GenMassachusetts-L ArchivesArchiver > GenMassachusetts > 2010-10 > 1287155835
From: Kim Gawlak <>
Subject: [GENMASSACHUSETTS] "Tophill" - in 1941 -- possibly in Fall River?re-send
Date: Fri, 15 Oct 2010 11:17:15 -0400
I have a lovely photo of my grandparents, Fred and Bertha DOWNS, on their wedding day (Dec. 20, 1941). On the back of the photo, my grandmother wrote "At Tophill with our cake."
When I first started delving into the family history about 13 yrs. ago, one of my first discoveries was that the state of Mass. had NO legal record of my grandparents marrying (much to my late father's dismay and denial!).
Bertha was raised Protestant, but converted to Catholicism for Fred in order to raise my father and his 4 siblings in the Catholic church. When I first looked for church records, I was told they were destroyed in a fire.
I was then able to speak with someone at the state archives in Boston, and he advised me there was NO record of this marriage in MA. When I asked, how could this be possible, as I have some of the wedding day photos, the gentleman advised that perhaps this particular record was somehow "lost" -- considering that the day they married was less than 2 weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Bertha looked lovely, but in a simple dress with enormous corsage and fancy head-ribbon --- which leads me to believe that perhaps they married in a civil ceremony, perhaps at the courthouse / Justice of the Peace??
I've been searching but am unable to find any information about this "Tophill." It looks like it may have been a fancy restaurant, perhaps part of a country club??
I only wish I had asked more questions of my grandparents before they passed away about 20 yrs. ago...
Could it be possible that they married in nearby Rhode Island??
I wondered about this, but there was a family photo taken that day at my grandma's mother's home in Fall River... It seems unlikely that the ceremony would've occurred anywhere other than Fall River, since that was where they all came from; but grandpa did work for a while in Providence around this time.
If anyone can help me shed some light on this, I would greatly appreciate it.