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Monday, October 1, 2012

Minnesota Marriages - A Great Resource

I just had the most wonderful weekend with my
family and friends watching my son marry his lovely fiance. The ceremony was beautiful with just the right number of mishaps to make everyone less nervous. The reception was unbelievable with terrific food, gorgeous decor and wonderful touches that truly added meaning. Then there was the weather: not a cloud in the sky, temperature in the low 70's, just a trace of a breeze and peak fall colors to boot. Since the wedding was in northern Minnesota, anyone who had to drive up from the Twin Cities had the most stunning drive this season.

I managed to squeeze in just a couple of hours of genealogy research even on this busy weekend. Our "up north" cabin is equipped with DSL Internet access and wireless. Both my husband and I need to be connected to escape so it is a must-have if we are to "get away from it all." I guess that makes it just "get away from some of it." Even if we are connected to work, we are also connected to the fun stuff. So even my frozen weekends up north can be very productive.

After the ceremony I started wondering when my son's wedding would be on the Minnesota Official Marriages System (MOMS) website. This website has become a God-send for me. One of the most difficult pieces of genealogy can be to find the maiden names of women that marry into the family. The MOMS website lists marriages as far back as 1845, depending upon the county. I also found marriages from as recently as last weekend. That also depends upon the county. Of course, these records are transcribed from county records and can contain errors.

Even so, I heartily recommend visiting MOMS if you have any Minnesota residents in your tree OR if you have residents of neighboring states that lived in the bordering counties. Those tricky ancestors of ours sometimes married just across the border of a neighboring state. Once you have found the correct record, the site connects you with the proper contact info to order the certificate if you need it. I rarely order certificates but I have used the information available there in my family tree database almost 700 times.

I will recommend, as always, that you try different spellings, or searching on just the wife or husband. While the site allows limiting your search to just one county, I suggest leaving it open unless you get too many results. I've also found that it searches well on a partial name, first or last. This can really help when you are relying on transcribed records.

One last note, there is a link near the top that lists the dates available for each county. It is helpful information but not 100% accurate. Le Sueur County indicates there are no records available. Yet, the two oldest records I found were from Le Sueur County.

Thanks to the Minnesota counties who put their marriage data online!

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