CHARLES TOWN – Nancy Lutz bought an ornate pre-Civil War marriage certificate years ago thinking it would look lovely in her living room, but now she’s had a change of heart.
“I’d like nothing more than to get this back in the hands of the family,” the Charles Town woman explained.
But that hasn’t proved possible yet. Despite extensive research on Ancestry.com and in courthouse, census and cemetery records, Lutz hasn’t connected to a single relative of Grace Greenwood Legg and George Washington Taylor, whose March 24, 1855, union in Winchester, Va., is recorded with the document.
Lutz, a Charles Town native who worked for two decades as a police officer in Fairfax County, Va., before retiring here in 1993, purchased the certificate at an estate sale, perhaps in Boonsboro, Md. The unframed certificate was in a box of books and miscellaneous papers.
She’d always enjoyed history and attending actions, but had begun delving deeply into her family’s roots only after a car crash claimed the lives of her father and two other family members. “I’m very sensitive to how difficult this kind of work can be,” she said. “Families get disrupted from each other for all kinds of reasons. A lot of people don’t feel comfortable sharing personal information. In my own research, not having a family Bible or a lot of documents, I had to pick people’s brains and see what I could uncover.”
At one point, frustrated with work on her own family tree, Lutz decided to try her luck with the names listed on the marriage certificate instead. On Ancestry.com, Lutz found the Taylors – and soon she discovered the couple had ties to Charles Town. That’s when she came upon the idea of returning the marriage certificate to the family.
Lutz has found that the couple, who’d married in the bride’s hometown, initially made their home in Frederick County, Va., and, in the years after the Civil War, lived in Mill Creek in the southern end of Berkeley County. By 1880, the Taylors had trekked to Jefferson County and were living with their children on Charles Street.
It appears the couple remained in Charles Town through the end of their lives. Taylor died in 1895 and his wife in 1921; both are buried in Edge Hill Cemetery.
The Taylors had eight children but Lutz is in the dark about any offspring born to them. Of the Taylor daughters, it appears that only the youngest married and with her passing, the path stops cold. Maria, the 85-year-old widow of Charles Nicholas Beard, died July 9, 1960, in Charles Town.
For Lutz, who became interested in genealogy to learn about health issues in her family and then found herself “addicted” to the research, it feels a bit maddening to not be able to find someone related to the family.
“You get on the trail of someone and it can go seemingly forever,” she said. “Then there are the ones who just fall off the face of the earth.”
Last week, Lutz decided to reach out to the Spirit of Jefferson. She hopes a story in the newspaper might help her finally find relatives of either the Taylors or Leggs.
Locating someone in the family and handing off the marriage certificate would give her such a sense of satisfaction, Lutz predicts. “The marriage certificate is beautiful and I’ve loved having it in my home, but it ought to be in the hands of the family,” she said. “That’s all I want to do now – find someone related to George and Grace and get it back where it belongs.”
Want to help?
+ If you can provide information about the Leggs or Taylors, contact Lutz at email@example.com or call the Spirit of Jefferson at 304-725-2046.