It is easy to find copies of your Georgia ancestors’ marriage certificates and records using two basic online genealogy tools: GenealogyBank.com and FamilySearch.org. If your ancestors lived in Georgia, let’s see how we can find information about them.
FamilySearch.org has put Georgia marriage records from 1785 to 1950 online.
You may search for these old marriage records online here: https://familysearch.org/search/collection/1927197
A typical search will produce a marriage certificate like this one for Walter B. Dense and Mamie T. Thornton.
Image Credit: “Georgia, County Marriages, 1785-1950,” index and images, FamilySearch: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/KXVC-7NK Accessed 19 March 2013, Walter B. Dense and Mamie T. Thornton, 1879.
This historical marriage certificate tells us that they were married by the Rev. Walker Lewis on 10 September 1879 in Bibb County, Georgia.
Marriage certificates can be brief and to the point. As genealogists we are thrilled to have them and to look at them—but we want to know more about the couple and their wedding.
Newspapers can give us even more details on the lives of our ancestors.
Let’s start searching the marriage records that were published in Georgia newspapers.
Let’s strategize this search.
In this case the groom’s surname, Dense, is a common word—but the surname itself is not very common. The word “dense” could possibly appear in a marriage announcement, but it is not likely to come up except as a surname.
By searching on the “Georgia Marriage Records” page in GenealogyBank I can focus my search results to bring up just marriage announcements that were printed in Georgia newspapers.
Search Georgia marriage records at GenealogyBank here: https://www.genealogybank.com/gbnk/newspapers/explore/USA/Georgia/?type=marriage_engagement
That worked: their wedding announcement was the first of ten search results.
The historical newspaper article is giving us a lot more detail about the wedding then the basic facts recorded on the marriage certificate—so many details that we can almost picture the wedding in our minds.
- For example, we learn that the couple was married at the First Methodist Church in Macon, Georgia.
- The church, “crowded to its utmost capacity,” was “tastefully decorated with evergreens” at half past eight in the evening when the wedding began.
- The old newspaper article named the members of the wedding party and chief guests.
- The Rev. Walker Lewis performed the wedding ceremony “in a clear and distinct manner.”
- At the end of the ceremony “Professor Coley played the wedding march.”
Think about it—the details, the setting…picture the wedding scene in your mind.
The end of the old newspaper marriage announcement gives us even more details about the family and their occupations, and describes the reception and supper that followed at the bride’s father’s (Reuben Thornton) home on Second Street.
Details about special life events like this are only found in historical newspapers.
These are two great genealogy resources for finding your Georgia marriage records: the certificates on FamilySearch, and the newspaper marriage announcements in GenealogyBank with the details about the couple and the wedding.
Oh, the newspaper editor added one more comment about this wedding.
The editor had described the packed church and the beautiful wedding and added “At the close Professor Coley played the wedding march, and the dense audience dispersed.”
It’s great to not only learn about the details of our ancestors’ lives and weddings— it’s also fun to see the wry humor of the times.
It’s a great day for genealogy!