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Documenting Vance County ancestors:
Remember, any event - birth, marriage, death - occurring prior to 1881 did not occur in Vance County, even though a birth or death record may indicate otherwise. If the record indicates "Vance" for a date that precedes 1881, the event occurred in a parent county, not in Vance.
Birth and death records:
North Carolina law did not mandate the keeping of birth or death records until 1913. In rare instances, a record may exist prior to that date, but in general, you will not find a birth or death certificate prior to 1913. Death certificates are issued in the county where the death took place, although I have found Vance County sometimes has certificates for Vance Co. residents who died elsewhere. Ancestry.com now has the scanned images of NC death certificates to 1976. Some public libraries offer on-site access to Ancestry.com at no charge.
In Vance County, as in most (but not all) North Carolina counties, the Register of Deeds office holds birth and death certificates. These have been indexed.
Delayed certificates of birth:
Persons born prior to 1913 have the opportunity to apply for a "delayed" certificate of birth. These records also are held by the Vance County Register of Deeds.
The index to Vance County vital statistics (births, deaths and delayed certificates of birth) has been filmed by the LDS Church and may be borrowed through LDS Family History Centers worldwide.
By the time Vance County was formed (1881), North Carolina was issuing marriage licenses rather than marriage bonds. Unfortunately, most of the early marriage licenses for Vance seem to be lost, if they were ever kept. However, the county's Register of Deeds office does hold the county marriage register. The register generally contains the name, age, and residence of both the groom and the bride, the date the license was issued as well as the date the marriage was performed, the location of the marriage and the person (minister or justice of the peace) who performed the marriage as well as witnesses to the marriage. Names of parents are not listed in the register.
The marriage register, as well as extant marriage licenses to 1968, have been filmed by the LDS Church. The films may be borrowed through LDS Family History centers worldwide.
Deed books are kept in the Vance County Register of Deeds Office, which also maintains cross indexes to grantees and grantors.
Vance Co. deed book indexes to 1969 have been filmed by the LDS Church. The LDS also has filmed the early deed books (to 1904), as well as deeds of trust. These films may be borrowed at LDS Family History Centers worldwide.
Locating your ancestors in the censuses can provide valuable information about where they lived as well as names of family members. Because Vance County was not formed until 1881, and because the vast majority of the 1890 federal census was lost to fire, the 1900 federal census is the earliest census for Vance County. The 1900 has been indexed, making it fairly simple to locate those enumerated. Heritage Quest and Ancestry both have scanned images of the censuses online. Patrons of NC libraries that participate in the NC Live! program can access Heritage Quest at no charge from any computer that has internet access.
Wills and estate records:
Wills and estate records are housed with the Clerk of Superior Court.
Original wills 1881-1916, as well as the cross index to wills 1903-1969, have been microfilmed by the LDS Church. Microfilms may be borrowed at LDS Family History Centers worldwide. See below.
Tips: Request non-certified, ordinary photocopies of birth, death or marriage records from the appropriate local agency (in this case, the Vance County Register of Deeds). Non-certified copies generally cost less than $1. You might want to call the local office first to inquire about copy costs, enabling you to include the proper amount with your written request.
Addresses and phone numbers for local offices are found on the local contact page.
From the web site of the LDS (Latter-day Saints) church you can search their Family History Library Catalog for a full list of the Vance County records that they have filmed.
The North Carolina Genealogical Society has many publications, and serves as an excellent resource for all aspects of North Carolina research.