Years ago my one and only niece (thus my favorite niece) asked me to work on her family genealogy. We both have had many real life interruptions that slowed the progress but I still dabble on it here and there.
One of the special discoveries is that two “official” transcripts of a 1853 marriage record exists for her great great great grandparents. Why are these special? On 18 April 1906 the historic earthquake struck the San Francisco area. People died and otherss were injured, homes and business were destroyed and damaged, and the courthouse destroyed along with the bulk of the records. Yes, there are alternative resources for some items but my excitement at finding this marriage record was strong.
One of the record sets that Fold3 has digitized from the U.S. National Archives is the Civil War “Navy Widows’ Certificates.” I knew her Great Great Grandfather Theodore Bailey DuBois (1826-1874) was a ship captain in his civilian life and also served in the Navy during the Civil War. Both T. B. and his soon-to-be wife were Brooklyn, New York residents.
I had seen mentions of a 1850s San Francisco marriage for them but never with any documentation. I could imagine this captain sailing around to San Francisco, but what was the bride, Elizabeth Theresa Marfing (1833-1894), doing there? I am still working on that last question.
The Navy widows pensions on Fold3 included that for Elizabeth T. DuBois, widow of Theodore B. DuBois. I will tell more about their full story in a future post, but this pension tells much about them, his service, his injury and subsequent trauma, some about their children, and much about Elizabeth’s own Marfing and Post families. It’s a gem. 165 page filled with details.
For the widow to petition for a pension, she had to prove marriage to the service person. Her trail to get a pension is long and includes not one, but two handwritten documents complete with official seal, stating in part:
I, John Satterlee Judge of the Superior Court hereby certify that on the 8th day of October 1853 I did join in marriage Theodore B. DuBois and Elizabeth Theresa Marfing in the City of San Francisco California.”
Fold3.com is full of other gems and the series of widows’ pension for other service in the Civil War is ongoing.
One great place to learn more about what does and does not exist for pre-earthquake San Francisco is San Francisco Genealogy.
© 2016, Paula Stuart-Warren. All rights reserved.