Name changes, divorces handled differently in past

Name changes and divorces today are handled differently than they were in the early 19th century.

Back then, anyone in Georgia seeking a proper divorce had to go through their county’s Superior Court and, after jury approval, it was sent to the Legislature, where the final decree was a legislative act.

A list of divorces granted by the Georgia Legislature from 1793 through 1868 can be found in Robert S. Davis Jr.’s “The Georgia Black Book, Vol. II” (1987), found in many libraries. If you are working on Georgia families, it’s worth checking the list to see if any names are kin.

Name changes were also granted by the Legislature from 1800 to 1856, and a list of those granted, compiled by John E. Moseley, is included in the same book. Many of these were legitimization acts, with the original name, new name, parents’ names, county and date provided. After 1868, legal name changes were handled by the Inferior Court/Court of Ordinary.

Many people in the past changed their names informally, and there likely would be no record found of those changes.

Other states had similar procedures in various courts, if they even granted divorces, so you have to study each state’s records to see how things were done and where the records can be found.

Colonial Georgia and the Caribbean

Paul M. Pressly, author of “On the Rim of the Caribbean: Colonial Georgia and the British Atlantic World” (University of Georgia Press, 2013) will speak March 14 at the Lunch and Learn Seminar at the Georgia Archives.

The event is at noon and is free; bring your own lunch. For further information, check or call 678-364-3710. The Georgia Archives is open 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays for research.

Brooks and Worthy marriages

Jessie H. and Robin R. Paulk continue to compile and publish books of Georgia records.

Their two latest, published with funding assistance from the R.J. Taylor Jr. Foundation, are: “Brooks County, Georgia, Marriage Records Index, 1859 to 1936” and “Worth County, Georgia, Marriage Records Index, 1856 to 1952.”

In each volume they have the groom, bride, date, book and page in one section, followed by a list with the brides first, creating two complete lists. Omitted are the ministers or other officials.

These books are each available for $50 plus $7 postage from Jessie H. Paulk, P.O. Box 275, Salem, FL 32356. The website is for other books and online access by subscription.

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Contact Kenneth H. Thomas Jr. at P.O. Box 901, Decatur, GA 30031 or