My friend Terri at Finding Our Ancestors blog asked me why someone would get a marriage license in Chicago and go to Kewanee, Illinois to get married. That is a good question and one I have wondered as my grandparents appeared to have done the same thing!
I have two documents for my grandparents, Joseph Holik and Libbie Brouk. One is a Marriage License issued 19 April 1930 in Chicago. States they married on the same day. The second document was given to me recently by my father and is a fancy Certificate of Marriage for Joseph Holik and Libbie Brouk. Glancing over the document I can see it was signed by a Judge of the Circuit Court of Kewanee, IL named H. Sterling Pomeroy.
So they married in Kewanee? Why on earth in 1930 would they drive from Chicago to Kewanee to get married?
They didn’t. Let’s break this down and look at the clues.
As Terri and I found, looking more closely at our documents, they were indeed married in the County Building in the city of Chicago. The address given is 226 County Building, Chicago, IL.
They were married by a Judge from Kewanee, IL, who spent time serving in the Cook County Courts. Both documents say Chicago, IL as the marriage place. On the license, his name is stamped as the name of the officiant. On the Certificate of Marriage he signed his name and stamped “Judge of the City Court of Kewanee, IL.”
The Certificate of Marriage was even signed by the witnesses, my Great uncle Ladislav Brouk and Great uncle John J. Holik, Jr. Signatures are nice to have to compare documents.
When you break down a document for the first, second, or even third time, pull out all the clues and make sure you are reading things in the context in which they were intended. Why would you break down a document more than once? Sometimes you think you pulled all the details out but when you go back to it later, after more research is done, you may see something you “missed” before. Something that didn’t mean anything to you at the time. I find reviewing documents for an individual after more research is done sometimes sparks a new research idea or shows me a clue that now has greater meaning.
Upon first glance at both of these documents you think my grandparents drove to Kewanee to get married. Breaking down the details you find out that was not the case.