Where did these marriage records originate?

The history of these databases is worth mentioning here so that users will know where the information came from — an important consideration for every piece of evidence used in compiling family histories and genealogies.

The original Bay County, Florida Marriage Record books were created and are maintained by the Bay County Clerk of Courts at 300 East 4th Street in Panama City, Florida. Each entry in Bay County Marriage books actually contains three different kinds of records:
The license authorizing a marriage.
The certificate of marriage event itself.
The official record of the return of the license, indicating when and where the marriage actually took place (if it did).

Microfilm copies of the Marriage books were made at an unknown time by an unknown entity (possibly at the request of the Clerk of Courts), and a set is part of the permanent microfilm collection in the genealogy reference section of the Bay County Public Library, recorded collectively as FL Gen R 929.3759 FLO. The following films cover the period of interest:

MF781 1913 – 1925 books 1 and 2
MF770 1916 – 1936 books 3 and 4
MF771 Feb 7, 1936 – Aug 18, 1942 books 5 and 6
MF772 Aug 18, 1942 – Jan 12, 1945 books 7 and 8
MF773 Jan 12, 1945 – Oct 19, 1951 books 9 and 10
MF774 Jun 2, 1948 – Sep 9, 1954 books 10-12
MF775 Sep 1, 1954 – Aug 7, 1959 books 12 and 13

Indexes to some of these records were created between 1992 and 2002 from these microfilms by the Bay County Genealogical Society under the direction of Wallie Waltonen and several other BCGS volunteers, including Judy Bennett, Dr. Clifford Loper, Walter Sherman, and Barbara Walker Winge. The resulting indexes were divided into five-year increments and published in five separate volumes:
Bay County, Florida Marriage Index 1913 through 1920, published in 1999
Bay County, Florida Marriage Index 1921 through 1925, published in 1999
Bay County, Florida Marriage Index 1926 through 1930, published in ????
Bay County, Florida Marriage Index 1946 through 1950, published in 1999
Bay County, Florida Marriage Index 1951 through 1955, published in 2001

One of these, the 1946 through 1950 Index was also made into a microfiche by the Family History Library in Salt Lake City in 2005, which was assigned FHL fiche number 60008066.

Indexes for the 1913 – 1920 and 1946 – 1955 records, containing about 9,200 entries, were the only ones extant in electronic form when the present online merged index was originally created. By June 2007, BCGS member Sally Rinehart finished extracting the 1936 – 1940 records, containing about 2,100 entries, directly into electronic form. By September 2007, Ruth Preston finished transcribing the indexes for 1921-1925, containing about 1,627 records, which were then added to this online index. Bobbie Tate and Lanell Matsumura finished transcribing the index volume, containing about 1472 redords, for 1926 – 1930 in March 2008. By July 2010 Judy Bennett finished transcribing the index for 1931 – 1935. In February Janice Cronan indexed the records for 1944. Finally, in 2011, Janice Cronan extracted the missing record indexes for 1943 and 1945. This online Bay County index is a single, complete merged index to the entire period covered, containing about 24,974 entries. It includes both brides and grooms integrated into a single index.

Early Bay County marriages

Pre-1913 Marriages in the area that is now Bay County may have been recorded in Washington or Calhoun Counties. The earliest Washington County Marriage Records Index, included here, covers the period 1877-1914, containing about 4284 marriages. It has been sorted by both brides and grooms. A paper version of this index is available in the Bay County Library as call number FL GEN R929.3759WAS, 2 volumes, called [Index to] Washington County Florida Marriages, Books A through G, 1877 to 1914 (Panama City: self-published, 1996), Genealogical Society of Bay County.

A Calhoun County Marriage Records Index transcript for the period 1862-1899, containing about 778 marriages, is linked here, courtesy of the Calhoun County, Florida, GenWeb.

The Panama City Pilot was one of the earliest newspapers published in the Florida panhandle. It was published every Thursday in Panama City beginning 30 May 1907, before Bay County became a county, and ceased publication 26 December 1941. It's editor was G. M. West.

In 1995 Barbara Walker Winge compiled an index to marriage announcements in the Pilot for the period 1908 through 1916 and donated a loose-leaf notebook copy to the Bay County Library. In 2007, the BCGS began exploring the possibility of transcribing her manuscript, with her permission, with the intent of placing it on the Web. However, it became evident early on that the set of newspapers used to create her index had been missing a significant number of issues.

Fortunately, a series of 25 microfilms, apparently made from a different set of newspapers by the Micro Photo Division of Bell & Howell, containing a more complete set of issues, is in the permanent collection of the Bay County Library. Therefore, a new extraction using the microfilm copy was indicated.

The new index adds a number of comments thought to be a genealogical value. Thus, the present index contain considerably more information that the previous one. It contains about 578 entries, and was extracted by Mrs. Cindy D’Aurora and Master Joseph D’Aurora from the microfilm collection and the paper copies, beginning in 2007 and ending in September 2008.

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