Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Tuesday's Tip - Indiana Marriages Companion Book

Marriage Record for Dwight Hawks and Estella Burns
5 June 1884

We were in Elkhart, Indiana this week doing some research for my hubby’s monograph on the Cutter family. 

Family lines to be researched in Elkhart and Goshen were the Davenports, Butterfields, McCutchens and Hawks.  On Sunday afternoon we visited the Grace Lawn Cemetery, the Violett Cemetery and the Oak Ridge Cemetery.

Early Monday morning we visited the Goshen Vital Records department where we found a marriage record for Mary Louise Butterfield and Martin Van Buren Starr who were married 25 June 1895, and for Georgiana Butterfield and Charles McCutchen, married 6 June 1894. Both were married in the St. James Church by Rector Charles Stout.   

But it was the Hawks marriage that had us stumped. Doing due diligence prior to our trip, my hubby had called and talked with the staff of each department to ascertain exactly what information was available.  At one point he was bounced over to the Goshen Vital Records Archives where he talked with a knowledgeable and helpful woman. She reported that her microfilm had Estella Burns Hawks’ father as Floyd Burns.  But when we viewed the marriage record for Dwight Hawks and Estella Burns, there was no mention of a father. So where was this information? The vital records clerks had no idea.

We drove to the Archives to find the answer:  the Indiana Marriages Companion Book for the years 1882-1907.  According to the archivist, because of staff turnover knowledge of available information like the Companion Book is lost. The Companion Book information is not online and it has not been filmed by the Mormons.  

The Companion Book recorded as to whether it was a first or second marriage, and if second, depending on the year, it might say if it was because of divorce or death. It showed parents names, and ages of the couple.

At this point we don’t know how many counties within Indiana and/or how many states might have Marriage Companion Books.  But it would be wise to ask, and in this case, if my hubby’s phone call hadn’t been transferred to this particular woman, we would never have known.  

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