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Friday, March 30, 2012

For Richer or Poorer

As I said before, marriage documents can have some really interesting information contained in them.  Take a look at the marriage documents of Ernst Chrisitian Reif and Catherine Foy of Ogle County, Illinois.  Ernst is the oldest brother of Julia Reif, who I featured in my last post about marriage documents.  Take a peek:

 Here's the "cover" page of a marriage document from 1863 in Ogle County, Illinois.  Ernest C. Reif and Catherine Foy.  It gives the date that the license was applied on and the date of the returned document and entered in to the county records (October 1 and November 2, respectively), along with the officiate of the  county office.  In this case it was the deputy county clerk.

 Page 2 has the license form showing that Ernst Reif came to apply for the license himself, showing that he also signed for the license. The deputy county clerk signed on October 1st.  The primary county clerk must have been on vacation!  Where do you go in 1863 for a vacation?  Perhaps he was serving in the Civil War?  This form was to be folded in half as you can see the "landscape" positioning of the cover which repeats the record numbers from the original cover page, plus the names of the intended spouses, with the same date (October 1st, 1863) and the same identity and signature of the deputy county clerk.

This is the certified copy (date 3-23-2009) from the Ogle County Clerk.  This form has the "meat" of the event.  This is the marriage certificate, stating that Ernest C. Reif and Catherine Foy were united in marriage in the fourteenth of October in 1863 by a Minister of the Gospel in Forreston, Illinois. It is signed by the Rev. R. K. Bloom.  Once again, the deputy county clerk signed the certificate, and it also states that this event had to take place and the form returned to the clerk within 30 days, or a fine of $100 would be levied.  That was a lot of money back in the days of the Civil War.
This marriage record does not give much information on the couple themselves, like their place of birth or ages. Neither does it give any information on their parents.  I think it really depended on the  county and what information that they required from the couple. We have to accept what we get and and go from there.  On Monday, (yes, it will be April already) I'll post yet another marriage document.  We will see if we get any further information about a bride and groom.  Til then...happy searching.

Monday, March 19, 2012

From This Day Forward....

So, finally I am able to post a little about our research in to marriage records.
Where do we start? If you know the exact date of a marriage, you can easily find the records of the event in on-line databases and church records.  If it was a civil marriage, there could be a notation about the court or location of the wedding.  Church records are great for gathering more information than you ever expected, as those will contain parents' names and witnesses, too.

If you don't know the date of the wedding, but can calculate an approximate string of years, do a quick search of the newspapers from the areas around the bride's place of residence.  Of course, this does not always provide the information that you may be looking for. I would also suggest a search of the county and state records that the couple were living in during the first years of their marriage.

Newspapers can be searched on-line: provides many digitized newspapers from across the nation is another site that provides many newspapers, but for a price has a wonderful database that is constantly growing with SSDI, newspapers, books, obits and documents.  This also has a fee.

Try your local library databases.  Most  libraries have a link to which will guide you to a wide array of newspaper archives.

Google news archives search will produce so much from which to choose.  You will want to narrow your search after you see how much information will be matched to your initial search.

Next Friday, March 23, I will show you what you can find in on-line databases for wedding information.

NOTE:  I will be posting every Monday and Friday each week, but with shorter blogs.  This will enable me to focus on individual documents and discuss what I find in my own research, and those of my clients ( with names disguised for privacy issues ).  See ya on Friday!