I've known for a while that FamilySearch has other websites out there besides the old http://www.famliysearch.org/ and new.familysearch.org sites, but I've rarely ventured to explore them. Well, I've recently decided I have no reason not to see what's there, and would probably benefit from getting to know what they are, what they have, and what's coming out soon. I started with the labs.familysearch.org site, as that's the only one I could remember the URL for off the top of my head. The first site they listed was the FamilySearch beta, which looks like a whole new reimagining of the site, and looks awesome. I tried doing a search for my great-grandma, Augusta Joseph Gibson, and once I narrowed the results down to Montana (where she lived for most of her short life) I was shocked - there was the marriage record of Augusta to her first husband, Charles Staffan!!! Not only that, it gave the names of Charles' parents (including his mom's maiden name), and a different maiden name for Pauline, Augusta's mom - we'd had her name as Pauline Rosen, but this record (made roughly a year after Pauline's death) said Pauline Rozinko. That was very exciting, so I started searching for the marriages of Augusta's siblings Elmer, Pat, and Lydia (Olga was married in Canada), and found them all. Elmer and Pat's marriages still said Rosen or Rozen for Pauline's last name, but Lydia's said Rossanke. With two out of four marriages adding a syllable after Rosen, I think I have good proof that Rosen or Rozen was not the last name of my great-great-grandmother. What it was exactly, I don't know. But I know something I didn't know yesterday when I started - the FamilySearch website has stuff even Ancestry.com doesn't have.
I kept searching and found the marriages of at least 10 or 15 more couples in my family tree, some dates I had and confirmed, some dates that I didn't have at all. I even found the marriage record of my great-grandma Rosie Sitzman Wagner's aunt Rose Sitzman, and (best of all) Rose's husband's first name - William. All my grandma knew was his last name, Fredrickson, so this was awesome to find. I found a few more Sitzman marriages too, which is fantastic because the Sitzmans have been very difficult to find records on. My newspaper breakthrough last time, and the marriage record breakthrough last night, have really helped make a few cracks in that brick wall. There's still a LOT of work to do on that side (the marriage records grossly conflict each other in terms of my great-grandma Rosie's father's name, for example) but the fact that I now know records EXIST, that I can find them, and (hopefully) begin to unravel this mystery is very exciting. :)