In 1898, the sensationalist New York American reported the story of an unusual engagement. A Polish man from Pennsylvania had approached a New York City saloonkeeper and offered to pay him $20 for his help in finding the man a wife. The immigrant requested that for the same $20 the saloonkeeper host a party—complete with music, lunch, whiskey, beer, and cigars—to celebrate the engagement. The saloonkeeper agreed. He found a woman willing to marry the stranger, and he held the festivities as promised. The bride balked, however, when she heard that her intended groom expected her to move to Pennsylvania. With the marriage called off, the Polish man asked for a refund. Appearing in Police Court, the saloonkeeper agreed to return the $20 saying he had enjoyed the party anyway. Most researchers will not discover a story like this one, but questioning how the couples in a family met can help genealogists brainstorm about research questions, develop strategies, and streamline investigations.
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