Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Finally... the state of PA comes through!

Of my eight great grandparents, I have five that I know a decent amount of information on (birth dates, general history, parents' names). One is an Irish immigrant who lied about her age and who has proven quite challenging to map out. The other two were even more troublesome.

He looks nothing like Chuck Norris.
This particular pair are the parents of my paternal grandfather, William Norris McConnell (in spite of the fact that I know what he looked like, I envision him as similar to Chuck Norris, just based on the name!). My baby book, which was completed by my mother with information provided by my biological father, lists William's parents as Myrtle Parks and Charles Walter McConnell.  A preliminary search of census records on Ancestry didn't illuminate things any further. There were some families that seemed they could be mine, but none of them quite fit all the information I had. I began to wonder if the names in the baby book were even correct.

Pennsylvania's Vital Records Department will provide you a copy of a certified birth certificate for a reasonable fee, so it seemed the best course of action was to obtain my grandfather's birth certificate. When I filled out my request way back in October (10/25 to be exact), I was quite excited. My first vital record request! The vital records website informed me that:
Typical processing time for certified copies of birth certificates with a date of birth of 1967 to the present is ten to fifteen business days (from the date the check is cashed) which does not include delivery time. For certified copies of birth with a date of birth of prior to 1967, please allow an additional ten to fifteen days for processing time, excluding delivery time.
Birth Certificate - 1925
Okay. That sounded reasonable. I sent in my money. My check was cashed on 11/13/12. I began counting down the days, eagerly anticipating the genealogical gold mine sure to arrive at any day. And I waited. And waited. It was like that scene in Twilight (yes, I've seen it, so sue me!) where Bella stares waifishly out her bedroom window while the seasons pass around her. But this was no teenage vampire romance gone wrong; this was serious business!

Well, it only took an extra three weeks (slow clap for the state of Pennsylvania), but the birth certificate has arrived!

One assumes they put the giant "DECEASED" on there to dash one's hopes of identity fraud. A little unsightly. I do have confirmation on their names now (Park, not Parks), and their ages should allow me to narrow things down somewhat. I guess, to be honest, I was hoping their names were wrong in the baby book, since I haven't had any luck so far with these names.

C'est la vie. Now I know, and I'll get back on the hunt.


  1. Those comments about Chuck Norris and Twilight made me snort. Also, Twilight? I do not know you. Time to unfriend in Facebook, Twitter, and Google. I jest.

    It's great how you are able to get records about your relatives from, or that you can actually request for Birth Certificates via the internet.

    I do not know where to begin my journey. Can I just watch you go through yours? I do have fun reading about your progress :D

    1. No, you must begin your own. :) Your grandpa has many siblings you don't know about!

    2. Congrats on getting that certificate! It's maddening to wait and wait, be glad you weren't dealing with NY State. I typically wait a year, yes I said a year, to get certificates from them. I also have troublesome Irish ancestors and sympathize (smile).

    3. A year?! That's horrible! I am currently waiting on some death records from PA, which I have heard should take 4-6 months. I requested them in November.

      This is disheartening to hear about NY though! My great grandparents lived there and were married there, so I have poked about a bit to learn about obtaining marriage records. So far I have not requested anything because I'm not even sure where to start. But perhaps I'd better get on it if I will be waiting a full year for results! Do you have better luck going through county records, or are all requests generally that long?


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