No Vital Records? No Problem! 12 Resources That Might Prove Family Relationships

Today’s post is a straight forward list of resources that can help prove family relationships in the absence of vital records.

In case you are wondering – yes, I’ve found successes in all of these:

  • Land Deeds
  • Probate Files
  • Naturalization Records
  • Census Records
  • Court Records
  • Military Pensions
  • News Articles
  • Passenger Lists
  • Obituaries
  • Cemetery Records
  • City Directories
  • Church Records

Most of these records take more digging than a single click, but they can be a treasure trove of family information. Take the time to do a little first hand research!

4 thoughts on “No Vital Records? No Problem! 12 Resources That Might Prove Family Relationships”

  1. I have already looked in all these categories — I’ve been at this a long, long time. Right now, I have a great group of Tennessee land records of my mother’s line. I second your recommendations.

  2. I’ve had success looking through County History books compiled and published by local genealogical and historical societies. In Texas and Alabama, and other states, many of the counties published one or two volumes in the 1980’s from information submitted by family members which often contain images of their family in addition to their names and other pertinent data . Some contain statistical and geographical information on the county itself along with a list of the elected officials, postmasters, names of land surveys, a brief history of the formation of the county, and whether county records were ever destroyed and if so, when.

    Another source, is from books written by local historians who have compiled all kinds of information on the pioneers and towns of the county, elected officials, and its history.

    Also, Abstract Plants and/or Title Companies contain a wealth of information concerning land transactions and old landowner maps. If courthouse records were destroyed at some point, these plants often have transcribed copies of deeds, mortgages, etc., and they are the only place that might have them.

    Finally, in Texas, there are several Regional Repositories that contain copies of the actual county records on microfilm or fiche that were scanned in the 1970s. For some counties, they have hard copies of probate proceedings and other records, and landowner maps. These records usually have the images of the indices for the particular record and images of deeds, deed of trusts, mortgages, tax records, marriage records, probate proceedings, and surveyor records–all of which are not necessarily found for all counties, it all depends on which ones were available at the time. Sometimes a repository is the only place you can find Volume One of the Marriage Records for example.

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