Cohabitation and Slave Marriage Bond Index

Introduction to and History of the Historical Records

The abolition of slavery raised the question of freed men's marriages. In 1866, the North Carolina General Assembly passed "An Act Concerning Negroes and Persons of Color or of Mixed Blood." Those persons who wished to register their pre-Emancipation marriages were required to appear before the clerk of the county court or a justice of the peace to acknowledge their marital status. These acknowledgements were to be recorded and regarded as proof that a marriage had, indeed, existed. These surviving records do not represent all slave marriages, by any means. Individuals registering their cohabitation were issued a Certificate of Marriage like the one shown below. Scroll down to search the index.

certificate of marriage image

Search the Cohabitation and Slave Marriage Bond Index

The Heritage Center is pleased to provide you with an online database of the names of persons who registered their marriages in Johnston County as a result of the 1866 legislation.

If you do not find what you are looking for with one search, try another with a different spelling or with fewer characters. If you find a typo, omission, or error in the data, please e-mail

Note: To obtain a copy of a particular marriage record, you can order copies online for $5.00 each or contact the Heritage Center directly at

Search for a Name in the Cohabitation and Slave Marriage Index

Enter the first name you are looking for. If you want to search for part of a word, enter only the beginning letters. (Note, though, that the fewer letters you enter, the longer your search will take).

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Thank you for your interest in the Johnston County Heritage Center and the Johnston County Historical Archives.

Page last updated:  April 16, 2024