I’m not sure about you, but I’ve had a few surprises over the years on Marriage dates and Children’s births.  I was always under the assumption that it took 9 months for children to be born…at least in the biology of it.  But in the genealogy world, that’s not always true.

My dad always said….”The first one can come anytime…the second one takes 9 months!”…and boy was he right!!!  My maternal grandparents were married in July 1930…their first born came along in October 1930.  WOW!! A 3 month pregnancy!!!!  Now that’s something that a lot of women would pay big money to have happen!

But seriously…never assume that just because a couple got married in July (or January, or whenever), that their first child must be at least 9 months later.  Even back in the 1800’s it could happen that there was a child BEFORE they got married.  Our ancestors weren’t saints!  They had the same desires and urges that our modern families have…they just didn’t publicize it like today.  (Imagining a Facebook “Relationship” status that reads Single, but “With Child”.)

This seemed to happen in my family A LOT.   My grandmother had “Short” pregnancies with her first 2 sons (2 separate marriages).  Her first son was actually born before his parents got married.  I haven’t been able to prove it yet, but I believe his dad was in WWI at the time (I think he was a “Farewell my Dear, I’ll be home soon” baby).  His parents got married (and subsequently changed his name) a few months after his birth.  Imagine my surprise when I found he had 2 birth certificates…dated almost 18 years apart!

Carl Wilbur Lee Birth Record April 9, 1918, recorded April 25, 1918

Carl Wilbur Lee
Birth Record
April 9, 1918, recorded April 25, 1918

The above birth record is the FIRST Birth Certificate for my Uncle Dave.  His parents were not married when he was born, and was given my Grandmother’s last name (her Maiden Name of Lee).  Carl is my Grandmother’s brother’s name and his middle name of Wilbur, obviously, was his own father’s name.  What’s interesting is that this is my Uncle DAVE!  Imagine my surprise when I found this certificate with a totally different name.  This was the SECOND birth record I found for him.  I was actually looking for my Grandmother’s brother (Carl Lee) in census and death records when I found it.

David Carl Frechette Born April 9, 1918 Recorded March 30, 1936

David Carl Frechette
Born April 9, 1918
Recorded March 30, 1936

This birth record was what I was expecting.  David Carl Frechette was my Mom’s half brother (same mom, different fathers).  Unfortunately, I barely remember him…he died when I was only 5 years old.

So…let’s jump ahead now to 1929…my Uncle Dave is now 11 years old…He has been raised by his mother (Anna), grandmother (Ida, who spoke only Swedish) and uncle (Carl), on the South Side of Chicago.  His father, Wilbur, died when he was just 2 years old.  His mother is getting married again.  So I should be able to find them all in the 1930 census…right?  Nope!  Found my Great Grandmother Ida (who passed away 13 days after this record was completed), Uncle Carl, Grandma Anna, and Uncle Dave.  But my Grandmother’s new last name and her new husband is missing…..WHY?!?!?! She got married in 1929 and this is April 2, 1930…She should have a new last name and a new husband. Right?!?!?!?!

My “Grandma Anna” and “Grandpa Jim” were supposedly married in August of 1929.  We had this recorded everywhere…and I thought it was correct…until I opened up the envelope with their original Marriage Certificate.  Their marriage actually took place in August of 1930! (So that’s why the missing info in the 1930 census!) Their first son, James, Jr. was born in October of 1930…WOW…another “short pregnancy” in my family history!  I must remember this info and report it to Ripley’s Believe It or Not!  OK….maybe NOT!  But what are the odds that my grandmother would suffer from 2 short pregnancies and then have 2 normal, full-term pregnancies in her lifetime.

So, I guess the point I’m sarcastically trying to make (in fun, of course), is that you can’t always use the 9-month pregnancy rule when it comes to your ancestors.  Pregnancies before marriage are not something “new”.  Just remember…in any marriage, “The first one can come anytime…the second one takes 9 months”.

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