Sunday, November 23, 2014

Actual Record versus Index

I was reviewing a New Jersey (second) marriage with someone from Jersey City in 1888.  We don't have the original record, only the entry (no image) at FamilySearch in the collection, New Jersey Marriages, 1678-1985.

The question was:  As this is a remarriage, is the bride's name in the index her name at birth or her first husband's name?

The answer:  We don't know unless we look at the record.  (The record is on microfilm in Trenton, so we aren't going to see it from our computers at home.)

I looked at some marriage returns in my possession to compare to the online index.  From Jersey City in 1886, I have the marriage return for the second marriage of bride, Anna, to James Livingstone Miller.  She was the daughter of Louman Heiser (Hyser) and Catherine Eckler.  She first married William H Cummings in 1877 in Catskill, Greene County, New York.

Marriage Return, 1886, Jersey City, New Jersey
James Livingstone Miller, son of Christopher Miller and Agnes M Barton
Anna Bell Hyser, daughter of Luman Hyser and Catherine Eckler
"Cumming" was listed as Anna's "maiden name," then crossed out and "Hyson" (Hyser) written in.  "Last name, if a widow," was Hysen Cumming.

Next I turned to the index at FamilySearch to see which name appears.

In the index, Anna is listed by her name at birth, Hyser, or at least a construed version of the name, Hyren.  The married name, Cumming, is not mentioned at all.  The middle names of the parties are omitted from the index, but are available on the actual record.  Marital status is single and does not change if the record is for James or Anna, yet the actual marriage record is clear that this was Anna's second marriage.

James Livingstone Miller in the 1887-1888 Jersey City (Hudson County, New Jersey) directory

By 1900, Anna Hyser had married again, this time to Nicholas Brower.  My grandmother told me she married four times.  Still looking for another husband.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Secondary Sources

I finally tracked down the death certificate of Charles Cook, my great great grandfather.  He was a resident of Newark, Essex County, New Jersey when he died December 6, 1937.  I looked at the death certificates year after year until I found the correct one.  This is sometimes what has to be done if the date cannot be obtained from another record.

Unlike the death certificate of his father, Charles' death record provided the name of the cemetery where he was buried, Locust Hill in Dover, Morris County, New Jersey.  His father's record provided only the town of burial.  I made several trips, inquiries, and searches until I found the relevant Cook grave in Dover.

Cook family plot at Locust Hill Cemetery in Dover, Morris County, New Jersey.
Charles Cook (1859-1937) does not have a marker.

When you look at a record, it is important to keep in mind which pieces of information are primary versus secondary.  The date of death and location are primary, as the facts were recorded at the time of the event.  The date and place of birth and names of spouse and parents are secondary sources.

Charles' date of birth is quite specific on his death record:  October 22, 1857.  Unlike most people born in the 1850s, Charles' birth in Denville, Morris County, New Jersey was recorded at the state level.  Charles was born June 11, 1859.  The birth record is a primary source for Charles' birthdate.

The 1860 federal census gives Charles Cook's age as 1 year.  This is consistent with a birth in 1859.  Ages skew in later census years.

The names of Charles Cook's parents are not consistent with other records.  His father was Calvin Cook (1826-1889), not William.  His mother was Mary Neil (1830-1898) or O'Neil, not Caroline.  Charles' wife was Minnie Caroline Bishop (1866-1910).

As you gather documents, evaluate if you are looking at primary or secondary sources.  Remember, though, that primary is not synonymous with absolute truth.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Legible Writing, a Rare and Wonderful Find

The marriage record for Carl Robert Bossert and Pauline Mathilda Maier is the clearest and most detailed I have found.  It's as if the writer wanted to convey legible information to future viewers.

We have full names of both parties.  The bride's birthdate is given, which was not directly asked.  Full names of both sets of parents are given:  Johannes Bossert, Johanna Kukle; Friedrich Maier and Mathilda Heiss.  We also get the hometowns in Germany:  Remsheim and Oberenzingen, both in Württemberg.  The marriage date is clarified:  "July fourth (4) 1897."  You don't find this often.

JewishGen helps you locate places in Europe, even if the name or borders have changed

I attempted to find these locations on a map.  My current theory is that the bride is from Oberensingen, which is now in Nürtingen in the district of Esslingen in the state of Baden-Württemberg.

The groom's location is trickier.  I don't find Remsheim.  On a subsequent marriage record, Robert Carl listed his birthplace as Wimsheim.  This I can find, about 30 miles northwest of Oberensingen.  Wimsheim is in the district of Enz in the state of Baden-Württemberg.

Wimsheim and Oberensingen are in southwest Germany near Pforzheim and Stuttgart.