1 Reply Latest reply on May 14, 2020 10:32 AM by Julie Terstriep

    Seeking marriage laws in Illinois during late 1800s - early 1900s.


      I have several ancestors who lived in IA and WI who made a special trip into Illinois to get married.   They had no obviously compelling reason to get married in IL (no relatives, never lived there, etc.).   In both cases, the couple would have to travel several hours just to get across the state line.


      Were the marriage laws less restrictive in IL than in IA or WI during that time frame?   The wife of the Iowa couple who got married in Rock Island, IL (late 1800s) was under 18 years old.   The couple from WI had a child out of wedlock, and the husband may not have been legally divorced from his previous wife (married in 1913 in Rockford, IL).  Thanks in advance

        • Re: Seeking marriage laws in Illinois during late 1800s - early 1900s.
          Julie Terstriep Wayfarer

          Source: https://www.chipublib.org/blogs/post/who-can-i-marry-a-chicago-history-2/    Retrieved 5.13.2020

          State of Illinois

          Age of marriage:

          • 1819-1974: Males 21 and females 18. With parental consent, 17 for males and 14 for females. Changed to 18 for males and 16 for females in 1905.
          • 1974 to date: 18 and over for both sexes, 16 with parental consent, 15 with a court order.


          I transcribe marriage licenses for my local county genealogical society in Illinois and have seen numerous licenses where, even though the bride was under 18, her parents never actually signed the license giving permission.  This may be what happened in the cases you refer to.


          On one license, the clerk wrote the bride was "Over 18" and actually put the quotation marks around the statement.  There was no permission from the parent, which intrigued me as the same clerk had never used this prior.  I did some digging the bride was in fact under 18 at the time, and within 5 months gave birth to a child according to the Federal Census of the time.  I envision the bride swearing to be over 18 while standing on a piece of paper marked "18".  In that way, she wasn't lying but wasn't completely truthful either!


          I hope this helps.  I have seen the same situation for some of my relatives going to Missouri from Illinois for the day to get married. Older family members related it had to do with waiting periods of the time between getting a license and getting married.

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