The Southern California Genealogical Society has recently added searchable databases to its redesigned website. The data is free and available to all.
One important database lists Los Angeles County Burial Permits from 1870 to 1892, which documents deaths that occurred long before the state required that death records be maintained. Southern California Genealogical Society and Family Research Library volunteers extracted the data from burial permits on file at the Los Angeles County Vital Records Department, now located in Norwalk, California.
The permits cover the years 1870 through 1892 for persons who died in Los Angeles County. They were signed by Catholic priests, ministers, doctors, pastors, medical attendants, health officers, or Justices of the Peace of Los Angeles County who took the information about the deceased or were in attendance when the person died.
Those listed here may not be all the permits prepared during this period of time. Some of the records were hard to read because of the handwriting and faded ink.
I took a look at this new database and found it simple to use. You do not search this site like most databases. Instead, the data is stored as one big web page and has 26 bookmarks, one for every letter of the alphabet. I clicked on "F," and all the entries for last names beginning with that letter soon appeared. Here is a typical entry that I will use as an example:
Name: Farrel, Michael
Date of Death: 15-Dec-1891
Condition: S (an abbreviation for "single")
Place of Death or residence: Pacific Branch
Place of Burial or Church: NHDVS
Certificate No.: 356
Most of the data is self-explanatory. One exception is the abbreviation of "NHDVS," but a quick visit to the site's list of abbreviation shows that it stands for "National Health Department of Veteran Services." From this we can surmise that Michael Farrel was a veteran and was born about 1839 (since he was 52 years old at his time of death in 1891.). It seems that he probably was a veteran of the U.S. Civil War.
In short, this data is extracted from original source documents and is easy to use. The Southern California Genealogical Society is offering a great resource of interest to anyone tracing ancestors in Los Angeles County. You can access the LA County Burial Permits 1870-1892 at http://www.scgsgenealogy.com.