Roberts Family (Click for Family Tree)
Those who rail against BSOS (Bright Shiny Object Syndrome, which distracts from the original goal) are probably missing out on some very cool stories. There is no finish line in genealogy, as there is always another ancestor to discover, and another record to be found. Family history is not all about the facts either- it is the stories that account for so much of the interest and understanding, both for the lives of our ancestors, as well as our own lives.
So I will no longer feel guilty about my propensity for BSOS, because it can give clues to interesting stories. Today we have such a story, having to do with William Edward Roberts, the great-uncle of Edward A. McMurray, Jr. (You can figure your relationship from there.)
Old family records collected in the 1970s told us that William Edward Roberts married Mary Margaret Main in 1881. New records online from both Ancestry.com and Family Search.org give us some additional information about this wedding.
In license #133, we see that W. E. Roberts, a farmer in Mound Prairie Township, was 23 years old, white, and born in Illinois; his father was John Roberts and mother E. Murray (which should be ‘Murrell’). An affidavit was sworn by M. H. Russell- but who was M. H. Russell??
The second entry (under the blue line) is the continuation on the right-hand page of the W. E. Roberts marriage record. He married Mary M. Main, age 19, and born in Iowa; her parents were D. W. Main and Anna Keller. Witnesses to their marriage were H. Johnson and M. H. Russell- again that name. The Roberts-Main marriage took place on 20 January 1881.
If I give in to BSOS- which of course, I did, (hence the “Heritage Ramblings” name of this blog) one would look at the entry above W. E.’s marriage record, since it contains that same name, M. H. Russell. W. E. Roberts gave the affidavit… hmmm, there must be a connection. Following the information across the ledger we learn that the bride of M. H. was Sarah E. Main, age 23- the same surname as W. E.’s bride. Smart person that you are, dear reader, the thought must now cross your mind that the two women might be sisters, and looking at the names of the parents, we can confirm that. A quick check of the census just before the marriages reveals both girls in the household of a Daniel and Anar Main, with the correct ages.
Back to the two marriage records- looking at the marriage date for M. H. and Sarah, we realize that the two married the same day as W. E. and Mary! Both were married by the same Justice of the Peace, D. Edmundsen. M. H. Russell was a witness to the Roberts-Main marriage, and W. E. Roberts a witness for the Russell-Main marriage. So most likely the couples had a double wedding, since the parents of the two brides probably wanted to finance only one wedding feast.
William Edward Roberts is not directly an ancestor, but learning about this double wedding day can give us clues about where the rest of our family in this line was on 20 January 1881. Most likely, the wedding included W. E.’s parents, John S. Roberts and Elizabeth Ann Murrell Roberts (great-grandparents of Edward A. McMurray, Jr.); W. E.’s siblings, including our direct ancestor, George A. Roberts (he didn’t marry until 4 years later, and became Edward A. McMurray Jr.’s grandfather); W. E.’s maternal grandparents, Wiley Anderson Murrell and Mary Magdalen Hons Murrell (also great-grandparents of Edward A. McMurray, Jr.). Unfortunately, W. E.’s paternal grandparents, John Roberts and Jane Salyers Roberts, had already passed away. It must have been quite a celebration, though, with two young couples starting their lives together!
Notes, Sources, and References:
- Marriage Record Images– Iowa State Archives; Des Moines, Iowa; Volume: 303 (Howard – Louisa) via Ancestry.com. Iowa, Marriage Records, 1880-1937 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: Iowa Department of Public Health. Iowa Marriage Records, 1880–1922. Textual Records. State Historical Society of Iowa, Des Moines, Iowa; Iowa Department of Public Health. Iowa Marriage Records, 1923–37. Microfilm. Record Group 048. State Historical Society of Iowa, Des Moines, Iowa.
- W. E. Roberts portrait, 1901 from Family Treasure Chest.
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