Finding Marriages that are not at the Court House
Few marriages were recorded at the court houses in the early days. This fact hinders the genealogist in doubling the generations on the pedigree chart. But there are clues everywhere. One is how children were named. Have you noticed that the names of some people actually contain surnames? This is because parents generally gave the first son the names of their grandparents. For example, one grandparent was Edward and the other one was William. The child would have been named William Edward. Also, other children were given similiar names of other kin. And the names used may have dated further back in time. I had an ancestor (one of 8 children) named Conner Lawson Holland. As I traced back, I discovered that during the 1600s these the Lawson and Conner families not only married Hollands but their children (my cousins two and three generations removed) also carried these names. Family pride has a way of seeping through the years. I was always told that we were related to Senator Howell Cobb of Georgia, but it took 200 years of discovery to learn that yes, it was a very distant relationship because my 3rd great-grandfather was a Cobb of the same lineage. Another source of information is county deed records. People who did not necessary make a last will and testament distributed land and other items via deeds of gift to their children before they died. Another source is estate records. Look for receipts of the heirs in the distribution and sales. Every purchaser on the sale of the estate should be researched in the existing marriage records to learn whether he was a son-in-law. Likewise, no details should go unnoticed in the names listed in the Annual Returns of the estate. Tombstones are another aspect of research. While one may be searching for specific persons, the whole cemetery should be examined. The reason is that daughters married neighbors and their maiden name frequently appears on tombstones. I have found obelisks which listed every child born to that couple. Think of it like this “All the neighbors of my ancestors are buried in this cemetery. That includes the in-laws.” Lastly, of course, are bible records. Before it was mandatory to file marriage records at the court house, families kept intricate records in the family bible, along with letters and newspaper clippings. The DAR and other organizations gathered old bible records during the 1930s, typed and published, then presented books to State Archives. Also, many old bibles may be discovered in the catalog as microfilmed materials.