A couple of weeks ago I got a request to find some birth, marriage and parent's name of a Mary Olive. I won't give her surname, but it is not real common. The query said she might have been born in Spokane Washington between April and August 1890. Since Washington state did not require births to be recorded until July of 1907, I knew she would not be in the state birth index. Spokane County had started recording births earlier, but birth certificate #1 was issued in 1891, so that was too late for Mary also. Whenever I get a request for marriages I check the Washington State Digital Archives as they now have all of Spokane County marriages online and have been adding marriages from other counties as fast as the volunteers can index them. Checking there, I found six marriages for Mary, none with middle initial "O". However, four did have other middle initials, so I printed off the two marriages without any initials. Is either one Mary Olive?
One marriage was in Spokane March 16, 1921 and Mary had married a Richard. The certificate showed Mary age 27 and Richard age 28. Mary listed her birthplace as Washington, and father John F. with mother Frances. Both parents were born in United States. Richard had been born in Montana. His father and mother were both born in Norway. One witness was Mrs. J.S. Taylor.
The second marriage certificate was from Kitsap County, a long ways from Spokane County, and it only listed the groom's initials H.E. and the bride's name Mary. No ages were given but both bride and groom were from King County (that is the county for Seattle). This marriage was dated June 24,1913.
Since the Kitsap County marriage was so far from Spokane, I thought I would do some more research on the Spokane County marriage. If you check Mary's age, you see according to the marriage certificate she was born about 1894, not 1890. I have seen many bad ages on records. I typed in her father's name John W., and up popped his death certificate. He died of pneumonia May 15, 1899, age 41, and his father's name was Daniel B., his mother Rosanna. Both parents were born in Pennsylvania. Typing in Mary's mother's name brings up a marriage for Frances B. and a J.S. Taylor, April 25, 1904. She was the Mrs. J.S. Taylor, witness to Mary's marriage to Richard in 1921. The problem was still there as I still could not tell if this was Mary Olive. The query said Mary was in the 1910 Spokane census as Marry a cook living at 27 W 3rd Ave, but she was living alone. Still no help.
Checking the city directories at the library from 1900-1912 no Mary, but in 1910 there was a Floyd (same surname) at 29 W 3rd and he later moved to Seattle, so I checked for a Floyd in the 1900 census. I did not find a single Floyd in the 1900 census. Francis was listed in 1900, and her daughter Mary was listed as Mary F. born 1894, so I guess not my Mary Olive.
I checked the 1910 census for H.E., and found a Henry age 20 (same age as Mary) living in Whitman County which is the just south of Spokane, so close to Spokane, and it looks like Mary and Henry had moved to King county, and then got married in Kitsap county. The query had said she might have married a Henry Ernest in Spokane, but the records show it was in Kitsap County.
What does all this show? Well it seemed odd Mary Olive would go most of the way across the state to get married. I was pretty certain the Mary from Spokane may have been Mary Olive according to online records, but Mary is such a common name that it is easy to go on a wild goose chase when you are only using some records. Keep checking for more records. For men, the name John is just as bad. So be sure to check your research plan before you research the wrong Mary or John.