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20 July 2011

Easy Place to Elope?

Was there a nearby county or state where the requirements were easier than the location where your ancestor was living? It is possible that your ancestor crossed the county or state line in order to get married. Eloping a few counties away meant that the groom and bride were less likely to be recognized and that the marriage license might not be published in a local paper. Both of these considerations would lengthen the time before family and friends found out about the wedding. Getting married a distance from their residence might also make it easier to lie about their age. 


  1. I found this out while searching for my father's grandparents. Many of my ancestors settled in the northernmost county of Illinois (Stephenson) and many either married someone from and/or in Wisconsin, or "eloped?" to Wisconsin. I would like to research the marriage laws in place at the time to find out if there were differences in requirements such as age, residency, etc.
    From now on, I will always check Wisconsin and Iowa, and for my St. Louis relatives, Illinois.

  2. After looking in the obvious places -- home county of the bride, home county of the groom and the county where the closest large city was located I came up empty-handed. I then spent about three months reading the weekly papers from the home of the groom and from the home of the bride. One reported that the marriage (elopement)took place in an adjoining state. I promptly ordered the microfilm of some close counties for that record from the Family History Library. Before the film arrived, I continued reading newspapers and found the name of the city involved. Unfortunately I had guessed on the wrong counties and had to re-order. The bride was of age, but the groom did not meet the new law in the home state that had been enacted the year before. No one knew them across the state line. Today, one can find their marriage document online at !

  3. Elkton, Maryland is a small town, but many couples would go there to get married. So if you have Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Southern New Jersey, Washington DC or Northern Virginia ancestors I would give this town a look for the records.

  4. I have a cute story about eloping. I need to blog on it. Thanks for reminding us...border wars weren't always for fighting!

  5. North Florida couples often went across the line in Georgia to elope. Unfortunately, some of them had to say their vows again as the marrying official wasn't really "official!" This happened in the late 1950's.

  6. I had been looking my Wifes gg-grandmother.
    Census records said that her husband was a Widower. (1911 Canadian census)

    but Ancestry said she was alive until 1940.
    I ended up finding a marriage record 2 states down in 1901. she had ran away with the local tavern bartender(who also ran away from wife and kids).

  7. My parents crossed the river from TN to MO to get married because MO did not require a blood test and TN did.