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Rhonda's Tips: Genealogy Questions Answered
by Rhonda R. McClure

March 08, 2001
See Rhonda's Previous Columns

Lost Marriage Record

Q: I am seeking information on how to find a marriage record that I know exists but simply can't find anywhere. Joseph Park, born 1791, married Bridget Stanley, born 1800 in West Virginia/Virginia. I cannot find Joseph's origin so I've traced Bridget's family in census, birth, death & marriage records. By dates & places of residence Bridget was the daughter of Thomas & Catherine (Cheuveront) who lived in Stanley, Maryland. In 1800 they moved to Harrison County West Virginia/Virginia then moved to Ritchie County West Virginia/Virginia and died there. Thomas appears in the 1810, 1820, 1830, 1840 Wood County Census. He died before the 1850 census and was buried in Ritchie County. Joseph Park appears in the 1830 Wood County Census and does not appear in the 1840 Wood County Census but appears in the 1850, 1860 Wirt County Census. Joseph died and was buried in Wirt County, West Virginia. Joseph's children's marriage records give Wood County West Virgina as their birth place. So I assumed he was missed by the census taker. Since Thomas Stanley lived in Wood County in 1819 the marriage record should be there. I've checked all neighboring counties, even in Ohio & Pennsylvania and still no luck. The Stanley family Bible lists their marriage as 1819. Their sons' (Thomas & Marlin Park) biography's gives their marriage as 1819. Why can't I find it recorded somewhere? What have I missed? -- Ann

A: Right from the beginning it is important to mention that while we may have knowledge of a particular event taking place, there may not be a surviving record that gives all the proof we would like to have, such as the marriage record that you are seeking.

It is apparent that you have done some extensive research on this lineage, having used a variety of record types already. I did not see any mention of church records though. Very often, if the civil record has not survived, through courthouse fire or simple misplacement, then the church record may be available.

In order to begin such a search, it would be necessary to either determine the religious affiliation of the family in question, or to determine the religious denominations in the area. Not all religious denominations will have records that have survived and some may have been moved to an archive elsewhere.

Once you have determined the churches in the area at the time, you may want to read up on the record keeping practices and religious practices of the churches. Some, such as Baptists, do not have baptism information on children. The Quakers will have Monthly Meeting minutes. Records created in a Catholic church remain with the church. These are mentioned only as examples, and not as possible denominations that were there at the time.

In the end, you may have to accept the records that you have already uncovered. If the family Bible in question was printed before 1819, it may be a primary document for that marriage.

Information from Census

Q: I am looking for two items of information from the 1910 Census. One from Lockport, Niagra County, New York and the other from Fredonia, Chautaqua County, New York. The specific information is from column 13, Year of Immigration to the US. -- Vincent

A: Census records are available on microfilm through many repositories. Some of the 1900 and 1850 census have been scanned and made available through subscription services. At Genealogy Library the 1850 census is available online. The 1900 Census is also available online at Genealogy.com as a separate subscription. Eventually the 1910 is likely to be available online at one of these sites in a digitized format.

In the meantime, the 1910 census is available on microfilm. You can request the pertinent rolls of microfilm through your local Family History Center. You may already have access to these census records via a local branch of the National Archives. There are twelve of them. You can learn more about them by visiting the National Archives.

If you do not have easy access through one of the above mentioned repositories, you may be able to find someone willing to do a look up for you. Generally they require a little more information than you have supplied in your message. Ideally, they need to know the name of the head of the household and the page of the census on which the information can be found in addition to the town and county information you supplied. You might be able to find someone willing to do the look up for you by visiting the GenForum bulletin boards and posting a message in the New York board.

Who Are His Parents?

Q: I do not know my father's parents' names. His name is Gilbert Andrew Hostetler. He was born 1891 in Uniontown, Pennsylvania. His father was a sheriff there. I have found his brothers and sister, but no parents names. How do I find this? -- Betty

A: You have two good pieces of information already that should be followed up. The first is the birth year of Gilbert. Born in 1891, he would have been 9 years old in the 1900 census. You can search the Soundex for Pennsylvania for 1900 looking for any HOSTETLER families. As you find them in the Soundex, you can then search the family card for a son named Gilbert or Andrew who was approximately 7 to 9 years of age. Then you can look up those families in the census itself.

Your second piece of useful information is the fact that you know that Gilbert's father was a sheriff. This is a unique occupation. It will help you in identifying the correct family in the census should there be more than one with a child that fits your criteria.

If you have already exhausted the census records and come up empty handed, then you may want to turn your attention to a town or county history that was published after 1891. Very often such histories list the various officials of the towns, along with their occupations. You may find Gilbert's father's name this way.

Whom Did She Marry?

Q: When both parents have died and you know they had children, at least one of whom was a daughter, how do you go about finding the daughter when you know the daughter married but you don't know the married name? -- Melanie

A: There are a couple of different ways to try to determine whom the daughter married. The first attacks the problem from the daughter's side. The second attacks the problem from the parents' side.

Depending on when the event took place, you may be able to find a listing of the marriage record. Many marriage records have been microfilmed through the Family History Library. Still others have been made available on CD-ROM through Genealogy.com. The CD-ROM ones are much easier to search as you can search on your female's maiden name and locate her.

When it comes to the actual marriage records, many of the counties where such records are recorded did not create a brides' index. They simply created an index to the grooms. If the grooms' index includes the name of the bride, you can scan these indexes looking for the daughter's name. If the grooms' index does not, then it would be necessary to look through the marriage records page by page. Many marriage books have the names of the bride and groom out to the side in the margin, which makes this easier to accomplish.

The other possibility is to approach the research from the parents' side. If the daughter married before the parents died, it is possible that her married name is mentioned in the will of one of them, or in the records generated during the probating of the estate. In many instances, even if it was the wife who was inheriting from her father, you will find both her and her husband's signatures on the records indicating receipt or acknowledgment of something in the records.


Rhonda R. McClure is a professional genealogist specializing in celebrity trees and computerized genealogy. She has been involved in online genealogy for fifteen years. She is the author of the award-winning The Complete Idiot's Guide to Online Genealogy, now in its second edition. She is the author of four how-to guides on Family Tree Maker. In late 2001, she wrote The Genealogist's Computer Companion. She is a contributing editor to Biography Magazine with her "Celebrity Roots" column and a contributing writer to The History Channel Magazine. Her latest book is Finding Your Famous and Infamous Ancestors. She may be contacted at rhondagen@thegenealogist.com.

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