Mar 01, 2012 - Sale 2271

Sale 2271 - Lot 79

Price Realized: $ 900
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 1,000 - $ 1,500
COUSIN PRINCY GIVES HIS CONSENT (SLAVERY AND ABOLITION--RECONSTRUCTION.) Marriage License and Certificate for James Trumbo (black) and Catherine Williams (black). Partially printed 4to document, accomplished by hand, with a five cent U.S. revenue stamp; signed at the bottom by William Johnson, "minister of the Baptist Church." [together with] a hand-written note (8vo) from an elder family member giving consent [together with] another hand-written document (folio leaf) of "Marriage Bond", signed by James Trumbo, and Abram Marshall, presumably his "best man" and witness. Three pages, various sizes. should be seen. Gallatin County, Kentucky, October 6, 1866

Additional Details

with the written consent of "cousin princy," apparently a family elder. A fine example of a Reconstruction combination marriage license and marriage certificate for James Trumbo and Catherine Williams, married on October 6, 1866---with the original "Marriage Bond" and a note carrying an elder relation's formal consent for this union. These accompanying hand-written documents tell a wonderful tale. One letter reads: "Dear Florian: please go with Jim to the Clerk's office, he wants License to Marry. He and Catherine are going to marry this evening. It is alright, your cousin Princy consents. Give my love to your ma and Emma, your cousin John A. Cox. Attest (signed) Florian Cox, A Cox." The second, larger hand-written piece, a long folio leaf reads: "Marriage Bond. The Commonwealth of Kentucky. Be it known that We, James Trumbo colored, as principal and Abraham Marshall (black) as surety, are jointly and severally bound to the Commonwealth of Kentucky in the sum of One Hundred Dollars. The condition of this bond is as follows, That whereas Marriage is intended to be Solemnicized between the above bound James Trumbo, (black) and Catherine Williams (black). Now if there is no lawful Cause to obstruct said marriage, this bond shall be paid, otherwise it shall remain in full force and effect. Dated at Warren, Gallatin county, this 6th day of October, 1866. Signed by James Trumbo and Abram Marshall with an "X" next to their names.
Formal marriage ceremonies for slave couples were generally reserved for house servants. Slave owners might have a white minister or a black plantation preacher perform the rite, and a feast might take place in the "quarters." But for the most part, marriage was more a question of mutual agreement, often involving children. The official marriage licenses and certificates of Reconstruction were extremely important in restoring basic human dignity and legal rights to tens of thousands of couples who had been living together as man and wife under slavery. Without this legal instrument, the legitimacy of the children of ex-slaves and their right of inheritance were impossible to prove.