American birth certificates

+4 votes
I live in England. I am trying to find the best and most cost effective way of getting a copy of a birth certificate for an ancestor of my husband's who was born and lived in Illinois. Also, will it be a problem that I don't know the day she was born, only the month and the year. I don't know the city she was born in either. Can you please advise?

The lady in question is Sarah Nevada Hightower, born in June 1873 in Illinois.  I want to find out who her mother is because I have heard a whisper that the lady credited with being her mother, was not her mother, but someone who brought her up. That lady was Synthia Freeze.
in The Tree House by Anonymous Mills G2G6 Mach 1 (11.3k points)

Stella ~

She is listed on this record.  Or is this the record you think may be inaccurate? 

Name: Sarah Nevada Toler
[Sarah Nevada Hightower] 
Birth Date: abt 1874
Death Date: 7 May 1943
Death Place: Fifth, Union, Illinois
Death Age: 69
Gender: Female
Father Name: David C. Hightower
Mother Name: Cyntha Freeze
Spouse Name: William A. Toler
FHL Film Number: 1983454


Hello Mary, Yes, although it says Cyntha Freeze is mother, she may not be. Only a peek at the original would show the truth I suppose. This is accurate as it stands though. Thanks for your research.

3 Answers

+5 votes
Best answer

In most of the US, the Secretary of State is responsible for maintaining that state's vital records.   Some of these are available on line via subscription services some are free.  In some states, this data is kept at a town or city level by the town clerk or the vital statistics departments.  Which means you will need to know more than the state.  

For Illinois:

For genealogy it says:  put Hightower in Bride name and you will find wedding date to Toler.  Sometimes the actual certificate will have name of parents.   this will bring back death info  I noticed this and wondered if perhaps it is your Sarah Nevada's birth mom.  Union Illinois seems to be where your lady was married and died. 

Genealogical Research Illinois State Archives

Birth Records

Most Illinois counties did not begin recording births until 1877. Birth records prior to 1916 were recorded only by county clerks. Beginning in 1916 county clerks and the Department of Public Health jointly maintained birth records. The Illinois Regional Archives Depository (IRAD) system holds birth records for many counties in Illinois. Search the IRAD local governmental records database for the term birth to get a listing of all birth records held by IRAD. Researchers may contact the county clerk's office in the county where the birth occurred if IRAD does not have birth records for that county. For births after 1915, researchers also may contact the Illinois Department of Public Health, Division of Vital Records.


by Laura Bozzay G2G6 Pilot (659k points)
selected by Anonymous Mills
Thank you Laura. I don't think Marthy Jane Hightower could have been Sarah's birth mother because she was born after Sarah! However, I am very grateful for the information above.  I wish I knew where Sarah was born.  Her brothers and sisters were born in Saratoga, Union County so presumably she was too. Her original birth certificate would contain this information, wouldn't it? and her parents' names. If Cynthia Freeze was an adoptive parent, would it show that on a birth certificate in America?
So glad Edward found the information shown below!  It appears that Cynthia was her birth mother.  (By the way, the Marthy date looked to me like 1831 not 1881 as I now see it... allergies are affecting my eyes more than I thought!  

Unfortunately the link I have to some data that might help has been down all day.  I will try it again in an hour.  Our library has a genealogy dept that is very good and we have a lot of Illinois data in it as it is a neighbor state.  But for some reason the links are not working today.
Ok census links are now working.  We have a mystery here...  Cythia spelled Synthe in the census is listed as married to David a farmer born in Tennessee.  His Father is listed as born in South Carolina and his mother as born in Tennessee.  No names for his parents are listed.  He is listed as age 47.  The David is written in such a way it almost looks like Xama so transcriptions for this family may be difficult to find.  

Synthe is listed as age 38 born in North Carolina.  Her parents are both listed as born in North Carolina and no names are listed for them.

Siblings:  James C age 13 works on the farm  

(the above from 1880 Federal US Census page 13, supervisor dist 8, enumeration dist 120, Rich Precinct, Union, Illinois, taken June 29, 1880.

Now on page 14:name is for a female and it looks like Adievillet age 12

                           Jeannette age 10

                           Sarah age 8 (so her birthday must be before June 29 or she would be 7 in the Census if the person giving the info is correct)

                           Jefferson age 5

                           Martha age 11 months born in July the year before.

All children are born in Illinois.  

Most of 1890 census has been destroyed by fire and flood
+4 votes

 All Results

Synthia Freeze

 in the Illinois, Marriage Index, 1860-1920

Illinois, Marriage Index, 1860-1920No Image
Text-only collection

      Name: Synthia Freeze
      Gender: Female
      Marriage Date: 2 Dec 1866
      Marriage Place: Union, Illinois, USA
      Spouse Name: David Hightower
      Spouse Gender: Male

      Source Information Illinois, Marriage Index, 1860-1920 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2015.

      Original data: Illinois State Marriage Records. Online index. Illinois State Public Record Offices.


      by Eddie King G2G6 Pilot (583k points)
      Thank you Edward. This would place Synthia in the right place and time to be Sarah's mother, but the story goes that she only brought her up. It's beginning to look unlikely though isn't it!
      From the combination of her marriage record where her mother is directly stated to be Cyntha Freeze, and the census record where she has older and younger siblings and all are called children of David and Syntha Hightower, the clear conclusion is that Sarah Nevada Hightower was the daughter of Cynthia Freeze.

      Note that in the 1880 census, both and make his name to be "Hans".  Only by knowing that his name was supposed to be David and by searching the census for the census takers handwriting examples of a capital D, do I feel confident that the name in the census is actually David.
      Thank you Joe. Very interesting. His name is David Hans Harrington Hightower. Quite a mouthful!
      +4 votes
      David Hans Hightower born about 1838 Tennessee died Dec 4 1884

      Cynthia Christiana Freeze born about 1842 North Carolina. died May 8, 1881


      (Sorry, the thingy on Ancestry has gone goofy, when I click to copy, it changes pages) (tablet is auto correcting!!
      by Eddie King G2G6 Pilot (583k points)
      edited by Eddie King
      He wasn't really called Hans, that's just the LDS mistranscription of the census.  Some people think the transcriptions are official records.

      But if Synthia died in 1881, that would explain the rumor about Sarah being brought up by somebody else.  Only somebody has got the wires crossed, as usual.

      Next thing is to find out whether David remarried (and then died leaving the widow with a whole brood of kids that weren't hers).

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