Using Death Certificates to Find Your Mexican Ancestors

Another great resource to finding our ancestors for those of us residing in the U.S. is Death Certificates. Yes Death Certificates can provide us with a great wealth of information specially with the names of the parents of our deceased ancestor. Sometimes with even a place of birth in Mexico or the place of birth of the parents.

A Death Certificate may be the difference between finding your Mexican ancestors or not. There are several places where one may obtain Death Certificates. One option is the old fashioned way of going to your local county court house with the county clerk and the other is my favorite familysearch.org since it is online and free.

I will not be talking about the first option since I have never used it but I know that it is available. It may also be your only option since many records are not online on familysearch. Luckily for me all of my wife’s ancestors were from Texas and thus I have been lucky enough with FamilySearch.

For the longest time my wife’s great grandfather was one of my brick walls. I could not locate whom his parents were and my father in law did not know their name neither. I searched for the longest time but could not locate his death record since I always had the hopes that that document would contain the clues that I needed. I knew that he had died in Starr County and that his mother’s last name was Lozano. One day, for what ever reason I searched for him with his mother’s last name of Lozano. Instead of Francisco Perez I typed Francisco Lozano and there it was listed as Francisco Perez Lozano. I then typed Francisco Perez Lozano and nothing came up. I thought it was weird and it only shows that we have to be creative when searching for our ancestors.

The death certificate provided me with immense clues, not to mention the names of his parents Enmcanarcion Perez and Dorotea Lozano. Unfortunately it did not mention the birth place only that he was born in Mexico (I have seen others that actully mention the town and not just Mexico). A quick search with his name and parents also on FamilySearch revealed his baptism record and place of birth as El Encadenado, General Teran, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. This Death certificate provided the clues that ended up with me finding three more generations of Perez.

Lets just keep in mind this is one scenario that may or may not apply to you but what I want you to understand is that Death Certificates are very important and as you can see they can be the key to finding our ancestors. Now that I have beaten that to a pulp. Lets see where you can search for Death Certificates.

FamilySearch.org

Family search has death records from all states of the U.S. I highly recommend that you either do a search here or browse it’s collections to find the particular state or county that you need. Many state collections are searchable and others you will need to do manual searches by browsing.

When you do a search if you get a Social Security Death Index result try and browse to see if FamilySearch has the Death Certificates it may be that they are still not searchable and the date provided by the SSI will be your key to locating that record.

I know this post is short and basic but this topic can probably fill up a whole book if I were to go very in-depth and to list every resource for every state in the U.S. will be a huge task that has already been accomplished in the link listed above for FamilySearch.

About Moises Garza

I have doing my family genealogy since 1998. I am also the creator of this blog Mexican Genealogy, and my personal blog We Are Cousins. To always be up to date with both of these sites follow me on facebook. Please feel free to contact me for anything.

2 thoughts on “Using Death Certificates to Find Your Mexican Ancestors

  1. Marlene Pegg

    Your advise about searching under both the father’s and mother’s surnames is good. I worked for Social Security for over 40 years, serving in both southwestern field offices and in the Social Security Number policy area in the Baltimore headquarters, and I had a lot of experience with Hispanic surnames. Double surnames using the father’s name followed by the mother’s were not commonly seen in most the US at the time SSA started in 1937. The forms that were used to get numbers and later to apply for benefits asked for names in First-Middle-Last order. Hispanic names were read by data entry clerks, few of whom were Hispanic, as if the father’s name was a middle name and the mother’s name was the person’s surname. That’s how they they were generally indexed. I’m sure most other agencies treated the names similarly, so it’s a good idea to search under any name combinations you can think of. First and middle names should also be switched in the searches. People don’t always use them consistently. This is true not just for Hispanics. My uncle Harold Alfred Runyan was always called Al or Alfred. But the Army listed him as Harold A. When one of his returning WWII buddies called to give my grandparents news about him and asked if this was Harold Runyan’s home, it had been so long since she heard that name that my Grandma almost hung up on him!

    1. Moises Garza Post author

      Marlene, thank you for your comment and the great advise that you have provided us. I work for a state agency and this has not changed. Names continue to be entered all wrong.

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