This was My 6th…Err 4th Marriage

emmar1883 emmar1896This started out as a post about how one individual record can be wrong, but that’s only the start.

Canadian native Emmar Sargent was married six times. The images accompanying this post are for her fifth and sixth marriages. On her 1883 marriage to to David Snavely, it is indicated that this marriage was her fifth.

On her 1893 marriage to John Osenbaugh, it is indicated that this marriage was her fourth.

Based upon Emmar’s Civil War veteran’s widow’s pension, there is no doubt that these marriages are for the same person (they also list consistent ages, places of birth, and names of parents). It is possible that Emmar didn’t tell Osenbaugh how many times she had actually been married. It would not be a stretch to imagine someone keeping that detail to themselves. Given how much Emmar moved around between her first marriage in the 1850s and her last in 1889, keeping a few of those marriages a secret from her last husband would not have been hard to do.

On the surface, there may appear to be a slight problem though with the 1896 marriage entry. It indicates that she was married on 7-7-1896 and that the return was filed on 9-10-1896 and the marriage was registered on 10-16-1896. The return date was the date the completed license was returned to the county office. That would have to be after the marriage. The 10-16-1896 date was the date the marriage information was entered in the register. All the marriages on the page the Osenbaughs marriage was listed on had the same date.

That’s one reason it is important to look at all the entries on the same page.

It’s also important to note that this is a copy of the county’s marriage register that was sent to the Secretary of the Iowa State Board of Health. That makes it a derivative copy of the county’s record–and possible a document that could contain a transcription error.

It’s important that my citation for this document indicate that it came from the returns of marriages made for the State of Iowa and not the county record, because I was not looking at the county record.

The county record may say something else for how many times Emmar was married.

Or it may say 4…just like this record does.

I won’t know until I look.


Evidence Explained suggests that researchers cite what they have actually used. That’s good advice. And even if you don’t craft citations in the spirit of Evidence Explained, knowing what you used, how it was created, and how you got it is always advised.



3 thoughts on “This was My 6th…Err 4th Marriage

  1. I have an ancestor whom the Historical Society of Wisconsin dubbed “the much-married Ida.” she was married six times and recorded them all on her Civil War pension application. Money made them do crazy things — like tell the truth! (Her first name is still a mystery…recorded many times and always different!)

    • Emmar was married 6 times as well–all documented in her Civil War pension file. Emmar was upfront with the examiner–even admitting to the relationship she had between husbands 4 and 5 that resulted in a child. The examiner expressed frustration that she didn’t know when her 4th husband died (he moved out of state and they lost touch). Ended up that she married five before four was dead, but she knew the names of all her husbands, dates/places of marriage/divorce, etc. which he used to obtain her marriage and divorce records.

  2. My cousin discovered a late in life marriage for her great great grandfather. It was brief. The new wife made a career of marrying civil war veterans and applying for their pension. He was #5 or #6, I’ve forgotten.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.