Sunday, June 10, 2012

Why Would the Recorder of Deeds have Death Records?

Back in November, I wrote about Sam Fink's Marriage and Death Indexes and I mentioned that some of the death index entries have volume and page numbers that refer to -- well, no one really seems to know.

And I also mentioned that there was a key to the years included in the index.

Vital records are held by the Cook County Clerk's Office but Sam Fink made it clear that the volumes he was indexing were held by the Recorder of Deeds and, knowing a little bit about Sam Fink, I don't think he made a mistake. But why would the Recorder of Deeds have death records?

Here's one possible answer:

In a few weeks I'm going to make a trip to Van Buren County, Michigan with the hope of discovering the history of a particular property there. I was looking at  the frequently-asked questions on their website today and this paragraph caught my eye:

Q: My spouse passed away and our property is in both our names, what do I do?
A: Bring in a certified copy of the death certificate and we will record it.

Is it possible that the same thing has been happening in Cook County from the late 1870s forward? Is it possible that the Recorder's Office entered death record information into large volumes to document the reasons for changes in ownership?

If that's the case, it's possible that the volumes Mr. Fink was indexing include records for deaths that happened both in and out of Cook County.

A few months ago I asked, casually, about the existence of the books that Mr. Fink was looking at but I didn't get very far and I didn't pursue it. I think I'll have to ask again.


Mickishell said...

Yes. Please ask again. It is so important that those of us that are interested in preserving history have access to all history has to offer. You're doing a great job helping those of us who are miles away from those records. Keep up the good work!

Jim Gill said...

Yes, I, too, would like to know the answer to this question.

Anonymous said...

It seems you have a very logical possible solution to the mystery of the page/vol. #, and I can't wait to hear next, what you find out when you go back to ask!

Your gifts for creative research are truly outstanding.

I have a few names of interest in the Fink database on - if you do find the match is to recorder of deeds, will you be offering this on genlighten possibly as paid research ??

Cynthia said...

If I am on the right track, it would depend on whether or not the volumes were available for public searching ...

In many cases, it's possible to follow up on the entries in Sam Fink's Index in other ways. Let m know if there are names you want me to check on.

Kate Holz said...

That's a good possibility. I work at a Recorder's office (in Utah, but I think the principle still holds true) and we have death certificate affidavits filed for that purpose. Like was mentioned it's not the first, nor the most comprehensive place I'd think to look for a death cert., but they are there, public, and searchable.

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