Have you ever researched a friend, associate, or neighbor to figure out how they were related to your research subject? Often, a marriage bondsman is related to the bride or groom, so researching them may prove a fruitful avenue of research. In my last post, I shared several examples of U.S. marriage bonds. See Back to the Basics with Marriage Records Part 1: Marriage Bonds. This post includes examples of marriage bonds from Orleans Parish, Louisiana, in 1860. For the last example, I researched the bondsman to find his relationship to the bride and groom.
Orleans Parish Marriage Records, 1860
Orleans parish in New Orleans, Louisiana, included marriage bonds as part of the process to be married. The FamilySearch catalog has digitized images in a collection titled Orleans Parish, Louisiana marriage licenses and certificates, 1834-1888. It includes several sets of images from various justices. The earliest set, in the 1830s, from Justices 1 and 2, included only licenses and returns. However, in the 1860s, I found marriage bonds. The 1860 marriage record books include pre-printed forms for a parent to provide consent, affidavit of age, the marriage bond, and the marriage license. If both the bride and groom were over age 21, the parent consent form was left blank. If one of them was younger than 21 years old, the parent consent form was used. A two-page spread was required for all these forms – just for one couple’s marriage. See figure 1. Sometimes a note or certificate from the person performing the marriage was inserted.
Figure 1. Orleans Parish, Louisiana, 7th justice of the peace, marriage licenses and certificates, Ruch-Daschner, 19 May 1860; image online, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-GBSC-W8H?cc=1807364 : accessed 10 Dec 2022), digital film 5170701, image 17 of 793.
Louis Ruch and Kunigunda Daschner obtained a marriage license on 19 May 1860 in Orleans Parish, Louisiana. As part of the process, John Daschner provided permission for his 18-year-old daughter, Kunigunda, to be married. See figure 1, top left side of the page.
Louis Ruch entered into a marriage bond with the seventh justice of the peace for the parish of Orleans, with “securety” John Daschner.1 See figure 1, top right.
The bond obligation stated:
“Now the conditions of the above obligation is such; That in case, within two years from this date, it should not appear that there existed at the time of granting such License, any legal impediment to said Marriage; then and in such case the above obligation shall be null and void, or else it shall remain in full force and virtue.”
In this case, the identification of the bondsman was easy. The bondsman was the father of the bride. However, most other bondsmen in this record set did not have the same surname as the bride.
On the next page of the marriage record, Joseph Parker entered into a marriage bond with Edward Sweney as “securety,” and the bride was Bridget Kelly.2
To determine who the bondsman was on this marriage, I attempted searching the 1860 census for Joseph Parker and Edward Sweney, but there were several men of the same names. I decided to look for another example with a groom and bondsman who were more easily identifiable, and found the marriage bond of Jacob Meyer.3
Identifying Daniel Wilson, Bondsman to Jacob Meyer
Jacob Meyer married Sophia Schlessinger on 14 June 1860. As part of the marriage process, Jacob Meyer and Daniel Wilson stated they were acquainted with Sophia Schlessinger, a native of Germany, and knew her to be above the age of 21. Then, Jacob Meyer and Daniel Wilson entered into a marriage bond obligation. The justice granted Jacob and Sophia marriage license. The same day, C. Adams, a pastor, wrote a note certifying that the marriage had been performed. He signed the note and also asked Jacob, Sophia, and three witnesses to sign. It’s neat to see the original note included as an insert in the marriage record book. See figure 2.
Figure 2. Orleans Parish, Louisiana, 7th justice of the peace, marriage licenses and certificates, Meyer-Schlessinger, 14 Jun 1860; image online, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-GBSC-7YZ?i=43&cc=1807364 : accessed 10 Dec 2022), digital film 5170701, image 44 of 793.
Who was Daniel Wilson? How was he related? Was he a relative of the bride, like bondsmen so often are? I checked the 1860 census and found that there was only one Daniel Wilson in Orleans Parish in 1860. I researched Daniel Wilson, Jacob Meyer, and Sophia Schlessinger to figure this out. (To see my findings with footnotes, go to my two-page research report here: Who was Daniel Wilson?)
First, I checked the 1860 census. I thought possibly Daniel Wilson was associated with Jacob Meyer through their work. However, Daniel Wilson had no occupation listed on the 1860 census. He was age 35, born in New York, with an inferred wife and children.
