I have two copies of my great-grandfather’s death certificate. The first obtained by my father from the Baylor County Clerk’s office in the 1970s and the second, found at Ancestry.com, was digitally copied from records at the Texas Department of State Health Services.
In Texas, reports of death were completed by a county clerk, medical professional, or mortician who talked to the informant. These reports of death were filed with the county clerks or local registrars who sent the information to what is currently known as the Texas Department of State Health Services. Copiers were not common place in offices until the 1960s. So, human transcription was usually the method of making copies prior to that time.
Although, the certificate saved on my computer from Ancestry.com was the record of choice when looking for Hairston information last month, I suspect that the information that I had in my retrievable memory came from the certificate from the Baylor County Clerk. On the certificate found at Ancestry.com (see above), I noticed that the name of my great-grandfather’s mother was written as Liza. I have seen Liza in a few family trees, but the death certificate that I remembered had her as Eliza. Looking a little more closely, I notice that the informant was Mr. or Mrs. (not legible) R. E. Bryant. My grandparents were Mr. and Mrs. R. E. Bryan.
I got out the paper copy of the certificate sent from the Baylor County Clerk and sure enough, my grandmother did spell her name as Bryan and her grandmother was listed as Eliza. Spelling and handwriting differences show that the certificate obtained at Ancestry.com was probably the transcription. I assume that it was made in Baylor County, prior to sending it to the state offices in Austin.
Postscript – For those of you researching this particular family, John L. Hairston and his wife were probably not born in Virginia. All census and other records indicate that John was born in South Carolina and that his wife was born in Georgia or Alabama. The fact that my grandmother, Myrtie, stated that they were born in Virginia leads me to believe that her father may have known about and talked about his Virginia heritage.