As a genealogist, I spend a lot of time browsing through old newspapers. Sometimes, I get a little distracted and find myself reading other articles that have nothing to do with my ancestors. Recently, while looking at a Civil War-era newspaper from New York City, I came across some entertaining matrimonial ads. It was the 19th century version of online dating services! One “man of the mountains, not good looking” just wanted someone to make him happy. Others were looking for someone who was accomplished, genteel, and refined and had a sincere view of matrimony. I have no idea what the success rate was with these advertisements or if these people found true love.
While some may have been looking for love in all the wrong places, you can look for your ancestors’ marriage records in all the right places. Marriage records, kept by churches and governments, are often stored with the town or county clerk but may also be found in a state’s archives or even with the state’s vital records department. Intent to marry, such as an application or license, can provide valuable genealogical information, but make sure the couple actually got married.
MGC has some great resources to help you find your ancestors’ marriage information. Try using one of the genealogy databases to search for marriage records or one of the newspaper databases to find a marriage announcement. Genealogy Quick Look contains an index for marriage announcements for various years for the Independence Examiner and The Call. If you locate the name of your ancestor in one of the indexes, you can request a copy from MGC. Don’t forget to search the online catalog for books containing transcribed marriage records.
Maybe your ancestor married the boy or girl next door, or maybe they found love through the classified or personal sections of the newspaper. You may be surprised by what you find out about your ancestors! Did your ancestor have an unusual love story?
Midwest Genealogy Center