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Early Marriage Records - Bracken County and Adjacent Counties
Information provided by Annette DeCourcy Towler

I am sending this to all three counties. I have found my families in all four counties, when I thought they were just Campbell Co. This should go to the KYPendleton List also.

One of the messages in the archive file for KYCampbel, tells about what is at each court house. Alexandria has the older data. And with my personal research time there, found very early 1800's records. Newport was designated as county seat 1796 (from Campbell Co KY 200 years), in 1840 Alexandria was chosen as Campbell Co Seat. Because of the heavy business in the northern part of Campbell Co, Newport was kept also as a county seat. You have the same situation in Kenton Co. with Independence and Covington.

According to a book on KY Research that I bought a few years ago, This is said about KY Vital Records by Wendy L Elliott C. G.(1)

"Research in KY records should begin at the county jurisdictional level. Vital records were recorded with the county clerk of the respective county. Marriage records are normally recorded with the county clerk for the county in which the bride resided. Often, marriage records date as early as the organization of the county. Some death and birth records were registered between 1852 and 1862. A few counties continued to record birth, marriage, and death records after the formal registration was no longer required. The best source for vital statistics is the KY Department of Health. Records have been accumulated from many sources, but the basic files are birth and death records since 1911. Marriage records are on file from 1912 to the present.

Marriages prior to 1798 were under Virginia law. The KY historical Society has KY marriages for 1797 to 1865, It also has abstracts of marriages filed alphabetically by county. No birth or death records were kept in KY except for 1852 through 1861, and 1874 through 1878. A few counties maintained vital records from 1901 to 1906."

More information from "Bracken Co Ky Records" (2)
'To get married in early KY required at least three records to be entered at the County Clerk's office. These were the marriage bond, the license and the minister's return.

  • THE MARRIAGE BOND -- To obtain a marriage bond required the signatures of two person. A bond was a statement that both of the persons proposing to be married were legally free to be married, The bondsmen were frequently a close relative. In all cases, it was someone who had known the groom or bride for a period of time previously. Sometimes the groom signed the bond for himself.
  • THE MARRIAGE LICENSE-- The next step was to obtain a marriage license. This was usually done at the same time as the bond, but not necessarily. The couple both had to be present to obtain a license. If either party was under the age of 21, the consent of a parent or guardian was required. For persons who were over 21 years of age, a consent was not required. At this point, the couple were free to take their license to a Justice of the Peace or a Minister (could have been a circuit rider, also) and be married.
  • THE MARRIAGE RETURN -- Actually the marriage return is the only proof that a marriage took place. It is a statement by the person who performed the ceremony that the marriage actually took place and that they are now man and wife.'
Because Circuit Riders were in all of the 4 counties, they could have recorded the marriage in the court house that he stopped at to record the marriages he had done in the supposedly the last 3 or 4 weeks. Which means that Campbell Co information could have been in Bracken Co. Many were not written down, it was also stated that they only sometimes put the grooms name down and not the brides. Missing dates and names are common. Most of the records for these counties are from bonds. Campbell and Bracken state this in their history books.

1 From 'Research in Kentucky' page 34 is KY Vital Records by Wendy L Elliott C. G., PO Box 417, Salt Lake City, UT
I bought this in 1987. Was typed not done a computer.

From 'Bracken County Kentucky Records #1 Marriages 1797-1850 Deaths 1852-1859
Wills 1797-1850' originally compiled and published from the records of the
Kentucky State Historical Society by; Joan Colbert Gioe, revised in 1996 by
Betty J. Masley and Carley Gioe. published by 'another Researchers publication'
Looks like it was done on a computer and published locally.
I bought it at the FGS conference in 1998 in Cincinnatti from one of the local area vendors.

Annette DeCourcy Towler
Home page for DeCourcy & Pack
Web page for St. Cloud Area Genealogists, Inc.

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