Tattered Past

Tattered Past: My ongoing journey through genealogy, history, writing, self-exploration and art. ~~~ Rita Ackerman

Friday, April 25, 2014

V is for Vital Records

Finding vital records (birth, marriage, death) for your ancestors can be very exciting. There's so much information and it's legal so it's all true. Not.

The further back you go the less likely it is you will even find one of these records. Most states didn't have required registration until the later 1800s. Other states have all these records closed to anybody who isn't the person listed or a direct descendant. Or, as in Arizona that applies to birth records over 75 years old and death records over 50 years old. 

It is important that you understand the regulations in your particular jurisdiction.

Once you have located a record it is important to analyze the information correctly. I've led workshops in analyzing documents such as this death certificate for my great grandmother.

This death record provides us with Salenia's birth information and her parent's names. In this instance the information is correct but that isn't always the case. The informant was her daughter who lived in another state, a clue as to where that line went. Salenia was married to Isaac T. Waggoner. She was buried in Spencer Cemetery in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Luckily that cemetery has been read and published and I have a copy on my shelf. In that publication I have found numerous relatives and other clues.

I received this copy in 1982. I didn't know much about this side of the family at this point. This may have been the first time I read her parent's names. I don't remember.

What should be done with this information?
Check the censuses including 1870 for her parents.
Perhaps contact the funeral home for more information. Sometimes they are helpful but often out of business.
Try to find Salenia's obituary.
Check the county where she lived for a marriage record for Salenia and Isaac.
It isn't likely there is a birth record for Salenia but I should check with Arkansas to be sure when the records were kept. Same with the county.

So many clues from one document. Each bit of genealogical information leads to another. It's like being a detective, an amateur sleuth and it is a never ending quest.

That's what makes it such a fun hobby and profession.