The story of another man's marriage(s)


I became fixated Wednesday on another man's marriage.

Well, actually, on proving that he had two of them.

It started the other day when someone on sent me a message asking if I wanted a photo of Quentin Stephenson. I was pretty sure I had corresponded with the person before, but I didn't remember what branch of the family he was talking about so I sought clarity.

With more context, I found Quentin in my family tree. He was my fourth cousin, three times removed. I hadn't really researched him, though I compiled information on some of his ancestors.

Let's see if I can find a wife, I thought.

That's how you lose a good chunk of a day. I sometimes become obsessed with figuring out a puzzle, unraveling a mystery.

It didn't appear many had done much research on Quentin, at least not on Ancestry. Some had listed a wife with a maiden name Naomi L (Amy) Lee. Soon, things didn't seem to add up.

Naomi Stephenson was listed in some City Directory records in the 1930s and in the 1940 Census. Why were the listings consistent then and suddenly around 1950 and after she starts being consistently listed as Amy Lou? It seemed Naomi was born about 1912 and Amy about 1917.

And then I found them both in the 1940 Census, Naomi living with Quentin in Chattanooga, Tenn., and Amy living with her parents in Chattanooga. Definitely two separate people. But marriage records were elusive, even though Hamilton County has a nice online listing for Chattanooga area marriages.

I searched Tennessee marriage records on and off of I consulted I tried to find something in McMinn County where Quentin's family had roots. I tried Bledsoe County where Amy Lou Lee's family had ties. I tried searches with Naomi McK because I had seen a 1935 Chattanooga City Directory listing with Quentin and Naomi at the same address. Her name had (McK) after it.

Every time I tried to walk away from the computer, my mind would think of a different combination to try or search to run. I think it was finally on that I hit paydirt. A Quentin Stephenson had married a Naomi McKeown in 1938 in Broward County, Florida. Coincidence?

It seemed like I was on to something. The era was right, Quentin's name was right, McKeown seemed to tie back to the McK in the city directory nicely. I tried to see if Broward records were online, striking out in the county and on Ancestry, but again scoring with It had the original marriage record, showing both Quentin and Naomi originally from Chattanooga.

I still don't know what happened between Quentin and Naomi. They obviously returned to Chattanooga by the 1940 Census, but it seems they separated in the 1940s. I believe Naomi remarried and died in 2004. Quentin appears to have married Amy Lou Lee in the mid to late 1940s, but I haven't tracked down that marriage record yet. His obituary indicates they were still together when he died in 1990.

But at least I was able to feel confident Quentin had two wives and put my obsession away before bed.