This Week in my Genealogy – Levens-McElhenny Marriage

One hundred fifty-seven years ago this week, my great-great grandparents James Levens and Margaret McElhenny were married.

My great grandmother Sophia Levens was raised in Centralia, Pennsylvania, a mining town, but came to Philadelphia sometime before 1900. I learned that her mother was also from Philadelphia when I found the book Schulkill County, Pennsylvania: Genealogy – Family History – Biography, volume II:

James Levens, father of Mrs. Ebert, was a native of Ireland and emigrated to America, landing at Philadelphia, where he made his home for a time. Going to Port Richmond, near Philadelphia, he there married Margaret McElheny…

James Levens and Margaret McElhenny were married on October 8, 1855 at the Protestant Episcopal Church of the Messiah in Port Richmond, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania by Rev. J Rudderow. This is yet another record I found in the Historical Society of Pennsylvania’s Pennsylvania Church and Town Records database available on Ancestry.

Levens McElhenny marriage
James Levens & Margaret McElhenny marriage, 8 Oct 1855. Click to see full image.

This Week in my Genealogy – Carman-Brill marriage

One hundred seventy-three years ago this week, on 14 Sep 1839, Charles R. Carman and Caroline A. Brill were married by Reverend Father Weiland in Philadelphia. They were my third great-grandparents.

I learned of their marriage date from Caroline’s Widow’s Claim for Pension. Charles served as a private in company A of the 81st regiment of Pennsylvania.

Carman Marriage 1839
Charles Carman and Caroline Brill marriage information from Widow’s Claim for Pension

Caroline was unable to provide a marriage certificate because the record of their marriage was destroyed when the church burned down during the Riots of 1844. There were two churches that were set fire during the riots in Kensington: St. Michael’s and St. Augustine’s.

Marriage records destroyed in Riots of 1844
Charles Carman and Caroline Brill’s marriage record was destroyed during the Riots of 1844 in Philadelphia.

To prove her marriage, Caroline had to submit a Secondary Proof of Marriage form which included affidavits from Eliza Mann and Mary Gray who had known Charles and Caroline for many years and which also listed the names and birth dates of their adult children.

Click on the images above to see full-sized scans of the documents.

Pennsylvania Awesomeness

It is not often that Ancestry adds information that is useful to me. I have moved beyond census records for the most part, and the smaller databases they have been adding have not been in areas I research.

Well, not to be a shill for Ancestry, but they have added a boatload of Pennsylvania BMD & other data recently. Partnering with the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, they have created the Pennsylvania Church and Town records database with more than 7 million records, including church (birth, baptism, marriage, death & more), cemetery and undertaker records. In a quick search, I found marriage information for distant ancestors and baptisms for my grandfather and great-grandfather. One marriage confirmed a maiden name that I had assumed, but for which I never had any proof. My great-grandfather’s baptism was in German, which I thought was cool. I will be posting more on these finds and others.

It’s always fun trying to find a particular database on Ancestry. Here’s how to find this one:

  1. In either the regular or the Ancestry Library edition (check with your local library), select Card Catalog under the Search  drop-down menu
  2. In the Title field, type in Pennsylvania Church and Town Records and click Search
  3. Select it and you are on your way

Some things I discovered in my brief usage so far:

  • There are some records from New Jersey. I found some Burlington county records. [Update: And Camden, Gloucester, Cumberland counties. I hear there are some Maryland records as well.]
  • If you are looking for a particular county, enter it under location for Any Event. That way you’ll get births, marriages, deaths and the ‘others’, which include things like church memberships and bible/Sunday school class rosters.

Historical Society of Pennsylvania page on the partnership