Sunday, May 5, 2013

Index -------> Original Records

Dave asked:
”I found a marriage record I need on  It has all the info on it, full names, place of  marriage and date of marriage.  I am still not quite understanding why I need to get the “original record.”  You said that their might be errors in the index but I know their names are correct.”


“Texas Marriage Collection, 1814-1909 and 1966-2002,” database, ( : accessed 04 May 2013), entry for Benjamin S. Harrison and Lucinda Grimes, 05 September 1846; citing FHL microfilm #0109273.

When you look at this it looks pretty good, right?  You can document the information and use as your source.  But what does this index NOT tell you?

  • Are the names spelled as they are spelled on the marriage record? Even though you say that the names are spelled “right” that doesn’t mean the index matches the actual record.
  • Is the date listed the date of the application or the marriage itself?
  • Are there any witnesses listed that might be relatives?
  • Are there any loose papers inside the marriage book such as a permissions note from Benjamin or Lucinda’s parents?
  • Is Lucinda listed as Miss or Mrs.?  That would tell you if it is a first marriage or a subsequent marriage.
  • Depending on the place and the time, other information could be listed on the license such as parents names, ages, etc.
  • You also need to make a note of the clergyman that married them.  This might give you a clue as to their church affiliation which could possibly lead you to church records.

You can either write to the Austin County Courthouse or you can order the Family History Library [FHL] microfilm that is named.  The microfilm will have images of the actual licenses/certificates. 

Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis


  1. I knew when my parents were married. We celebrated their anniversary every year! And I found the 'marriage record' on Ancestry. The names, and the date were correct. All good, right?
    When I actually got the copy of their original license application, it gave birth dates and places, their individual addresses at the time of application, their occupations and employers at the time, both sets of their parents' names, and whether or not there had been a previous marriage.
    My Mom's birthplace was important. I had heard Toledo. It was Bradner, in a neighboring county. The addresses tied into tracking of census/directory info and let me know who was living at home, or not, and verified an unfound off-year location for parents. One occupation was a surprise, and the other confirmed memory of story.
    Yeah, I would vote for the fact that the indexed record is important, because it let's you know where to hunt for the original, and the original is worth getting!!

  2. I have found all kinds of goodies in marriage records. I found TWO handwritten permission notes in Norman Entrekin and Mary Simmons' marriage record. Mary was my grandfather's older sister.

    Part of the first is unreadable because the second one overlapped when the clerk photocopied it.

    Sep the 10th 1907
    Mr C. V. Hathorn
    Please let
    Mr Norman Entrek[last letters cut off]
    have licens to get
    married to my
    daughter miss Mary Si[last letters cut off]
    an a blidge [am obliged]
    Mr J. E. Simmons

    Sep 10th 1907
    Mr C. V. Hathorn
    Please let my son
    Norman Enterkin
    have licens to
    get married to
    Miss Mary Simmons
    an ablidge [am obliged]
    Mr S. Enterkin

  3. Marvelous!! Not just info, but real flavor of these people!! I'm jealous!
    I have heard of researchers who are ""embarrassed"" by rough spelling, etc., but that makes no sense to me at all..... That's valuable!
    Not only is it *real*, but it carries the feel of the time and the people. And can even help, sometimes, with how things were pronounced by the people themselves, or heard by a clerk.
    Too cool, Michelle!

  4. Look at this one, Linda. This is a handwritten will from Marion County, Mississippi :)

    1. Boy, am I late! [Florist. Mother's Day week. Recovering....]

      That will is fantastic! Thanks so much for the link. When I first read it, I was savoring the voice and the flavor. Second reading, it gave the history of the property, names, et al.

      Thanks. Love it.

  5. So right that you never know what will be in the original material. With one WV Marriage Bond is a nice authorization by the bride for her representative in the Bond to act as her Guardian, which pointed to a County Court record that helped clarify the bride's otherwise murky parentage. The index to this record, of course, did not offer a clue.