A copy of Jimmy Hoffa's marriage license application from 1937 is on file in Wood County. Wood County had lax requirements for getting married then and attracted many couples from the Detroit area who wanted a quick wedding. The Hoffas had no other Wood County connections.
BOWLING GREEN - Authorities still don't know where Jimmy Hoffa was buried, but there's no mystery about where the former Teamsters president was married.
Wood County Records Manager Brenda Ransom said she found an obscure reference to Hoffa's marriage license in a black binder tucked away in the basement of the courthouse one day last spring. She called Wood County Probate Court, and sure enough, James Hoffa, an "organizer" from Detroit, applied for a marriage license with Josephine Poszywak on Sept. 25, 1937.
A marriage certificate signed by E.E. Bailey, justice of the peace, shows the couple were married the same day in Bowling Green.
Ms. Ransom said she came across the tidbit of local trivia quite by accident. The binder, apparently kept by a probate clerk in the 1940s, was filled with neatly typed but odd facts about marriage license applicants in Wood County, including people who had famous names like George Washington, those who were remarrying a former spouse, and even "divorced couples married by ministers who object to divorce."
"It's by no means a record of the court. It's just something they did for fun, I assume," Ms. Ransom said.
On one page, a hand-written notation lists the volume and page number of Jimmy Hoffa's marriage application.
"It was kind of by itself and I thought, the Jimmy Hoffa? We looked into it and it turned out to be true," she said.
Hoffa and Miss Poszywak most likely came to Bowling Green to get married because of its reputation in the 1930s as a quick and easy place to get hitched.
"We were known as a marriage mill town," said Lolita Guthrie, projects coordinator for the Wood County Genealogical Society. "We had a judge at that time who would accept anyone as a witness, and people drove in particularly from the Detroit area and somebody along the curb would say, 'I'll be your witness' and stand in for them. They were even married on Sundays."
While there is no evidence Hoffa or his young bride had any other connection to Wood County, their marriage license application states that she resided in Rossford in Wood County, Ohio. Mrs. Guthrie suspects that was a false statement.
Because one of the applicants was supposed to be from Wood County, she said, "That's the part that was fudged. They had a witness who would lie for them. That was very common."
The Wood County Health Department has no record of Miss Poszywak's birth, and U.S. Census records from 1920 show that her parents, Phillip and Anna Poszywak, came to the United States from Poland and lived in Detroit.
Neither the Hoffas' daughter, Barabara Ann Crancer, born in 1938, who is now an associate circuit court judge in St. Louis County, Missouri, or their son, James P. Hoffa, 65, president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, could be reached for comment yesterday.
Galen Munroe, press secretary for the Teamsters, said Mr. Hoffa would not comment about anything having to do with his parents because of the ongoing search for his father's remains at a horse farm in Milford Township, Michigan.
The elder Hoffa, who was believed to have been murdered, disappeared July 30, 1975, and his remains were never found.
Mrs. Hoffa died in 1980. An obituary that appeared in the New York Times after her death said she and Hoffa had met on a Detroit picket line in 1936 when Hoffa was an organizer for Teamsters Local 299.
At the time, Miss Poszywak worked for a local laundry where employees had gone on strike for better wages. Hoffa apparently showed up to offer moral support and the two fell in love, marrying the next year in Bowling Green.
Contact Jennifer Feehan