Monday, September 9, 2013

I like surprises

I told y’all that I was going to the Richmond County courthouse to look for some marriage licenses.  Well I did and I found some nifty things.  I had nine marriages on my list.  I only found five of the nine but I am okay with that because I wasn’t sure if the marriages took place in Richmond or in Columbia County.  The two counties are closely linked.  I will be going to the Columbia County Probate Court this afternoon. 

What was even more fun is I found two unexpected marriages just by accident.  I found a new first marriage for someone in my file that I didn’t know about.  I had his second marriage which I thought was his first.   The other thing I found was the marriage license of the parent’s of a good friend of mine from church.  I texted her and she was pretty excited.  Her parents happened to have the same surname as one of the people I was looking for so I saw her parents in the index. 

Both the Richmond and Columbia County Probate Courts are very friendly toward genealogists.  You are allowed to root around in the records without being bothered.  I know that other researchers are not this lucky.  Some courthouses put severe restrictions on what you can and cannot do.  So far I have never had a problem in any courthouse in any state that I have been to.  Maybe the south is just friendlier than the north (can’t wait to hear the responses to that).

Always call ahead and find out what the rules are.

Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis


  1. I've only done court house research in New England (Massachusetts). There wasn't much rooting around allowed. I did have to laugh that no cameras were allowed but no one said anything about an iPhone or iPad. That was last year, though; maybe things have changed.

  2. That is so funny because at the Richmond County courthouse the clerk was thanking me because I was photographing the marriage licenses. She told me that it was a real pain when she had to copy them for people.

  3. It's been years since I've done any courthouse research but Morrison County, MN where my mom's family is all from was awesome! Once you showed you knew how to use their birth or death index, etc., they left you alone to look through the books. Polk County, MN was the same. On the other hand I went to the Dane County, WI courthouse & they were really restrictive. They only let 1 person (I was there with my mom, aunt & grandma) go back with one of them at a time & they handled everything. I know other counties in MN where my mom's friend did research & they don't let you look at anything anymore. :/

  4. That is why it is important to either call ahead or talk with someone that is familiar with that courthouse before you go. I can just imagine how frustrated I would be and how high my blood pressure would go if I went to a courthouse and got one of those very unpleasant surprises.