Wake County, North Carolina old Colored Marriage Records

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This is an acknowledgment of slaves who were married or given permission to marry. After the Civil War, they were required to register in their localities. Each state treated this differently in the records.

A perfect conversation to have with other family genealogist. Do you have a question on your own research?

Nick Sheedy 4:09pm May 29

I couldn’t fully examine at the image you shared on my phone, and just had a chance to look at it on my desktop … this document does indicate the couple married in 1851 and were “slaves – emancipated”.

This did not quite make sense to me because they are recorded in a “colored” marriage record book which would not have been kept until after the Civil War. So I thumbed through this book and I see a number of entries in the “colored” marriage books under the “name and title of the person performing the marriage” column that just read “emancipated slaves” — the dates for all of them pre-date the Emancipation, some as early as the 1820s. This tells me that these entries were for former slaves (freed after the Civil War) who were recording the fact that they had married while in slavery. It is not common you get the date of their pre-Emancipation marriage in these records, so that is cool!

The page you shared is from the female colored marriage book (digital image https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89VS-4N2Y?i=205&cc=1726957&cat=325147). I looked at the male colored marriage book (FHL Film 236325 covers R-Z). Because of the odd way of indexing, you have to look at the first page of the T surnames to know on which page a surname is recorded (digital image https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89VS-4SXN?i=186&cc=1726957&cat=325147) — it indicates surnames starting with To… start on Page 19 (digital image https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89VS-4SZ1?i=198&cc=1726957&cat=325147), but I do not see any Todds on pp. 19-23. This is strange because we have that entry in the female colored book, so we would expect to find the groom’s entry here. So the entries may be mixed up, and you’ll have to hunt around to find the entry — if it is there.

I just searched Wake Co., NC Marriage Bonds and found only one marriage bond for a groom named George Todd , but he married in 1800 or 1806 (FHL 296870, digital images here: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-894X-9K2S?i=307&cc=1726957&cat=346106)

But if former slaves were recording their pre-Emancipation marriage, they would not have obtained a license or recorded a bond, so that’s moot.

There is another FHL Film for “Negro Cohabitations, 1866” (FHL Film 2447783), but it has not been digitized yet. That would be the record group where former slaves would have registered their pre-Emancipation marriages. But from the entries in the colored marriage books, it is obvious that the county clerk just started recording them in those records as well.

Nick Sheedy
Nick Sheedy 4:16pm May 29
Correct, this is a typed marriage register. At some point the county clerk (or in this case the register of deeds) probably created this book from older records. But they may have done it because the old book was falling apart, and then destroyed it. So this is all we are left with. If you look at the FHL holdings for Wake County, NC (familysearch catalog https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/results?count=20&placeId=191392&query=%2Bplace%3A%22United+States%2C+North+Carolina%2C+Wake%22&subjectsOpen=471083-50), it doesn’t look like an “original” marriage register was filmed, suggesting it no longer exists. There could be licenses or bonds in other record groups for these same marriages, but former slaves who were recording their pre-Emancipation marriages would not have obtained a license or recorded a bond.
Mary Todd Allen
Mary Todd Allen 6:36pm May 30
So helpful! Thank you.
Nick Sheedy
Nick Sheedy 7:28pm May 30
Mary Todd Allen it is very very rare for a full marriage date to be recorded, when it was long before the Emancipation. That is very very cool.
Mary Todd Allen
Mary Todd Allen 8:48pm May 30
Yes Nick! I actually cried I was so overwhelmed to see this. This entire branch of my family tree is a fairly recent discovery as my father didn’t help us to connect with our Todd family. I love these people like I was raised around them. They have a unique story to tell that is a part of my story i cherish every morsel I can find vim so grateful for this wonderful community of amateur professional genealogists.
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Mary Todd Allen
Mary Todd Allen 5:54pm May 28

Please clarify my understanding of this document. George and Lucinda Todd were my 2x great grandparents. This one page Marriage registry lists their marriage date and under who performed the marriage it states “Slaves emancipated”. What do I make of this? What can I infer from the dates and that statement? Thanks in advance family!

Please clarify my understanding of this document. George and Lucinda Todd were my 2x great grandpa…