There I was. Minding my own business, entering some newly-obtained marriage records (thank you, fellow APGer Melissa Johnson) into my source list in RootsMagic. The first item was a marriage certificate for Lily Frances Gallagher and Michael John Durkin dated December 31, 1905. They were married at Sacred Heart Church in Camden, New Jersey. Their parents are listed, the priest is listed, and the witnesses are listed. Everything is relatively legible. Nice.
Oh look – she was able to get the return too! Well, the bride’s name is now spelled “Lillie.” It’s close enough that I can live with it, but otherwise it looks like all the information is the sa– … wait a minute! The date on the return says they were married on May 9, 1905 by a Justice of the Peace, in front of two witnesses I’ve never heard of.
So I did what any good genealogist would do … I turned to my genea-friends on Facebook and asked whether this sort of thing was normal. One of the first questions was whether they were Catholic. Why, yes they were.
Apparently, that was commonplace during that time (and even more recently) to get married by a Justice of the Peace and then get married – sometimes years later – in the church.
One theory was that there could have been a child born in between the two marriages. I didn’t find one, but that doesn’t mean there was no pregnancy. It just puzzles me that if there was no baby on the near horizon, why rush the wedding? Why not just get married in the church in the first place?
Another theory included an elopement. Maybe someone didn’t feel as strongly about that marriage as they could have. Makes sense, I guess. It would also explain the fact that the witnesses aren’t family members.
Still another theory was that the church didn’t recognize the first one, so they had to do it again.
It also was not uncommon for a couple to have a civil marriage, have a child, then be married by a priest so their child could be raised in the church, or have a Catholic burial, in the case of a stillbirth or an infant death.
While I don’t know the actual reason why there are two marriage records for this couple, at least I have some theories to test, which provide some places to look for answers.
It occurs to me that I probably should read one of these books I have about Catholic records. I’m pretty sure there is some history in one of them. I may also ask my cousin, who is basically an expert on all things Catholic (at least compared to me), and see what she knows.
It also occurs to me that maybe I should be looking for additional marriage records for ALL of my relatives. And now I am completely overwhelmed by the fact that – with the exception of the current generations – I haven’t found anyone in my tree yet that isn’t Catholic.
Feel free to chime in with your own theories in the comments!
Do we share ancestors? Email me: lostancestors AT gmail DOT com
Copyright 2016 - Jenny-ology.com
Disclosure: Some posts may contain affiliate links, which means I may be compensated if you purchase a product using one of those links. There is no additional cost to you. Occasionally I receive free products to review, which will be indicated in my review posts. All opinions are my own, regardless of compensation. See my full disclosures at the link above.