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Welcome To Crow Wing County
- - Early Marriages - -

In 2009, the Crow Wing County Genealogy Society embarked on a project to make available online an index of the early marriages (first ten marriage books through 1921) recorded at the county courthouse in the Treasurer's Office.

We started with a partial list of marriages compiled by county employee Harrietta Kile and expanded it to include up through Marriage Book J.

This project was led by John Van Essen and was completed March 31, 2010.

Each Book has a web page with the records sorted by page number. There is also a combined surname index for all 10 books with two entries per marriage - one sorted on the groom's surname and the other sorted on the bride's.

Marriage Books: A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J       Surname Index (865 KB)

MOMS   |   By Year Chart   |   Record Examples   |   Application/Certification Process   |   Cass County Marriages/Annexation

Minnesota Official Marriage System (MOMS)

Around 2008, the Minnesota Association of County Officers (MACO) initiated a project to create a real-time online index of marriages registered in each county in Minnesota. Nearly all counties are now participating in this effort, which is called the Minnesota Official Marriage System (MOMS). Historical marriage information was entered first, and since then, this system is updated by the counties when marriages are certified, so the data are up-to-date.

Crow Wing County Marriage Records in MOMS

This chart shows the number of index entries from 1871-2009 in MOMS. The system is updated by the counties when marriages are certified, so the data continue for 2010 and beyond.

Crow Wing County Marriages By Year 1871-2009

Marriage Record Examples

A-001 Image

Book A Page 1 - The First Marriage Recorded In Crow Wing County
Joseph Grondin and Delia Chouinard, married on June 12, 1871.
The names in early records were often spelled as they were heard by the clerk,
which may be creative, especially for non-Anglo names - French in this case.
(Click on the image to enlarge in a separate window)

A-148 Image

Book A Page 148 - An example of a difficult-to-decipher surname.
Penmanship in early records left a lot to be desired. "n" looked like "u",
and a long form "s" was sometimes used preceding a second "s".
Can you read the Bride's surname? Mouse over the image for the answer.
Examining the 1880 census record for James Adamson and his wife
finds the couple in Bluffton, MN with a boarder with a last name
that matches the bride's maiden name. This is also an example of
an application with no certification, yet they are obviously married.
(Click on the image to enlarge in a separate window)

G-444 Image

Book G Page 444 - An example of a difficult-to-decipher forename.
Can you guess what the first and middle names of the Bride are?
Mouse over the image for the answer.
(Click on the image to enlarge in a separate window)

Marriage Application/Certification Process

The process for obtaining and subsequently certifying a marriage license is initiated by the couple applying for a license at the courthouse. The couple receives an "Application" showing that the requirements for marriage have been met and sworn to. That information is also copied into the county Marriage Record Book.

They also receive a "License" to be signed by the person performing the marriage and is then kept by the newlyweds.

And lastly, they receive a "Return", which is a form that is filled out by the person performing the marriage to document his/her credentials for performing a marriage and the date and place of the marriage ceremony. The "Return" is then returned to the courthouse to be kept on file, and the information is entered in the certification section on the page in the Marriage Book with the original Application information. With the certification recorded, the marriage is now official.

In the early days (pre-1900), times were tough, travel was difficult, and some Returns never made it back to the issuing county. Crow Wing county has many marriage records in that era that consist only of the certification section, usually for marriages applied for in another county but performed in Crow Wing county. In the reverse case, a marriage applied for in Crow Wing county may have beenm performed and recorded in another county, so only the application is recorded here, with certification on record in a different county.

And in still more cases, the couple or the minister never brought the Return to any courthouse for it to be recorded. The Application was never voided, but there is no concrete evidence that the marriage actually took place. In a later census, the husband is found (usually not in Crow Wing county) with a spouse of the right name, indicating that the marriage probably did take place.

So - in order to have an index that is as complete as possible, we included Applications with no Certification (i.e. uncertified marriages). In those cases, the date is that of the Application, and a red (Appl.) is shown next to the date.

The certified marriage entries shown in the index are also indexed in the Minnesota Official Marriage System (MOMS). However, the Application-Only entries are not in MOMS since the marriage was not certified in Crow Wing county (but they may have been certified in another county).

The spellings of the names varied quite a bit, even within the same record. The Return sometimes had a different spelling, or even a different first name (the application may have used a nickname). And even worse, if the person swearing to the correctness of the information provided in the application was the groom (usually the case), that signature (in Book C and later) may have had yet another spelling.

To resolve the difference in spellings, the groom's signature had the highest precedence, followed by the certification spelling (unless the application spelling had a more obviously correct spelling). Google search and Ancestry.Com censuses were used as additional sources to resolve conflicts.

Cass County Marriages/Annexation

Crow Wing county (the portion east of the Mississippi) was set off from Ramsey county by an act of the Legislature on May 23, 1857. It was attached to Morrison county (to the south) for judicial purposes. The county was organized in 1870 with the county seat originally being the village of Crow Wing. The county seat was moved in 1871 to the new city of Brainerd (which is when the first marriage was recorded in book "A").

Cass county was created by an act of the Legislature on May 1, 1851. It originally included the portion of modern-day Crow Wing county west of the Mississippi. It was first organized in 1872, with the county seat being in West Brainerd, complete with a building that was used as a courthouse. It remained attached to Crow Wing county for administrative purposes.

The portion of Crow Wing county west of the river was annexed from Cass County by an act of the Legislature on February 18, 1887, nearly doubling the size of Crow Wing county.

Cass county was organized on May 6, 1897 and the county seat was moved to Walker (which is when the first marriage was recorded in their Book "A").

Thus - marriages for residents of Cass county would have been applied for and recorded in Crow Wing county until mid-1897.

Visit MnGenWeb    <http://crowwing.mngenweb.net/cwcem/> Sep 27, 2019
MNGenWeb - Crow Wing County - Early Marriages
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