Register Of Marriages In The Parish Of Michilimackinac
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The marriage records from the register at Michilimackinac are here provided as they were translated by Edward O. Brown back in 1889. The records of this register reflect the history of Michilimackinac as a trading post town. They show the transition from French to British to American control of the area, as well as the command of the government by the Catholic Church during the French reign, military during the British reign, which was eventually turned over to the civil authorities when the America took control.
There are not a lot of marriage records here, and unfortunately, the very early ones are lost – of those copied over to the new register (1725-1741) much of the information was torn away from the manuscript by the time Edward Brown viewed it. There were 17 marriages recorded between the years of 1725-1741 of which only one can be identified by the marriage records left as having a White-Indian interaction. However, that is solely due to the non-inclusion of the wife’s name since the record was torn, rather then a fact of non relation. What the complete records tell us is that these frontier families interacted with and married Native American’s from the Sauteux, Nippising, Ottawa and other unnamed tribes. There are also a couple of instances where “slave” or “free black” married. In each case that this occurred, a slave married a slave, and a “free black” married another “free black.” In no instance that I see in review was it acknowledged that a black-white or indian-black relationship existed according to the church, military, or civil records.
There are large gaps in the records which was caused by a variety of reasons. One can glean from the actual records that at times there was no priest available to marry couples. So the couple who wanted to marry would acknowledge that fact in front of relatives and/or friends and assume the relation of husband and wife agreeing to solemnize the relationship once a priest made it to the village, often years later. This was common practice at the time for those of the Catholic faith. I should caveat that by stating emphatically, that while the French were in control of the area (1600s-1760) unless you were of Catholic faith, your marriage record would never appear in the official transcripts. Another reason for the large gaps was the influx and outflow of some families who held allegiance to the French, British or American causes. The decades between 1760-1790 hold the least amount of marriage records, and then from about 1804-1821 they stopped recording them within the register, until the last few marriages were recorded in a week long period in which a visit from Priest Gabriel Richard out of Detroit. The 1760 timeline coincides with the British takeover of the area, and 1792 coincides with “J. P.” Justice of the Peace officiating over most of the marriages, though some Catholics still had the visiting priests conduct them. It is possible and likely that during the periods of absence in the records, marriages were officiated elsewhere, such as Detroit, Kaskaskia, Prairie du Chien, or Cahokia.