Friday, May 27, 2011

Face to Face with a Marriage License Clerk

It's funny how things happen.

This morning my husband was reading The Ancestry Insider and the blog post linked to a FamilySearch Wiki entry titled "Gretna Greens in the United States" and he sent me the link.

I knew I'd seen articles in the Chicago Tribune about the topic so I logged into Footnote.com and did a quick search and suddenly found myself face to face with Cook County's "Marriage License Clerk Salmonson." Did you ever wonder what the County Clerk's office was like at the turn of the century? Take a look at this photo and imagine yourself next in line to get a marriage license. "Name? How do you spell that? Residence? Age?" Peer into the photo below to see the clerk's office through your ancestors' eyes.

I've often wished that I could talk to some of the clerks from days gone by. I'd love to ask them about the records that they kept--how they were created and organized and stored. This is kind of a next best thing.

The article is from The Chicago Tribune, 27 April 1902, p. 56 and I located it using Footnote.com. Click on the image to enlarge it to full size.

Chicago, by the way, was a popular place for eloping couples to marry. And if you're looking for a "Chicago" marriage that's nowhere to be found, try places like St. Joseph, Michigan (Marriage Index, 1889-1925) and Lake County, Indiana (Indiana Marriage Collection, 1800-1941 at Ancestry.com).