Lost Genealogy Records and 9/11–Another Pirates of the Pedigree Tale

When records are lost over time, local officials re-construct those that are essential to government functions. Or they re-create the missing data from surviving files. Or entirely new records are written. The destruction of 9/11 included business files, corporate records, personnel data, government computer discs, and other records–some of which will be sought by future genealogists to document lives important to their pedigrees.

New sets of records were created after the towers fell:

  1. Memorials to the Dead. Photographs, mementos, good-bye letters, recollections of greatness, personal grief expressed in poetry and prose were placed near ground-zero and preserved today in 9/11 archives.
  2. News Media Memorials. With pictures and news footage integrated into brief bio notices for each victim and their survivors.
  3. Casualty Lists and Revisions. Law enforcement officials amassed files and report on those missing, those wounded and hospitalized, those confirmed dead.
  4. Local Jurisdiction Records. Morgues, and funeral homes, and churches, and cemeteries, and casualty insurance companies–and numerous other local agencies involved in the accounting of lives and deaths created files on this event and the families affected.
  5. Announcements of survivors and interviews with their families. Video and audio recordings accompanied by photographs at different stages of recovery. These continue each year as we approach another 9/11.

Just to name 5 categories. If you type “casualty lists of 9/11 victims” into Google you get 480,000 sites! An amazing record of the lives of these people and those who want to remember them. Details of these lives are now recorded that would have been lost or known only to a few.

The whole question of lost records brings shudders to our genealogy hearts.

And we moan, “Oh, the Pirates of the Pedigree have foiled us again.” Let me describe contemporary government and private efforts to salvage marriage data from the three burnings of the Hamilton County OH courthouse, the last fire in 1884.

Why Cincinnati Ohio is significant for genealogy:

Cincinnati was a “Gretna Green” for all of the surrounding states–couples ran away to Cincinnati to be married without a license and sometimes without having to pay a fee. Cincinnati was also a draw for population moving west. Many persons stopped off to get work on their way to some place else. Jobs were plentiful and any skill level could be hired. These people–ancestors of many of us–married, had children, eventually moved on, and even died here.

Marriage Records of Hamilton County OH (including Cincinnati):

  1. Hamilton County Marriages, volumes 14, 15, 16: 1845-48. Typed by Cincinnati Chapter DAR, 1941. “Due to the fire in the courthouse, some of these records are incomplete since the records were restored as correctly as possible from papers which were saved at the time.”
  2. A Collection of Pioneer Marriage Records, 1789-1817. Marjorie B. Burress from the papers of J.D. Caldwell. Cincinnati Historical Society, 1978.
  3. Hamilton County Records: Pioneer Marriages and Deaths. Robert D. Craig, Cincinnati, 1964.
  4. Hamilton County OH Marriages, 1808-1820. Marie Dickore and Natalie Thornburgh. Cincinnati, 1959.
  5. Volume I: Restored Marriage Records, 1818-1819 and 80 Early Marriages. Marie Dickore. 1 in 1808, 1 in 1810, 4 in 1816, 74 in 1817. Cincinnati, 1960.
  6. Restored Hamilton County OH Marriages. Vol I: 1860-69; Vol II: 1870-1884. Jeffrey G. Herbert. Hamilton County Chapter, Ohio Genealogical Society, 1994-1997.
  7. DAR Marriages: 1803-14, 1822-32. From ministers’ diaries, JP dockets, newspaper vitals, family collections, original certificates owned by local DAR members. Available on microfilm, FHL.
  8. Hamilton County Marriage Index, 1817-1845. Lois E. Hughes. Heritage Books, Inc., 65 E Main St, Westminster MD 21157. Includes WPA indexes.
  9. Original Marriage Records, some entries from 1808. Hamilton County Courthouse, Probate Court, Room 549, Court and Main St, Cincinnati OH 45202. Available 179 rolls of microfilm, FHL. These are restored marriage records, 1808-1873.

We undoubtedly have lost marriage records that were actually recorded before the courthouse fires. And we have gained marriage records that were never officially recorded at the courthouse. The Pirates of the Pedigree tried. And we won this round. Your favorite genealogy evidence guru, Arlene Eakle.

PS You can still register for the Northern Utah Genealogy and Family History Jamboree, 15 Sep 2007–http://www.myancestorsfound.com

This entry was posted in Blog. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply