After the Civil War, many couples who had married as slaves and who desired to stay together, legalized their unions by getting married. As a result, marriage became one of the very first civil rights that [newly free] African-Americans [were] able to exercise. 
I strongly believe this was the case for my 3x great-grandparents, Osborn and Sallie Routt! According to the 1870 Census (the very first census to document African-Americans who had been slaves before and during the Civil War), they were listed as a family with three children ranging in ages 7, 5, and 9 months. Their oldest child, Jefferson Routt who was 7 years old at the time, was born during slavery about 1863. So today for Wedding Wednesday, I celebrate the official marriage of Osborn and Sallie Routt, which took place, 9 July 1871!
The State of Texas, to wit: Washington County, S.-S.
To all who shall see these Presents, Greeting:
Know We, THAT ANY PERSON LEGALLY AUTHORIZED TO SOLEMNIZE THE RITES OF MATRIMONY IS HEREBY LICENSED TO
JOIN IN MARRIAGE AS HUSBAND AND WIFE,
Osborne Routte and Sally Routte
and for so doing, this shall be your authority.
In Testimony Whereof, I, J. J. Stockbridge, Clerk of the District
Court here unto subscribe my name, and affix the seal of said Court, this
8th day of July 1871
J.J. Stockbridge, C. D. C. W. C.
By _____________, Deputy
The State of Texas, to wit: Washington County, S. S.
This certifies that I joined in Marriage a Husband and Wife
Osborn Route and Sally Route
on the 9th day of July 1871.
Because marriage records vary from state to state and often contain several dates (a license date, a wedding date, a return date, and a filing date), I want to remind researchers to double check these records carefully and make sure to record the correct wedding date on their family group sheets and pedigree charts. At first, I had Osborn’s and Sallie’s marriage date as 8 July 1871 in my notes. But upon careful inspection of this certified marriage license, I now know that was the date they applied for the license. Their actual wedding date was 9 July 1871!
1. Hunter, T. (2010, February 11). Slave Marriages, Families Were Often Shattered By Auction Block [Interview by M. Martin, Transcript]. In New Discoveries in Black History. NPR.
2. Washington County Marriage Volume 3: 488, County Clerk’s Office, Brenham, Texas.