Research Plan: Finding marriage record for William West and Leaty Lankford

I promised myself that I would start writing research plans this year, specifically one per month.  Here is my first attempt:

Objective: To locate a marriage license or other record of William West’s and Leaty Lankford’s marriage.

Proven facts:

  • They were married (as stated on both their death certificates).
  • They had a two-year-old child on the 1870 census.
  • They lived in Polk County, TN in 1870.


  • Marriage date of 20 Nov 1866 in Polk County, according to Leaty’s application for a pension on William’s confederate service, said application dated 5 Jun 1928.

Potential Obstacles:

I think the Polk County courthouse burned in the 1890’s, so it is possible that any official record of their marriage was destroyed.

Working hypothesis: They were married 20 Nov 1866 in Polk County, TN.

Identified Sources:

  • FamilySearch Database: Tennessee County Marriages, 1790-1950 (includes images)
  • Family Search Database: Tennessee Marriages, 1796-1950 (no images)
  • Ancestry Database: Tennessee State Marriages, 1780-2002
  • Ancestry Database: Tennessee Marriages, 1851-1900
  • FHL microfilm: Scrapbook history of Polk County, Tennessee – film 966946 Item 4

Research Strategy:

  1. Search the various online databases to see if a reference can be found.
  2. If the databases yield any results, visit Polk County courthouse to look for record.
  3. Order FHL film of Scrapbook history to look for a potential reference.

Any comments regarding potential sources or  where to go next will be greatly appreciated.

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