By Jan Edwards
Many times as a researcher and someone that helps others we hear a very common phrase, “well the story goes”, “I was told by my grandma,” “family lore is,” “I head from my cousin,” with many other little clichés meaning the same thing. In reality, “As the story goes,” nobody really knows!
When I began researching, I was searching high and low for a marriage record for my great grandfather, Lawrence Orval Oden. These people were Pike County Illinois folks. Great Grandpa I knew had actually left Illinois and lived in Yakima, Washington as that is where my grandpa was born. They didn’t stay long because great grandma got very ill and died just a few months after Grandpa was born.
It was this marriage I was searching for: Lawrence Orval Oden and Mary Rebecca Harlow. Someone online had posted they were married January 1, 1905. They had a full date, but when I asked “do you know where?” no response was given.
My grandmother swore they never left Pike County, Illinois to get married. We didn’t have the online tools like we do today, and I searched. I searched Pike County, Illinois. I tried crazy spellings. Every trick I knew…nothing. I decided to look in Pike County, Missouri as it’s just across the river…nothing.
I got out my map and searched in a circle all the places that bordered Pike County, Illinois…nothing. Grandma said “it has to be in Pike County, Illinois; they never left there at that time period.”
This was a search I did every time I went to the Family History Center in Salt Lake because of the access to the film. Remember, we did not have the tools we have now. You either ordered the film, paid for it, and waited for two or three weeks to get it, read it, and find nothing and sent it back, or it was one of those major things you searched when in Salt Lake.
I was able to go to Pike County, Illinois! My grandparents and mom went with me. I of course only wanted to research. My grandfather finally said I was “morbid” for only wanting to go to cemeteries and look for the dead.
Grandma had set up this visit with someone “living.” I really had no desire to go. We walked into the house. It was a tiny house, and there was a dog that had fleas so bad it had scratched all the hair off his body. I was so grossed out and mouthed to my mother “get me out of here.” Fleas were jumping from couch to couch.
Then the sweet very elderly lady said, “Honey, are you the one interested in the old people that have gone on?” I said, “Yes, I am.” She then came over to me and gave me this six inch thick dusty old photo looking album. She said “These were my husband’s people. When I die I’m sure it will matter to no one. Please take what you want.”
Oh my! I opened that old treasure. I was trying so hard to not be greedy. As I turned the pages, that hairless flea bag of a dog no longer even bothered me!
There it was! An original copy of a wedding invitation to my great grandparent’s wedding, January 1, 1905! That old yellowed copy had the answer to something I had looked years for!
January 1, 1905 in Poplar Bluff, Missouri!
Even today as MapQuest states, it would be almost 300 miles, and just think they never left Pike County, Illinois! I could not believe this find! My only regret is I didn’t just take the whole book! Today, I would have!
On the way home from Illinois, we stopped in Salt Lake for a few minutes so I could run and grab that marriage record. I found the film number, grabbed the film, went to the date, photo copied the document and was back in the car in less than half an hour.
Did I mention as far as the story goes… nobody really knows?
When I got home, I contacted the Public Library in Poplar Bluff to see if there were any newspaper articles. It cost me $5.00 bucks and it was worth every cent!
Illinois Couple Wed
A quiet wedding was solemnized yesterday afternoon at the Christian Church in this city, the contracting parties being Lawrence Oden, of Bellville, Illinois, and Miss Rebecca Harlow of Milton Illinois, Rev. Rice of the Presbyterian Church, performed the ceremony in the presence of a few friends. Mr. and Mrs. Oden-------go in to housekeeping on the east side and will make their home in this city for the present.
Marriage license were issued ---- to Frank Zavier, 27 and Mrs. Pearl Winters 25; John M. Yost, 21, Ruth Eby, 18; Frank Naylor, 26, Mary V. Parkings, 19; Lawrence Oden 23, Rebecca Harlow, 18.
So many times it isn’t that there is no record. We are just looking in the wrong place!
As the story goes…. Nobody really knows! Need I mention that record is online today!