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# Thursday, June 16, 2011
A Marriage Certificate Finds its Family
Posted by Grace

Whenever I find loose family photos or paperwork at antique malls (which is very often, because I love antiquing), I always feel sad for the families separated from the ephemera. On a trip home recently, my dad showed me a marriage certificate he'd found in an estate sale cleanout. (Guess where I get the antiques habit from?)

This beautiful certificate was for Walter C. Peck of Cleveland, Ohio, and Irene E. Kershner of Berwick, Pa., who were married on July 5, 1924, in Berwick, Pa., by the Rev. H.R. Shipe. I just had to know if this marriage certificate had a family that would want it.

So I did a little genealogical detective work on Ancestry.com.


(Click the image to enlarge it)

I found a Walter (age 31) and Irene Peck (29) living at 1273 Bonnieview, Lakewood, Ohio, in the 1930 census (recorded on April 5, 1930). They had two children, Clarke (5) and Carlos (8 months), and Walter was a ticket agent for a steam railroad. They rented their home for $50 a month and owned a radio set.

But Irene also showed up listed with her parents, William and Sarah Kershner, at 373 Monroe, Berwick Township, Pa., on the 1930 census (recorded April 8, 1930). Her two sons, Clark (listed as 4 and 11 months) and Carlos (7 months), are also included. (I'm figuring they were visiting during enumeration time.) I found the Kershners at the same address in the 1910 census, with Irene, 10 at the time, being among seven listed children.

Irene pops up in the 1920 census as a sister-in-law to Jacob and Lucretia Nagel in Lakewood, Ohio. She worked as a stenographer at a chemical company.

A WWI draft registration card filled out June 5, 1918, for a Walter Clark Peck living at 1339 E. 80th St. in Cleveland states he worked at a chemical company in Cleveland -- perhaps Walter and Irene had a workplace romance. Walter's emergency contact was his mother, Elizabeth Peck, who lived at the same address. Walter shows up on the 1910 and 1920 censuses living with his parents, Clark W. and Bessie Peck, in Cleveland.

Ohio death records show Walter C. Peck, born in 1897, died at home in Fairview Park, Ohio, on Nov. 13, 1961. I couldn't find a death date for Irene; Carlos Peck passed away in 2002.

But Clark Peck is still alive, and I called him on the phone today. He's a bit hard of hearing, so I mostly spoke to his wife, Beryl (Heiser) Peck, who confirmed pretty much everything I'd found.

Beryl said Walter Peck and Irene Kershner had met at Grasselli Chemical in Cleveland, where they'd both worked. Walter later worked for the Canadian Pacific Rail for many years; Beryl said Walter traveled around the world a couple times before he passed away in his 60s. Irene lived until the last 1980s. Now in his late 80s, Dr. Clark Peck practiced dentistry and taught at Case Western Reserve University for 30 years. He and Beryl now live in Westlake, Ohio, and have two children and many grandchildren.

By the time I got off the phone, I was tearing up from happiness. Beryl thanked me multiple times for contacting them -- I'll be mailing out the marriage certificate (and a copy of this blog post) to her and Clark today. I'm so glad that this beautiful record will return to its family -- and stay with them for many years to come.


Related resources:
Ancestry.com | saving and sharing family history | Vital Records
Thursday, June 16, 2011 2:49:24 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [11]
Thursday, June 16, 2011 3:14:24 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
This is so awesome - just the kind of thing genealogists are known for doing :)

When I'm in little towns, I'll stop by antique shops and see if there are any old family photos I can rescue - sadly many of them have no names on them - but it's worth taking the time to look and reuniting them with their family if possible.

Good on you!
Friday, June 17, 2011 2:40:25 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Don't you wonder how the document came to be "loose" to begin with?
Israel Pickholtz
Friday, June 17, 2011 3:13:59 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
I have my husbands grandparent's marriage certificate which looks somewhat similar. Theirs was from Brooklyn, NY. I find it strange that neither the certificate you featured nor the one I have carry the name of the church. It would be interesting to find out when churches started to put their names on such legal documents.
Friday, June 17, 2011 3:14:20 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
I love this heart-warming story! Thanks for going to all the trouble of finding family for this beautiful marriage certificate and thanks for sharing the story with us!
Carol
Monday, June 20, 2011 9:56:51 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Carol -- that's an interesting point! I did a little Googling on the name of the reverend, and it seems he was affiliated with the Grace Lutheran Church in Berwick, PA.
Thursday, June 23, 2011 8:52:19 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
What a sweet story. Kudos to you Grace! I too often wonder about photos and documents that I see in my travels (ie: who the faces hanging on the walls at Cracker Barrel belong to). Makes you wonder if anything from your family is out there "on the loose!"
The closest that I can come to trying to reconnect the memorabilia to the family is having newspaper clippings about my parents best friends from the 1940's that were in my mom's scrapbook. I contacted the family through Ancestry.com, but have never heard anything.
Laurie Quesenberry
Thursday, June 23, 2011 9:04:37 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Israel, I agree. That's so sad when these wonderful documents and photos are given away, thrown away, or sold away....

I LOVED this story! Great sleuthing, Grace!
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