The majority of Harlan County, Kentucky, marriage records that took place before 1900 are recorded in Books 1 and A. It does appear that most of them were originally in the form of loose bonds and returns and that at some point late in the 1800's, the current county clerk had these loose papers recorded in 2 registers.
The earlier the year the more haphazard the chronological order. Most of the marriages were recorded twice, once in each of the books. The entries in Book 1 appear to have been more carefully done but the extant copy at the county court clerk's office is faded and in parts difficult to read.
Book A was apparently verified by some one with a red pencil and whenever such a correction was made it is so noted.
All the marriages through 1850 were extracted from the two books and then double-checked. The date order was then restored and the marriages compared with the duplicate entries paired up. Any of the discrepancies were carefully noted, verified again with the books and additional research done in census and other records to try to determine which of the conflicting items was correct or probably correct. Remaining discrepancies are noted.
Space for parentage did not appear in forms for most of the 1800's. Even when this space appeared in the forms, it was rarely filled out. It is not until well into the 20th century that such information is generally recorded.
The Harlan County Courthouse was burned during the Civil War but it is not believed that many if any marriage records were lost at that time. The county clerk's office was in a separate bulding which was not burned. It does appear that many records were lost over the years, the loose records being more difficult to keep together. It is also thought that in some cases the justice of the peace or minister never made the return.
If the record of the marriage is not located in the records after trying various spellings and checking both the bride and groom indexes, there are alternative possibilities, the chief of these being military pension records. One such record is included in this work with a copy of the pertinent page from the military record.
Family bible records may hold the needed record. If a divorce took place the date and/or place of marriage may be noted. In some instances though, after all sources fail, a marriage must be inferred from the use of the paternal name by the wife and children, the wife's being named as such in a will, et cetera.
|Intro to Harlan Marriages|
|Groom Index||Bride Index|