12 July 2017

WAYS AROUND THE MARRIAGE LICENSE and RECORD

You may have used a database that has an index or text version extracted from the original records that were originally on printed forms but handwritten. Depending on the database you've used, you may be satisfied with what comes up.  But I advise "go further."  Go to the actual document and if it's not available on that database send away for photocopies of the original from the county or state or city where those documents are held.

I recently looked at an original and there in neat but tiny handwriting were the words "real name Polasky" under the bridges name information.  This bit of information proofed an oral history as well as confirmed that a possible reason that the bride's family wasn't coming up on census records and so on was that, though it was a first marriage and she was just 21, there had been a name change in the family quite soon after immigration; these immigrants Germanized their surname. 

This means to me that:
1) They could have done so because they thought or knew that it would mean work.
2) Quite likely they also spoke some German, as well as their native Polish.
3) That could mean they were from the part of Poland that was once the Austrian Empire since people went to school for free but learned in German.
4) Perhaps someday I will go back a generation or two and find some of their ancestors in Poland were German and had German surnames.  Or that they left Poland but more recently lived in Germany.

Because the bride stated it was her first marriage, I knew that this name change was not a result of marriage.

But from the license and the civil paperwork submitted by the person who performed the marriage, it was not clear if that person was a priest, justice of the peace, circuit judge, preacher, or some other person officially able to conduct marriages.  The family was also not sure, because the groom married a second time quickly after this first wife, I'll call her the Polasky bride, died, if these were religious marriages.  Rumors flew that the Polasky bride was Jewish. The next step was to run the addresses of the bride, groom, and the officiate, as well as to check what day of the week they filed for licenses and the day of the week they married.  Did they have a church wedding?

And what did he mean "real name?"  Most likely, the family did change their name, but they might not have gone through a legal process.  At the time many people did not.

I was able, because historical information came up on the Internet, to verify that in both cases, the marriages were performed within a week of the license and during the middle of the week.  This means there was no long engagement and it's less likely I'll find any announcements of engagements, marriages, or honeymoons in newspapers.  They decided and they went ahead and were married.  In one case, the certificate was signed by a priest who did not mention he was a priest, and in another it simply says "clergy." Though I suspect that there wasn't a special wedding Mass said for them, and that these weddings were a bit closer to a simple ceremony, in each case though, the marriages were performed in Catholic Churches, the first a Polish parish, and the second a Hungarian parish.  I learned where the records are kept for each.  One of the parishes is still functioning a hundred years or so after being founded, and there is a cemetery attached. 

The Polasky bride's death certificate gives both names she used.  I called the cemetery and they don't know where she is buried.  There is no headstone, if there ever was one.

Then I ran the names through FamilySearch were someone has submitted for some branch of the family.  The name of the Polasky bride's parents are not the same as the one submitted, nor are they in the same state.  But the submitter shows that there was a name change - and it matches the family I was searching for.

What this means right now is that I feel certain that the family in the other state is that of her uncle and his children.  His birthdate makes him old enough to be her father, and I would guess that her father is an older or younger brother.

However, unless I eventually find her and her parents that match her wedding license, and I suspect I will with their names horribly written and further transcribed distant from the actual surname. There are some other speculations I must deal with:

That her birth father was in the United States for a while, but went back to Poland, leaving her, and possibly some siblings as adults to support themselves.  Also a possibility is that I have found her father but he has remarried, and was married three times, her mother being a brief second marriage.  Possibly her mother died.  Finally though I have a second possible clue that links me to a family in another states and that is the oral history that her mother was named Veronica.  Her mother was not named Veronica, but if she is linked to this family, she would have an older sister or half sister named Veronica who was also on the census in the same place as she was married - briefly.

It's my intuition that the oral history that she had a mother named Veronica is actually that her mother died when she was born or young, and that this older sister, so long as she was still living in the same place, still looked in on her though there was a remarriage.

This particular situation has really challenged by genealogy myopia (we all have it at times).
If the records are correct, she came in 1904 with someone.  The possible uncle in another state also states he came in 1904.  She married in 1916.  Had a first child in 1918.  Died in 1920.

Proofing of course is needed!

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