Just what family history information can be gleaned from reviewing a marriage record? Here, as an example, is the 1880 Greensville County, Virginia certificate of marriage for my 3rd great-grandparents, John H. Turner and Josephine Jones*:
J.H. Turner & Josie Jones*
These were not their birth names.
The date: 24 Mar 1880
The couple’s first child, Sallie J. Turner, was two months old, per 1880 census-enumerated on 19 June. This means that Josephine was heavily w/child when they married…
E.L. Turner, clerk of court
—Ethelred Lundy Turner—-1847-1900 s/o Joseph Turner and Mary Peebles Mason—brother of Emeline Turner Chambliss, wife & widow of CSA Brig.Gen. J.R. Chambliss Jr.
Who gave Josephine away?
“By authority of intended Bride’s mother in person E.L. Turner Clk”
Virginia Acts of 15 Mar 1861 and 27 Feb 1866 noted
“The Cohabitation Act of 1866, passed by the General Assembly on February 27, 1866, legalized the marriages of formerly enslaved people in Virginia and declared their children to be legitimate.”
The March ‘61 Act occurred during the Virginia Convention of 1861–which culminated in the April 25, 1861 ratification of the Ordinance of Succession
Full names provided
John H. Turner and Josephine Jones*
*There is still a mystery surrounding the origin of this surname. Josephine’s mother, Emeline, had a married surname of Eppes. Potts was Emeline’s maiden name. There is a written family history that includes the Joyner surname. Before I saw the original image of this marriage record, I thought that there may have been a transcription error between Jones/Joyner. Clearly, the surname listed for Josephine is Jones.
26 and 16 years old. Interesting. There was a ten year age difference.
Groom Turner from neighboring Southampton County
Bride Jones from Hicksford, Greensville County
Groom’s parents named
—Henry & Eliza Turner
—Were not named, even though “Bride’s mother” was referenced earlier in the record
—-Teacher. Was Josephine his student?
John and Josephine were married on 24 Mar 1880 at the residence of Mr. Benjamin Eppes, husband of her mother—Emeline Potts Eppes. They were married by Ephraim Royall/Royal…
Much like anything else, finding answers in researching family history brings about more questions. In this instance, respectfully-was this a “shot-gun” wedding? Why weren’t Josephine’s parents (or at least parent/mother) named in the record? Why was the authority given by Josephine’s mother, versus her father or step-father? (I do believe that Benjamin Eppes, husband of Emeline, was Josephine’s step-father.) Another question begs, once again respectfully-was Josephine a student of John’s? Today, there are legal ramifications for even the specter of improprieties between students and teachers. Good! In 1880, however, was this type of thing no big whoop?
I found a 2011 Washington Post article, Rules for teachers in 1872: No marriage for women or barber shops for men, which shows the strict moral code educators were made to follow. Interestingly enough, it seems that men were instructed thusly: “Men teachers may take one evening each week for courting purposes, or two evenings a week if they go to church.” Women, on the other hand were chided in this way: “Women teachers who marry or engage in unseemly conduct will be dismissed.”
In this way, the questions answer themselves.
Well, in any case, be sure to pore over original vital records i.e., birth, marriage, and death. See what questions you can answer and drill down to glean more facts not immediately presented. Do this by asking questions and seeking the answers. The total picture may not be visible immediately, but rest assured that the answers will reveal. Truth will out.
This is our situation.
The Genealogy Situation Room