How to find who your Ancestor married

Jeannette Holland Austin
3 min readJul 18, 2022

Finding marriages in court house records is the most difficult task in genealogical research. The reason is that most counties did not require it until after 1900.

The old-fashioned way of getting married was to have a church (or home) wedding, presented by a minister or priest. After that, it was up to the minister to file it at the local court house. Sometimes, you find a published book on the shelf containing a marriage register kept by a minister. This is fine, but rare.

Another old-fashioned way of doing things was to add the Births, Marriages and Deaths to the family bible. For generations, this is how family records were preserved. Well, what happened to all of those old bibles? I have seen a few in antique shops. Once, while visiting such an establishment, I overheard the owner (who had just received one of those large bibles with the families listed therein) contemplating whether or not to contact the family. Turns out the bible had been owned by a well-known dairy farmer. Trends come and go, “the old” fades into “the new.” That is why I still wonder if the modern family had come for the bible.

In a similar manner, most of those old books written by genealogists in the 1930s have disappeared. That is because they were never re-printed. Oh, you might catch some that had been acquired by a library, but, for the most, no one bothered with a reprint. Incidentally, has acquired a large collection of digitized genealogy and history books for every State and are available for viewing online! (Note: Genealogy-Books is a subsidiary of Georgia and members also have access to

Another means of searching for marriages is to read the old newspapers which generally served and reported on items in several towns, cities, and counties. The attempt to digitize old newspapers is ongoing by, and I praise this work. However, one must realize that the front and back of a newspaper pages is a problem (the “ink faded through” thus making a clear image improbable). Yet, I do want to emphasize that the researcher should not simply scan the newspapers, rather, read every page. The results are surprising, as local picnics, trips and weddings are scattered throughout the publication.

The next place to search is in the old county wills and estates! First, search everyone with the same surname. There is something very important to consider, and that is, that families survived…