Last week a friend posted a photograph of her parents who celebrated the 50th anniversary of their wedding last Saturday. That kicked off a discussion of which of my ancestors had the longest marriage.
The first couple that came to mind, was my paternal grandparents, Charles Newton and Hazel Bynon (Allen) Cone. They were married 4 September 1926 in Memphis, Tennessee and she died 18 July 1980 for just under 53 years of marriage.
|Copy of Marriage License for Charles N. Cone and Hazel Allen issued 31 August 1927|
Memphis, Tennessee from the author's collection.
|Certificate of Marriage for Frederick N. Cone and Helen B. Newton|
dated 29 May 1889. The marriage was performed by Franklin L. Fisk, Pastor of the Congregational Church
Worthington, Minnesota. Original in author's possession.
A maternal first cousin once removed, Juanita Werst, and her husband, Ralph Silver, were married 12 September 1936 in Wallowa, Oregon. Their marriage lasted until her death 17 September 2001, a total of 64 years, 11 months and 19 days. Information about their marriage comes from her obituary which was published in the LaGrande (Oregon) Observer and is posted on Find A Grave Memorial #80539585.
My son-in-law Chris' 3rd great grandparents, Thomas Crammore and Sarah Caroline (Dismukes) Phillips, seemed to take the record. They were married 30 October 1851 in Meriweather, Georgia and their marriage lasted until his death 4 May 1921 in Henderson, Texas. They were married 69 years, 5 months and 15 days. (www.ancestry.com, Georgia, Marriage Records From Select Counties, 1828-1978, 2013.) An index listing this marriage is also posted under Meriwether County, Georgia Marriage by Groom 1851-1875.
These are all envious records and all involved dates into the 20th century so I certainly did not expect to find the marriage of longest duration in my family tree beginning in the 17th century. After all, life expectancy had increased dramatically, right? Yet the longest lasting marriage among my ancestors began with the uniting of Ebenezer and Hannah (Ayer) Belknap 25 February 1690 in Haverhill, Massachusetts. The marriage lasted until his death 17 November 1761, an astounding 71 years, 8 months and 2 days.
I know, you are skeptical! There really are several sources of documentation.
David Webster Hoyt provided the lineage of the Ayer family in his "The Old Families of Salisbury and Amesbury, Massachusetts" published by the Genealogical Publishing Company in 1897. He lists on page 39 the descendants of Nathaniel Ayer including: 52 Hannah, "b. Dec. 19, 1672 [Hv]; ;m. Feb. 25, 1690-1 [Hv], Ebenezer Belknap. She d. Nov., 1779, almost 107 years old. [Hv]"
Under a chapter entitled Remarkable inftances of Longevity in "The History of New Hampshire: Comprehending The Events of one complete Century and seventy-five years from the discovery of the River Pascataqua to the year one thousand seven hundred and ninety" written by Jeremy Belknap, D.D. published in Boston, 1813, one finds, "In Atkinson, Ebenezer Belknap died at the age of 95, and his wife at the age of 107 (page 190).
The exact years, months and days of marriages provided are part of the genealogy software I use, Legacy Family Tree 8.0. There are a series of statistical reports that list, among others, "Longest Marriages by Century." It is a great tool (but I can always use your help!).