By Josh Mitchell
Corinth Today News Editor
Alcorn County marriages and divorces were both up in 2017 compared to the prior year, figures show.
In 2017, there were 266 marriage licenses issued compared to 194 final divorce decrees, officials said. In 2016, there were 229 marriage licenses and 156 divorces.
Some Tennessee residents may get marriage licenses in Alcorn County because it is less expensive, Alcorn County Circuit Clerk Joe Caldwell said.
The cost for a marriage license in Mississippi is $21 and has been about the same price for 20 years or more, Caldwell said. In comparison, the cost for a marriage license in Shelby County, Tenn. is $97.50 for a couple who has not attended marriage counseling and $37.50 for couples who attend premarital instruction.
The $21 fee for a marriage license in Alcorn County is divided between domestic violence services, which gets $14; circuit clerk’s office, $6; and vital statistics $1.
In Mississippi, people must be at least 21 years old to marry without parental consent. A female with parental consent can get married at 15, but a male must be 17. However, in certain cases a judge could waive those minimum age requirements.
Mississippi used to require a three-day waiting period for a marriage license and a blood test for syphilis, but that was eliminated about five years ago.
Marriage licenses issued in Mississippi can be used to get married in other places, Caldwell noted.
Alcorn County was once known as the marriage capital around the 1940s and ’50s, said Deputy Circuit Clerk Crystal Starling.
In less than three weeks in July of 1953, there were 499 marriage licenses issued in Alcorn County, Starling said. In all of 1953, there were approximately 6,000 marriage licenses issued in Alcorn County, which is more than 20 times the amount issued last year.
Alcorn County was a popular place to get a marriage license because people did not have to prove their age, and there was no waiting period or blood test, Starling said.
There are stories that people would line up at the Alcorn County Courthouse to get married. Someone would stand on the corner with a sign to take people to the courthouse to get married, Caldwell said. The Waldron Street Motel was a popular destination for newly married couples, he added.
People from states such as Kentucky, Illinois, Tennessee and Arkansas would come to Alcorn County to get marriage licenses.
Couples who got their marriage licenses 50 years ago in Alcorn County still come to the office from time to time to see their original license and visit the office where they got married, Starling said.
Some of the couples have sent Starling pictures, and she has set up an office display of the happy couples. Hearing from those longstanding couples is Starling’s favorite part of her job.
The current circuit clerk’s office is in the same place it was back then, and Starling pointed out where the justices of the peace worked.
The Alcorn County Circuit Clerk’s Office also issued a marriage license to famous musician Carl Perkins and his wife Valda Crider in 1953. Their marriage lasted until he passed away in 1998. She died in 2005, and their marriage license is on display in the office.