Types of Records
1913 to current
In 1913 the state of North Carolina officially began keeping birth certificates (In some rural areas it began a bit later.) Birth Certificates tell where a child was born, who the parents were and their age at the time of the birth. Other information is sometimes listed such as occupation of the father, number of children already in the household, etc.
Delayed Birth Certificates
Our records start in the early 1880s, but vary.
If someone, somehow, escaped the notice of a birth certificate registrar or happened to be born before births were listed, they could have applied for a delayed birth certificate. To obtain such a certificate, individuals had to supply documentation, often a school record.
Historical Delayed Birth
Prior to 1913 the State of North Carolina did not record vital records (Birth/Death). Residents who did not have a birth certificate recorded were required to apply for a delayed birth certificate.
All delayed birth certificates on record are at the Burke County Register of Deeds office. You may also visit our office to view records and do genealogical research in person.
Information on cohabitation records may be found by searching "cohabitation records" (with quotation marks) using Google.
In the March 1866 session of the North Carolina General Assembly, an Act was passed concerning persons of color. Justices of the Peace were to collect and record in the County Clerk's office, a record of the cohabitation of former slaves to ratify their state of marriage. The Court Clerk was required to maintain a record book for this purpose and to receive 25 cents per entry for his service. In Section 6, Chapter 40 of the Act, it was a misdemeanor if persons of color did not record their marriage by September 1866. This section of the Act was amended by Section 1, Chapter 70 (ratified March 1867), to extend the time of recording these marriages until January 1, 1868.
Cohabitation records give the names of the man and the woman and the length of time that they have been cohabitating. The cohabitation records were the first attempt to legalize marriages of people who had been in slavery prior to their emancipation. The original documents for cohabitation records can usually be found in State archives or county records, although some can be found online.
The Burke County Register of Deeds office does not have any cohabitation records; however, North Carolina Department of Archives and History has some records.
1913 to Current
North Carolina began keeping Death Certificates in 1913. When someone died before this time, one had to turn to such record as wills, tombstones and family Bibles to find the death date. Death certificates contain the date of death and birth as well as the parents' names and cause of death -and sometimes a good bit more.
One must remember that this information was not supplied by the subject under consideration. All information on a death certificate is supplied by an "informant." Informants are often family members but that does not mean that the information they supplied is 100% accurate.
1872 to 1882 index only
1883 to Current
During the majority of North Carolina's history, most of its citizens got married in a variety of ways, typically in a manner that suited them. Ministers and magistrates were available, but not necessary. This makes locating historical public marriage records difficult, but some do exist.
Officially, there were two ways to get married in the state of North Carolina up until 1868. One was through the publication of banns whereby marriage would be announced on three consecutive Sundays in church. If no one spoke up against the merger, then the couple was free to wed. A certificate stating that this procedure had been followed was supposed to have been created, but, of course, did not have to be placed on file anywhere.
1741 to 1868
The second method which lasted from 1741 to 1868 (and overlapped the period of banns) involved the issuance of a marriage bond. The bridegroom obtained these through the clerk of the County Court. They signified nothing more than that the couple listed intended to marry. It is possible that they changed their mind later and never tied the knot.
Originals to all marriage bonds are in the State Archives. Bonds were filed in the County where the intended bride resided. Information on bonds included bride and groom's names, the bondsman's name and witness (often the clerk of court). Marriage licenses existed for most of North Carolina's history but were not required to be kept until 1851. In 1868, bonds were discontinued and the Register of Deeds in each county issued the required marriage licenses.
Maintained by the Burke County Clerk of Court.
The person who makes a will is called the "testator" or "devisee." The individuals who receive the inheritance are "legatees' or "devisees." The individual who makes sure that the final wishes of the deceased are carried out is the "executor" (male) or "executrix" (female).
Probate is the process by which the will becomes official and the written desires are validated. There are usually three copies of a will: the original, the one copied into the county clerk's records and the one issued to the executor. The copy that is committed to the county clerk's book will often contain probate information: witnesses, executor, probate dates, etc.