Multiple searches for a New Jersey marriage

Mary Richmond 1a
Click on images to expand them.

While editing the Winter 2016 issue of Mayflower Descendant, I searched the draft articles for additional genealogical facts for the families presented. Christopher Carter Lee’s article – “Elizabeth (Briggs) Shippey and her husband Ishmael of Raritan Landing, New Jersey, and their descendants through Specimens of Josiah Shippey” – traces several generations of John Alden descendants in New Jersey and New York. As surviving vital records for those two states are often scattered in various places, this article is a great example of gathering records from genealogy and newspaper websites, national genealogical repositories, and local libraries and genealogical societies.

My example regards the marriage of descendant Mary Richmond of New Brunswick, New Jersey. She married Robert Adrain, also of New Brunswick, and the two are buried there at Christ Church Episcopal Churchyard. I found the marriage listed twice on in their database “New Jersey Marriages, 1678-1985.”

Then, as I was conducting a microfilm search for film #542512 in the Family History Library catalog, I learned this specific record came from the collection “Vital statistics from Trenton newspapers, 1800-1900,” which was an alphabetical listing of newspaper abstracts. (Previous online newspaper searches for this marriage had turned up nothing.) My colleague at the Family History Library scanned the two nearly identical copies of this abstract, which were taken from The New Jersey State Gazette and the Emporium & True American.

Mary Richmond 2Mary Richmond 3

The information given includes the date and page of the newspaper, which was not in the online database on FamilySearch, and neither database searched thus far had given the location. The Emporium & True American for this time period is available online at, so when I could not find the marriage searching for Robert Adrain or Mary Richmond (or any combination thereof), I went specifically to the date of 11 July 1835, and from there to page 3, and found the following marriage announcement:

Mary Richmond 4a

Obviously this announcement had much more information than the initial database on FamilySearch, including the place of marriage, the bride’s father’s name, and that he was deceased and had been a captain in the U.S. Army. The path to find this record involved an online search, then a microfilm scan, and then a second online search, and it was obviously worthwhile for the more detailed information shown above.

About Christopher C. Child

Chris Child has worked for various departments at NEHGS since 1997 and became a full-time employee in July 2003. He has been a member of NEHGS since the age of eleven. He has written several articles in American Ancestors, The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, and The Mayflower Descendant. He is the co-editor of The Ancestry of Catherine Middleton (NEHGS, 2011), co-author of The Descendants of Judge John Lowell of Newburyport, Massachusetts (Newbury Street Press, 2011) and Ancestors and Descendants of George Rufus and Alice Nelson Pratt (Newbury Street Press, 2013), and author of The Nelson Family of Rowley, Massachusetts (Newbury Street Press, 2014). Chris holds a B.A. in history from Drew University in Madison, New Jersey.

7 thoughts on “Multiple searches for a New Jersey marriage

  1. And an excellent example of the limitations of relying on indexes alone for information. Useful when the original source is no longer available, but the perseverance (and creative thinking) certainly paid off. And would more so in the case of indexing errors! Thanks for the step by step through the various records to get to the original.

  2. I am anxiously awaiting several vital records from the New Jersey State Archives as we speak–part of the documentation for the Mayflower application we talked about on the Salt Lake trip in 2014 (John Howland through David and Silence Hamlin). I am finally pulling all the information together. I have noticed that there are no New Jersey newspapers on the Chronicling America site, and no Bergen County newspapers at My ancestors are sometimes mentioned in the New York City papers, and sometimes in a Paterson, N. J. paper at FultonHistory, but I am going to see if there is better New Jersey coverage at GenealogyBank.

    1. Cheryl,
      If you came upon this record out of the context of this family, a Google search on Emporium & True American would show that it was a newspaper out of Trenton, New Jersey, published in the early 1800s. Hope that helps.

  3. According to Wikipedia, John Croes (1762, Elizabeth, New Jersey – July 26, 1832, New Brunswick, New Jersey) was a Bishop in the Episcopal Church. Another possible record to search!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.