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
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
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
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
1905 – Marriage license for Marian Lake,
whose father's first name was Johnson
1906 – License returned with Certificate of Marriage left blank, with this
“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
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
[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.
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
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
Might be separate article complete
with guest list, menu of meal served afterward and, of course, a complete
list of gifts and givers.