The ‘Age of Computers’- that phrase probably dates me!- has made genealogy research so much easier than the days of SASE and queries in the back of a genealogy magazine. For years I have known that Edward B. Payne married Nanie M. Burnell on 05 May 1870. Some of our family records had this information, I believe, and now online there is an entry on Family Search as well as the Illinois Statewide Marriage Index, 1763-1900. Usually it is just a simple tabbed line of the most basic information:
Sometimes the county, in this case, Kane County, Illinois, is listed, and maybe even a marriage license number (00007122).
I have written requesting this record in years past and only received a clerk’s handwritten copy of the pertinent- to them- information, which was what I already knew. It was not possible to get a scan of the actual record, per the County Clerk’s office.
In a recent genealogy blog I learned that Kane Co., IL has now put marriage licenses online. I dropped everything the rest of the world deemed important and headed online for the website. There it was- the marriage record I had sought for so long. I plunked down (virtually) my $11 for a downloadable copy, and voila!- I could print it. Sadly, it had “For Genealogical Purposes Only” written diagonally all across the face of the license, in rows just an inch apart. I tried to read the minister’s name, and it looked familiar. Though I couldn’t be sure, it looked like “Payne.”
Edward B. Payne’s father, Joseph Hitchcock Payne (or J. H. Payne, as he usually was known), was a Congregational minister.
I cried. OK, yes, I have been obsessed with E. B. Payne for most of my genealogical research life (is it stalking if one of the parties is long departed???), as he is quite an interesting and intriguing fellow. To learn that he was married to his college sweetheart by his father was so very touching, so sentimental, and it touched my heart so deeply that I was actually speechless.
Well, for a few moments, any way. I was mad that I could not read the name of the minister, and upset that the one actual signature and bit of writing of J. H. Payne that I had ever seen in all my research could not be easily read and savoured. (Spelled purposefully with a British “u” because the American-shortened ‘savored’ did not give enough time to enjoy or import of how wonderful it was to see this signature.)
Of course, feedback to Kane Co. was the answer, so I wrote a polite note to the county clerk, praising them for the new service but letting her know how disappointed I was that the marriage license was not framable and only barely readable. I got a fast reply thanking me for feedback so they could improve the new service, and in subsequent emails she explained that if I sent another $11 for a certified copy, and sent it to her attention, she would make sure that the required “for genealogical purposes only” stamp would not be across the main face of the license. She was good to her word.
But wait- there’s more!
On the back of the record I received via snail mail were the following documents:
And then another incredible document, attesting that these two requesting a marriage license had met the legal age requirements:
K. A. Burnell was Nannie’s father, Kingsley Abner Burnell. It was his writing, his listing of his daughter’s name, and his signature.
Amazing. Totally amazing.
Thank you, Kane County, Illinois.
Notes, Sources, and References:
1) The first image is from the old Kane Co., IL website, which has been replaced by the new and much improved http://genealogy.kanecountyclerk.org. Posted with permission.
Please contact us if you would like a higher resolution image.
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