Saturday, June 18, 2016


Ohio County Marriages in Indiana

For reasons unknown to me, it was not uncommon for Ohio County residents to marry in Indiana.  Maybe these marriages were elopements, or maybe the bride’s family lived in Indiana – or perhaps it was cheaper or quicker. Of course there were no bridges across the Ohio River to Indiana until the 1860's or later, so the mode of travel was by ferry. The earliest ferry operation I have found connected Brandenburg, Meade County, KY to Mauckport, Harrison County, IN, which was in operation as early as 1808. Of course there were ferry operations in the Louisville area  (Falls Cities) from the late 1700's, connecting Jeffersonville, IN and Louisville; New Albany, IN and Portland, KY (NW of Louisville); and Clarksville, IN and Shippingport (Louisville). These boats were propelled by manual labor using poles, paddles and oars and service was "on demand."  By 1815 at least 10 ferries served Clark County, IN (which included much of Floyd County until 1819), but by 1820 attrition and consolidation had eliminated most of them.  Having said all that, I'm sure there were ferries across the Ohio in the early days that history has forgotten, so our adventuresome ancestors might have crossed the Ohio at Owensboro, Rockport, Cloverport, or some other location that was closer than Brandenburg or the Louisville area.

In any event, I have found that several of my ancestors married in the following Indiana counties: Floyd, Clinton, Clark and Warrick. This map shows (yellow highlights) the location of the Indiana counties where a few of my (Leach) Ohio County ancestors married.  The green highlighted county, Spencer, is where I found the marriage of Wesley Davis and Nancy Cox in 1827. Rockport is the county seat of Spencer County.

Here is an online database that you can use to search Indiana marriages by surname to help you find your ancestors. To shorten your search, only consider people born before 1835, because this site only shows marriages thru 1850:


The Index to Indiana Marriages Through 1850 began many years ago through a project initiated by Dorothy Riker, the late former Editor of The Hoosier Genealogist, which listed the name of the groom in county listings in this publication.  Later, brides names were added to the original card set of groom names in the Genealogy Division. Volunteers expanded the card set to include all dates through 1850 for counties where marriage records existed. This became a database which contains approximately 330,000 records totaling 90.5 MB of electronic data.  In addition to the marriage listings which index the county courthouse records, the database includes marriages which were noted from the early Quaker monthly meetings in Indiana. These Quaker marriages were listed in the Abstracts of the Records of the Society of Friends in Indiana compiled by Willard Heiss, (Call Number Geneal. 929.102 F911h v. 7).  In addition the database includes listings for the St. Francis Xavier parish church in Vincennes, Indiana which date from 1749.

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