Saturday, June 28, 2008

Record of Births and Deaths

This isn't the best image but it will give you an idea of what the death records look like at the Washington county courthouse. My greatgrandfather, Ira Hill is listed here. There is a second page that lists the rest of the information like cause of death, etc.

Washington County Courthouse has Birth and Death records dating from 1893 to 1906. Births, and deaths prior to 1893 were recorded in church records. after 1906 the records can be found at the Pennsylvanis Deparment of health, Division of Vital Records, PO Box 1528, New Castle, PA 16103.

There are also some delayed birth certificates at the courthouse that do not follow the 1893 - 1906 dates. These are birth records that were made years after a birth. Maybe someone needed proof of birth for something later in life. They could go back to the courthouse and if they had enough proper documentation, could get a delayed birth certificate issued. These certificates actually have some great information but there are not very many of them. One of the interesting things on the certificates are the number of siblings - how many were born before, how many were born after.

One word of caution when working with these records, - don't assume just because they are official courthouse records that they are correct. I found my grandfather Hill listed in the Birth records twice - a few months apart in terms of date recorded. It's possible that two different family members went to the courthouse at different times to report the birth, or it is possible that a clerk recorded the birth twice. The information for both births was the same in terms of date, place, parents and father's occupation. the only piece of information that was different was his name !! The first time it was recorded it was right - Heston Hill. The second time it was listed as Deston Hill. I know from my grandfather himself that he did not have a twin so this is just an error in the records.

The website for the Pennsylvania Department of Health is

You can go here to download forms that will let you order birth and death certificates. When the cost was only $3.00 I ordered many. many death certificates for ancestors. Now that the price has gone up considerably, I haven't been quite as active in ordering. The ordering instructions and fees, mailing address and forms are all found at the website. These certificates can have valuable information such as burial location, marital status (single, married, widowded), cause of death, parents names and sometimes birth locations, sometimes spouse's name, military service, next of kin, last place of residence, location of death. Below is a sample of a 1907 death certificate. Over time the forms change and the information required is different.

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