One of the most sorrowful phrases a genealogist might hear is, ‘The courthouse burned in . . .’ Such is the phrase we must start with in Marion County. Marion was formed from Washington County on January 25, 1834. So any marriage certificate, will, deed, etc., before that date will be in Washington County. For the first 29 1/2 years of its existence as a county, the Marion County records are lost to us.
During the Civil War there were many battles in the state of Kentucky, even though we were a border state. During July of 1863 General John Hunt Morgan began one of his raids through Kentucky, and on the 5th of the month arrived at the small town of Lebanon. When the Union soldiers of the town heard the Confederates were coming Lt. Col. Charles Hanson ordered his small band of 350-400 men behind barricades of overturned wagons and anything else that could be used. As in many cases of the border states Lt. Col. Hanson had a brother that was a Confederate general. Morgan gave the chance for surrender, but the troops would not. In the ensuing fray three men from Lebanon were killed, several wounded, one of which later died from those wounds.
After the final surrender, Morgan was enraged that his nineteen year old brother, Lt. Thomas Morgan, was killed. He burned twenty buildings in the town, including the courthouse. One of the older homes in Lebanon, now known as Myrtledene, which serves as a bed and breakfast, was the headquarters for General Morgan while he was in Lebanon. After the death of his brother he charged into the home on his horse and rode up the staircase, imprinting the stairs with the hooves of his horse. Those imprints remained until the 1950’s when the imprints were sanded out and the staircase covered in carpet! When I was a young girl I always wanted to visit that house to see the evidence of General Morgan’s ride – never realizing it had already been erased!
Nineteen days after the battle, the first marriage bond was issued to Samuel Cameron and Sarah J. Shofner. Could there have been other marriages within those 19 days? Possibly, but this is the first marriage bond in the new courthouse books. The form for the marriage bonds in Marion County are different from those of Washington – luckily they give us more information about about the couple, including the age and place of birth, including place of birth of mother and father, and occupation of the groom.
The old courthouse is now the Marion County Heritage Center, which houses the Marion County Historical Society and several other history related centers. A couple of years ago I attended a book signing for Marion County authors that was held there!
Marion County is also known for its Ham Days event held the last full weekend in September. Ritchey and I plan to be there on the 24th of the month for the country ham breakfast, arts and crafts and just a day of fun!
The Commonwealth of Kentucky
Be it known, that we, Samuel Cameron as principal, and James Moffet 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 solemnized between the above bound Samuel Cameron and Miss Sarah J. Shofner. Now, if there is no lawful cause to obstruct said marriage, this bond shall be void, otherwise it shall remain in full force and effect.
Dated at Lebanon, Marion County, this 24th day of July 1863.
Samuel Cameron, James Moffet
Attest: James R. Henry, Deputy Clerk, Marion County Court
Sarah J. Shofner, 22 years old, first marriage, born in Green County, Kentucky, parents born in the United States. Brides consent proven by oath of James Moffet, subscribing witness.
To be married at James Moffet’s on 25 day of July 1863.
I certify that the above is correct to the best of my knowledge and belief. Witness my hand, this 24 day of July 1863.
Attest: James Moffett