I have been searching for my grandparent's marriage records for over thirty years and I still am having difficulty locating them. I have been looking through images of marriage indexes on Family Search, but no luck thus far. Would it be possible for them to have gotten married in the church, but possibly never filed in the county? My grandmother arrived July 1907 and had her first born October 1908, so I am guessing they married soon after she arrived in the U.S. I know Pennsylvania County marriage records began in 1906. Any suggestions on research strategy would be appreciated.
Diane, it was common for many women to be pregnant when they were married. You probably need to look back for more detail at the ship manifest. the 1907 had a lot of data and can provide a lot of clues. What date of marriage do you have? How many months is it between their wedding and the birth of their first child?
First question is, did she arrive married (used married name) or unmarried (used maiden name). What was her final destination and what was the name of the person's she was going to stay with? Who was her next of kin listed as and where did they live? Who else from the village was aboard the ship? Were they going to the same place? Immigrants rarely traveled alone. Look beyond the adjacent entries, sometimes people from the same village get shuffled about and end up on different manifest pages. Where did those people go to and to see who?
Second, do you have your grandfather's arrival manifest? You need it. Ask exactly the same questions I asked about your grandfather.
Third, do you know what village they came from? If you do, you can use www.stevemorse.org to search for people who came from that village. Have you searched using all the different village names?
Fourth, What name variations have you used? Sounds-like? Looks-like? Are you familiar with the cursive writing styles of the time? They are not the same as today.
Fifth and most important, you should be looking at the hand-written image of the ship manifest pages, NOT the typewritten pages. There are thousands and thousands of transcription errors.
Sixth, don't assume anything, especially that they were married in the USA. Don't assume July 1907 was the date she arrived unless you can see the written manifest yourself.
Seventh, what tools and services have you used to look for their marriage records? Ancestry.com?
Eighth, Ancestry has many useful tools. There were "city directories" during that time that told who lived at what address, married or not. Depending what state your grandparents moved to, there may be "state census". There are city vital records of marriage in Ancestry, even if you can't find the church record. I had to write to the priest of the church I suspected my grandparents were married to. I sent him some money and he found the record. He proceeded to write me up an "official" marriage certificate for them, which I didn't need or want, I just wanted the information. But it was interesting.
Ninth, For any date that you have recorded, unless you see the actual official document that proves such and such happened on such and such date, don't take it too literally. Look in a date range of plus or minus 5 years for starters.
Tenth, All may not be not as it appears. My grandmother came to America, married my Grandfather in Scranton, PA. Shortly after their marriage, she went back to her village of Nova Sedlica and her first baby daughter was born there. She traveled back two years later to Scranton. On the manifest, the child's nationality was left blank. On state and federal census her birthplace was listed as "Nova Sedlica". Then about 15 years later, all of a sudden, she was listed as born in America and a citizen of the USA. There was never any naturalization petition or citizenship record. She just magically became American, got a social security card and collected benefits. woah, sounds like an "illegal alien", right!
Eleventh: Record everything. Never try to "correct" a name. leave it as is. Don't trust it completely until it can be verified.