Need to Find SC Marriages?

Genealogy Tips by Jeannette Holland Austin

The genealogist finds it quite difficult to locate marriage records in South Carolina. That is because filing the record at the court house was not mandated until after 1900. Thus, the traditional places to research are old newspapers and bible records. An often over-looked resource are the annual returns, receipts and vouchers in the estate records. One should carefully following each annual return filed and put a keen eye on the amounts distributed and to whom. Initially, physician and funeral expenses were paid, then local taxes. After the first Annual Return, one should question who the heirs were (they received different sums). Husbands received inheritances in behalf of wives, so a search of existing marriage records for (those males who received money from the estate) should be examined. Each person gave a receipt, or voucher, so the researcher should attempt to locate these proofs. Another means of locating marriages is to read all of the old wills in the county where ancestors resided, especially during the span of their life-time. The reason is daughters married neighbors and you will locate certain relatives. Another method is to search the tax records and ascertain how certain tracts of land were passed down. For example, if John Smith had 284 1/2 acres and was deceased, then search for all Smiths who had that particular amount of acreage listed on the tax returns. It is a matter of taking each surname and determining how long taxes were paid on the property before it disappeared off the record. And so on.

The marriage settlements are essentially prenuptial agreements between persons intending to marry or remarry and includes property proposalls, settlements and distributions. The researcher must realize that the life-span of the participants was shorter than today, and that, in order to protect and raise young orphaned children, the mother would remarry soon after the death of her husband. Considering the property and estates of the bereaved widow, potential bridegrooms would begin courtship almost immediately. These agreements contain a wealth of information which is quite useful to the genealogist.


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South Carolina Marriage Settlements 1775-1816

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