West Virginia, County Marriage Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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FamilySearch Record Search This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.
Access the records: West Virginia Marriages, 1853-1970 .

Record Description

This Collection includes records from 1853 to 1970.

Early county marriage records were handwritten into bound books with multiple entries on each page. Early marriage bonds and licenses were usually handwritten on loose papers that were later bound. Pre-printed register books containing many entries per page were introduced in 1853. Beginning about 1895, the registers contained one entry per page.

Clerks of each County Court recorded marriages performed by religious or civil authorities. Records consist of bonds, applications, licenses, returns and marriage entries. The state of West Virginia began collecting marriages from the counties in 1964. Most marriages in a county were recorded except for certain religious groups that may have recorded marriages in their records but did not register them with the civil authorities. 

Marriages began to be recorded as each County was created, some as early as 1780. This collection includes marriages as late as 1970. 

Counties in West Virginia recorded marriages to legalize marital relationships and to safeguard the interests of wives.

The marriage date, residence, and other facts that were current at the time the marriage occurred are quite reliable, though there is still a chance of misinformation. Other data such as age or birth place have more chance of error because they are based on the memory of the informant.

Citation for This Collection

The following citation refers to the original source of the data and images publised on FamilySearch,org Historical Records. It may include tha author, custodian, publisher, and archive for the original recotds.,

West Virginia County Courts. West Virginia, Marriages. West Virginia County Offices.

This collection may include information previously published in the International Genealogical Index or Vital Records Index collections.

Record Content

Genealogical facts in county marriage entries before 1853 are:

  • Marriage date
  • Marriage place
  • Names of the bride and groom
  • Name of the clerk or the person performing the marriage
  • Sometimes the name of the bride's father

Marriage records from 1853 on give this additional information:

  • Age, birthplace, marital status and residence of bride and groom (some later records also give birth date)
  • Names of bride and groom's parents (later records include mothers' maiden name)
  • Occupation of groom (not given in later records)

How to Use the Records

To use these records it is helpful to know the following:

  • The name of the person at the time of marriage
  • The name of the intended spouse
  • Other identifying information such as the approximate marriage date and place

Search the Collection

Fill in the requested information in the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible ancestors. Compare the information in the list to what you already know about your ancestors to determine which person listed is your ancestor. You may need to compare the information of more than one person to make this determination. Next, click on your ancestor's name. This will take you to a descriptive page with a link to the partner site with the images.

Using the Information

When you have located your ancestor’s marriage record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors. Add this new information to your records of each family. For example:

  • Use the marriage date and place as the basis for compiling a new family group or for verifying existing information.
  • Use the birth date or age along with the place of birth of each partner to find a couple's birth records and parents' names.
  • Use the birth date or age along with the place of birth to find the family in census records.
  • Use the residence and names of the parents to locate church and land records.
  • Occupations listed can lead you to other types of records such as employment or military records.

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • The name of the officiator is a clue to their religion or area of residence in the county. However, ministers may have reported marriages performed in other counties.
  • Compile the marriage entries for every person who has the same surname as the bride or groom; this is especially helpful in rural areas or if the surname is unusual.
  • Continue to search the marriage records to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives of the bride and groom who may have married in the same county or nearby. This can help you identify other generations of your family or even the second marriage of a parent. Repeat this process for each new generation you identify.
  • When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.
  • The information in marriage records is usually reliable, but depends upon the reliability of the informant.
  • Earlier records may not contain as much information as the records created after the late 1800s.
  • There is also some variation in the information given from one marriage record to another record.
  • If you are unable to find the ancestors you are looking for, check for variant spellings of the surnames.
  • Search for the marriage record of the marriage partner if known.

For a summary of this information see the wiki article United States, How to Use the Records Summary (FamilySearch Historical Records).

Known Issues with This Collection

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See a list of known issues, workarounds, tips, restrictions, future fixes, news and other helpful information.

For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached Wiki article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to support@familysearch.org. Please include the full path to the link and a description of the problem in your e-mail. Your assistance will help ensure that future reworks will be considered.

Related Websites

West Virginia Marriage Records Archives

Related Wiki Articles

Contributions to This Article

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.

Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections

When you copy information from a record, you should list where you found the information. This will help you or others to find the record again. It is also good to keep track of records where you did not find information, including the names of the people you looked for in the records.

A suggested format for keeping track of records that you have searched is found in the wiki article Help:How to Cite FamilySearch Collections.