Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tuesday's Tip: Floyda's Hidden Past Proves the Power of Please and Patience

Above is the marriage license application and cert for Floyda Mabel Steiner and Brice Larimer McClure, married 10 June 1903 in Wyandot County, Ohio (Upper Sandusky, to be exact). They're my hubby's maternal grandparents. There's been some question about the exact names of the great-grandparents, so I wanted their marriage info just to be sure. I found out where and when they were married via Ancestry's Ohio marriage database. The next step was to get a copy of the documentation.

First tip: Ask nicely. I called the probate court, explained that I was doing genealogical research, and asked (pretty please) whether the marriage documents for 1903 were available. The answer was yes. Next, I asked how to apply for a copy and what the cost would be. Answer: Write a detailed letter, include a SASE, and include a dime for each copy. However, I was told to be patient, because genealogical requests have to wait their turn while more pressing business is attended to. I thanked the clerk for her time, hung up, and immediately wrote out my request.

Second tip: Be generous. I put two bucks into a small envelope and wrote "payment for processing" on the outside, and included that with my letter and SASE. It's a bargain, IMHO, when you consider the convenience.

The bottom line: One month later, my SASE showed up in the mail, with a certified copy (well, photocopy) of the log book where Floyda and Brice's marriage info is kept. Not only did it show their parents' names (spelling is still a question mark), it revealed that Floyda had been married before, to Mr. Gottfried. That's an intriguing development I'm going to investigate.* Thank you, Wyandot County!

PS - Crawford County, Ohio, is just as friendly as Wyandot. I called to ask about Floyda's parents' marriage documents (from 1851) and they said to go ahead and send a SASE and 50 cents for a copy. Of course I sent more--what a bargain!

*2022 update: I learned more about Floyda's ill-fated first marriage from divorce documents obtained later. She filed suit against him, alleging her first husband was mentally and emotionally abusive, threatened and belittled her. Eventually she actually won her case and was awarded alimony. She took back her maiden name until remarrying two years later. 

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