Monday, October 24, 2011

How to Prove a Marriage Event for a Lineage Application

I am in the process of gathering the documentation I need to submit my husband's lineage applications for the Ohio Genealogical Society's Settlers and Builders of Ohio (your family must have resided in Ohio between 1821 and 1860) and hopefully, the Society of Civil War Families of Ohio (SCWFO).  SCWFO is one of the few lineage groups that allows you to submit a collateral relative.  My husband's great-grandmother's brother served in the Civil War and I will submit his name.

As with any lineage application I make a chart of the people who will be involved in the application.  I make a list of the items that will be required:  Birth - Marriage - Death - Divorce - Tombstone Picture - Obituary - Will/Estate - Bible - Census Records - Other records.  I have this chart made in Excel so that I can use it over and over.  It has been very easy to use and has shown me where I need to find items that I do not have.

I will start with my husband's birth certificate, then our marriage record, then my birth certificate.  You will notice that I didn't say marriage certificate.  Normally, the marriage certificate you hold in your possession is proof of your marriage for most of life's events.  However, when you are applying to a lineage society, the rule is generally that you must also prove where the marriage was recorded in Probate Court.  You must include the volume and page of where the information appears!  This caused me a lot of backtracking when I did my first lineage application.  (This goes back to putting a source citation on your document when you find it.)  The official record of marriage in most states is the return to the court from the person who officiated at the ceremony.   

The source citation for this record will read:
Marriage License of John Furgeson/Ferguson and Caroline Wittel
Crawford County Probate Court, Crawford Co., OH
Volume 8  Page 12  Certificate 48
The license was issued on 11 February 1871

Important note:  Just because a marriage license was issued does not mean 
there was a marriage!

The actual marriage return is beside this and appears as:

 The source citation for this will be:
Marriage Record return for John Furgeson/Ferguson and Caroline Wittel
Married on the 10th day of February 1871
Crawford County, Ohio Marriage Records
Volume 8 Page 12 Certificate 48

I believe that the marriage records are the most misunderstood records as most people believe the marriage certificate they have in their possession, or in a frame, is the actual legal record.  I do insist of my applicants that if they do submit their original certificates, they have to submit to me the volume and page of where the document is recorded.  

So, save yourself an extra step and do this right at the beginning.

Today, many marriage records from Ohio can be found at  However, they are not "sourced" as to the volumes they came from.  On occasion I have found that by going to page 1 of the record source, there might be a volume number.  What this is doing for you is telling you what county the couple was married in and what date they were married.  You can contact the Probate Court for that particular county and ask them what volume and page that record would appear on.  If the personnel at the court will not do this for you, then check with a local genealogical society to see if they have researchers that will look this up for you if you do not live in the area.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Why Do I Want to Join a Lineage Society?

This question was brought up at a recent chapter meeting.  Why does a person want to join a lineage society?  What benefit is there?  I think our first thought is that it is a way for a chapter or society to make money.  And, in part that is true.  However, there is a deeper motivation for me, and I would hope for you as well.  You have done your research.  You have the documentation that proves you belong to your ancestors.  You have the birth, death and marriage records.  You may have the obituaries and pictures of tombstones.  You may have a copy of a will or estate that proves descent.  Now, what are you going to do with it?  Are you going to leave it sit in a box in the closet?  Are you going to let those documents languish in your computer?  Are you sharing it with your family?  Are you writing a book about your family?  Why not join a lineage society where your documentation will be preserved forever!  Why not let it be known that you have done your homework and now you want to share your researching skills with the outside world!  My first attempt at a lineage society was with a local chapter.  It was a newly formed lineage society and the rules and guidelines were tough.  I almost did not complete the project!  As a new genealogist at the time, I did not understand source citations, or the importance of a volume and a page number in relation to court documents.  It was an education in itself and it caused me to backtrack to several places in order to find that pertinent information.  (Now it is the first thing I do - source my document).  Whether we are doing genealogy for ourselves or for other people, it is important to remember to source your documents.  It will save you a lot of trouble somewhere along the line.  When I committed to joining the lineage society, I, personally, felt it was the best way that I could honor my ancestors.  Their sacrifices and their lives would not be lost to time.  There would be a lasting legacy of their existence.  Lineage applications are usually filed at a repository where other people researching can find your files and make connections with you as well.  The Ohio Genealogical Society allows researchers to view the packets of previous applicants.  This may be the only place you will find a piece of documentation you need.  There are a multitude of lineage societies available to many of us.  Whether it be a nationally recognized society such as the D.A.R. or the S.A.R, the War of 1812, First Families of Ohio, or a local chapter's lineage society - please take the time to check in to the rules and guidelines to see if you qualify.  You may be surprised at what you will find.  I was surprised to learn that my ancestors were actually in Ohio by 1795.  That was before Ohio even became a state in 1803.  It really isn't that hard to fill out the paperwork if you do a little homework before you even start.  Read the rules and guidelines of the lineage group you want to join.  Read them a second and third time so you completely understand them.  Then start filling out your application!  Good Luck!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pictures and grandchildren

