April 25, 2014

Genealogy Glossary

Genealogical records vary from state to state. Some states began keeping records earlier than others; some states required different information on their records than others. Use the links below to find out the facts about Ohio's records.

Glossary

Birth Records Census Records  City Directories 
Death Records Deed Records Estate/Probate/Will Records
Guardianship Records Marriage Records Property Tax Records
Naturalization Records WWI Draft Card Record

BIRTH RECORDS

 1. When did Ohio begin keeping birth records?
For the most part, Ohio began keeping birth records in 1867. There was an earlier law in 1856 requiring the keeping of birth records, but compliance was almost non existent. Occasionally you will find some records dating from 1856, but they are rare. The next law was in 1867, which required the Probate Court of each county to keep birth records. There was still not total compliance, but there is a significant number of records beginning with that date.

2. What information do Ohio's birth records show?
There are columns for the name of the child, the full date of birth, the place of birth, the sex and color of the child, the parents' names, the parents' residence, and the name of the person who reported the birth.

3. What do I do if the birth was not recorded?
Sometimes a person whose birth was not recorded at the time they were born went into court as an adult and filed a Delayed Birth Registration. A Delayed Birth Registration can be filed in any county of residence. For a birth 1867 or later, contact the Probate Court in the county of birth and any other counties of residence of the person in question.

Stark County Birth Record Request Form

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CENSUS RECORDS

1. When was the first federal census taken?
The first census was taken in 1790.

2. What is the earliest and most recent census available for Ohio?
The first Ohio census available is the 1820. The most recent census available is the 1930. Census is private information for 72 years. In 2012, the 1940 Federal Census will be released.

3. What is the first census to name all the members of a household?
The 1850 Census is the first to name all members of a household. Prior to that, the census shows only the name of the head of the household, the sex of all persons living in the household, and their age group.

4. What indexes are available for the Ohio Census?
There are indexes for all Ohio Censuses 1820 - 1930. The 1820 - 1880 indices are in book form, the 1900-1920 indices are the Soundex and Miracode, and the 1930 is in a database format.

Federal Census Record Request Form

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CITY DIRECTORIES

1. What is a city directory?
A city directory is a listing of working adults living in the town at the time the directory was published.

2. Who is listed in the city directories?
Adult males who are employed are listed. Their wives are also usually shown after the husband's name and are listed by their first name, and perhaps a middle initial. Children sometimes appear once they reach the age of 16 or become employed. Unmarried women who are employed are usually listed. Widows are listed under their own name and shown as the widow of "so-and-so".

3. How often were city directories issued?
It can vary.  During certain periods, Canton's city directory was published every year. Then it went to every two years. During World War II, there was a three-year gap between publishing. Currently, the Canton City Directory is being published every year. It just depends on how often the city commissions one.

City Directory Record Request Form
(Canton, Massillon, and AllianceCity Directories)

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DEATH RECORDS (OHIO)
(1867-1953)

1. When did Ohio begin keeping death records?
For the most part, Ohio began keeping death records in 1867. There was an 1856 law that required the keeping of death records, but compliance was almost non-existent. Occasionally, you will find some records dating from 1856, but they are rare. The next law was in 1867, which required the Probate Court of each county to keep death records.There was still not total compliance, but there are a significant number of records beginning with that date.

2. What information do Ohio's 1867-1953 death records show?
There are columns for the name of the deceased, their sex, color, marital status, age, place of birth, place of death, occupation, parents' names (mostly left blank), cause of death, and the name of the person who reported the death.

3. What do I do if the death was not recorded?
Then you must look to other sources for death information. Some examples are cemetery inscriptions, obituaries, funeral home records, probate records, children's guardianships, estate partitions, and deeds. You won't find all of these records for every death, but you should look for them.

