“During the Great Depression marriage rates consistently declined from 12 people per 1,000 to 7.9 people per 1,000. Eileen Loya of Monmouth, who is in her 90s, said, “people were lucky to make $10 a week.” There just wasn’t enough money to get married. She said she remembered friends of her parents questioning why anyone would get married in a time like that.
“Marriage rates rose during World War II coming out of the depression because people could now afford to marry,” Western Illinois History Professor Virginia Boynton said. The rate rose from 7.9 to 16.4 per 1,000 from 1933 to 1945 according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
Across the nation, people were getting married at an all time high — the 1946 marriage rate of 16.4 per 1,000 is still the record. It’s twice the current rate — and they wanted to get married fast.
From 1933-1944, there are 59 volumes of marriages in Kahoka. In that same period there are only 12 volumes in Warren County. Kahoka is in Clark County, which had a population of 10,254 where as Warren County had a population of 21,745 during the 1930s — but Clark county had five times as many marriages.
There’s a simple reason for the numbers.
“There was a lot less rigmarole,” said Jo Holmberg, a lifelong Monmouth resident who was married in Kahoka.
According to a copy of the 1943 marriage law, anyone seeking a marriage in Illinois had to “be examined by a duly licensed physician as to the existence of or freedom from any venereal disease” 15 days prior to getting married.
There was also a three day waiting period in Illinois. No such restrictions existed in Missouri. Kahoka benefited because geographically it was the first courthouse in Northeastern Missouri.”