Hopped On the Train to Marry?

Is it possible that your ancestors took a train to a nearby county seat to elope? Some couples would venture to a nearby county’s county seat so that the license would not be published in their own local newspaper. During the right time period, the train could be a quick way to do that and keep locals from finding out the news before the couple was ready to disclose it.

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9 thoughts on “Hopped On the Train to Marry?

  1. Patty Gilbert

    That absolutely makes sense. Also in our local newspapers’ “Blast From the Past,” they had weekend wedding specials in certain towns, cities on Friday or saturdays. They would have a free dinner or room if u could show the hotel or motel ur marriage license. Or no charge for something if u showed proof.

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  2. Kat

    Not only did couples “hop on the train,” but they crossed state lines to elope. I searched long and hard to find a marriage record, only to learn that the couple had crossed the Mississippi River to marry in another state. They were underage, but no one caught them in that lie!

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  3. Bonnie Eggert

    How interesting that you use the map from northern Illinois/southern Wisconsin! Northern Illinois is where my families lived and some did travel to Beloit to get married. Illinois has a great marriage database. Wisconsin does not.

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  4. Eleanor Ryan

    Elkton, MD was nicknamed “The Marriage Capital of the East Coast”. Maryland had no waiting period and Elkton is the first county seat in Maryland for anyone coming from the North. In the 1920s and 30s seven trains would stop daily and taxis would take couples to the wedding chapels on Main Street.

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  5. Carla

    Sounds like Reno and Las Vegas, Nevada. I had many relatives that went there from neighboring states. No residency requirements. No waiting period.

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