Come on…..Be Honest!  You have that one record…birth, marriage, death, etc….that you have not been able to find.  One that you feel like you are close to finding, only to have reality grab it out of your reach.  We all have at least one.  I know I do!  It’s my Dad’s Birth Certificate.  Nobody can find it!

I know when he was born…and supposedly where he was born…but it just doesn’t seem to exist.  So what am I doing about it?  I continue to search…just like you would be doing….Right?  ABSOLUTELY!

So…if the County Records don’t show him in their index, and there doesn’t seem to be any proof of his birth…what do you do?  Put on your best “Sherlock Holmes” hat and start digging thru what you do know.

Here are my “Sherlock Holmes” notes….

  • I have proof of his date of birth with the following information…
    • Copy of original Social Security Application,
    • Death Certificate (not necessarily proof since the informant was my mom and she gave information based on what my dad told us),
    • Census records from 1930 and 1940,
    • Marriage Licenses that show his age,
    • and not much else.

So does this prove that his birthday was when he said?  Not really.  He could have applied for the Social Security Number without it (just needed to have someone, like his mother, go with him to verify his date of birth)…his marriage licenses, death certificate, and the census reports are all subject to biased information…and I have been unable to get his military records (due to the fire in the 1970’s that destroyed a lot of the Army Records).  So I guess I really have NO proof yet!  UGH!

“Sherlock Holmes” part 2….what do I know for sure?

  • There is no hospital where he always said he was born….but it is the town where the family lived at the time.
  • All his siblings were born at home.
  • All his siblings have birth certificates recorded with the County where they were born (even his stillborn brother).
  • His parents traveled back and forth between Chicago and home frequently.
  • There were family members that lived in a neighboring county.
  • His sister, born 2 years later does not have an actual birth “certificate”, but rather a birth “record” with the county in a bound book.

So what can I figure out from this information?  Lots!!!  First of all it tells me that maybe he doesn’t actually have a birth certificate, but merely a record in a county birth index book.  Second, it tells me that there most likely is a record somewhere as there are 6 other home births that I have found recorded (hard to believe his parents would forget to record one of the births officially).  Next it tells me that I might be looking in the wrong place (due to the traveling).

My next steps?  Well…there are several.  First, since the family lived in Michigan and traveled thru Indiana and into Illinois frequently to visit relatives, there is a possibility that he was born somewhere along that “route”.  The second possibility is that he was born at a relative’s house in a nearby county and I just haven’t found it yet.

The third possibility is that I need to travel to Lansing to the State Library or State Archives and find out if they have a copy of it.  This would help me avoid traveling around to all the possible county microfilm offices to look (one-stop shopping is much better).

The last possibility (and the option I like the least) is that the family just never recorded his birth with the appropriate county office.  If this is the case, then I need to have a delayed birth certificate filed on his behalf.  But I can’t do that until I know for sure that it doesn’t exist elsewhere.

I’m not giving up on this one.  I owe it to my dad to exhaust all possibilities before I finally give up and have a delayed birth certificate filed with the county clerk’s office.  Looks like I have a couple road trip adventures this summer with my dad as my angel co-pilot.  Somewhere along the way, I will solve this family mystery…