Last Updated 3 March 2006
The marriage records for Wayne County, Tennessee covering the period from the beginning of the county in 1820 until January 1857, have been lost. The original bond books, eleven volumes in number covering the 1820 - 1870 period were reportedly destroyed by order of the County Court in 1916-1918, although no record of that order has been found in the minutes of the court. It was reported that the bond books had been stored in the attic of the 1905 courthouse under the belfry. The story goes that the trap door leading from the attic to the belfry/clock tower was left open and it rained in upon the books and other records stored in the attic. The books and records subsequently molded and rotted and were deemed unfit to keep so they were taken out on the Eagle Creek (Old Columbia Central) Turnpike and burned.
The license and minister's returns book, 1820 - 1857, which recorded the actual marriage, was supposedly still in the County Court Clerk's office as late as the 1930's. However, no record of that book has turned up after that period and it was not located among the records which had been stored in the attic of the 1905 courthouse.
In 1970 and 1971, the late Charles D. Gallaher and Edgar D. Byler, III started searching through all the boxes of loose records which had been stored in the attic. Three separate piles of records were made on the attic floor: original wills, marriage licenses, and loose county court files. Among these loose records were numerous marriage licenses, wills and records from the period 1820 - 1860. Those piles of records were still in their respective areas when the 1905 courthouse burned on 7 January 1972. All records which had been stored and which were still located in the attic were destroyed. Only one marriage bond and license from those found in the attic survived and it exists only as a xerox copy of the original.
Beginning in 1992, the Wayne County Historical Society began a reconstruction of the marriage records for the 1820 - 1857 period. On the following pages are those records which have been reconstructed from Bible records, tombstones, pension applications, published biographical material and various court records. Each record will appear twice: once for the name of the groom and once for the name of the bride. The source of the record is listed with each entry.
If you have a record of a marriage which occurred in Wayne County, Tennessee between 1820 and 1857, please take a minute to share that marriage record with us. A form for submission of those marriage records is available for download and printing at Reconstructed Marriage Record Submission Form. You may also submit the form electronically by copying the information to an email message and sending to Edgar D. Byler, III at email@example.com.