About early marriage records:

This information was submitted by Anita Turner and we thought it might be of interest to other researchers.

I received two new books today - neither of them have family records, but both seem great on how to research ancestors in Kentucky. One is titled "KENTUCKY: A Brief Genealogical Guide" and the other is "Kentucky Genealogical Resources". Both are jam-packed with information, addresses, what type of recrods are stored where, and what types of facts are included on the records. I've never seen so many addresses for archives, libraries, societies, etc.

After reading the section on marriages in those two books, plus the earlier book I had, here's my understanding of what was required for marriages in early Kentucky:

1. Bond - this was a "promise" that the bride and groom were each legally free to marry. Many times the groom signed his own bond, but a kinsman of the bride, or someone who knew her well, signed for her as her bondsman. NOTE: This was not necessarily signed by a parent (often was not). We're finding that it might be a grandfather, uncle, brother, etc.

2. Consent - filed with the Bond, if it was necessary. The Consent was only necessary if either of the parties was underage, and required a parent's permission to marry.

3. License - this was issued when the two previous documents were approved. Both parties had to be present to obtain the License - if they were present when the Bond and Consent were filed, the License could be issued on the spot. Once they had a License, the couple was free to go to a Justice of the Peace, Minister, etc. to be married (immediately, if they so chose). 4. Return - This was by the person who actually performed the wedding, and it was the only official record that the marriage actually took place. However, this was also where lots of mistakes occurred. If the minister only came to the courthouse a few times a year, that's when he made the Returns. If he had kept a notebook, and had faithfully written down all the information correctly, that's how he recorded it. But if he didn't keep written records, or had lost them and depended on his memory, many of the names might be entered incorrectly on the Returns.

The other problem faced here is that, many times, the couple would get their License in one County, then travel to the next County where the "visiting preacher" was. Then he would file his Return in his County!




Butler County, Kentucky