Today I spent the day at my Mama’s house. We had some book work to go through, and there were some papers that needed to be filed at the social security office. Specifically, she had a letter from the Social Security administration asking her to call for an appointment. When I called to make the appointment, we learned that she needed to have both a death certificate and a certified copy of their marriage license.

So, we looked and looked and looked. In Daddy’s little wooden box where the birth certificates and deeds and mortgages and automobiles titles and old bills of sale and some 40-year old credit records and even some love notes were. It wasn’t there.

We looked in the filing cabinet where there were sermon notes, and seminar notes and genealogy books and old school records and things that the Mennonite Historical Society would be interested in and the letters from when Daddy first started at the nursing home and had to give monthly reports to Uncle Laban’s family, and the newspaper clippings of the Medicaid Fraud Fiasco and letters from the church in New York City. But no Marriage License.

So we went through the closet and looked at old valentines and letters from us kids to Mama and Daddy. We went through boxes of pictures and boxes that had love letters in them (I told Mama that I needed those letters because it was time for me to write my book that compiled my parents’ love letters — she wasn’t impressed. I did not get permission.) No Marriage license.

I remember seeing it tied up with a ribbon at some time in my life, and there was a brief wild moment when we thought we had found it, but it was Daddy’s high school diploma.  So we looked in the other closets and the roll top desk and on the shelves in the computer room.  It just wasn’t to be seen anywhere.

“If Daddy were here,” I said, “I am sure he would know where he put it!”

“I’m not so sure,” said my Mama dubiously.  “I don’t think he always knew where he put things.”

Along about two o’clock, I decided that we had looked long enough.  I had prayed that we would either find it or be able to procure one without too much hassle.  So I called the Bureau of Vital Statistics in Delaware to get the number for Pennsylvania’s Vital Statistics.  They were most helpful.  I called Pennsylvania.  The recorded message that went on and on finally came to the part that said “Copies of Marriage Licenses and Divorce Decrees are no longer available through the Bureau of Vital Statistics.  To obtain these documents you must contact the county through which they were issued.”

I got on the Internet and accessed Google.  I typed in “Juniata County, PA” and hit the search button.  The first entry up was the “Official Website for Juniata County Government”  and from then on it was easy!  I called the number listed for the register and recorder and got the most helpful, pleasant lady on the line. 

When I told her what I needed, names and dates, she said, “Hold on for just a minute.  Let me see what I can find.”  And in less than five minutes, she was back.  “We’ve got what you want right here,” she said.  “Now if you will send a request for a certified copy with a check for five dollars and a self addressed, stamped envelope, I will get it right out to you!”  I asked her how long it would take.  She said that she was getting it ready right as we spoke, would hold it there at the desk, and as soon as the letter came, she would get it right off. 

So, I got the letter written, Mama wrote the check, I stopped at the post office to procure two 2-cent stamps and it went out in the afternoon mail.  And then came home to help Rachel study for exams tomorrow and now to get some shut-eye myself.  I didn’t get anything much done here that I wanted to do, but at least we solved the great dilemma of the Marriage License. 

And let this be a lesson to you.  Do you know where your Marriage License is?  Is it a certified copy?  You never know when you might need it.


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6 responses to “

  1. Hmm.  Methinks I shall look today.  I think it’s in our wedding book.  Do you know where yours is?

  2. It sounds like a very difficult day~my heart goes out to you. We searched in vain for our birth certificates this summer before we went to Canada on a Mission Trip, and ended up spending a bunch on getting the birth certificates for both my husband and myself, as we had to get it sent here by Fed Ex so we’d get it in time. Now today I think I will make sure we have a certified copy of our marriage license to add to the birth certificates. I hope you slept well.

  3. Our marriage license???  Yikes!!  No earthly idea!    ~ ~ Blessings to you for being such a helpful support to your Mama! 

  4. Yep.  Found ours.  Right where I thought it was.  A miracle in itself.  : )

  5. I know we lost ours a ways back…’ve made me remember that I need to get a copy of it….and all our birth certificates.  ~Erica

  6. Even though you had to do all that searching it sounds like it was a little bit of a blessing in disgiues (sp?) you got to see many little pieces of your dad’s life along the way! precious memories….                                     ~Janelle Welfley

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