Saturday, December 3, 2011

Rudolph Valentino and Crown Point, Indiana

I volunteer as an arbitrator on the indexing project. Recently, I downloaded a batch of marriage records from Lake County, Indiana to arbitrate. Each batch of records is indexed by two individuals and the arbitrator, in the case of a descrepancy between the indexers, decides which of the two are correct.

One of the indexers for this batch determined that the marriages took place in Lake County while the other left this field blank. The rules for indexing state that you are to enter what you see for each field.

Looking at the image of the register page, I saw no place in which the location of the marriage was recorded. I agreed with the indexer who left this field blank. However, I could see why the second indexer decided that the marriages took place in Lake County.

The marriage license was issued by the clerk at the county courthouse in Crown Point, Indiana. One the same day Justice of the Peace, Howard H. Kemp performed most of these marriages. This indexer assumed that since the license was issued at a courthouse and the marriage was performed by a justice of the peace on the same day, then the marriage took place at the courthouse from which the license was issued.

This was probably true.

Arbitrating this same batch, I came across an entry in which both indexers entered the same name but I disagreed. The name that each indexer entered was Stalmaker. I looked at the name again and again and felt that it was Stalnaker. I did a little research and found this bride. The interesting thing is I found this couple in Nebraska in the records I encountered. Other than this marriage entry, there is no indication that they were in Indiana.

By now I was intrigued by this couple and also wondered if Howard Kemp was a justice of the peace at the courthouse in Crown Point. I came across a book on Rudolph Valentino entitled Dark Lover: Life and Death of Rudolph Valentino by Emily W. Leider. On page 255, I found an account of his marriage to Natacha, AKA Winifred de Wolfe, in 1923.

The marriage was performed by Justice of the Peace Howard H. Kemp at 6:05 pm in Crown Point, Indiana. The couple had wanted to marry in Chicago but there seemed to be a waiting period between the issuance of the marriage license and when the marriage actually could take place. Rudolph and Natacha drove to Crown Point to be married.

As I stated earlier, the marriages in the batch that I arbitrated took place on the same day that the license was issued. So it would seem that Indiana did not have a waiting period. I don't know if in the 1920s Wisconsin or Iowa had waiting periods.

Lake County is a county in the northwest corner of the Indiana sharing a border with Illinois and Lake Michigan. So for Valentino, the Crown Point courthouse was closer to Chicago than a courthouse in either of these states. In the case of Albert and Irene from Nebraska, I can only speculate that all the neighboring states including Nebraska had waiting periods.

On the otherhand, the couple may have been in Chicago visiting and on the spur of the moment decided to get married.