could be Buffalo's crossing the platte

 Research Papers

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Marriage in Buffalo County

        The Buffalo County Historical Society Archives contains the original marriage applications and licenses beginning in 1872 when the county was organized.  Information about the bride and groom includes: name, age, color, place of birth, current residence, father’s name, mother’s maiden name. All valuable information to the genealogist. It is surprising how many do not know their mother’s maiden name, or father/mother’s first name.

Obtaining a marriage license

    Step 1. Marriage Application - Apply for a marriage license by filling out the application form

        Application was usually, but not always, made by the groom.

    Step 2. Marriage License – Issued after the application was completed. 

        It contains the same information about bride and groom as application
        Certificate of Marriage at bottom of marriage license form

            To be completed by person performing the ceremony

            Includes witnesses to the marriage, person conducting ceremony, place of ceremony

        Entire Certificate, including the signed bottom portion was then returned to the Clerk's office
Sometimes we find the application but no license returned and wonder if the applicants, especially German immigrants, believed filling out the form at the courthouse was all that was necessary, that by civil law they were married. If they could not read English they might not have known the bottom part of the license they were given was to be completed and returned.

First recorded marriage:
Nathaniel Dickinson, 29
Harriet Gleason, 33
Married 17 May 1872

There were 8 marriages recorded in 1872.

Marriages in front of book, not part of official record
4 Nov. 1871 – Joseph Owen & Sarah Oliver
20 Aug 1871 – Owen Curry & Kate Haverty
3 Nov 1871 – C. C. Clifton & Mary Dunkan

Marry in the County

Until fairly recently the marriage license had to be issued in the same county in which the ceremony was performed.

   First United Methodist records – Marriage conducted by minister in Kearney

        Noted they had a Hall Co. license so minister accompanied them across the county line and did the ceremony again.


Interesting information Found in the Marriage Records


1905 – Marriage license for Marian Lake, whose father's first name was Johnson

1906 – License returned with Certificate of Marriage left blank, with this note:
“Please cancel the enclosed certificates and see that it is not published.”
[Signed by the bride who wasn’t, age 31.  All marriage licenses were published in the Hub]

Note with completed license for a bride, Miss Anna L. McKeegan, 22, and groom, John R. Neary, 25, both residents of North Platte who were married in Kearney on Jan. 24, 1906 by the county judge, Ira D. Marston:

Mar 31, 1906
Judge Marston, County Judge Buffalo County
Dear Sir,
Will you kindly answer the inquiries of an interested party in this matter. Was there a marriage ceremony performed by you, between J. Richard Neary of North Platte and Miss Anna L. McKeegan of Bancroft Nebr. on Jan. 24th with Sheriff Sammons as witness. An early answer will very much oblige.
Mrs. M. J. Neary
(the young man’s mother)

The application shows the bride was born in South Dakota and was currently living in North Platte.
Witnesses were N. R. Wheelock and N. E. Penny. If the sheriff was there he was not one of the official witnesses.

Parents of underage bride (under 18) or groom (under 21) had to give their consent to the marriage. Permission might have been given in person with notation on the application – “Mother present and giving her consent” or “Father present and giving consent”. If a parent was not or could not be present, they sent a permission slip which might be pinned (no paper clips yet) to the application.

[Note for a 16 year old bride]
“to the County Judge of Buffalo Co. Nebr.
Sir. Having had in our constant care & keeping the last 5 years Miss Fredrica M. Sewlling whose mother is dead having died in year 1895. Since which time Fredrica has had no other home or keeping than with us her brother who lives in Oregon having given and turned her over to us for care and keeping we would today give our consent to her marriage to Edgar Patterson We considering our consent necessary as she is only 16 years old.”

[Another note – these notes are usually on small pieces of paper.  This one was especially small.]
“This is to certify that
I am willing for Lona
to marry her father
Fredrick Marti"


[Should there have been a comma between "marry" and "her"]


Note on a marriage license – “Married in haste and in the dark”

Permission note – “…our consent to the marriage of our daughter Minnie Tague with Joseph [crossed out] Arthur Darrick” July 20, 1889 [parent did not know groom's first name?]

Note by person who performed the ceremony – “Married at home of bride’s parents who consented and requested the marriage.” [requested??  bride was 16, groom was 35]


Marriage application made in Feb. 1890 by groom, 23, and bride, 19

Note by minister in Kearney on marriage license, which was not filled out but returned in September saying the marriage was not performed.

Marriage application and completed license filed in November 1890 for the same groom, now age 24, and a different bride, age 29.

Wedding Traditions

Bridal gown – Only those with money could afford a dress to be worn only once, which might be white
Most were new or nicest dress, navy or brown, worn for many years after the wedding
A nice brown taffeta wedding dress is displayed at the Freighters’ Hotel at Trails & Rails Museum

Time – Many at odd times of morning or evening in Kearney because newly weds left on the train for a honeymoon

Place – Parsonage, bride’s home, rarely in church
        Neighboring county – Hall or Dawson, get on train and go to at next big town to get married
        Smith Center Kansas was a popular place for Kearneyites to go, no 3-day waiting period

Newspaper reports Maybe one line announcement in column of local news
        Might be separate article complete with guest list, menu of meal served afterward and, of course, a complete list of gifts and givers.


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Revised: 05/03/2018