|Kathleen Coleman and George Beck on their wedding day|
When my paternal great-grandfather, George Beck, married my great-grandmother, Kathleen Coleman on September 14, 1921, he was the divorced father of two young girls.
George Martin Beck (who changed his name from Gerhardus Marinus Beukenkamp after emigrating from Amsterdam) was previously married to Marie Iversen. Marie was also an immigrant, having been born in Norway. Together, they had the following children:
Julia “Julie” Evelyn Beck, born August 22, 1912 *
Betty Irene Beck, born December 23, 1914
George and Marie were living in Nebraska when their daughters were born, but at some point, George left them and moved to California. Marie later remarried August Bardahl, and they settled in Washington with Julie and Betty.
George married my great-grandmother, Kathleen Meldon Coleman, in Los Angeles in 1921. Kathleen was also an immigrant, having sailed to North America from Australia in 1919. George and Kathleen would go on to have two daughters of their own.
Margaret Florence Beck, born December 9, 1922
Jeanette Mary Beck, born December 23, 1925
My father requested a marriage license for George and Kathleen to store alongside some family photos. It was a great surprise to find that George Beck and Kathleen Coleman’s marriage license indicates that George had another ex-wife, and his marriage to Kathleen was actually his third marriage. This is not common knowledge in our family. Since then, my father and I have searched marriage records, both for George and Gerhardus, but have not turned up the name of this third wife. Perhaps the marriage took place in The Netherlands, prior to George’s departure for America, and we simply haven’t located the Dutch paperwork yet. Did a young Gerhardus flee a failed marriage in Amsterdam? Did George throw over Marie for a quickie marriage before meeting Kathleen? There are so many possibilities here.
Ancestors surprise you. Just when you think you have them figured out, they throw you a curve ball and compel you to look more closely. I’ll continue to hunt for evidence of this other marriage and will let you know what I find.
|George and Kathleen's marriage license|
* As an aside, some of you may notice that my own daughter shares a name with one of George’s children. This was totally unintentional, and quite a surprise to me when I discovered the coincidence shortly after my daughter’s birth. I do hope my daughter will take after the original Julia, who was a lovely and friendly woman, and who lived to a ripe old age.