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Friday, September 7, 2012

Curiosity killed the cat ...

Shakespeare used a similar quote in his circa 1599 play, Much Ado About Nothing:
"What, courage man! what though care killed a cat, thou hast mettle enough in thee to kill care.

For many years I knew that my maternal Grandfather had a 'new lady' in his life, and it wasn't Grandma.  This knowledge led me on a journey to find out more.

My journey began with city directories.  I learned where my maternal Grandparents lived, when they stopped living together, and what jobs they held.  You might be surprised by what information can be found in these directories.

Next I made a trip to the York County, PA Archives. It was here that I found the tax records for both my Grandfather and his 'lady.'  Still nothing on a second marriage.

I then visited the York County Courthouse.  My first trip was a total bust.  I was denied entry because I had my cell phone with me.  After parking four blocks away and dealing with rain, I decided to try later.  Just a few days ago, I parked, removed from my purse all forms of electronics including my thumb drive, and tried once more.  The nice officer let me through.

My visit wasn't totally fruitless. I learned that Grandma filed for divorce based on indignities and her divorce was granted in 1948.  However, there was no marriage for my Grandfather in York County.  Could their marriage have been a common law marriage? 

Onward to Adams County.  Nada!  I wasn't totally disappointed, but realized that now I must navigate the Maryland court system.  Was I prepared to pay for this information, or drive to Annapolis or Baltimore?

So, I went home, poured a glass of wine, booted up the laptop, and Googled once more.  Oh, I also sent a message to Grandma in the spirit world that I could use some help!  My find was a  Maryland Vital Records site that has microfilm records online, and it was free.  I skimmed through six years of microfilm data until my goal was accomplished.  Thanks, Grandma!

Long story short ... Grandma and Grandpa Berkheimer divorced in 1948, and he remarried in Maryland in 1960.

The moral to my very long story. and many of you are not related to the Berkheimer family, is this ... if your parents or grandparents are still living, don't do as I did, do as I say - sit down with them and ask your questions to learn more about your family history. 

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