Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Marriage of William Fletcher King and Mary French (Oregon Co., Missouri)

Here is the marriage license between William Fletcher King and Mary French that was emailed to me by Wanda Watson in March 2012. She obtained a copy of it from the Alton Courthouse in Alton, Missouri.

Fletcher King was my 2nd great-grandmother, Dora King's brother. Dora and Fletcher King were the children of Tabitha House and Robert King. Information and a photo of Fletcher King can be found here.

This license was issued to solemnize marriage between William F King of Alton [the license says "Attie" but it should be Alton since there is no such place as Attie], County of Oregon and state of Missouri; It states that William is over the age of 21 years and Miss Mary A French, also from Attie [sic], County of Oregon and state of Missouri; Miss Mary A French is over the age of 18. Permission was granted by verbal assent of J F French for his daughter Mary A French.

The license was signed by J. Felix Normand, Circuit Clerk, Alton, MO, 29 Nov 1893;

With certification that the "Local Elder" at the residence of J F French in Oregon Co., MO on the 3rd of Dec 1893, united in marriage the above named persons, signed by Joseph M Willards.

The license was filed for record 26 Dec 1893 by W. A. Norman Deputy and J. F. Norman, Circuit Clerk.


From this marriage license I learned that William King's wife's name was Mary French and that she was the daughter of J F French. Other records have indicated that Mary's father's name is John Frederick French. I also learned that they received their marriage license on November 29th, 1893 and were married on December 3rd, 1893 at the home of Mary's Father, John.

I am not the best at reading local records, so I am wondering if Joseph Willards was the man who married this couple or did he just witness the marriage? I checked the 1900 census report and there was a Joseph M Willard living next door to John French, but he was only 34 years old, certainly no "elder." He would have only been about 27 years old at the time of William and Mary's marriage. He was listed as a farmer on the census, not a minister.

What do you think? Was Joseph a witness or a minister?

Update: You can read my later post, "My Introduction to a Methodist Circuit Rider" for more information about Joseph Martin Willard, the man who married Fletcher and Mary King and who was a 2nd cousin of Fletcher's. 


  1. Pretty sure he married them, Ginger. It's hard to read the copy, but I've never seen a record where a witness was recorded rather than the officiant.

  2. Depending on the religion, not all Elders were Ministers, but, again, depending on religion and local laws, may have been able to legally marry them.

    I say Willard married them.

  3. Thank you Carol and Susan! That's what I thought too but wasn't too sure. There are so many different kinds of marriage licenses, bonds, certificates, etc. It's hard to keep up with them all! Thanks again for taking a look and giving me your opinion.

  4. I also think he married them. Perhaps there was a Joseph Willard Senior who died after the marriage and prior to the 1900 census. Did you check the 1880 census for a Joseph Willard or perhaps city or town directories?

    By the way, I see today is your 5th year anniversary you've been blogging. Happy Blogiversary.

    Regards, Jim
    Genealogy Blog at Hidden Genealogy Nuggets

    1. Hi Jim, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. I did actually look for a Joseph Willard Sr, but did not find him. However, there is a lot of time between the 1880 and 1900 census for things to happen.

      Thank you also for noting my Blogiversary :-) I'm very excited to still be blogging and looking forward to so much more to come!