Talk:Louisiana Vital Records
To the party who added the following data (which I have now deleted):
"LOUISIANA : Someone recently found the following information about marriages in Louisiana - at least in the 1820's. To get a marriage license, they had to first apply for a permit from the governor of the state. Accompanying the application, one had to have a statement of inventory of both the bride and groom, with bonds for each signed by responsible local men. The had to list land, cash, slaves, livestock, furniture, etc."
The anonymous "someone" to whom you give credit for this information is woefully confused about Louisiana legal requirements and marriage practices.
- No one had to apply to the governor to get a license; couples applied to the local parish clerk.
- At some points in time, the male party to a marriage, together with a surety, had to post a bond guaranteeing that the proposed union complied with marital laws of the state. The "boiler plate" language in this bond (as in other states) might name the governor (that is, his office) as the party to whom the groom and his surety would owe the face value of the bond if the marriage violated the law. But posting this bond was a routine matter transacted at the local courthouse at the time the license was taken out. No contact with the governor was involved.
- No list of property was required to obtain a license. Some property-owning couples, following French and Spanish tradition, chose to execute marriage contracts prior to exchanging vows. In those contracts, with the aid of family members, guardians, or sage friends, the couple negotiated the terms that would govern the economic affairs of the marriage and the ultimate distribution of property when one spouse died.
A marriage license, a marriage bond, and a marriage contract were alldifferent forms of premarital documents one may find in Louisiana (or other states). And, as elsewhere, when a researcher finds one of these documents, the researcher cannot assume that the marriage actually occurred. None of them constituted marriage per se.
When we need perspective on what the law required in a specific place and time, in any regard, word-of-mouth is not reliable. To get correct facts, we need to consult the state "code" or "digest" of laws in effect at that time and place. Google Books and many state archives are now digitizing these old statute books and making them available online.
Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG