Fearless Females 4 March 2016: Marriage Records for Female Ancestors: A Lesson in Genealogy Persistence

The prompt for Fearless Females for 4 March 2016 focuses on marriage records.

Do you have marriage records for your grandparents or great-grandparents? Write a post about where they were married and when. Any family stories about the wedding day? Post a photo too if you have one. 

Below is the photo of my grandparents John and Elizabeth Fencak Alzo taken on their wedding day. They were married on 21 January 1915 in Duquesne, Pennsylvania.

Wedding photograph of John Alzo and Elizabeth Fencak, 1915.
Image privately held by Lisa A. Alzo.

I have their marriage certificate. It was given to me by my cousin who had it in a box of her mother’s personal belongings.

Marriage certificate for John Alzo and Elizabeth Fencak, 1915.
Image privately held by Lisa A. Alzo.

When researching female ancestors (or any ancestors) we must always look for all records. So it was not enough for me to have my grandparents’ marriage certificate.  I wanted to obtain their marriage license application.  When I contacted the Orphans Court in Allegheny County, PA the first time I was told there was no application for the names I listed on the request form (John Alzo and Elizabeth Fencak). As it turns out, my grandparents wrote their names as what appears to be “John Olyzso” and Lizie Fenyisik,” so it is easy to see how someone might index those names in a book or database. 

Marriage license application, for John Alzo and Elizabeth Fencak, 1915.
Image privately held by Lisa A. Alzo.

But genealogists learn not to take “No” for an answer and to be persistent. So I wrote back to the Orphans Court and the second time I included the number listed on the bottom of the certificate. Sure enough, I eventually received an envelope with the copy of the marriage license application I had requested.

Tip:  Think like a transcriptionist. Even simple four letter names such as “Alzo” can have spelling issues. Always consider all the ways an ancestor’s name might be spelled or interpreted when searching databases or requesting records. Also, always be sure to include all important information on the application the first time!

This is one of the tips I will be covering in my Ladies First: Finding Your Female Ancestors Mini Boot Camp tomorrow 5 March 2016.  

[Note: The live boot camp session is sold out but watch this blog for an announcement of when the digital recording will be available for purchase.]

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