Friday, June 3, 2016

June - a Month for Wedding Discoveries, part 1

"The Wedding Morning"
by John Henry Frederick Bacon, via Wikimedia Commons

June is still considered to be a traditional month for weddings. It is a time filled with hopes, dreams, family, and the excitement that comes with entering a new stage of life. And for me this week, June has been the time I discovered two interesting marriage records. It was enough to make me do my version of a wedding happy dance.

Over the past few years, I have tried unsuccessfully to find the marriage record of my GreatGrandparents, Peter Petersen Myren and Kari Syversdatter. I have looked at numerous online databases and indices, studied various North Dakota records, all without success. I had even requested snippets of possible records only to discover before I purchased a copy of the record that the records were not for my ancestors. Even all the focus and attention I gave to my Norwegian roots during the Genealogy Do-Over had not been enough to help my find this marriage record.

A recent e-mail from mentioned a hint pointing to a birth record for a Norwegian relative. The birth record was part of Ancestry's database of church records from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, records covering 1875-1940. In one of those Ah-Ha moments, I realized I had not checked this database of church records for the marriage of my GreatGrandparents. I had only been looking through the civil records of Wisconsin and North Dakota.

It took using several variations and spellings of Peter and Kari's names, but I was eventually rewarded when I found the marriage registration record shown below.


My notes, shown in color to the left of their entry, indicate that this really is my Peter and Kari's marriage registration. The names of family members agreed with what I knew of Peter and Kari's families, as did Peter's listed residence. The marriage date of 16 December 1880 verified the approximate time period in which I had suspected they were been married. Assuming all along that they had been marred in the Dakota Territory, their Wisconsin marriage showed that I was only about 400 miles off in my geographical calculation.

From that day in 1880, the couple lived together in North Dakota until Peter died in 1923; Kari passed away in 1938. Eight of their nine children grew up on Peter's Dakota homestead; one child died there in his infancy. Today the property is still owned by a family member. I'm so glad I finally find the true beginning of their story.

The marriage information I found for another relative presented a very different story, a story I will share late.

Lessons Learned:

  • Boundaries in the United States were sometimes fluid in the period before an area officially became a state. Names of areas also changed through the years. In your research it pays to look at the counties or even states around the area in which a family lived.
  • I am so appreciative of the record keeping of the Lutheran Church in America. Their records enabled me to find a long missing marriage record. These and similar church records greatly add to the information available to us if we search just through civil records.

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