20 May 2013

Does Emberson Know Who He Married?

If records always agreed, there would be less of a need for professional genealogists.

The 1865 marriage record for Emberson Randles in Coshocton County, Ohio, indicated that he married Mary J. Rampley on 2 July 1862. The precise location of the marriage within the county is not given. 

part of the marriage record for Emerson Randles and Mary J. Rampley, Coshocton County, Ohio, marriage records 1859-1867 (vol 2), page 369; digital image on FamilySearch.
 In answering questions from the Commissioner of Pensions, Emberson indicates that he married Mary Jane Foster on 2 July 1865. The same Justice of the Peace (John Meridith) is listed on both records.
part of the 31 January 1898 reply of Emberson Randles (Company D, 51st Ohio Infantry) to the Commissioner of Pensions' request for personal information; digital image made from original record at the National Archives.

Which should be believed?

That's a good question. Aside from the slight variation in the spelling of his name, the only real difference between these documents is the last name of the bride.

Our initial conclusion might be that Mary was married previously and that Emberson was providing her "real maiden name" in his 1898 answers.  To call this a conclusion is a bit strong--conjecture may be a better word.

However, initial conclusions (or conjectures) can be incorrect and there is actually nothing in either document to suggest that Mary was married twice. The 1865 marriage record does not list her as "Miss" or "Mrs."

One would initially give more credence to the marriage record. After all, it was created the closest to when the actual event took place. The problem is that the piece of information that is inconsistent between the two documents is not the date, the place or the officiant, but the name of the bride. If the date, place or officiant were different, one would be inclined to view the marriage record as being correct.

What the difference indicates is that more work on this family needs to be done. It would be odd for Emberson to get his date, place, and "who married him" correct and remember incorrectly the maiden name of his wife.