Finally a Contemporary Marriage Record for Texas Great-Grandparents Andrew Jackson Pace and Laura Mae Fields

If you haven’t read my recent series of posts the past couple of weeks, I have been focusing my current research efforts on my husband Jeff’s Pace and Fields line, in preparation for a trip I am taking to Texas next month. His great-grandparents were Andrew Jackson “A.J.” Pace (d. 1961) and Laura Mae (Fields) Pace (1896-1933). Little is known about Laura Mae because she died from meningitis at the age of 36, leaving behind a husband and ten children ranging from 19 years old to just a few months old.

The Research Question

One of the key questions in this current phase of research was simply, when and where did my husband’s great-grandparents marry?

When and where did Andrew Jackson “A.J.” Pace (likely born in Alabama, lived in Texas, died 1961 in New Mexico) and Laura Mae Fields (born around 1896 likely in Texas, died early 1930s in Texas) marry?

The Evidence

I have been unable to locate an actual marriage certificate or even a marriage index entry for the couple in the collections available online through Ancestry and FamilySearch. Since, according to the FamilySearch Wiki, duplicate copies of marriage records are/were not sent to the state archives like is done for birth and death records, I will not be able to find a copy of the marriage record at the state archives when I visit Austin next month.1

My only choice is to go it old school, and request the marriage record from the county clerk in Dallas County. But thanks to these newfound documents, I now know a specific marriage date and place, which will make the county clerk’s work easier.

The 1930 U.S. Census

Prior to one week ago, the only piece of evidence I had that referenced a marriage date for Andrew Jackson Pace and Laura Mae Fields was the 1930 federal census.

Andrew Jackson Pace Household 1930 US Census

I wrote a little while back that the ages for Andrew Jackson and Laura Mae at the time of the census and and ages at time of first marriage do not jive. Andrew Jackson is noted as age 52 (born about 1878),  and first married at age 38. Laura Mae is noted as age 34 (born about 1896), and first married at age 16. This would make the husband and wife about 18 years apart in age at the time of the census, yet 22 years apart when each was first married.2

So either the two sets of ages for Andrew Jackson and Laura Mae were mis-reported (wrong info or bad math) to the census taker, or Laura Mae had a prior marriage. I have not yet exhausted the search for a possible earlier marriage for Laura Mae, but based on documents I have have since found pertaining to Laura Mae, I am leaning towards this census information discrepancy simply being a case of wrong information or bad math.

I have not found the family on the 1920 U.S. census.

Laura Mae’s Obituary

I blogged this past Sunday about just discovering the first document I have come across that references a specific marriage date and place for my husband’s great-grandparents,

This big discovery was the the 23 February 1933 obituary for great-grandmother Laura Mae, published in their local newspaper, the Lamb County Leader. The obituary–for which husband A.J. Pace likely served as the informant, since he did so for her certificate of death–reports that the two were married on 24 November 1912 in Mesquite, Dallas County, Texas.3, 4

Laura Mae Fields 1933 Obituary
Courtesy of the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library.5

Marriage Announcement

Within hours of publishing Wednesday night’s blog post tracking and mapping Laura Mae’s life events across the state of Texas, I scored again. A big time score…from a tiny little reference in the tiny little newspaper in the then-tiny little rural farming city Mesquite, Dallas County, Texas. The first contemporaneously created record I have found documenting the marriage of Andrew Jackson Pace and Laura Mae Fields–a newspaper announcing their marriage. Sitting right there in one of my favorite digital archives, The Portal to Texas History, which I visit almost weekly (see the first segment in a series I am writing about the Portal on my professional blog).

The Record

On 29 November 1912, The Texas Mesquiter (Mesquite, Texas) published a small brief on its front page, which reports that “A.J. Pace and Miss May Field were married Sunday [the 24th] morning at 10:00 o’clock, at the home of the groom’s uncle, J.A. Pace.” It also reports that the couple “will probably make their home after the first of the year in Bell county.”6

1912 Marriage Announcement for Pace-Fields
Marriage announcement in The Texas Mesquiter.5

Analyzing the Record

As with the obituary, this newspaper announcement provides direct evidence since it directly answers the research question…”When and where were Andrew Jackson Pace and Laura Mae Fields married?”, whereas the 1930 census record only provides indirect evidence because it does not specifically answer the research question.

The marriage date and place mentioned in the newspaper announcement are in agreement with the evidence provided in Laura Mae’s death certificate and obituary; these records do not conflict. The marriage date from the newspaper announcement and the obituary are also in agreement with what the 1930 federal census reports for Laura Mae’s age at first marriage, age 16. They are not, however, in agreement with (meaning they conflict with) what the 1930 census reported as A.J.’s age at this marriage, but since I have not yet analyzed his life records, I cannot yet resolve that particular conflict. My hunch is still that the information reported for A.J. on the 1930 U.S. census is just wrong info and bad math, likely reported by wife Laura Mae who would not have had firsthand knowledge of Andrew Jackson’s birth and age.

What new clues does this new record yield?

  • The couple was married in a private home, not in a church, so it is unlikely that there is a church marriage record for them, which could function as a vital records substitute for a marriage certificate if a certificate does not exist.
  • Great-grandfather Andrew Jackson Pace had an uncle who went by J.A. Pace, and who lived in Mesquite.
  • The couple was planning to move to nearby Bell County in early 1913, which helps me narrow down the geographical scope in which to search for a record of birth (which I have not yet found) for their oldest child, my husband’s grandfather Roy Delmar Pace, who was born 19 October 1913. I have not been able to identify a place of birth for Roy, only that it was in Texas.

The Discovery Process

Why couldn’t I locate this record before?

I have spent months scouring The Portal to Texas History for information pertaining to my husband’s Pace and Fields lines. How have I never come across this newspaper brief until last night? That is the topic of a future tutorial. A lesson I have learned twice this past week, and which I now need to incorporate into my regular search tactics for online records and repositories.

Next Steps?

Tasks to formally prove my answer to this current research question, and to formulate and answer new research questions.

  • Continue looking for an actual marriage certificate for Andrew Jackson Pace and Laura Mae Fields. This requires contacting or visiting the Dallas County Clerk’s Office.
  • Look for Dallas County records referencing Andrew Jacksons’s uncle J.A. Pace. This may help me locate where Andrew Jackson was living in Texas prior to marriage, and provide additional kinship clues to begin documenting the history of Andrew Jackson’s parents, siblings, and grandparents.


  1. “How to Find Texas Marriage Records,” FamilySearch Wiki ( : accessed 17 September 2015).
  2.  1930 U.S. census, Hockley County, Texas, population schedule, Justice Precinct 6, p. 9B (penned), dwelling 160, family 160, Andrew J. Pace household; digital image, Ancestry ( : accessed 1 September 2015); citing FHL microfilm 2342091.
  3.  “Mrs. A.J. Pace Buried Tuesday at Whitharral,” Lamb County (Texas) Leader, 23 February 1933, p. 1, col. 3; digital images, Texas Tech University Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library ( : accessed 11 September 2015).
  4.  Texas State Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Standard Certificate of Death no. 750 (1933), Mr.s A.J. Pace (Laura Mae Fields); from “Texas, Deaths, 1890-1976,” database with images, Ancestry ( : accessed 11September 2015),
  5. Ibid.
  6.  “Pace-Field,” The Texas Mesquiter (Mesquite, Texas), 29 November 1912, p. 1, col. 3; digital images, University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History ( : accessed September 16, 2015); crediting Mesquite Public Library, Mesquite, Texas.
  7. Ibid.

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