The law requiring vital records to be kept in Ohio was effective as of 1867.Records were not kept prior to that time.
Vital records for Portage County are available here:
1867 through December 19, 1908:
Portage County Probate Court 330-297-3870 330-297-3894 (fax)
These early records were originally kept in ledger books, and later transcribed into a computer data base. There was no such thing as a Death Certificate, or a Birth Certificate, as we know them today.What you get is a printout of the transcript.The original ledgers are no longer in existence, but microfilm copies are available through LDS Family History Centers.Parts of the ledgers were almost totally illegible by the time they were filmed, and the ledger books were poorly indexed and organized to start with.There were periods of time, especially in the 1890s and early 1900s, where record keeping doesn't seem to have had a real high priority.I had three direct ancestors die in Portage County in the early 1890s, with no records made.
The cemetery books for the area are pretty good, so if you don't find a record with the County, try the cemetery books.Lookup volunteers are available here:
Ravenna Health Dept. City of Ravenna Records 330-296-4478 email:firstname.lastname@example.org
Kent Health Dept. Portage Co. records from outside the City of Ravenna 330-678-8109 330-678-8030 (fax)
These later records were made on forms, and usually have pretty good information on dates, parents, addresses, etc., depending on the knowledge of the informant.What you get here is a photo copy of the original form.The later ones are typed, but the earlier ones were written by hand -- usually in cursive.
Note that Robinson Memorial Hospital is within the city limits.Anyone who was born or died at the hospital will have their records at the Ravenna Health Dept., even though their place of residence was outside the city limits of Ravenna.
I haven't used any of these numbers for a year or so, but trust they're still in service.
The Ohio Historical Society has a web site with a searchable index of Death Certificates from all counties for the period of 1913 thru 1937. Their web address is: http://dbs.ohiohistory.org/dindex/http://dbs.ohiohistory.org/dindex/