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Missing marriage records?

October 25th, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

I’ve been helping a relative do some research on his family, and wee have a recording someone in his family did where his Grandmother describes having been married 4 different times between 1917-1960. Thing is, we can’t find a single marriage record for the woman. Not in any of the Indiana counties that she lived in during that period, or in St. Louis, MO where she claims on the recording that at least 3 of the marriages took place.

We have located the birth records for the children that she had with the first 2 husbands, (showing they were just barely legitimate) and census records showing her last name as having been changed to the 3rd husband’s name, plus her SS death record where she has husband #4’s last name (plus she’s buried with him)

At the time that the recording was made, I don’t think anyone believed there was any reason to question her version of events, or would have even if they thought of it. Now, many years later it is a matter of curiosity for the family and no one is left alive to really get upset about whether she was telling the truth or not.

My question is this: Is there a likely database or location where these marriage records may be stored that I’m missing? i can understand not being able to find a record of her last marriage, since neither Indiana or Illinois publishes the records for marriages that took place in the 50’s and 60’s. Plus that one some people actually remember seeing take place, so there’s no doubt it occurred. The first three marriages though we ought to be able to find, right? Is this something even worth chasing, or does it sound like maybe the marriages never actually took place?

I’m just trying to make sure that I’m not missing a resource, I’d hate to make a long trip trying to track this down in MO if the woman was simply engaging in a little revisionist’s history while she delivered her memoirs.
Shenaya- sorry, I failed to mention that she gave specific dates for the first two marriages (and divorces) and a year for the 3rd marriage and divorce. Going off of census records, draft cards and city directories in addition to the birth records of the children that she had with husbands 1 and 2, and a picture that was found of husband 3, I am certain she did in fact have relationships with all 3 men. I just haven’t been able to find any marriage records. Husband 1 married someone else shortly after she is supposed to have divorced him, husband 2 was married to someone else briefly a few years before she married him (this is the recollection of a 93 yr old niece of his) but I don’t have anything to tell me whether he was widowed, divorced or separated, and 3 was described as a playboy of sorts, I know he had a wife 3 years prior to when she would have married him, and I can’t be sure a divorce ever took place their either.
Joyce- I’m not used to giving personal info on YA, even when it isn’t mine. Sorry. The people and relevant dates in question are:

Lydia May Nolan
married James B Weir of Fountain Co IN sometime in 1916. Location unknown. Divorced 1-5-1917.
married Horace Sterling Zick of Fountain Co IN on 12-24-1918 in St Louis MO, divorced by 1922
married Thomas Larimore of Pekin, Tazewell, IL sometime in 1922 in St Louis MO, divorced 1923

Yes, I am on ancestry.com I’ve got records on these people out the wazoo, just none to explain whether all the bed hopping was done with the proper paperwork having been filed.
Maxi- actually when i started working on this (for my 3rd cousin) I had absolutely nothing but 2 iffy names and a location. My great aunt sent him to me because he wanted to find out about his father’s family and I am the only person in our family who is both interested in genealogy and familiar with the computer. His whole problem was that that side of his family was never an acceptable topic of conversation while his father was alive. So I started digging and finding records, starting with his dad and then good old grandma, then a birth record, then another birth record for another kid with a different guy. I must have 200 emails back and forth from me finding a record or having an idea and him digging up a piece of information from someone to corroborate it. I have enough records that I can put together a reasonable chronology for everyone involved, but to me, considering the time period, all the brief marriages and quick divorces that were supposedly taking place just in time

If you don’t provide names, all we can do is give generic answers. She could have been playing fast and loose with the truth, or the records simply aren’t online yet. Have you contacted the state vital records office requesting a copy of the marriage certificates? Are you using ancestry.com for your search?


  1. Shenaynay
    October 26th, 2011 at 03:00 | #1

    If she was legally married four times, the first three husbands must have been divorced or they died, have you tried researching them to see if their life stories fit the picture? And also if they were available to marry at the time, like they didn’t already have previous wives themselves.
    References :

  2. Joyce B
    October 26th, 2011 at 03:22 | #2

    If you don’t provide names, all we can do is give generic answers. She could have been playing fast and loose with the truth, or the records simply aren’t online yet. Have you contacted the state vital records office requesting a copy of the marriage certificates? Are you using ancestry.com for your search?

    References :

  3. Maxi
    October 26th, 2011 at 03:32 | #3

    Family stories are great BUT just use them as a clue, you can’t trust them, they become facts in the heads of those that tell them, but on research few are proved correct…that is just how oral history is………..if you can’t find a marriage, how would you know the children born were ‘barely legitimate’…………I think what you are doing is mixing up facts such as records found and hearsay/family stories you have been told………they are separate and you need to look at the facts only………….no marriage records….so look for the ‘spouses’ death record…..if you find that then she moved on if you don’t she is likely to have moved on and not have been married.

    This story rings a bell for me I was researching an ancestor who was ‘married’ as per the census claim for 24 years and I searched everywhere for the marriage and all the census then finding one which gave another name, thinking it might be her middle name…several weeks later I found it was another women, found their marriage then researched her and it was 23 yeas before she died and they remained married as divorce then was not really an option for the majority…so my ancestor was living with ‘her husband’ but not married for 24 years ( oldest child 23 years) but they married 1 month after his wife died………so you see you can’t rely on one record and you can’t trust the information is true in all records………….which is where RESEARCH comes in………don’t beat yourself up over marriage records you can’t find, look for other records you can find as there is always a way to find something out via other records.

    …………………and this is not the only one an elderly relation of mine married for 34 years, previously married for 20 years before her 1st husband died told me she was having problems with the pensions department in getting her pension…she was self employed all her life( most of her life) and thought that was why…..asked me if I would call and sort it out as the phone calls and forms confused her…………..two phone calls it took to sort it BUT I was asked in the first one dates of marriage etc etc so needed to ask her for details then phone back………..I asked what date did you marry 2nd husband and she looked at me and if looks could kill I would have been dead the answer I got was " we are not married" and you could have knocked me down with a feather as this person is so judgmental about people ‘living together’, single parents etc and has always voiced their judgments and condemnation very openly and hurt many people by doing so………..if someone else had told me that Mr & Mrs ? was not married, I would have called them a liar …….she is a person who I have known all my life and not for one minute did I expect what she told me.
    References :

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