When it achieved statehood in 1837, Michigan enacted a state law that made it a felony for different "races" to marry. Effectively, it was against the law for Native Americans, Asians or African Americans and people of European ancestry to marry one another. Regrettably, this was a common law throughout the country at the time.
That changed in 1883, when Michigan became one of 17 states to repeal its ban on interracial marriages and legitimize all such existing unions. This paved the way for weddings like that of Mr. and Mrs. James Franklin of Calumet.
James F. Franklin, aged 32, was a porter and Jessie M. Snyder, 22, was working as a waitress. Their marriage was performed by Justice of the Peace Charles Jackola, probably at the Borgo Block on Fifth Street where he kept offices. We're not sure what happened with the couple, who probably faced great challenges. In 1906 Jessie was back in her hometown of Chicago and remarried to John Henry Touchstone. They would have a daughter, Mary. The rest of James Franklin's migrant story is elusive; he left the Copper Country for parts unknown.
Last updated: April 4, 2018