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Thursday, December 12, 2013

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Piecing Together the Past with Delayed Birth Certificates


In one sitting today, I was able to clear up several research challenges that I have struggled with for several years.  I had a few minutes after helping a patron during my shift at the Greenwood County Library, Lawrence Room, so I searched the collection, South Carolina Delayed Births, 1766-1900 and City of Charleston, South Carolina Births, 1877-1901 to glean what I could to help me resolve the following challenges:

1.  I have been unable to locate some of the children of my 2nd great grandparents, Andrew Johnson and Jane Smith Johnson of Abbeville County, South Carolina.  I supposed they had moved away since they never turned up on any censuses that I searched after 1900.  One of the children I have searched for was Robert Johnson.

2.  The couple, Lewis Johnson and Arianna Vance Johnson, are both related to me.  Being my great uncle and great aunt, their parents were my 2nd great grandparents, Andrew and Jane (above) and Beverley Vance and Matilda Dunlap Vance.  In order for me to be learn more about my ancestors, I must research their children.  The problem is that most were born between 1880 and 1900 leaving no available census to access.  

3.  Julius L. Talley of Union County, South Carolina was the son of my 2nd great grandmother, Martha Talley.  He was married to  Frances Elizabeth Chick, and they moved away sometime after the 1920 or 1930 US Census was taken.  Consequently, I could not find a record of death for Frances or Julius.

Delayed birth records helped to resolve these challenges for me. Over the next couple of posts I will proceed to explain how.

Robert E. Johnson

You can imagine how difficult it must be to locate someone with such a common name as Robert Johnson. I had pretty much lost all hope of doing so because I did not have any idea where he settled down.  I never found him on the census along with other family members living in South Carolina in either Abbeville or Greenwood County. This also made finding a death certificate impossible as well.

Since I knew he was born before 1900, I hoped I would find a delayed birth record for him.  I decided not even to attempt to search for him using his name.  I only used the first and last names of his parents and the locality, South Carolina.

Delayed Birth Certificate of Robert E. Johnson1

I never expected to find him documented in Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan.  That seems like a far trek away from family for a man born in the South in 1879.  The birth certificate gives his exact birth, August, 19, 1879.  It says that his parents, Andrew and Jane were born in Lawrence County (actually Laurens County).  Since they would have been born in the 1820's or 1830's, this is a helpful clue in researching their origins.

I discovered Robert must have kept the family bible from South Carolina.  He still had it when he applied for a delayed birth certificate from South Carolina. The Warren County Michigan Deputy County Clerk says he personally examined it and that it looked like an original record.

Perhaps this record is still attached to the original certificate held locally in Columbia, or perhaps there is a copy in Warren County.  I can hardly wait  to see if it gives information about the births of any of his other siblings.  Robert was up in age. Maybe he needed this certificate to apply for Social Security.  

Now, since I know the whereabouts of Robert from this record taken in 1941, I can search for this family on the 1940 Census.  Who knows what I will discover from there.

In the next post, I will share what I learned from a search on parents, Lewis Johnson and Arianna Vance Johnson. Put your e-mail in the box above (top left) to connect so that you can be among the first to receive my next article. 
1.        "South Carolina Delayed Births, 1766-1900 and City of Charleston, South Carolina Births, 1877-1901," images,  [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2007. Original data: South Carolina Department of Archives and History, Columbia, South Carolina. ( : accessed 11 Dec 2013).

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