Unusual Ancestral Discoveries at the Courthouse

Not too long after I started my ancestry search I was re-introduced to the county courthouse practice of "returning the marriage license" once it has been properly recorded in the appropriate book. Apparently there is no statute of limitations on when such certificate may be claimed by someone and I have been the lucky individual on more than one occasion.

The first surprise was after I had requested a copy of the marriage record for my great grandparents, Rush Hadley and Dezzie McCollum, married on February 10, 1895 in Putnam, Callahan County, Texas. I didn't receive a copy of the marriage record but instead received the original marriage certificate and a nice letter from the county clerk explaining what she had sent and why. To say I was shocked was an understatement. It was the standard pre-printed form that had been completed by the minister who presided over the event.

Not too much later, I requested from Montgomery County, Texas the marriage records of:

  • Joshua Hadley and Joyce Floyd, dated November 22, 1840
  • D. P. Hadley and Mary Bogges, dated April 18, 1844

Once again I was amazed when I opened the envelope and found the original certificates rather than copies of the marriage records. These certificates were very special in that they were handwritten and issued by the Republic of Texas 160 years ago. Their condition is marginal so I refrain from scanning them into the computer. The ink has begun to seep through (maybe it always did?) and would make a scan hard to read anyway.

I'd like to thank my Hadley ancestors for being so lax about retrieving their legal documents from the courthouse clerk. I understand this was a common occurrence at the time with marriage records. I guess that one's marriage record was not nearly as important as one's land record but for Pete's sake, you would think that they could have been claimed in the same office at the same time.