Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Always Check the Original

My sister-in-law's grandfather asked me if I could find out more information about his mother's mother.  He knew that his mother, Cecelia Resnick Miliman, had lost her mother at a young age, possibly in childbirth.  He wasn't sure of his grandmother's name or much else about her.  He did know that his grandfather, Louis Resnick, had remarried a woman named Anna who helped to raise Cecelia.

I was able to find Cecelia's birth certificate at the Maryland State Archives in Annapolis.  Apparently she didn't have an official first name until she was in her 60s!
Cecelia Resnick Birth Certificate; March 1901; Baltimore, MD

Well, there was the mother's name--Tilla Scher Resnick.  So I tried to find Louis and Tilla's marriage record.  Maryland has an old-fashioned sort of index.  They have huge PDFs with an index card on each page, in alphabetical order by the groom's name.  I searched for Louis Resnick and found two cards that looked semi-promising:
Louis Resnick & Jennie Sherer Marriage, 1903
Louis had married Jennie Sherer in 1903.  Since Cecelia was born in 1901, presumably her parents had married by then.  Could this be the same Louis?  He is listed as a widower, so it's possible that this was after Tilla's death.

The second card I found for Louis confirmed the story I was told.
Louis Resnick & Annie Leonson Marriage Record; 1907; Baltimore, MD
By 1907, Louis was a widower when he married Annie Leonson.  A bit more research confirmed that his was the correct Annie; her maiden name had been Annie Kaufman, and she had been married to the late Joseph Jacob Leonson.

But who were these Scher/Sherers?  Were Tilla and Jennie related?  The 1900 census revealed that they were sisters (and once I told my sister-in-law's grandfather this, he recalled that there had been a sister who Louis had married, but she hadn't lived long after marriage):
1900 United States Census, Baltimore, Maryland
Solomon and Mary Scherr were living with their children in Baltimore--and the oldest two were Tillie and Jennie. The census also tells us that Mary was the mother to the younger 6 children--but that a previous wife of Solomon was Tillie's and Jennie's mother.

And how did the two Scherer sisters die?  Contrary to family lore, Tillie did not die in childbirth with Cecelia.
Taube Resnik Death Certificate, 1902, Baltimore
"Taube Resnik" died in March 1902, when Cecelia was nearly a year old--of pulmonary tuberculosis.  And Jennie?  Well, I found her grave, but there are missing death certificates around her date of death and hers seems to be among them.
Jennie Scherr Tombstone
Jennie died in August 1905, about two years after she married Louis--and about two years before Louis married Annie.

But back to the marriages--I still couldn't find Louis's marriage to Tillie/Tilla.  Since this isn't a searchable index, I couldn't use wildcards, so I had to guess on spellings.  I looked through all the cards beginning with "Res" and "Rez."  Nothing.  And there isn't a bride's index for those years.

I could narrow down when the marriage took place.  Tillie was still unmarried and living with her family when the census was taken on June 4, 1900.  And Cecelia was born in March 1901.  So Louis and Tillie would have had to have been married pretty soon after the census was taken, in the early summer of 1900.

I went back to the Maryland State Archives.  They said that if I didn't find the record in the index, the marriage didn't take place in Baltimore City.  But since these were two young immigrants living in Baltimore City, I didn't see them planning a destination wedding too far from home.  So I asked for the original marriage records from 1900.  A huge old book was brought out of the bowels of the archives.
1900 Marriages, Baltimore City
I looked through the records from that summer--and there they were!
Louis "Rusnick" and Tillie Scherer Marriage; Baltimore City, 1900
Louis Rusnick and Tillie Scherer applied for their marriage license on June 4, 1900, the same day Tillie had been enumerated with her family in the census.
Louis "Rusnick" and Tillie Scherer Marriage; Baltimore, MD, Page 2
They were married by Joseph Taub on June 7, 1900.  I never would have thought to look under the "Ru"s in the index--but looking at the original documents helped me to locate this record within minutes!  So while indexes can be very helpful, if a record you know should be there hasn't been indexed, look at the original data source.  (And if you do find something in an index, still look at the original data source--they often contain additional information, and indexing can introduce errors.)

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  1. Wonderful research tips! Congratulations on finding the record. How far back do they go? I have been trying to find a marriage record for my great-grandfather's brother, Moses Cohen, who married Adeline Himmel sometime in the 1840s in Baltimore---or at least that is what I have assumed. Great post. Thank you!

    1. You should be able to check here: guide.mdsa.net/pages/series.aspx?action=viewSeries&ID=CM205 (site seems to be down at this moment).

  2. Thank you. I have checked there, and unfortunately the marriage index starts in 1851. Since Moses and Adeline were married by 1850 (as listed on the 1850 census), the index starts too late to cover their marriage. Unless MD has records that predate those that are indexed, I guess I am out of luck. Thanks again!

    1. Check the Jewish Museum of Maryland. They have some early records (including copies of marriage licenses kept by the Rabbi). I found one from the 1860s there (http://larasgenealogy.blogspot.com/2015/08/jacob-e-schwerin-whos-your-daddy-and_23.html), and their website says they have back to at least 1850.

  3. Nice research - you must have had a little genealogy "happy dance" when you found that 1900 marriage record!

    1. Yes--but quietly because I was still in the archives. :)

  4. Thank you---I will give that a try!