area.

Don’t neglect getting another copy of that obituary.

The Paper had the Will

When your relative’s will was admitted to probate, it may have been mentioned in the newspaper. That could be a way to at least find out what is in the document if the originals are difficult to access or no longer extant–or just so you know what is in it before you get it.

The will of Harry Cheney was mentioned in the Decatur, Illinois, newspaper after it had been admitted to probate by the court in 1926. It mentions his wife (Ada), his son (Harry), and two relatives (nephew Charles Chamblin and niece Ida Benedict) who are to receive the balance of the estate if the son dies without issue.

Check out my 1950 census preparation webinar-1 April is coming up!

That Misleading Tombstone

A relative and his wife share a monument with three of their children. The husband died in the 1850s in his early thirties. The three children buried with them died during the same decade, but in different years. The wife’s name and year of birth and death are also inscribed on the stone.

On the surface one might conclude that she never married again. That’s not true in this case. She married two more times, surviving those husbands as well. Initially I had tried to find a death record, obituary, and other end-of-life records based on the surname she had on the tombstone. I also had difficulty locating her in census records as well. There she was “hiding” in census and other records under the last names of her two subsequent husbands.

Likely because she had no children with those husbands, she was probably buried buried with her first husband and three of their children. I say probably because just because her name is on the stone does not necessarily mean she is buried there.

The death certificate is on my to-do list.

Check the Whole Time Span

It can be tempting to stop searching once we have found a marriage record for a relative.

Aaron Cain married Sarah Browner in Coshocton County, Ohio, in 1823. He also married Sarah Crow in Coshocton County, Ohio, in 1830. Had I stopped searching in 1823 because I “found it,” I would have missed the second marriage. Of course, the first name of Aaron’s wife did not change. What did change was the fact that with his marriage to her, he gained a new set of in-laws and step-children.

In addition to having a new wife.

Help support Genealogy Tip of the Day by visiting any of the following sites: