Where Did They Come From?

Baptisms were usually performed close to the location of birth and shortly after birth. This practice was observed to lower the possibility of the infant dying before they received the rite. Marriages usually took place close to the residence of the bride or groom. But because these adults may have moved, we can't be sure they were born in the same parish as their marriage.

Priests were supposed to record where the parties were baptized as part of the marriage record. The practice was to ensure that the bride and groom were both Catholic and had received baptism prior to marriage. The recording of this information was often not done or was incomplete. Some preprinted marriage register forms were not clear. They usually included the phrase, "ex loco", which roughly means, "Where are your from?". A desired response might be, "I was born in ___", or "I was baptized in ______". Instead, it often is interpreted as, "I currently live in _____". Place of residence is not usually very useful unless it's a full address because we can usually assume that someone is likely to be married in a church close to where they currently live. A marriage record with the place of birth or baptism provides an excellent way of tracing an immigrant ancestor back to the old country when the information might not otherwise be available in other records.

In one parish, the city of every bride and groom was Chicago-- the same as the church. Are we to assume that this parish only serviced native born Polish-Americans? No. This is a case where residency was recorded rather than place of baptism for most of the brides and grooms. So, the lesson here is not to put a lot of stock in listed locations that are the same as that of the church. Do some additional research!