Every time I enter the dining room in my childhood home in northern Wisconsin, I am greeted by this incredibly detailed and beautiful marriage certificate. My great-grandmother, Grace, and my great-grandfather, Clarence, were married on the 26th of November, 1931 in Brussels, Wisconsin. Although I never had the chance to meet Clarence, I have several memories of spending time with my great-grandma Grace. She told stories of growing up with all of her siblings on a farm in small-town Wisconsin and what it was like to raise a family through wars, economic hardships, and losing loved ones. Unfortunately, during those long talks, I didn't think to ask about something that is so important to me now, the story of my family and their immigration to the United States. To me, this marriage certificate represents my search for my family history and the names with which I began. My journey led me to find that my great-grandmother's father, Antoine, traveled to the United States from Belgium in the 1870’s. He married a Wisconsin girl, probably the daughter of another immigrant family, and established roots in small-town Wisconsin. This certificate is a window into the life of a second-generation American, Grace Jenquin. I am proud of where I came from and what I have learned solely from the names and places on this document. I can only imagine the traditions, language, and culture that her father taught her and hope to find more as I continue the search for my roots.
– Cassidy Mickelson