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Common law marriage existed in Mississippi until 1956. Common law marriages were abolished in Mississippi in 1956 with the adoption of Mississippi Code 93-1-15.
Here is the situation:
Robert and Bettie cohabited from approx. 1860 until 1896 (his death).
Robert was white, Bettie mulatto, most likely (and she claims in a deposition) Choctaw and white.
Anti-miscenogist laws precluded their marriage (a white could not marry a person of color), they had 15 children. Bettie is deposed by Dawes commission and states that she and "Bob" could not marry, Bob told her the law prevented it.
They were together 38 years she says, and 15 children. The anti-m. laws were overturned in 1967 by SCOTUS. Therefore, the preclusion of their marriage removed.
Were they married "in the common law"?
Complicated situation, but I would say no. The laws did not retroactively allow for marriage between the parties (based on the information provided). Also, it does not appear that the man had the required intent to be in a common law marriage. Common law marriage requieres that the couple live together for a significant period of time (not defined in any state); 2) hold themselves out as a married couple -- typically this means using the same last name, referring to the other as "my husband" or "my wife," and filing a joint tax return, and 3) intend to be married.