Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Reviewing Marriage Records

After I found the announcement of my grandparent's marriage license in a 1914 newspaper the other day I was excited to learn that my grandfather was living in Steubenville before he went to Trumbull County, Ohio, to marry my grandmother. I thought this was new news to me but as I was filing the newspaper article in chronological order with other documents from their lives, I realized that I had 3 other pieces of paper with marriage information for them. I purchased them about 4 years ago when I first began working on family history.

The Lesson: It's very valuable to review documents in your possession after you've had more experience. Things you didn't notice the first time because of lack of experience or lack of enough information may suddenly help fill in a gap or give you insight when viewed with a more experienced eye. When reviewing multiple sources of information from the same event it sometimes happens that each will give different information.

Below are three documents for the marriage of William Carl Robert Meinzen and Emma V. Bickerstaff on September 8, 1914, along with a partial transcription of the first. The words in bold type are the parts of the form completed by the applicants or others.

At right is a photocopy of the original handwritten marriage license application and marriage certificate from the Probate Court of Trumbull County, Ohio, No. 3764.

"In the matter of William Carl Robert Meinzen and Emma Virginia Bickerstaff....
"William Carl Robert Meinzen is 22 years of age on the 8 day of Feb 1914, his residence is Stubenville [sic], Ohio, his occupation is Barber, his father's name is Henry Carl Meinzen, his mother's maiden name was Elizabeth Armitage,... he was not previously married.

"Emma Virginia Bickerstaff is 21 years of age, on the 6 day of July 1914, her residence is Mineral Ridge, Trumbull County, O., her place of birth is Stubenville [sic], Ohio, her occupation is lives at home, her father's name is Edward Jesse Bickerstaff, her mother's maiden name was Mary Thompson,... she was not previously married.

"It is expected that don't know is to solemnize the marriage...."

Signatures of both Emma Virginia Bickerstaff and Wm. Carl Robert Meinzen appear at the bottom. The application was completed on September 8, 1914 and Nellie B. Elder [barely legible], Deputy Clerk, signed the form.

Rev. John W. Moore signed the Marriage Certificate stating that he solemnized the marriage of William Earl [sic] Robert Meinzen with Miss Emma Virginia Bickerstaff on September 8, 1914. The certificate was filed on September 9, 1914. E. O. Dilley, Probate Judge, also signed the form (or had someone sign it for him).

When they left the courthouse after filling about the above form, did Wm. C. Robert and Emma leave armed with the Marriage License shown to the left? Did they take this to the minister as proof of having filed paperwork in order to marry?

I find it very interesting that they didn't know who was going to marry them. It seems like weddings these days take months and months of planning, arranging, organizing, and general preparation. That was obviously not the case for my grandparents or, at the very least, they would have scheduled an appointment with a minister.

What was their wedding like? Did parents attend? Did they elope? Did they have friends surrounding them and wishing them well? How I hope!

I also find it interesting that there are no witnesses' signatures on the marriage certificate, something that I thought was common practice. Was it not always necessary to have witnesses, or was it not always necessary for the witnesses to sign the certificate?

The "Certified Copy of Marriage Record" which is shown to the right is essentially the same as one they completed by hand except for one change. The original marriage certificate completed by the minister has "William Earl Robert Meinzen." This transcribed record has "William Carl Robert Meinzen." I know it sometimes happens that the transcriptions are not true to the originals. In this case the transcription was accurate and the original was not.

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