Top Genealogy Websites, Pt. 5: State Vital Records in the U.S.

A growing number of states in the U.S. are putting their vital records online, making it easier for genealogists to obtain these records.

collage of genealogy records available online from the West Virginia Division of Culture and History

Credit: West Virginia Division of Culture and History

The West Virginia Division of Culture and History is a prime example of how these state projects are revolutionizing family history research in the 21st Century.

West Virginia has put up millions of genealogical documents including:

wedding records for Joseph Strother and Amelia Davenport available online from the West Virginia Division of Culture and History

Credit: West Virginia Division of Culture and History

With a click you can see the original vital records registers for the Mountain State.

Take for example the marriage of Joseph Strother and Amelia Davenport on 5 June 1808 in Charles Town, West Virginia.

wedding records for Joseph Strother and Amelia Davenport available online from the West Virginia Division of Culture and History and GenealogyBank

Credit: West Virginia Division of Culture and History and GenealogyBank

West Virginia has given us easy online access to the original entry in the 1808 marriage register for this couple’s marriage.

photo of the wedding register for Joseph Strother and Amelia Davenport available online from the West Virginia Division of Culture and History

Credit: West Virginia Division of Culture and History

Brief and to the point: we get the date of their marriage, their names and the name of the minister that performed the wedding.

Couple that information with their marriage announcement that we find in GenealogyBank and we get the rest of the story.

wedding announcement for Joseph Strother and Amelia Davenport, Farmer’s Repository newspaper article 10 June 1808

Farmer’s Repository (Charleston, West Virginia), 10 June 1808, page 2

The marriage announcement tells us that the minister, Rev. Mr. Mines, is of Leesburg (Loudoun County), Virginia.

Now we know where to look for the church registers of that denomination.

From the marriage announcement we also learn that the groom, Joseph Strother, is of Madison County, Virginia, and that the bride, Miss Amelia Davenport, is the daughter of Major A. Davenport of Jefferson County, West Virginia.

This is critical information for genealogists.

Now we know where to dig deeper for information about the Strother and Davenport families: Jefferson, Loudoun and Madison counties.

Newspapers are the cutting-edge source for genealogists. GenealogyBank has made it easy to find facts like these details of the Strother-Davenport wedding. Combine this newspaper information with states like West Virginia putting digital copies of the original birth, marriage and death registers online—and it’s easy to see that this is a great time for genealogists!

For reference, here is a list provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of all the state websites offering vital records across the United States: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/w2w.htm

Homestead Act – May 20, 1862 – Daniel Freeman 1st Homesteader

Abraham Lincoln signed the Homestead Act on May 20, 1862. It would take effect on January 1, 1863. The first homesteader to take “the required oath and [be] given the documents which made him possessor of 160 acres of land” was Daniel Freeman (1826-1908).

Daniel Freeman was born April 26, 1826 in Lewisburg, Preble County, Ohio. The son of Samuel and Phebe (Willis) Freeman.

This image of Daniel Freeman is from the Omaha (NE) Sunday World Herald 26 June 1899.

According to that newspaper he and his family moved from Ohio to Illinois when he was 9 years old. In time he enlisted in “Company H of the Seventeenth Illinois Volunteers” and was stationed in Nebraska.

Freeman “had been ordered to return to St. Louis” and would not be in town when the land record office would open on January 2nd but the Recorder of Deeds James Bedford agreed to accommodate Freeman’s situation and made an exception and administered the oath at midnight the morning of January 1st so that he could leave to report in St. Louis.

Freeman wouldn’t return to build on his land until 1865. He literally married the “girl next door” – Agnes Suiter (1843-1931) – and they built their lives together there in Brownsville, Nebraska.

The Kansas City (MO) Times 26 May 1920 carried an image of the old homestead.

What a great day for genealogists. GenealogyBank is packed with newspaper articles and historical documents – over 227 Million of them that document and give the details of our ancestor’s lives.

It’s great to have the details and the actual images of our ancestors and their homes. Who knew it would be this easy to find them after all these years.

Give it a try for 30 days for $9.95.

Frank Baum 1856-1919 – Going Beyond the Obits

Lyman Frank Baum, the author of the many books about the Wonderful Wizard of Oz, was born today – May 15, 1856 – in Chittenango, Madison County, New York.


When he died obituaries appeared in newspapers around the country like this obituary that appeared in the Duluth (MN) News Tribune (8 May 1919).

It was written from the perspective of his sister-in-law Helen Leslie Gage (1845-1933) who lived at the time in Duluth.

Over the years there were many articles about L. Frank Baum in the newspapers.

Less well known is that late in his life he began to serialize his books and short stories in newspapers across the country under the title the Wonderful Stories of Oz.

Here is an ad for this series that appeared in the Salt Lake (UT) Telegram (7 January 1919).

Remember that GenealogyBank goes beyond the obituaries and gives you the complete issues of the historical newspapers. That means you may search every article and every advertisement that appeared in the paper. A real gold mine of information about our ancestors.

Give it a try right now and see what you can find about your ancestors. Click here.