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.
One of the historians in Chicago called me, wanting to discuss my letter and to tell me exactly how much Adam Sanetra broke typical patterns. She was curious and asked if I knew why. I told her I had no idea, until she explained all this to me. We didn't even know they spoke German. Adam Sanetra, a Polish Catholic, moved to a German speaking town, his first two children were baptized in a church that only did German mass until that had to change with WWI. Then each child was baptized in a different church. Two of which I still haven't seen, and Jozef was baptized in an Irish church with mass in Gaelic. All of the churches were just a few miles apart too.
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 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 also on the certificate. Often the same records you have today for yourself, also existed 100 years ago.(click on images to view full screen)
|Ledger marriage books at courthouses|
|right half of marriage ledger|
Also for fun wanted to add in two Easter cards that Paul Sanetra (son of Adam) got from his nephew Adam (grandson of Adam) about the early 1980's