Publisher of Quality Genealogy Materials
Volume 9, Number 4 Mountain Press, P.O. Box 400, Signal Mountain, Tennessee 37377, 1-423-886-6369 March 8, 2017
Publisher's Notes In this article we finding the birth and death records of your ancestors. If you are looking for an early date, it may take some time to look in church records, diaries, family bibles, etc. It is always great when you find that tidbit of information in the most unlikely place.
EXCHANGE - I have been questioned many times about an exchange of ideas in the field of genealogy. Somewhere that you could post your question and others could propose a good solution or how they found the information. If you see someone else’s post and can help, your insight would be appreciated. It would just be a free exchange for asking questions and finding interesting solutions. Would this be of interest to you? If you have any thoughts, just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with the title “Exchange”.
James L. Douthat
BIRTH AND DEATH RECORDS
In any research, we all want the birth and death records for our ancestors. This is not always easy as the states/territories did not collect these facts in the early days. There are scattered records of births and deaths, but not a consistent set of records. I have found some births in the St. Louis, Missouri area as early as 1718.
The first consistent set of records for the southern states are found in Virginia which would include West Virginia and some in Kentucky in 1853. It was in that year that these three states, or Commonwealth if you prefer, sent a request to each county to begin collecting both sets of records on a volunteer basis. This was not a mandatory request and citizens were merely asked to come in to report the births/deaths of those in their family. One of the real situations in this case is that many slaves were recorded with their birth/deaths. For the owner this established ownership, and therefore, they were willing to come in and provide the information for their slaves. In nearly all cases the owner is listed as the father of the slave, which he may or may not be.
When you are looking and you cannot find the record on the state level and you know from the census records they were born sometime in the last ten years, where do you turn? This is where you have to look deeper into the process of research. What sources might have been available at the time of the birth? In the case of the St. Louis 1718 births, these were found in some French church records as the French controlled the area at the time and the Catholic Church was prominent in the area.
Church records are a good possibility for the source of information. However, many church records are scattered all over the community of the church and therefore, finding them is a real task. Having dealt with them over the years, the originals were kept by Aunt Polly and she kept them under her bed all of her life. When she died, the children or grandchildren sometimes returned them to the church and sometimes they kept them for whatever purpose.
I have found in some church records where they recorded “bastard” and sometimes even named the father, so later families would not want that to be known. In some North Carolina records, i.e. North Carolina Bastardy Bonds, it gives the name of the mother followed by several bondsmen. It was the purpose of this to make sure the child was cared for in the future and the bondsmen would see to it that the child had the necessities, i.e. clothing, food or occupation. In most cases, the bondsmen were relatives of the mother. In many cases, the father was one of the bondsmen. The child is not named but from later census records, you can ascertain the child’s name from the census and the date on the bond.
If you do not find a family Bible that might have the dates inscribed, there are other records that might be consulted. Always be sure and check places like pension or military records. Even with the American Revolutionary War, the pension applications frequently give the date of birth and location. These are most generally given by the individual themselves and can be considered to be about as accurate as you will find, even when the tombstone says something different. Remember that the information for the tombstone was given by someone other than the individual.
Another firsthand account are letters and diaries. Grandmother is going to write someone about the birth of a new child in the family, so try to find those letters. The gender and date are most likely to be given if not the name. Mothers frequently write down in a diary the birth of a child and this is the only place it is recorded, especially for a child that dies either early on or at birth.
Checking out the births and deaths of individuals takes a little effort and time, but in the process you might just find out many details that you did not know. The child might have been a twin at birth, but only one lived or the death occurred suddenly in an accident. Any detail is helpful in learning about our ancestors.
There are many problems with either of these records. Nearly all of them are given by someone that may or may not have been there. It is never the individual giving these records, even though they are present for the event for obvious reasons. It is best to try to confirm the facts if you are really wanting the truth.
Birth and Death Records
If you have any questions or suggestions for future editions, please email us at email@example.com.