When you're not finding the records you expect in the usual places, it helps to look at other avenues to find the records you need. For those of you who have ancestors that settled in the western United States, BYU Idaho has a special collection of marriage records that covers western states. Let’s look.
Brigham Young University Idaho has a special collection of marriage records that covers 12 western states. The states included are Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Utah Territory, Washington, and Wyoming. You can filter your search by the state and county within the state. Choose to search by the groom or the bride. If you don’t have any luck, check out their search tips page.
Most of the records are pre-1900 with some areas going back in the 1700s. While this index does not have all marriages from these 12 states, it does contain some from each of the 12 and may be a good resource if you haven’t had luck within the state itself or your not quite sure which of the 12 states your ancestor married in.
Here’s an example of the results from a search of the last name “James”. There are many hits, but you can see the year, name of the groom and name of the bride and the place to see if they are your people.
If A. G. James and Velora Styler were potential ancestors, choose the 1912 year in the same line and you would then see additional information displayed like this.
By taking the extra step you find out the residence of the bride and the groom as well as the exact marriage date, volume, and page number and FHL Microfilm. You now know that information so that you can go to the original document. Out of curiosity, I went to FamilySearch.org and searched for the microfilm #0429,079 which brought me to the Marriage Index of Utah located here. You can search more at that location to see if there is any additional information.
If you have ancestors from the Utah area, you may want to spend some time exploring the library’s special collections. A quick search shows that they have a mix of digital and onsite resources available related to the history of the area as well as other locales.
When we run into brick walls, it’s good to look outside our favorite search sites to see if these records exist elsewhere. Have fun exploring these records.
With a lifelong passion for genealogy and history, the author enjoys the opportunity to share genealogy tidbits, inspiring others to research and write their family story.