An invaluable resource to uncover for each of your ancestors is the paper trail they left behind when they “got hitched.”
Locating those records today is an essential task that every family historian should put at the top of the list.
The newest additions in our 100 in 100 campaign will help you do just that for Wyoming, Oklahoma, and Montana.
These indexes, ranging from 1842 - 1947, contain all kinds of vital information which could illuminate your family's past.
Marriage records from state to state
Within the United States, marriages are most often recorded at the county level. The license itself can provide a wide variety of clues, as well as help you establish relationships and work towards establishing your ancestor’s social circle.
The variation of information in marriage records often ranges from county to county, state to state.
Extra clues from the marriage license
Remember to look for details such as the official who performed the marriage, parental permission that may indicate that the bride or groom was underage, and the names of witnesses who may prove to be relatives.
Look for patterns as well, as you research a particular family line. If you find that one particular minister performed the marriage ceremony for many of your family members, it may indicate their religious preference or that the minister was also part of the family.
Keep in mind that a certain level of caution must also be used. One marriage entry in a clerk’s registrar may be the date the license was issued, the date of the actual marriage, the date the completed license was filed with the county, and so forth.
Run away to Gretna Green...
When you find yourself in the situation of a missing license, consider the idea of a local “Gretna Green.”
You can often expect to find a marriage registered in a certain place and time. When that's not the case, you should consider the possibility that the couple may have married out of county or state, in a more convenient location, to be able to get around the local laws.
Where are the women?
The American west. Images of vast open plains, miles of ranch and farm land, and the towering, majestic peaks of the Rockies. When it comes to the historical population, we are swayed by the Hollywood scene: cowboys, sheriffs, and homesteaders. Men, mostly. Lots and lots of men.
The west, however, was won by women.
Marriage was vital for homesteaders, ranchers, miners, and nearly every category of settler or adventurer you can think of.