This column will try to outline ideas for you to use when looking for a death and/or burial record for ancestors born before 1895, and those known to be deceased, regardless of their birth date. If you are fortunate enough to have an ancestor or two born in 1895 or earlier, and still living, thank your lucky genes and go interview them in person as fast as you can!
On the serious side, we want to leave no doubt about the fate of our ancestors, and the easiest way to ensure this is to locate some kind of death or burial record for each individual in our pedigree who is known, thought, believed, regarded or assumed to be deceased.
Let's prove our claim by following well established genealogy research methods. These will include, but are not limited to:
You may need to travel to the last known residence of some ancestor(s) to talk with old timers in the area, or the town historian, for clues. You may need to use your best correspondence skills; "how-to" books; maps (especially to locate most of the above)!
Who said proving someone was dead was the easiest part of genealogy?
Text for this article was adapted from the West Virginia Research Outline, by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, UT, and this article first appeared in "The DIGGINS" newsletter of the Mother Lode PAF User Group, Jun 1997.
The Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah, Research Outline headings for WV are: (1)Records at the FHL; (2)FHL Catalog; (3)Archives and Libraries; (4)Bible Records; (5)Biography; (6)Cemeteries; (7)Census; (8)Church Records; (9)Court Records; (10)Directories; (11)Gazetteers; (12)Genealogy; (13)History; (14)Maps; (15)Military; (16)Naturalization and Citizenship; (17)Newspapers; (18)Periodicals; (19)Probate Records; (20)Taxation; (21)Vital Records; (22)For Further Reading; and (23)Comments and Suggestions.
Based on the above, the best places to begin your West Virginia research are the WV Research Outline and the U.S. Research Outline.
In reading the brief historical facts column in this outline, WV seemed to suffer from the grabs or give-aways of their lands. Its history was affected politically by its boundaries with Virginia and Pennsylvania. There were many land disputes through 1865, when "fifty western counties" broke off from the "restored government of VA." The state of WV was finally admitted to the Union in 1863. In the Civil War, about 32,000 WV soldiers enlisted in the Union Army, and 9,000 enlised with the Confederacy. Excellent sources for studying WV history are listed on page 7 of the WV Research Outline.
WV marriages began to be recorded as early as 1780 in existing counties. As other counties organized, marriage records were kept. The FHL has copies of "all available" marriage records from 1780 to about 1900, and to about 1970 for some counties. Write to the applicable County Clerk to obtain copies.
By reading this research outline, you will learn the availability of other records in West Virginia, too.
Bye for now/pjr.
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