Finding early Denton County birth & death records

First of all, it’s very confusing and there are multiple ways to search for them, many of which are not online.

The State of Texas began mandatory recording of births and deaths in 1903.  If you lived in a large city, the State allowed that that city could record the births & deaths and send them to the Texas Department of Public Health. The City of Denton did not establish the formal office of City Health Officer until October of 1909, but they did begin recording Births in 1900. The first births & deaths for the City of Denton were recorded in a ledger book, in a line-by-line format from 1900-1925.  An actual certificate form was not established  until 1926.  There are close to 1,000 births that were registered during this time period: from 1900-1917.

Denton County was in charge of recording births that took place outside of the city limits and did file these records with the State.

Diana White, former president of the Denton County Genealogical Society and someone who helped transcribe the early City of Denton Birth & Death Records  related that vital statistics were not properly recorded until post-World War II.  Also, many times a physician did not file their certificates with the State for months at a time, and when they did, filed what they had. There were also errors that occurred with the records kept by the health officer who attended the birth or death of an individual who was from outside the City, but recorded it as someone from the City. State Law for recording death records did not go into effect until February 1, 1910 and doctors and health officers were then required by law to register. According to the DCGS’s records, there were very few 1908 dates and no 1909 dates. It wasn’t until 1917-1918 that birth rates were kept more accurately in the County. They DCGS had to fill in a lot of information using announcements that appeared in the Denton Record-Chronicle. Another source for early birth records are the Delayed Births records.  These records filed by individuals who were born before 1900 and needed a birth certificate later in life; some of the births go back to the 1870s.

Delayed birth records can be found at the Denton County Clerk’s office and the Special Collections Department of the Emily Fowler Central Library . It is important to note that the records include births of people who were from out of State; they did not have to be from Denton County in order to register. The records were abstracted by Vinita Davis of the DCGS and have recently been given to the Special Collections Department.  I have been checking some of the names that were abstracted against those on the Denton County website and have found people that are not listed on Denton County’s website.  The abstracts include: child’s full names, date-of-birth, full name of father, the mother’s maiden names, volume and page number. And when you can’t find a birth or death certificate, the other place to look is the local newspapers.  This can be a bit hit-and-miss because the newspaper office of the Denton Record-Chronicle burned around 1908 and their historical newspapers burned with them.  Some existing copies of the Denton County News (mid 1892-1900) were microfilmed by the County and are available at the Emily Fowler Central Library.  The University of North Texas is in the process of digitizing them and these records will be on the Portal to Texas History in the near future.  It will be a wonderful resource.

So, for a good start at finding these records remember to look in these places:

  • FamilySearch has digitized Texas Death Certificates from 1900-1976; this is free for anyone to access, although you must create a username and password in order to download the record.  They are also working on digitizing the death certificates from 1977-1986 and Texas Birth Certificates from 1900-1976.  Remember that the State did not order this until 1903, so death certificates were not filed with the State until that year.
  • Denton County has birth certificates for people who filed a birth certificate in Denton County, which includes a list of delayed birth certificates (birth certificates filed by people who were before 1900 and needed to have a birth certificate).  You can access these records but you will have to pay to obtain a copy.  This website will also has the following records:deeds, assumed names, cattle brands, marriage certificates, and more.
  • The Denton Public Library’s Emily Fowler Central Library has a listing of early birth and death certificates that were recorded by the City’s health officer from 1900-1949 for births & 1900-1957 for deaths. The Library was also recently gifted the abstracts from the Delayed/Probate Births filed in Denton County by the Denton County Genealogical Society and are in the process of transcribing them for our website.
  • Early birth and death announcements that appeared in the Denton County News, or Dallas Morning News for people from Denton County can also be found in our indexes to early births & deaths on our website; the microfilm of the early surviving Denton newspapers resides there and can be accessed using our Scan Pro 2000 microfilm digital scanner, which you can make copies from, or scan to a USB drive.
  • The Portal to Texas History’s digital newspapers collection may also offer further places to explore.  Our volunteers are currently using it to index the Dallas Express for articles and vital statistics pertaining to African Americans in Denton County.

If you have any questions, or would like to send us a research request, please contact us by email genealogy@cityofdenton.com, or call (940) 349-8752.

(Later) So, here I am working on the Delayed Birth index and I run across the name of a girl born on March 27, 1884, by the name of Snow Flake.  She is born to the parents of Green Flake and Manda Emmaline Pickel Flake.

I bet Manda was glad she married a Flake.

 

~Leslie

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