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Visiting those helpful people at the Fulton County courthouse.

The idea of visiting a government office makes me nervous. I'm courteous, kind, and deferential, but I always get screwed. Some government bureaucrats just don't give a damn.

Visiting the Fulton County Superior Court to track down some old divorce records seems like a straightforward task. Just wait.

After the metal detector routine, I went into the small lobby where the public servants were well buffered by a counter and a glass wall. A sign demanded that I take a number, but the take-a-number gizmo had no numbers. I asked a fellow taxpaying customer about the procedure, and he just shook his head and shrugged. He'd probably been there for days.

I went to the glass wall and positioned myself near a talking hole and waited for someone to pay attention to me. Didn't happen, but there was a lot of walking by and averting of eyes. I was invisible!

After several minutes, I just leaned into the talking hole and tried to make someone listen. Finally a young man who clearly didn't want to help me asked "Can I help you?"

I couldn't make this up if I tried
Here's the honest-to-God conversation, taken from the notes that I wrote before I left.

James (that would be me): Hi, I need to see some Superior Court records from 1912. How do I do that?

Public servant (staring blankly): 1912? Would that be before 1960?

James (also staring blankly): I beg your pardon.

Public servant: Is that earlier than 1960 or 1970?

James: You're joking, right?

Public servant (looking even more puzzled): Let me get someone else.

Cut to the chase
I can make this shorter. For a fee of $15, they would try to find the records I wanted. No guarantees.

As of this day, I never got any documents or help from the public servants.


Courthouse Research for
Family Historians: Your Guide
to Genealogical Treasures

Maybe this would have helped me. I have not read this book, but I'm considering buying it before I go back to the courthouse. Good reviews from buyers.



Family-Tree Problem Solver
by Marsha Hoffman Rising

Here's a book I can easily recommend. I read it, enjoyed it, and learned a lot. I notice that it has excellent reviews from others. Click this link to buy it.


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The secret wife of Dionysius Virgil Stephens: part 03 (Elizabeth Bauschell)

As detailed in the first two parts of this story, everyone in the family knew that D. V. Stephens had two wives: Mary Kitchens and Rebecca Reaves. I have to tell you that I was completely happy with this situation. I had found marriage licenses, census records, and other documents that confirmed the two marriages. I had viewed the gravestones of both women. I thought I knew it all. Yeah, right!

A big shock
While doing Internet research, I followed my same old routine. I entered the name of my great-grandfather, Dionysius Virgil Stephens. That usually gets me nowhere. Then I enter D. V. Stephens, and get lots of hits for a Nebraska congressman and a Civil War soldier named J. V. D. Stephens. Not what I'm looking for.

But one evening, I scared up a local newspaper article that mentioned a Superior Court proceeding involving D. V. Stephens, and this was not the congressman. Here's a blurb from the Atlanta Constitution for January 30, 1912.

I'll admit that this tale of love gone wrong is pitiful, but thank goodness, it was not about my great-grandfather; after all, he had only two wives. But I did the math, and subtracted age 79 (in the article) from 1912 and ended up with 1833—the birth date of Dionysius Virgil Stephens. What an odd coincidence.

The marriage in the article took place in 1907, so I then verified the date that second wife Rebecca had died: February, 1907. Yikes! What is this all about? Who is this woman Elizabeth mentioned in the article?

I wanted to learn more about these court proceedings, but so far, I haven't. You can read all about it in the sidebar.

But I did learn more about the secret wife of D. V. Stephens . . . much more!

Go to page 4





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Last update: April 7, 2014