Marriage as Business Arrangement, Part II

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One of the nice things about discussing the research on Emmett’s book in the blog is that I hear from folks now and then who also have an interest in research, especially as it pertains to West Florida archives.

This past week, as you recall, I posted about finding Emmett’s father’s wedding license. I waxed on about how much of the license had scratched out content, and other information simply written in over it. (It is hard to tell, but I sure hope the edits were not in pencil).

I also made a few assumptions based on the presentation of that document. Let me say to you, now, that I was in error about a few things, and one of our regular readers (who happens to be with one of the county clerk’s offices in West Florida) filled me in on what was going on with the license at the time. So, without further ado, here’s what I learned:

These scratch-outs would not necessarily have rendered the certificate null and void.

These scratch-outs would not necessarily have rendered the certificate null and void.

  • The scratch-outs would not have rendered the certificate null and void; the clerk told me that county judge’s office apparently had taken over the responsibility for granting marriage licenses in Washington County, and this happened more than once.
  • The fact that the clerk’s office was stricken and the judge’s office inserted wasn’t unusual, especially if forms were in short supply overall, and the staff wanted to use up the stock they had. My colleague at the clerk’s office also said this was typical, especially in the South during the Civil War, when old license stock still had “The United States of America” printed on it.

Next, the license location, license date, and officiant’s signature.

The license came from Vernon, but the wedding could have taken place anywhere in Florida.

The license came from Vernon, but the wedding could have taken place anywhere in Florida.

  • I was curious why the license was obtained in Vernon rather than Chipley. I was under the mistaken impression that one could get a license from any judge, but no.  The clerk told me that license came from Vernon because that was the county seat in 1893; therefore, it was the only place one could obtain the license. Chipley didn’t become the county seat until the mid-1920s. So, Frank and Kate Wilson would have had to go to Vernon anyway to get their marriage license.
  • If you look at the first date, September 22, 1893, that was the date the document was issued. My colleague said the license would probably have been good for 30 days. The second date, September 26,1893, is when the wedding actually took place, and it could have been held anywhere in Florida.
The minister listed here is "J.P. Smith", the license appears to say "J.T. Smith".

The minister listed here is “J.P. Smith”, the license appears to say “J.T. Smith”.

One thing I do know is that Kate Jordan Wilson was a devout Baptist, and if she got married, it was done by a minister, whether Frank Wilson was religious or not. I checked around and found a Baptist minister who was the pastor in that area during that time. The Florida Baptist History record (in the photo) says “J.P. Smith”, but the license appears to say “J.T. Smith.” One of them could be in error; or, there may be an associate pastor by the name of “J.T. Smith” who married them. I am in contact with the First Baptist Church of Chipley, and the Washington County Historical Society for more information. Also, the great grandniece of Kate Jordan Wilson told me on Wednesday that she’s checking that out as well. Sounds like we have a History Detective Swat Team!

Finally, the wedding ceremony itself.

I came across this little item several months ago, filed it away, and forgotten it:

The wedding was in Chipley. Image Source: GenealogyBank.com

The wedding was in Chipley. Image Source: GenealogyBank.com

If the wedding was in Chipley, I believe that it was likely held at the Langley family home (which was in Chipley, only a block or so away from where Frank and Kate Wilson would build their own home in 18 months). Another scenario is it could have been held at the church. However, I’m betting that the service was a family affair, and included all the Wilson and Jordan children in attendance.

Many, many thanks to my colleague at the Jackson County (Florida) Clerk’s office for her help. I am truly grateful for the feedback.

I appreciate any and all comments on the posts and research shared here in the blog; my goal is to tell Emmett’s story, with accuracy and compassion. It is great to have such excellent readers to keep me on my toes! 🙂

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