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Washington County PAGenWeb Genealogy Project

Index Marriages - Persons Residing In or Born In Washington County

Records of the Department of Internal Affairs
RECORD OF MARRIAGES, 1885-1889. {series #14.25}

Index for Brides and Grooms Residing In or Born In Washington County:



Source Information: 

These marriages from 1885-1889 were taken from original volumes housed at and copied by the Pa Archives for online use.  (*The website states: "The original records extend beyond this date, to 1991...")

These records are often called "Marriage Returns", meaning someone (usually the preacher) reported to the Court House Clerk, "Yep, they actually got hitched."  Getting a marriage license does not a marriage make.  (And, licenses were not required this early.)   The Index starts at this URL:

It is tedious to go through the lists because, first, they are handwritten as all old records and written by several different people.  Second, the ink pen often was low on ink on many pages.  Third, they are listed by bride or groom surname, but not in alphabetical order.  Instead, the date column is in order of occurrence--for the most part--some dates are out-of-order. 

The records list these categories:

Full Name of Female, Residence, Place Of Birth, Age of Female, Color, Date Of Marriage, Full Name of Male, Occupation, Residence, Place Of Birth, Age of Male, Color, County (in which they Married)

*** The page numbers are those assigned by the PA Archives and do NOT match the original book page numbers, which the PA Archives points out.

Important facts to keep in mind.

  • These records are NOT a true reflection of ALL persons living in Washington Co., Pa. who may have married during this time. 
  • PA did not require marriage records to be kept this early (started about 1887, but not all counties complied immediately).
  • Not all preachers returned their records of marriages performed.
  • These records are NOT a true reflection of ALL persons who were born in Washington Co., Pa. who married during these years.
  • People could have married in other States or unrecorded counties.
  • Many people only listed "PA" as a place of birth.

IMPORTANT points about locating JUST people BORN IN or RESIDING in Washington Co., PA:

NO marriages occurred "in" or at Washington Co., Pa.  I called the Court House to ask about this, but they had no explanation.  My theories or hypotheses include:

Maybe the marrying couple lived nearer to Fayette Co. or to Greene Co.?  This is my best guess.

Maybe the parents of the marrying couple lived in or nearer to Fayette Co. or to Greene Co.?

Maybe Washington Co., PA charged some fee to marry that the other counties did not charge?

Maybe the marrying couple were boycotting the Washington County Courthouse for some reason--pure speculation and not my best guess!

Instead of marriages performed "in" or at Washington Co., Pa., I pulled ALL entries for people born in or residing "in" or at Washington Co., Pa.
*These MAY help prove someone was born in Washington Co. PA -- since births were not recorded this early in the county.

There were VERY FEW town names listed for Washington Co., Pa.  More so, only the county name is given for residence or birth.

These records don't prove a person never "LIVED IN" Washington Co., Pa., just whether the person was born there or was currently residing there.  Many records I did not copy could be persons who lived in Washington County at some point in time.
For ALL entries:

Age 16 was youngest age I noticed--for a bride.
Age 70s was oldest age I noticed--for a groom.

ALL entries were for WHITE persons, no Blacks or Mullatos.

My observations and tips about these Record of Marriages include these points:

You cannot read these columns as you normally would as "Township, City, County, State."  Instead, it is Residence, Place Of Birth -- for each couple-- and the last column is County (in which they Married).  Look carefully at the column titles.

Distances between locations may look like the record is wrong, that the two parties lived or were born too far away from each other to have ever met, let alone marry.  Again, look at column headers.   Don't get hung up on where you expect your ancestor to have married. Love and other circumstances may make people marry far from their birthplace or residence.  Farmers seem to have married in the county of residence.  ;-)

There are many same-name or similar-name locations in PA--and I made some mistakes with this.  Often, the difference in names is only the addition or missing of the 's' letter -- for example, Clayville in Jefferson Co., Pa. and Claysville is in Washington Co., Pa.

Other locations to cause possible confusion include:

Allport in Clearfield Co., not Allenport in Washington Co.
Buffalo TWP in Union Co.
Clayville in Jefferson Co
Cookburg (not Cokeburg)
Hickory in Mercer Co Pa
Hickory in Forest Co Pa
Monongahelia City, Clearfield Co
Raccoon Twp is in Beaver Co. 
Rinnggold (Not Ringgold in Washington Co.)
Buffalo Twp Warren Co
Masontown, Northumberland Co

Washington TWP - is not in Washington CO. but is in Greene Co Pa 
New Washington is in Clearfield Co PA 
Washington, D.C. is also given.  

Some locations listed don't exist today.  Some were locality names, named for the family-surname who lived there, a point of commerce, or location of the post office.  One in this category, "Simpsons Store", is listed in both Greene County and Washington County.

Look at the marriage location column which can help identify where the Township is located.  If you've read every entry from A to Z, it becomes apparent that the Clerk did not specify a county if the residence was within the county of marriage.

If in doubt, Google the location.

Keep in mind the locations on the border between two counties. Counties of Washington, Greene, Fayette, and Allegheny share borders.  West Brownsville is Washington County now, but (plain) Brownsville is in Fayette Co. PA.  Prosperity may be in Washington Co or Greene Co., PA.

ALL the records help show migrations of persons.  Also, the records give insights into how place-names from Eastern PA counties carried over to SW PA when settlers were first coming into Washington-Greene-Fayette Counties.

Records show love was the same back then as it is now, meaning, people traveled for love and to marry.  Many people near the PA line traveled into PA from Ohio, NY, MD, VA, WVA to marry.  Railroads made travel very easy.  This holds true for almost any county along a state border.


Index for Brides and Grooms Residing In or Born In Washington County:



These locations are included in these transcripts:

WC-PA = Washington County, Pennsylvania
AL-C-PA = Allegheny County, Pennsylvania
BC-PA=Beaver County, Pennsylvania
BL-C-PA = Blair County, Pennsylvania
BU-C-PA = Butler County, Pennsylvania
FC-PA = Fayette County, Pennsylvania
FR-C-PA =Franklin County, Pennsylvania
GC-PA = Greene County, Pennsylvania
J-C-PA = Jefferson Co Pa.
LC-PA = Lawrence Co Pa.
McK-PA=McKean County, Pennsylvania
ME-C-PA =Mercer County, Pennsylvania
WmC-PA=Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania

PUNX = Punxsutawney PA

D.T.'s List = Transcribed by Dawne Temple









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This page last updated Thursday, February 04, 2016