Originally Compiled by Margaret D. Cupler
10 Oct 1974
Retyped by Thomas E. Lancaster
Verified by Rose McElfish & Dick Koch
Genealogical Society of Allegany County, Maryland
The Genealogical Society’s copy of the “Allegany County 1865-1872 Marriage Licenses” was rapidly deteriorating from use. Society member Thomas E. Lancaster consented to retype these records into an electronic (EXCEL) file in 2005. The resulting electronic file allowed for a highly legible printed copy. Furthermore it gave the Society a means of manipulating the data in different ways, and capability to incorporate it into a database at a future time. The following reproduces the original “Introduction” by Margaret D. Cupler dated October 10, 1974.
Regarding this online version
There are nearly 3000 marriages listed. Consequently, the current version is listed alphabetically by male surnames, on eight pages to speed up the loading process. Where notes appear, usually where only initials were recorded, I noted possible names as located in the census. If anyone can supply the actual names, please contact Connie Beachy, Dick Koch or Carol Askey.
Click here for a text file containing all records with males & females integrated in an alphabetic listing. This results in each record listed twice, but allows quick access to any known male or female marriage partner.
“The work of transferring the information in Book C, Allegany County, Maryland Marriage Licenses to index cards, one for each of the three thousand five hundred licenses issued, was begun in early nineteen hundred Seventy-four. The book from which I started to copy is the record which has been on the shelf in the Records Room, Office of the Clerk of the Court, since eighteen hundred ninety-nine, when Mr. Theodore Luman, then Clerk of the Court, authorized the transfer of the original record of Book C, recorded under the administration of Mr. Horace Resley who was elected in eighteen hundred sixty-four and re-elected in eighteen hundred sixty-eight to the office of Clerk of the Court.
Finding so many obvious mistakes in the book in current use, I asked for the original book C. Mr. Raymond Walker, present  Acting Clerk, found the first Book C in the furnace room of the Court House, covered and penetrated by seventy-five years’ accumulation of coal dust. This book is a complete compilation of the information in the original dusty chronological entries made from July first, eighteen hundred sixty-five through November thirtieth, eighteen hundred seventy-three.
In nineteen hundred seventy-one and seventy-two, I had copied and arranged the names of males and females in Book A and Book B, Marriage Licenses, in alphabetical order. In these earlier books the information was simply the two applicants names and the date the license was issued. Beginning in Book C in addition to the names and date, new requirements were the ages of the applicants, places of residence, race, occupation, condition (meaning marital status, single, divorced, widow or widower), the minister [or person] officiating at the marriage, his residence, the date and place of the marriage.
Perhaps the scarcity of clerical help at this period which was the end of the Civil War, the illiteracy of the applicants who in many instances could not spell their own names, the ineptness of the deputy clerks- one or all of these causes resulted in the worst-kept records I have encountered in my twelve years of records preservation. Although I have cross-checked the original with the later copy and have used an electronic magnifier, I have had to mark some names “illegible” and have underscored others to indicate a best guess spelling. Maryland’s miscegenation law was in effect during this period, yet according to the original Book C and more prevalent in the later copy through the careless use of ditto marks all the way down a column, white and black were shown as obtaining licenses to wed each other.
I have discovered another glaring discrepancy, At sometime a clerk had made an effort to fill in the column which was to show the date the license was issued, but the recorder had neglected to write at the time of issuance. Unfortunately, regardless to the date on the minister’s return or the chronological record, the clerk had one date to insert to fill the vacancies-August 27, 1867. So in addition to missing names, doubtful color, illegible writing, the dates are to be regarded as suspicious unless the date of license issue corresponds closely with the date of the marriage on the minister’s returns. However, many instances of no minister’s returns abound giving rise to one of the following conclusions:-The marriage was never performed; or the minister neglected to make a return; or the clerk did not record the minister’s return. Anyone of these conclusions sends the researcher to church and Bible records for proof of marriage.
Finding such sorry examples of public records makes one conscious of the importance of insisting that those charged with the responsibility of recording deeds, wills, administrative accounts, and certainly marriage licenses should be meticulous as well as capable in the preparation of the permanent records which are as much a legacy as historic sites and buildings,
October tenth, nineteen hundred seventy-four.”
Adding to all the problems mention by Mrs. Cupler, we encountered additional ones in making this transcription. The major one by far was the inability to differentiate between letters a, e, o, and s in many instances, because of light key strikes failing to record fully through the carbon paper, which was true also for other letters. We did assume that the original alphabetizing was correct, and could use that to assign the probable correct letter for the illegible one, at least for the male spouse. The officials performing the marriages are oft repeated, sometimes with different spellings, but this allowed us to render the probable one where faded letters otherwise could not be read. Mrs. Cupler did not address the possibility that many of these could have been civil marriages, wherein a Justice of the Peace was the marrying official. These were normally well respected persons, not always as highly educated as most ministers, and more likely to fail in recording or reporting the marriage information.