What ceremonies or religious things were important to your ancestors? Most likely, because it was important, it was recorded. Either by the church, or in a family Bible or diary. Does that record still exist? If so, it would probably be a great help to you. Ask your relatives. Most religious records list parents names and/or a spouse. Religious records can really help prove the links in our tree a little better. Various rites in religions such as: Sacraments, Holy Communion, Marriage, the various terms for naming a baby.
Different religions and ethnicities have ways of doing things. Patterns. Do you know the pattern for your family? For the religion and ethnicity of your ancestors? I've spoken with several historians that work with Catholic archives in Chicago and Minneapolis. The typical pattern for a Polish Catholic family about 1900-1920 was to settle near the Great Lakes, (similar land and weather to their old home), settle in a Polish neighborhood, pick a Catholic church, then stick with it. Even if that family moved from Chicago to Gary, Indiana,.... if there was a wedding, tradition and the family pattern would say they go back to the church the bride was baptized in. Even if it is a 3-4 hour drive, the whole wedding party would drive that distance. It keeps all the records in one church. Like in Europe. I hear about my husband's Italians, that if you know the Catholic church (which we do), then you can follow the records back for hundreds of years. In Ireland, you often find that people in Northern Ireland were Church of Ireland, and southern Ireland was Catholic. But not always so. The more I read history, the more I get ideas of places to look for records.
Religion can affect where you are buried. In rural America, people were often buried on their family farms. Catholic historians have explained to me there's some pretty specific things about their burial. A Catholic priest-historian explained to me that there are Jewish women buried in their cemeteries during WWII time. If the husband claimed his wife was Catholic for her safety, then, things just happened. Other times, the church allowed them to have the ceremony at the church with family but they were buried somewhere else. There were many mixed religion marriages during WWII. Also, many religions used to be very against cremation, but are no longer against it today.
The majority of the marriage records I've found for my ancestors, before WWII, were performed at a church, (of many different denominations). Unless there were conflicts with different religions, then they may have chosen justice of the peace. There are two main type of marriage records. A ledger: a book listing one after the other who was married, in the courthouse. And a certificate. I was married at a church, and there is a certificate for the church, and it is also recorded on the ledger at the courthouse. The same is true for relatives I have found a hundred years ago. Usually the pastor or priest's name and sometimes the name of the church are on the certificate. Often the same records you have today for yourself, also existed 100 years ago.(click on images to view full screen)
John Gray married in Church of Ireland in
1835. There obviously is no Church of Ireland in Mecklenburg, Virginia. I was given a transcription of several Methodist churches in Mecklenburg in the 1850's. A large part of my Mecklenburg, VA families, including John Gray attended Rehoboth Methodist church. My guess is John Gray switched to or rather joined the Methodist church because there was no Church of Ireland, and because his second wife was a member of this church. One of his children has a tombstone at this church, Nannie Gray Kidd. This church, Rehoboth, stood the time John Gray was there until a fire on at Christmas 2004. It is now rebuilt.
Here is an example of the other kind of marriage record:
|Perkinson Dortch left half|
|Perkinson Dortch right half|
Do you know what churches your family attended? If so, do you know if they are buried at that church? Or on their family farm, if they owned land?