JOPLIN, Mo. —
A great place to learn about birth, death and marriage information is www.deathindexes.com.
That website links to other sites that have state and county databases. Some sites offer the information free of charge, while others charge a fee.
The types of online data vary considerably from state to state and county to county. As I have often stated, Missouri is the leading state for offering free, digitized, online archives. This week, I discovered that West Virginia also has some excellent digitized records.
Keep in mind that West Virginia was formed from Virginia during the Civil War. Consequently, if your ancestors lived in Virginia before that time, you will need to check the records of both states.
To research the West Virginia records, click on that state when the above website opens. Next, click on the free database "West Virginia Death Records and Index 1853-1970." When the next screen opens, decide if you want to check birth, death or marriage records.
The state's birth records are recorded on register lists. The site has a form to enter the surname only or the complete name. I prefer to enter the last name only, and I also select "all counties."
If you use my approach, the next screen will have a typed list of all babies who were born in the state with that last name, and it will list the counties where each was born. Click on the name of one of the children. The site lists the birth date, names of parents, sex and race.
Best of all, the site has a place to click to see a digitized copy of the original register list, which may have information that is not included on the typed list.
When I entered the surname Carlin in the search box, I received a list of 25 people with that name, one of whom was Eveline. When I clicked on that name, I learned that she was born in Harrison County, and she was a daughter of my great-great grandparents Asa and Maria Carlin.
I then looked at the digitized copy of her record and discovered two new facts about my ancestors. They lived on Coon's Run, and Asa was a carpenter as well as a minister.
A search of the death registers and marriage registers is done in a similar manner. Death registers list the age of the deceased, race, age, occupation, date of death, cause of death and marital status. Marriage records include the name of each spouse, the date and the person who performed the ceremony.
Suggestions or queries? Contact: Frankie Meyer, 509 N. Center St., Plainfield, IN 46168 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.