Figure 3. 1860 U.S. census, Orleans Parish, Louisiana, population schedule, New Orleans Ward 10, p. 883, dwelling 1032, family 1042, Daniel Wilson; image online, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/7667/images/4231227_00565 : accessed 10 Dec 2022); citing NARA microfilm publication M653, roll 416.
I checked Jacob Meyer’s 1860 census enumeration. He was listed with Sophia Meyer. Jacob was a carpenter, age 35, born in Switzerland. There didn’t seem to be an immediate obvious connection between Daniel and Jacob through their birthplaces or occupations.
Figure 4. 1860 U.S. census, Orleans Parish, Louisiana, population schedule, New Orleans Ward 10, p. 893, dwelling 1129, family 1131, Jacob Myers; image online, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/discoveryui-content/view/38334552:7667 : accessed 10 Dec 2022); citing NARA microfilm publication M653, roll 416.
I decided to check into Daniel Wilson in published family trees. I found on FamilySearch that he his wife’s maiden name was Schlessinger! Reviewing the attached records, I saw that one of Daniel Wilson’s daughter’s marriages in Orleans Parish included the parents’ names as “Daniel Wilson and Katherine Schlesinger.”
No online family trees have connected these two Schlessinger women, but I attached the Meyer-Schlessinger marriage bond and license to Daniel Wilson on the FamilySearch Family Tree for other researchers to find.4
I also did some additional research on Sophia Schlessinger in order to add sources to her profile in the FamilySearch Family Tree.5
As I looked for sources about Sophia, I found a passenger list for Sophia Schlissinger coming from Germany in 1847 to New Orleans. She was with four other Schlissinger women, including Catherine and an older woman recorded as Magd or Maga Schlissinger, age 56. No relationships were listed, but I would certainly research this woman as a possible mother of Sophia and Catherine.
What is the conclusion? After putting the evidence into a report, I noticed even more clues, including the fact that both Sophia and Catherine’s birthplaces in the 1860 census were Hesse, a state in Germany. Sophia’s birthplace was actually listed as Frankfurt, which is the largest city in Hesse. Here’s what I wrote as the conclusion:
The marriage bond of Jacob Meyer with Daniel Wilson as bondsman is evidence that Daniel Wilson was an associate of Jacob Meyer or Sophia Schlessinger. Typically the bondsman was related to the bride. Jacob and Sophia probably asked Sophia’s brother-in-law to be their bondsman. Daniel Wilson was married to Catherine Schlessinger. Sophia and Catherine were also listed on the same passenger list, arriving from Germany in 1847. They were also both born in Hesse, a state in Germany. These clues provide strong evidence that Sophia and Catherine were sisters, and Daniel Wilson was a brother-in-law to Sophia Schlessinger.
Researching the bondsman can lead to relatives! Be sure to pay attention to friends, associates, and neighbors who often acted as witnesses or bondsmen in important legal documents of our ancestors. Figuring out how they knew our ancestor can open new avenues of research.
- Orleans Parish, Louisiana, 7th justice of the peace, marriage licenses and certificates, Ruch-Daschner, 19 May 1860; image online, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-GBSC-W8H?cc=1807364 : accessed 10 Dec 2022), digital film 5170701, image 17 of 793.
- Orleans Parish, Louisiana, 7th justice of the peace, marriage licenses and certificates, Parker-Kelly, 25 May 1860; image online, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-GBSC-WZH?i=17&cc=1807364 : accessed 10 Dec 2022), digital film 5170701, image 18 of 793.
- Orleans Parish, Louisiana, 7th justice of the peace, marriage licenses and certificates, Meyer-Schlessinger, 14 Jun 1860; image online, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-GBSC-7YZ?i=43&cc=1807364 : accessed 10 Dec 2022), digital film 5170701, image 44 of 793.
- Profile for Daniel Wilson, ID GHXM-6CK, FamilySearch Family Tree (https://www.familysearch.org/tree/person/details/GHXM-6CK : accessed 10 Dec 2022).
- Profile for Sophia Schlessinger, ID KCWP-W2T, FamilySearch Family Tree (https://www.familysearch.org/tree/person/details/KCWP-W2T : accessed 10 Dec 2022).