About These Documents
This collection contains death certificates and burial records for individuals buried in Fernandina between 1896 and 1916.
Fernandina is a small town located at the north end of Amelia Island, which is located on Florida’s Atlantic coast, near the Georgia border. Each death certificate was completed by the medical professional who examined the deceased and determined the cause of death. In most cases this was a physician, although in some cases midwives filled out the certificates. The burial records are mainly for Bosque Bello Cemetery, the oldest cemetery in Fernandina. Some of the earlier records list burials in St. Peter’s Episcopal Church Cemetery and other locations.
In instances where the deceased died away from Fernandina, the death certificate was often provided as part of a corpse transportation permit. Over time, the State of Florida developed strict guidelines regarding how the bodies of deceased persons were to be transported and handled. As a consequence, family members had to obtain a permit from the State Board of Health before transferring their loved one’s remains to their final destination. The permit and death certificate traveled with the person in charge of the corpse, while a “paster” detached from the bottom of the form was attached to the coffin itself. The paster identified the body, its escort (if there was one) and the routing and ticket information for both.
Generally, the records for each deceased person indicate the individual’s name, age, sex, race, occupation, marital status and descent. They also identify the date and cause of death and the name of the physician or other medical professional who examined the deceased. Where a transportation permit and/or paster are available for an individual, additional information may include the place of death, the railroad(s) used to transfer the body to Fernandina and the name of the family member who served as its escort.
Using This Collection
These records are valuable resources for genealogists and historians. For the genealogist, they offer documentation of persons who would otherwise be difficult to trace through public records, such as very young children and persons who frequently relocated. For the historian, this collection provides a unique snapshot of public health in Florida at a critical juncture in its history. Vital statistics were still in their infancy at the turn of the 20th century, and the increasing complexity of these records over time reflects the expanding role of the state in providing for the health of communities like Fernandina.
The original documents are owned and maintained by the City of Fernandina Beach in Nassau County. Digitization was made possible in 2014 through the collaboration of the City of Fernandina Beach, the Amelia Island Museum of History, and the State Archives of Florida.