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Did they get married?

Here is a little stumbling block I’ve run into recently. If your new to genealogy I hope this helps, if your a veteran genealogist you’ve likely been down this path, or one like it. I’m having difficulty tracking down a marriage license from 1937. They met in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and moved to a mid-sized community more than 300 miles away; we’ll call the city Middle, TX. Their first born was born in November of 1937, but there is always more to the story. The names and places have been changed, this is part of an active client file and I prefer to keep the family’s identity private.

The father of this family, a.k.a. Samuel C. Wellington, was born in the 1890s in Houston and moved to the Dallas/Fort Worth area in about 1913 or 1914. It looks as though he lived in a boarding house and worked as a clerk for a manufacturing business. By 1920 he was working as a clerk for a petroleum company in the emerging oil business. He likely met his first wife, Myrtle, at work since she worked at the same company and had been there for at least two years longer. They married, bought a house in an upscale neighborhood and both changed jobs. He stayed in the oil business, and she moved into the finance industry.

Samuel served in WWI, and while he was gone Myrtle kept working. When Sam returned he proceeded on his path in the oil industry. He changed jobs, and with each job change he stepped up a rung on his career latter. Myrtle was also ambitious and moved from stenographer, to secretary, to secretary to the President, into more traditional male jobs.

In 1937, they are still listed as Mr. and Mrs. in the Dallas house they bought. According to the county their divorce was finalized in July of 1937. Later directory listings show Myrtle as Mrs. Myrtle Wellington, or Mrs. Samuel Wellington, and he appears with his new wife, Sarah, in their new home, new job, in that town’s biannual directory.

According to the children, Samuel and Sarah celebrated their anniversary as February 1937. This of course is possible and is likely when Sarah become pregnant, but not probable. If they married in February he was committing polygamy. The counties in and around the Dallas/Fort Worth area do not have a recorded of Samuels marriage to Sarah. The county they moved to returned certification that they did not get married there.

Here are a few interesting facts about the family. Samuel’s first wife Myrtle never remarried and never had any children. She continued pursuing her career and became the first women to reach a top level in her male dominated field. Samuel’s son married his young wife when she was several months pregnant wife in a nearby county courthouse ceremony, they are quite ashamed of this fact even 40+ years later. Samuel’s granddaughter married the father of her children when the first son was two years old and before the second and third children were born.

I now start the time consuming task of tracking down this marriage license in no less than 20 counties along the route to their new home, they are not listed on any state list of marriages. Marriages records for the 1930s are maintained at the county level, not the state level. First, I will make sure I’ve exhausted the D/FW area, and then look at the counties around Samuel and Sarah’s destination, then finally to the counties along the most likely route between the two cities. If nothing is revealed it is possible that they took a trip somewhere to get married and kept it a secret, or they may not have gotten married but lived in a common law marriage.

Wish me luck. I’ll keep you posted.

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