The following article was written by my good friend, William Dollarhide. Enjoy…
Dollarhide’s Genealogy Rule No. 8: When you contact the state vital statistics office in your home state and ask if they are “online,” and they respond, “on what?,” you may have a problem.
Sources for learning the names of a person’s parents that may be overlooked are extraordinary vital records, such as delayed or corrected birth records.
Delayed Birth Records
It was during the late 1930s and early 1940s that the federal government encouraged people to register delayed birth records. The advent of Social Security, which began in 1935, was an important inducement for people to have a written proof of their birth, and a delayed birth record was a way of doing that. Regular birth records are usually recorded first at a town, city or county office, and a record copy of the original record is then sent to a state’s vital statistics office. However, genealogists may discover that delayed birth certificates are only available at the county level and copies of them never made it to the state office.
My grandfather, Elmer Ross Wiles, turned 65 years old in 1941. His eligibility for a Social Security pension required that he have some proof of his birth. But, Elmer never had a birth certificate on file. So, he obtained a delayed birth certificate from the place he was born. The delayed birth certificate he requested was issued by the Clerk of the District Court of Union County, Iowa after he provided several photostatic copies of items attesting to his birth date and place, including a notarized copy of a page from a family Bible, and signatures of relatives who acted as witnesses. That delayed birth registration is still recorded in Union County, Iowa today, but to my knowledge, there is no copy of that delayed birth record at the Iowa State Vital Statistics unit in Des Moines. I would never have found a copy of Elmer Wiles’ delayed birth registration without checking the sources available at the Union County Courthouse in Creston, Iowa. And, that delayed birth record gave the exact maiden name of Elmer Wiles’ mother, evidence that I may not have found from other sources.
Corrected Birth Records
Growing up, the story of my father’s birth was repeated in my family often. Albert Raymond Dollarhide was born 19 April 1905 while his parents, John and Addie (McNemar) Dollarhide and their eight children were en route from Northern California to Southeast Washington. The family was engaged in a 500-mile trip to a new homestead, traveling via two horse-drawn wagons at a rate of about 25 miles per day. The birth took place in the town of Oakland, Oregon, less than a third of the way to their destination. There was no hospital in town, but they did find the local doctor’s home in time for the delivery. Apparently, the birth delayed the family’s journey for only a couple of days, and they continued on their way.
Dad was raised in Columbia County, Washington on a homestead farm a few miles south of Dayton. He never went back to Oregon until he was an adult, but since he was born in Oregon, that is where his birth was officially recorded. A birth certificate was prepared and filed by the local Doctor at the Douglas County Courthouse, and a record copy of the certificate was sent by Douglas County to the Oregon State Vital Statistics office in Portland.
One of my early genealogical tasks was to request and receive a photostatic copy of my father’s original birth certificate from the state of Oregon. It was a real disappointment. Except for the place and date of birth, the birth certificate was incomplete and nearly useless as genealogical evidence. There was no name for the child or mother, just a name for the father as (blank) Dollarhide. The date of birth was correct, but most of the spaces were filed in with the words “don’t know” by the attending physician. The doctor who filled in the certificate did manage to write a few words of explanation at the bottom, which said, “These people left the county soon after the birth of this child.”
After my father died in 1977, I learned about a packet of papers wrapped in a brown paper bag that my mother had preserved. The packet of papers was stored for safe keeping in the freezer compartment of mother’s refrigerator (Mom said she got the idea from Reader’s Digest). For some reason, Dad had saved several items that were to be very useful to me, such as old driver’s licenses, insurance papers, and various membership cards. Also included with the papers was a copy of his original birth certificate, but to my surprise, another document was attached to the birth certificate, entitled, “Affidavit For Correction of a Record.” This document corrected every missing item on the original birth certificate! Items corrected included the child’s full name, date and place of birth; full maiden name of mother and her birthplace; and full name of father and his birthplace. Until the discovery of this corrected birth record, all references to the maiden name of my father’s mother had come from oral interviews. This was the first written evidence of that name!
I still don’t know all the details of how and why this document was created, but apparently, my father was encouraged to file an official correction to his birth certificate. He may have intended to file the correction in Oregon, but somehow managed to file it in California instead. The affidavit was a form printed at the top with “State of Oregon, County of Multnomah” but those words were crossed out and added below were the typed words, “California, Humboldt County.” The form was notarized and dated 25 August 1944. The correction affidavit form was witnessed by his sister, Mrs. Dewie Fernleaf, who lived in Eureka, California, and which may be the reason it was filed in California instead of Oregon. But I didn’t know it was possible to file a corrected birth record in a county (or state) different than the place where the birth took place.
I have become curious about this process, but I have made only a cursory review of what the rules are for corrected or delayed birth certificates. The rules seem to differ for each state. Obviously, there are some states where a corrected or delayed birth certificate can be filed at a county courthouse without regard for the place of birth of the person in question. But, there are other states where the correction or delayed birth registration must be done in the same state of birth. Florida, as an example, is one state where the corrected or delayed birth registration must be done in the same county of birth.
Hopefully, these brief examples will get you to check all the available, and sometimes forgotten sources. If you have bombed out on locating the birth certificate for a person, don’t give up – there may be a corrected or delayed birth certificate on file somewhere. Start at the county of birth, rather than the state of birth. Most counties in the U.S. have their earliest birth records on microfilm, and these images are being systematically digitized for free use on the Internet (by the Family History Library of Salt Lake City, Utah). My search in many counties reveals that when there is a set of “Delayed Birth Certificates” in any county, they are always included with the regular birth records on microfilm. So, the first place to look for delayed birth records is a place search in the Family History Library Catalog at www.familysearch.org. Corrected records, however, are filed in various ways at county courthouses, depending on the state. Find these records by doing a general search of records by title at any county of the United States.