…is older than you might think.
County courts in Pennsylvania began recording marriages in October 1885, and the earliest entry in the index of Marriage Book 1 is dated 1 October 1885. However, that is not the oldest marriage in the courthouse’s files. Marriage Books 1—135, covering the period of 1 October 1885 through 25 May 1951, have been microfilmed and those microfilms have been digitized.
The courthouse’s database of digitized images of the marriage book microfilms take viewers to what the database considers the first record of roll 1—a marriage which took place on 1 October 1885; however, if one manually scrolls back to the very beginning of that roll, there is a second record designated #1—a marriage between Koscinsko Bassett and Fanny Bromley, which took place at Concord Station on 17 February 1861. The image is of a loose sheet, which the filmers may have found tucked inside one of the registers and opted to place it at the start of the roll, before the records in the index.This lone surviving record, from the very brief period in the 1860s when record keeping was mandated, bears no resemblance to the record of the 1880s. It is in the form of a letter: