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Thursday, March 19, 2020

The Virtual Genealogist March 19th

Here's a query which has VG stumped.  Our loyal readers offer some suggestions:

I am looking for a baptism record for my grandmother, Olive McCormack. Her parents were John Henry Arthur James (!)McCormack and Mary Jane Kelley. Her obituary (Powell, Wyoming Tribune of 17 Jan 1929) says she was born 17 Aug 1905 at Buncombe, Illinois. “When eight years old, she was baptised a member of the Latter Day Saints.” They were living in Independence, Missouri at the time. My assumption is that the family was part of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, RLDS, since the family did not move to Salt Lake City with Brigham Young. I found no record of her or her family in the LDS records in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. Can anyone give me clues where to look?
Sara Hayden responds:

1. Explore Jackson County (where Independence is located) on the Family Search Wiki:,_Missouri_Genealogy.

2. Explore Jackson County Genealogical Society's website:

3. Explore Jackson County Historical Society's website:

4. Explore Jackson County Clerk of the County's website: This is a large county, so I'd also suggest ...

5. Explore Independence, MO's, City Clerk website: Independence is the county seat and a suburb of Kansas City, KS.

6. From Wikipedia: "The Temple Lot, located in IndependenceJackson CountyMissouri, is the first site to be dedicated for the construction of a temple in the Latter Day Saint movement." LDS a big deal (may still be) in Independence. For full Wikipedia article:

7. The Midwest Genealogy Center, a part of the Mid-Continent Public Library, is also located in Independence. Explore their site: See especially Frequently Asked Questions on their "about" page for assistance:

8. If our inquirer is local, I'd suggest visiting the Family History Center in Oakland (temporarily closed). The people who volunteer there are very helpful.
The VG responds:

My very Southern g-g-gf left California during the Civil War for Mexico and wound up in Texas with a second wife, a widow that he’d married in Mississippi. In Texas he claimed his first wife had died, but she in fact outlived him and all but one of their children. I found no record of a divorce in the California counties where they had lived. Are there other places where one can look for a divorce record in the 1860s?  He was a lawyer, postmaster, mayor, and state senator in California so one might assume he had some knowledge of the legal system. 
The VG responds: Given that he held such prominent jobs, you have a good chance of finding out some of this story.  Here are some places you could look:
  • California census for the wife's marital status in the following years (1880 shows this, not all do).  Who is she living with?  Children?  Other family?  Does she own or rent?  
  • Are there any property records for her residence?  And for husband?
  • Military records for husband.  Who is listed as next of kin?
  • Newspapers for California.  Especially the social and legal pages.
  • Street directories for California.  Do they mention the wife?
  • Court records for that county.  Look for property or financial disputes.
  • Death records for wife and children.
  • County historical or genealogical societies for biographies or newspaper clippings.
  • Records and newsletters of fraternal, professional, or other organizations he belonged to.
  • Professional licensing organizations (bar association, etc.)
  • Religion! Is divorce not allowed?  Would she not give one?  You need a complete social history to make a reasonable assumption of what happened here.
It's possible there was no divorce, and that's why he left the area.  

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