Early Ohio Death Records Request Form
(1867-1908)

Ohio Death Records Request Form 

(1908-1953)

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DEED RECORDS (StarkCounty)

1. When did Ohio begin keeping deed records?
Deed records for each county date from the formation of that county.  For instance, StarkCounty was formed in 1809. That is when our deed records begin. Carroll County was formed in 1833 and Summit County in 1840. Their deed records will begin in those years.

2. What information do Ohio's deed records show?
The information on deeds varies quite a lot depending on what kind of deed it is.   A Patent Land Warrant, warranty deed, and mortgage deed all contain different information. The most important piece of information on any deed is the location of the land. Ohio was a Federal Land State, so our land is described by section, township, and range numbers. Those numbers allow the land to be located exactly and not be confused with any other piece of property. Some deeds will also show familial relationships and name the most recent previous residence.

3. What is a Patent Land Warrant?
A Patent Land Warrant is a type of deed through which land was purchased directly from the federal government. Patents were issued when new lands were being opened for settlement. Many patents were issued as compensation for military service up to 1860.

4. What do I do if a deed was not recorded for my ancestor?
It is most likely that your ancestor never purchased property in that county. Other records that could prove residency would be the census, personal property tax records, vital records, etc.

Stark County Deed Record Request Form

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ESTATE/PROBATE/WILL RECORDS

1. When did Ohio begin keeping estate records?
Estate records for each county date from the formation of that county.  For instance, Stark County was formed in 1809. That is when our estate records begin. Carroll County was formed in 1833 and Summit County in 1840. Their estate records will begin in those years.

2. What is the difference between an estate, a probate, and a will?
Estates and probates are somewhat synonymous terms. They can refer to any estate record with or without a will. Those without a will are also called administration records or intestate estates.   A deceased person whose estate doesn't have a will is said to have died intestate. A will is simply one part of an estate record. An estate with a will is also known as a testate estate, and the deceased is called the testator. Beware of using the term "will" generically.   All wills are part of an estate, but not all estates have a will.

3. I can't find an estate for my ancestor.   Why isn't one on file for him/her?
If there is no estate filed for a man, it is probably because he didn't own anything at his death.  Women usually only have an estate if they survive their husband and still own property, either real or personal, at their death.   It is not unusual for there to be no estate for a person.

Stark County Estate Record Request Form

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GUARDIANSHIPS RECORD

1. What is a guardianship?
Guardianships are NOT adoptions.   A child may be given a guardian even though one parent is still living.   A child or adult may be given a guardian if they are unable to care for themselves.

2. Why did I find a guardianship for my ancestor when one of his/her parents were still alive?
A child is usually given a guardian when their father dies. The child can't inherit outright until they reach the age of maturity (18 for girls, 21 for boys). The guardian is usually not the surviving parent; he is a family friend, an uncle, or a lawyer. If one parent is dead, and that parent's father or mother dies, leaving the child's parent some money, the child will inherit.   Again, if the child is underage, a guardian will be appointed.

3. What information can I expect to find in a guardianship?
The best piece of information usually found in guardianship records is the birth date of the child.

Stark County Guardianship Record Request Form

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MARRIAGE RECORDS

1. When did Ohio begin keeping marriage records?
Marriage records for each county date from the formation of that county.   For instance, Stark County was formed in 1809. That is when our marriage records begin. Carroll County was formed in 1833 and Summit County in 1840.  Their marriage records will begin in those years.

2. What information do Ohio's marriage records show?
Ohio's marriage records can be divided into two distinct time periods - before 1899 and after 1899.  Before 1899, all that was required was the date of the marriage, the names of the two spouses, and the name of the minister or Justice of the Peace who married the couple.  After 1899, other required information included the birth date and birth place of the couple, their occupation, place of residence, place of birth, parents' names, plus information on previous marriages, if any.

3. What do I do if the marriage was not recorded?
Most likely, it is just that they didn't marry in the county you thought they did. However, some religions didn't require a couple to take out a civil marriage licence, so church records must be checked. Quakers are one such religion, as are Catholics. Sometimes couples of these faiths were married by Banns.  This consisted of the couple's intention to marry announced on three consecutive Sundays in church.  If no objection was raised by any of the congregation, the couple was then married on the fourth Sunday.

