27 November 2020

Always In The Last Place You Look

 Sometimes you have to step away from the one thing in your research that consumes you.  The consuming task for me is to find the next male Campbell in my direct line.  For those of you that have read the genealogy posts on my Random Ramblins’ blog, you know the problems I’ve had with that task. 

So, I put that aside for a bit and went looking for something minor.  Namely, my paternal grandfather’s middle name.  It should be obvious that this is a trivial matter.  Every record I have for him shows his name as Herbert J. Campbell.  This includes the church register for his marriage, his WWI draft registration card, another church record that I believe show his adult baptism in 1905, and his death certificate.  Not a single record that I can find has his middle name.  I strongly suspect that it's James, simply because his paternal grandfather was named James. 

The Church Register For Herbert's Joining The Methodist Church

Herbert's Draft Card

The Church Register For Herbert And Josie's Marriage

Herbert's Death Certificate

Taking a look at the records I did have made me realize that I was missing something crucial.  It was possible that they used an older way of getting married, and didn’t get a license from the county, but instead had a marriage bann, that was doubtful to me.  Mostly due to the fact that they were both members of Methodist churches.  Banns were not that common by 1909, and from what I’ve gathered, rare in the Methodist faith.  So I figured there should be at least a marriage license application out there somewhere in Pennsylvania.  And that’s where the fun began.

If you take a look at the church record for the marriage (top photo above), you see something a bit odd. The groom lists his residence as Howard Township, which is in Centre County.  The bride lists her residence as Flemington in Clinton County.  Nothing all that surprising, as the two towns are only 22 miles or so apart.  But what you can’t see on the image, but is part of the record on Ancestry, is that it was recorded as taking place in the High Street Methodist Church in Williamsport, and that’s in Lycoming County.  So which county do I look in first?

As most of my Campbell line centers around Centre County, I started there. 


No luck.  But the volunteer from the society that answered my question pointed me to Lycoming County as the next step.  Not liking to hang out on Facebook all that much anymore, I sent an email to the Lycoming Genealogy Society.  While they didn’t have access to do the lookup I wanted, they did give me the phone number for the folks at the courthouse that could.

I called the courthouse and the wonderful lady I spoke with took my number and said she would see if she could find anything and call me back.  And the next morning she called with the news that there were no records for this marriage in Lycoming County.  That left just one more place to check.

The Clinton County Register & Recorder office is amazing.  I called and spoke with Jennifer.  The county has all the records indexed and searchable.  She was able to find the record for me in less than a minute.  Then she had to pull the microfiche and email me a copy.  Total time, about 30 minutes.  Total answers, none…

Marriage License Application

As you can see, the image is very difficult to read.  But you can make out that once again, he only uses that middle initial.  Maybe his middle name isn’t James.  Or maybe his grandfather wasn’t a very nice guy, and he didn’t want to be associated with that name.  I know that I really, really, don’t like my middle name, and only use the initial when required.  But since Herbert uses it everywhere, I doubt that is stood for something odd or unusual that he didn’t like.  Of course times were very different then, and a bit more formal than we are today. 

It would seem that they were married in the Flemington Methodist Episcopal Church (now Flemington UMC) by Rev. George M. Frownfelter.

I also had one other small item I was hoping this record would help with, Herbert’s mother’s given name.  Her death certificate shows her as Eleanor Adeline, and her headstone reads Eleanor, but the death certificates I have for her three children all have her as Adaline.  It seems that she went by her middle name after her marriage.  I was wondering which name would be listed on Herbert’s marriage license.  But I can’t make it out.  So, we’ll add that to the “not important, let it ride” pile.

But I’m not giving up on the “J”.   But it will not be at the forefront of my research.  It’ll be one of those things that will show up when I’m not looking for it.


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