I am trying to interpret the bottom marriage record from Ancestry.com's "Tennessee State Marriages, 1780-2002":

enter image description here

I know that the couple getting married is Lyman J. Strong and Martha H. Green. What is the significance of the next line, which appears to be "Z. Green, Bondsman"? Is that the person officiating, a witness, or something else? From the previous record, it seems that "by" is put before the name of the officiant. As for being a witness, I thought that relatives were ineligible.


Underneath the search box for the database Tennessee State Marriages, 1780-2002 on Ancestry, the section About Tennessee State Marriages, 1780-2002 says:

Marriage Bonds:

Bonds were posted prior to the issuing of the required marriage licenses in some states and were the sole documents required in others. Bonds were posted by the groom alone or with a second person, usually the father or the brother of the bride, to defray the costs of litigation in the event that the marriage was nullified.

Bonds were posted in the jurisdiction where the marriage was to take place, often the bride’s home county. These bonds, the only marriage records maintained in some jurisdictions, were usually annotated with the marriage date after ceremony. It was rare for a marriage not to take place within a few days of the posting of the bonds, even though many bonds do not bear the annotation.

Taken from Johni Cerny, "Vital Records," in The Source: A Guidebook to American Genealogy, ed. Loretto Dennis Szucs and Sandra Hargreaves Luebking (Provo, Utah: Ancestry, 2006).

Ancestry has taken the material that was originally published in The Source and their reference work The Red Book and published it as Ancestry's Family History Wiki. You can find more information about these records in the article for Tennessee Vital Records, including links to other collections of vital records on FamilySearch.org.

Under the header Source Information Ancestry.com says:

  • Ancestry.com. Tennessee State Marriages, 1780-2002 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2008.
  • Original data: Tennessee State Marriages, 1780-2002. Nashville, TN, USA: Tennessee State Library and Archives. Microfilm.

It's difficult to see from the posted excerpt whether this is a digital image of a printed book or a typescript, but it seems likely that what you are looking at is someone's extract, abstract, or compilation of the records (a derivative record), rather than the original record.

The Tennessee State Library and Archives has a page Marriage Records at TSLA which has a description of the records, and instructions on how to order a copy.

FamilySearch.org also has the collection Tennessee, County Marriages, 1790-1950 (with images) which was last updated on 26 Jun 2015. The catalog description says:

Name indexes and images of Tennessee county marriages from 1790 through 1950 acquired from local courthouses. This collection contains searchable index data and images for marriage registers, marriage licenses, marriage bonds, and marriage certificates. Currently this collection is 78% complete. Additional records by county will be added as they are completed. Some images may not be viewable due to contract restrictions.

The Research Wiki article about this database is Tennessee County Marriages (FamilySearch Historical Records).

That article says:

The information found in most marriage bonds includes the following:

  • Name of the groom
  • Name of the bride
  • Names of the officiator and witnesses
  • Date of the marriage
  • Date of bond

The information found in most marriage records includes the following:

  • Date and place of marriage
  • Name and age of the groom
  • Name and age of the bride
  • Sometimes, name of person giving consent
  • Name of the officiator
  • Names of witnesses
  • Residences of the bride and groom

The wiki article has images of each type of record so you can see what the original form might have looked like. Since your record mentioned a bondsman, the information may have been extracted from a marriage bond, and there may be additional records (assuming the marriage took place). Or not -- in some times and places, the marriage bond is the only record.

Searching FamilySearch for your couple yielded multiple search results for Sumner county. Searching the FamilySearch catalog for county-level records for Sumner county, there are 11 entries under vital records, including:

  • Marriage records, 1787-1915, listed under the author Sumner County (Tennessee). County Clerk, described as "Microfilm of original records at the Sumner County courthouse (Includes marriage bonds, licenses)"
  • the collection Tennessee, County Marriages, 1790-1950, available online (linked to earlier in this answer)
  • several other monographs (abstracts, indexes, etc)

If I'm reading the catalog descriptions correctly, you should be able to order the microfilm for the original records and have it sent to your local Family History Center / Family History Library, or a participating local library. Seeing the records in their original handwritten form will give you more context so you can better analyze this information.

  • According to Wikipedia's article on the typewriter, the first typewriter that was sold commercially went into production in 1870 (citing Mares, G. C. (1909). The History of the Typewriter. London. p. 230., and the website Early Office Museum Retrieved 1 December 2013.) Any typewritten extracts, abstracts or transcriptions of events before that time are not likely to be original records.
    – Jan Murphy
    Jul 11 '15 at 5:30

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