Marriage Record Request Form

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PROPERTY TAX RECORDS

1. When did Ohio begin keeping tax records?
Tax records for each county date from the formation of that county.  For instance, Stark County was formed in 1809. That is when our tax records begin, although all years may not still exist. Carroll County was formed in 1833 and Summit County in 1840.  Their tax records will begin in those years.

2. I know my ancestor bought land from the government.   Why isn't he on the tax lists?
Land bought on Patent Land Warrant was tax-exempt for the first five years.   See Deed Records Glossary for an explanation of a Patent Land Warrant.

3. My ancestor never owned land.   Is it still worth my while to search tax records?
Yes.  Beginning in 1827, personal property was also taxed.  If your ancestor owned any horses or cows, he would have paid tax on them.  Many people owned a horse or a cow even though they didn't own any land.

Stark County Property Tax Record Request Form

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NATURALIZATION RECORDS

1. How long did a person have to live in the U.S. before they could become a citizen?
For the most part, a person had to be in the country for five (5) years before they completed the naturalization process.   An immigrant had to have lived in a state for at least one (1) year before he could begin any portion of the naturalization process.

2. What information do Ohio naturalizations show?
Unfortunately, there is very little identifying information on Ohio's early naturalization records. Usually there is only the person's name and their country or province of origin. Some later applications will give a date and/or port of entry.

3. How many steps were required for naturalization?
Naturalization was a two step process. First the immigrant made application by filing a Declaration of Intention to Become a Citizen of the United States.  This is usually shortened to "Declaration" or "Declaration of Intent." It can also be called "First Papers," "First Application," and "Original Application."  Then there was a waiting period of two or three years, after which the immigrant filed his Final Naturalization papers. These two steps could be performed in two different counties or two different states.  All places of residence should be checked.

4. My ancestor came in as a child.   Why can't I find a naturalization for him/her?
If a man with minor children becomes a citizen, those children automatically gain citizenship. Girls came of age at 18, boys at 21.  If a child reaches maturity before their father becomes a citizen, they will have to go through the process themselves.

5. Why can't I find any of my female immigrant ancestors in the naturalization records?
Adult women almost never went through the process themselves. They would gain citizenship either by marrying a natural-born or naturalized citizen, or by their foreign-born husband becoming a citizen.

6. Could an American-born woman lose her citizenship by marrying an un-naturalized foreigner?
Amazingly enough, yes. There was a time between 1906 and 1922 when an American woman had to take the citizenship of her husband. The law was repealed in the 1920s, but many American-born women had to then apply for their American citizenship to be reinstated.

Naturalization Record Request Form

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WWI DRAFT CARD RECORDS

1. What are the World War I Draft Registration Cards?
At various times during 1917 and 1918, all men were to report to their local draft board and register for military service. This registration was used to determine exactly who was available for service, as well as the fairness of the later drafting of men into the armed forces. Men whose absence would least impact their family or the community as a whole were the first to be chosen.

2. Why do the cards have various formats?
There were three separate calls for men to register: 5 June 1917, 5 June 1918, and 12 Sept. 1918. Slightly different questions were asked with each registration.

3. What information do the cards show?
As stated in #2 above, the information differs slightly from card to card. But as a general rule you can expect to find the registrant's full name, current home address, date of birth, place of birth, occupation, race, marital status, and physical description. The cards for the 5 June 1918 registration also asked for the place of birth of the registrant's father and the registrant's next of kin.  Parents' names were not asked.

4. How are the World War I Draft Registration Cards arranged?
The cards are divided by state and then, county. Some of the larger cities were separated out from the counties and are interspersed alphabetically within the county list. Within each individual draft board, the cards are arranged alphabetically by the surname and then first name of the registrant. If there was more than one draft board in your ancestor's county or city, you will need to check all of them to find your person.

WWI Draft Card Record Request Form

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