Today I was looking for a specific picture to be used in conjunction with my blog.  It was a picture of all the shoes of my grandchildren lined up under the kitchen sink as they came in the back door.  Of course, my pictures are not sorted, or in albums.  They are in boxes, envelopes and drawers.  Of course, there are also hundreds of them on my computers!  In the process of looking for one specific picture, I also ran across several pictures that I had completely forgotten about.  Now, what am I to do with all of these pictures?  How do I tell one newborn grandchild from another when they all looked alike!  Some of my pictures are labeled, but most of them are not.  I know, I must heed my own advice.  When I am speaking to groups, I admonish them, and myself, to go home and label the pictures that are sitting in drawers and boxes.  Do we want our precious photographs lost to time?  Quite a few years ago, my grandparents were preparing to go in to a nursing home.  My father had come from Arizona to help them sort through things in preparation for an auction.  One day, he came back to the house and informed me that he had had a huge bonfire that day.  When I asked what he had burned, he calmly said, "old pictures".  I was not doing genealogy at the time, but I felt a great personal loss.  When I asked why he would burn precious pictures, he said, "Well, they didn't have any names on them and I didn't know who they were."  Oh, how sad.  We could probably identify some of those today.  Is that the fate of our pictures - a fire, or the trash?  With the advent of digital pictures it is even more important to take the time to identify our pictures.  It is a simple matter of right clicking and renaming the image.  Is this on your "bucket list" of things to do?  It certainly is on mine.  I am seriously considering making CD's of each grandchild from birth to the present as gifts.  Shhhh!  Don't tell them - it's a surprise!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Step in Line

As the chair of numerous lineage societies, both at a county level and at the state level in Ohio, I would like to share useful hints for prospective lineage applicants.  There will also be other stories told here.  With ten grandchildren there is always a story to tell - or to leave behind!

I have been doing genealogy since 1998 when I decided to find the relationship of my father's parents.  They had always said they were 5th or 6th cousins, and I wanted to know exactly what it was!  After being guided in the right direction, and after only 24 hours, I was able to learn that my grandparents were true 3rd cousins.  Now, how cool is that to start your genealogy and get answers so quickly from out of state sources!  After that point, it seemed that I was destined to become the guardian of the family records.  Many different things came my way once I let it be known that I was doing genealogy.

A cousin on my mother's side gave me the framed marriage certificate of his grandparents, my great-grandparents.  Along with that, I was given custody of my great-grandmother's wedding nightgown made of a beautiful muslin with crochet trim; the family christening gown - that matched the wedding nightgown; and charcoal drawings of my great-grandparents that matched the pictures attached to their marriage certificate along with a charcoal drawing of my great-grandmother's father!  There was also a box of pictures handed to me that included the family of my great-grandfather's parents!  My great-grandfather was one of 8 children, and there were pictures of all of them in the box of pictures.  The best part was that somebody had actually taken the time to label all of the pictures!  How thoughtful of them!

I have been traveling a road of genealogy experiences and learning something new all the time.  I know that my journey is not complete down that ever twisting road and I'm still waiting to see where it will lead me.