Where are the marriage records for Kentucky? Is there more than one category you can expect to discover at the county level? The Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives issued a short description of the records, based upon the laws passed by the state legislature:
- The bond. A performance bond was filed by the groom and a kinsman or guardian of the bride. This bond assured the court that there was no lawful impediment to the marriage.
- If either bride or groom were under age, a consent was required by the court from a parent or guardian. The bond, consent, and license became loose papers filed by the clerk in the early years. Later these documents were copied into a Marriage Record Book. The consent usually included relationship of the signer to the bride or groom.
- The license was taken to the minister or judge who was to perform the marriage, as a permit that the couple paid their fees and had permission to marry.
- A marriage certificate was filled out by the officiator and given to the bride.
- Once the marriage was performed, the officiator was required by law to register the marriage or file a return of the event to the county where the marriage. In rural communities, the clergyman or justice was permitted to send in his returns once or twice a year. If he moved or died, the marriage may never be returned to the county.
- 1852-1861, marriages were recorded by the County Assessor and sent to the State Auditor’s Office. In 1862, the law was repealed because it put too much work on the Assessor’s Office.
- 1874-1878, marriages again recorded by the Assessor. Repealed in 1878, marriages were recorded in a haphazard way until about 191o.
- Since 1958, marriages are recorded by the state Vital Statistics Office consistently.
No wonder it is so difficult to build a family tree in Kentucky! Your family tree begins with the marriage of your ancestor (most of our ancestors were married).