Monday, March 23, 2015

::RECORD NOT FOUND:: but appears

Despite having the month, year, and names correct, my repeated requests to the Detroit,Wayne county, Michigan vital records office went unfulfilled. I had an undated photo from the day. But very own grandparents, the rare people in my family tree that I actually knew when they were alive apparently had married in stealth in another location = a location where no records we kept. It was odd that living family recited the same exact day one year prior the couple's first son’s birth as their wedding date. Was that a easy to remember lie because in truth the wedding was much closer or even after the wedding? All I had were theories. Honestly,  I wouldn’t judge them at all if there was comfortable shifting of events to make things easier on them but it certainly wasn't making easy on me as the family historian. Folks did and still have a lot of pressure to “keep up appearances”. Considering my possibilities, I began research what counties and states around them had the laxest laws and the shortest wait times. More records requests from likely candidates came back empty handed as well. I finally decided to step way from it and wrote it down on my “if I ever travel to Detroit list…". I have been looking since at least 2006.

L-R: Marvin Corgiat, Unkown, Leola Corgiat, Ray Dancy

I moved on to other things and even in that time let my subscription lapse. I was looking and using as many other resources as I could for other efforts. Then in February this year, Ancestry published their latest collection “Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952". And, without any cajoling of names and squinting to make things line up, the leafy hint popped up and there the record of their marriage was…in the right month and in the right year that I had provided to the clerks so many times. Leola Corgiat was spelled incorrectly twice (CORGAIT), but Ray's was just fine. 

Is there a moral? I am not sure- because if was so badly misfiled that the clerks familiar with the records couldn’t find it, what makes me think I could find it during a costly journey to the records office? It was only through an exhaustive one-to-n scanning and uploading process that caught the record like a fish in a net. Then, it was through extensive indexing, a brute force effort by many folks that the record became known to me. I am well aware how no part of this was automagical. 

Michigan Marriage record for Mr. Ray Dancy

I learned my grandmother was once a stenographer, I had only known about her days as a bookkeeper. Perhaps now I can identify the second woman (Evangeline Monacheim??) in the photograph. Overall, I'm of course pleased as punch the record finally came to light, but I can't say I have a reproducible strategy since "simply wait" is what got the job done in the end. 

Citations Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2015.
Original data: Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867–1952. Michigan Department of Community Health, Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics.

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