Newspaper May Give What the Marriage Record May Not

I have always been a fan of “brute force” genealogical when it comes to locating information on people on whom I am “stuck.” For me, that means looking at everything possible that could help even if it hasn’t helped every other time I’ve looked at it.

Newspaper accounts of marriages (for the “common” person) before the Civil War in the United States typically provide scant information other than names. In many cases if they are listed at all, they only provide names of individuals to whom a license has been issued. And while that’s helpful, particularly in burned counties, it often is repetitive of what is on the actual license itself.

But then there are newspapers that provide additional details.

The record of the 1849 marriage in Winnebago County, Illinois, for Asa Landon and Mary Sargent only indicated their names, the name of the officiant, and the date. No other geographic location (other than the name of the county) was provided in the document. An 1849 newspaper account indicated that the marriage was performed in the “Prairie Precinct.” It’s up to me to determine what was defined as “Prairie Precinct” in 1849, but it is at least a residential clue.

Even if there’s not an extant map that provides this location, I should be able to locate additional references to it in the newspaper (via a text search). Those references may help me to partially pinpoint the location within the county if I’m unable to locate other sources.

Since I have the marriage record for this couple, that is what I would source for their marriage date. There’s really no need for me to cite the newspaper account as additional evidence for the marriage. The local record is the primary source for that information.

But I still want to locate other sources for that marriage date. Not because I don’t believe the marriage record.

But because those sources may provide information that is not located on the marriage record itself.


2 thoughts on “Newspaper May Give What the Marriage Record May Not

  1. It is good to look at all sources of the information, as you state. I like to include all sources of information for my facts, as they collaborate (or bring to question) the original source.

  2. Since they were married by Hiram Lake, Esq., it seems likely that Hiram was a justice of the peace. If it were me, I would go after Hiram in the hope that more information about the Prairie Precinct would turn up.

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