Search the Notes Field

There are a limited number of fields for entering the basic information about births, marriages, or deaths. Alternative names or special notes don't nicely fit into those fields. The Notes field is used as the collector of miscellaneous information. During a typical database search, the Notes field is NOT searched. Selecting the "Notes" option will cause there to be a search only in the Notes field. This might be a good option if a regular search did not turn up anything. The search looks in the Notes field for what you entered in the Surname box using a wildcard strategy. It ignores any given name you may have also filled in on the form. This option can give you more matches than you bargained for. This is particularly problematic for short or incomplete names. The Daitch-Motokoff soundex option does not work in a Notes field search. It works by matching what you have entered and not other sound-alikes.

Some parish death records included the place of birth of the decedent. I added these to the Notes field. Due to the way the search is done, you can actually search for the name of a place if you enter it in the Surname box and select the "Notes" option. As noted above, you might get back too much information to wade through. For example, searching on Prussia is too general and results in too many results.

With respect to marriage records, additional information in the Notes field may affect how the information is interpreted. So, if there are aliases, the widower/widow status is given, or extra names are given, these get put in the Notes field. It is usually a fair assumption that over the years covered by this index, the brides and grooms derived their surnames from their fathers. However, there are a couple of circumstances where that assumption is false. One circumstance may be when a mother remarries and the children retain their original surname which may be that of their biological father (or mother if illegitimate). The other circumstance may be when a widow remarries using her deceased husband's name. The record is not always clear what we are dealing with. Here are some fictitious data to illustrate the point:

John Kowalski parents: Stanley and Maria Czaja
Kathryn Czerwinski parents: Michael Pulaski and Pauline Baran

Is Stanley Kowalski John's father? Is Stanley John's stepfather and the family name is now Czaja? Is Michael Pulaski Kathryn's stepfather? Is Kathryn the daughter of someone named Czerwinski? Or, is she the widow of someone named Czerwinski? This record does not include her status. We can make some educated guesses, but additional research is needed to sort out all the ambiguities.

How would the data treated in the index? Extra names, like Pulaski in the above example, would be added to the Notes field. Had the record said Kathryn was a widow, she would have been indexed as Pulaski and then "widow of Czerwinski" would have been added to the Notes field.