I have a confession to make and I hope it doesn’t get me thrown out of the highly selective genealogy club. I love the shaking leaf hints on Ancestry. I even wrote a blog post about them a few eons ago.
This time the shaking leaf solved a big mystery for me. I guess the thing I love so much is it’s not a mystery I was even working at.
In brief, my great-grandmother, Nelle Eickelberg was married three times. While she was born in Indiana, her family was in Colorado by the time she was two or three and she lived the rest of her life there. I have been able to find her first marriage, when she just 17, a great newspaper snippet about it, the birth of her first child, as well as the records for her subsequent divorce.
I can find her and her second husband, my great-grandfather John H Quick, in the 1910 census and I have their son, my grandfather’s birth record. I have John’s very scanty death certificate. I also have a record of Nelle's marriage to her 3rd husband as well as being able to find her in every census in Colorado from 1900 to 1940. I have her death certificate. I have her third husband’s death certificate. Shoot, I have her first husband’s death certificate. The one thing I couldn’t find – a record of her marriage to my great-grandfather. I’ll admit after the first few attempts I haven’t tried all that hard. There is really no information I felt it would add to what I have on Nelle.
So fast forward to yesterday. Now my standard work-flow for dealing with hints is that I go through periodically and pick ‘ignore’ for all of them. Then, when I want to work on a particular person I will look at – and evaluate – all the hints I’ve ignored. As I was doing my ignore, ignore, ignore, routine I happened upon a marriage record in Iowa for J H Quick. Well clearly that’s not my guy and Quick’s a common name. I was wishing that Ancestry had another option besides ignore. Something like maybe ‘hell no’ that would put these clearly wrong things in a different category but I digress. Then I saw the next entry. Basically the same marriage record in Iowa but for Nellie Nissen (Nissen being Nelle’s first married name)! OK, that’s odd so I actually click through to the record. I wanted to jump out of my chair! There was all the correct information – her parents’ names as well as his parents’ names. This was my great-grandparents’ marriage record – IN IOWA!
As you can see here it even shows that both of them live in Denver. Why in the world they went to Council Bluffs, Iowa to be married is a mystery to me.
Of course the first thing I thought of was to check the marriage date (29-Sept-1909) and my grandfather’s birth date (03-Jul-1911) but as you can see it wasn’t that.
Here’s the cool thing – after I looked at that marriage record I realized that it gave me some real proof that the family I’d picked out for John Quick really was correct. There, plain as day, he’s listed his parents. I had placed John in this family based on a few scant clues but I knew that it wouldn’t really stand up to hard scrutiny. Now I feel much more secure in this branch of the family.
My next step is to look at Nelle's divorce from her first husband. Maybe there are some clues there. Oh, and laws, I need to look at laws. Possibly it was easier for them to get married in Iowa?
No matter what we find, there's always something more to do...that's the fun of genealogy.