The Bullitt County History Museum

Hatched, Matched, Dispatched - Vital Records
by Betty R. Darnell

This is one in a series of researching tips taken from presentations by Betty R. Darnell, a noted local historian and genealogist. These notes are copyrighted by her.


Birth records

State records

Most states began recording births statewide in the early 1900s. Kentucky’s records begin in 1911.

County/Local records

Many counties and cities recorded births, at various time periods during the 1800s. Check reference books for details.

Church records

Most Protestant churches did not keep records of birth. Catholic churches have records of baptisms, which sometimes state date of birth. These are not public records; access is determined on an individual basis.

Marriage records

  • Bond (early and mid-1800s) was filed with the county clerk, to serve as assurance that there was no obstruction to the marriage. The bond gives the name of bride and groom, and name of bondsman (sometimes, but not always, a relative of the bride or groom).
  • Consent, either in person or written, necessary if one of the parties was under age 21. License was written out by the clerk, to be taken to the minister or justice of the peace performing the marriage. The license was not always returned to the clerk.
  • Return was written by the minister or justice, either on the license, or on a separate piece of paper. Sometimes the minister kept a running list of marriages, and returned his list to the county clerk when he had the opportunity.
  • Register is a book in which the county clerk copied a summary of the information from the marriage records.
State records

Many states have no statewide index. Kentucky’s statewide index begins in 1978.

County records

Begin with the marriage register. Some counties have marriage records in bound volumes; others have original records in file boxes. Ask the county clerk.

Church records

Some Protestant churches may mention marriages in their board minutes. Catholic churches have records of marriages.

Divorce records

In early Kentucky, divorces were granted by an act of legislature. After 1809, divorces could also be granted by circuit courts. After the 1850 constitution, divorces could only be granted by circuit courts. Statewide index begins in 1978.

Death records

State records

Most states began recording deaths statewide in the early 1900s. Kentucky’s records begin in 1911.

County/Local records

Many counties and cities recorded deaths, at various time periods during the 1800s. Check reference books for details.

Church records

Sometimes a death will be mentioned in board minutes of Protestant churches. Catholic churches have records of deaths and funerals. These are not public records; access is determined on an individual basis.

Where are the records?

State records

Check references books or Internet sites for availability of records. Some states are releasing death certificates, on microfilm, after a certain number of years (50 in Kentucky). The microfilm is available at many large libraries. Other records will have to be ordered from the state vital statistics office.

County records

Most original records are at the county courthouse; microfilmed records may be at libraries or archives. Check reference books and Internet sites. Church records – Original records are retained by the individual church. Older records may be available at archives.

Also look for

Newspapers, family bibles or records, Internet sites

Bibliography

  1. Kentucky Ancestry, Roseann Reinemuth Hogan (Salt Lake City UT: Ancestry, 1992)
  2. Kentucky Genealogical Research, George K. Schweitzer (privately published, 1987)
  3. The Handybook for Genealogists (Logan UT: Everton, various editions)
  4. The Source, Arlene Eakle and Johni Cerny, editors (Salt Lake City UT: Ancestry, 1984). Detailed guides on various types of genealogical records.

The Bullitt County History Museum, a service of the Bullitt County Genealogical Society, is located in the county courthouse at 300 South Buckman Street (Highway 61) in Shepherdsville, Kentucky. The museum, along with its research room, is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday. Admission is free. The museum, as part of the Bullitt County Genealogical Society, is a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization and is classified as a 509(a)2 public charity. Contributions and bequests are deductible under section 2055, 2106, or 2522 of the Internal Revenue Code. Page last modified: 13 Jul 2015 . Page URL: bullittcountyhistory.org/darnell/darnell_vitals.html