To obtain a death record for an ancestor, you need a death date. This date could come from a family story, a family bible, an obituary, a cemetery listing or headstone, a death index, or indirectly from census records. The accuracy of a death date could vary. A family story could have an incorrect date. The date in a family bible, an obituary, cemetery listing/headstone, or a death index should be accurate. Census records can give only an approximate date. The way to use census records for a death date is when an ancestor appears in one census and then does not appear in the next census. That gives you a span of years to search. Usually that span is ten years.
If you do not have a family story, a family bible, or an obiturary, then the next best place to look is in a cemetery listing or a death index.
Once you have a death date, you need to obtain the death record or certificate. Whether you should contact the county or state depends on the when the state
started keeping this information at the state level. If you do not know the exact year your ancestor died, most government agencies will search
only a ten-year period for each request. So it would be good to
narrow the time period at much as possible before requesting a
Vitalrec.com has dates for when death records were kept by state or county.
Search Google for where to order death certificates:
If you are not sure that searching for a death record is the next best option for your research, consider using the advice feature of this
site. This will help you pick your next best steps in your research. Go to Genealogy Search Advice.