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Your Guide to Cemetery Research > Chapter 2: Locating Graves, Cemeteries, and Their Records

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message 1: by Liz (new)

Liz | 379 comments This is the thread where we will post discussion about this chapter. Please post your comments in the correct chapter topic to make it easier for all to follow along. (I doubt that spoilers will be a problem with this book, but the Chapter topics will help organize the discussions).

From the Table of Contents of Your Guide to Cemetery Research:
Chapter 2: Locating Graves, Cemeteries and Their Records
Some of the records in chapter one should give the name of the cemetery where an ancestor was buried, but that doesn't mean it's a hop, a skip, and a jump to the actual burial ground. Inactive cemeteries, those on private property, and ones that have been 'moved' are difficult to locate. And what if the records do not tell where the ancestor was buried? This chapter gives advice and suggestions for finding elusive graveyards as well as the records a cemetery generates. It also covers published cemetery transcriptions and accessing information when you can't visit the cemetery yourself.

message 2: by Liz (new)

Liz | 379 comments I hope that you were successful in learning the names of a few cemeteries using the sources mention in Chapter 1. Chapter 2 provides a few more strategies and tips on determining just where that cemetery is located.

Here are links that were mentioned in Chapter 2, Locating Graves, Cemeteries, and Their Records. I've checked to be sure that the web addresses are still the same and the links are working. Some addresses have been updated as well. :) Click on the link to go to the database of place names, including cemeteries. Allen County Public Library - fee website DAR online catalog Saving Graves Oregon-California Trails Association City of the Silent National Cemetery Administration Website Arlington National Cemetery List of State Veterans Cemeteries Minnesota Historical Society and the link to their Veterans Grave Index NARA Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General [OQMG:] American Battle Monuments Commission Cyndislist Cemeteries African American Cemeteries Online The US Civil War Center Links to resources on cemetery history and preservation Cemetery Junction Interment Photo site Find a Grave Funeral Net Geneasearch Cemetery Records Online oh my! Haunted Cemeteries . . . this really was in the book :) Obit Central Obituary Daily Times

http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.a... Obituary Lookup Volunteers Online Searchable Death Indexes for the USA Resting Places of US Colored Troops Virtual Cemetery

There were a few links that are no longer active and I couldn't find the new link, if any. And, as with all websites, many come and go.

message 3: by Liz (new)

Liz | 379 comments There are a lot of interesting sources provided in this chapter. I've decided to post a some (maybe all if I have time) of my cemetery photographs online. The sites listed above that will post either transcriptions or tombstone photographs are:

Has anyone posted to any of these sites? Which would you recommend? Which is the easiest to use?

message 4: by Liz (new)

Liz | 379 comments One new development since the publication of this book is the creation of websites by the cemeteries themselves. Many cemeteries now post some or all of their records online. Doing a google (or other search engine) search on the cemetery name my take you directly to digitized records. New websites are appearing daily. Have you run across any cemetery websites that you have found particularly helpful? Mary, were you able to locate the website or address of the cemetery you were looking for in New York?

message 5: by Liz (new)

Liz | 379 comments For this chapter, I'm going to apply the learning to a person in my tree who died September 1859 (Mortality index) in Texas. He had been working in Texas when he contracted yellow fever and died. Since I don't have anyone else in Texas, I haven't spent any time trying to track down his burial location or any records of his death. This will be a bit of a challenge but perhaps I will get lucky!

How do you plan to apply the learning? Is the pace of reading and application too quick? Shoule we slow down the pace of the reading? This is a quiet group! Please feel free to make comments on the reading, your research, your observations on the topic, etc.

message 6: by Liz (new)

Liz | 379 comments Do you need to go to the cemetery if you find the cemetery records in online sources? I recently took a photograph of a monument at Spring Grove cemetery for Daniel Jung (no relation). The Spring Grove Cemetery records are excellent and they list Daniel's place of birth as Germany. Nice to know! But, the monument gives even more details. Daniel Jung was born 11 Feb 1822 in Haschbach Rhein Pfalz Bavaria Germany! WOW! What a great find. This isn't the first time I've seen monuments listing the exact location of birth while the card record only gives the country. I've posted both the monument photo and a transcription of the cemetery record at .

message 8: by Maryd (new)

Maryd | 28 comments Hi LIz, i'm behind in my reading. Sorry. I went to Friends of Mount Hope Cemetery's website in rochester NY - they have a contact section, so i requested records for John & Jennie Barnard. i will let you know what i find out.

message 9: by Liz (last edited Nov 19, 2009 06:05AM) (new)

Liz | 379 comments Great Mary!

Don't worry about falling behind a bit. These threads remain open for comment at any time. I fell a bit behind in my posting and have some additional notes for both Chapter 1 and 2. I'll continue to work on them as I get time. I'm wondering if a better schedule might be a week to read a selection and then a week to apply it!

Also, some of the records take time to receive and its fun to learn of others discoveries long after the chapters have been read. I have ordered the microfilms of the New York City burial transit permits. When they come in, I'll take a look at them for your ancestor who was buried in Rochester. It is possible that the train passed through NYC.

Happy Thanksgiving!

message 10: by Liz (new)

Liz | 379 comments In the first two chapters, there are potentially helpful sources mixed amongst the standard sources with little differentiation between the two. That is fine for the experienced researcher but may be bit daunting to a beginner . . . Where should one start? What are the sources likely to yield the most information with the least effort?

I'll take a stab at those questions based on my own experience. Please feel free to share your own experiences since the value of various records varies from region-to-region and between different ethnic and religious groups. All these sources are mentioned in Chapter 2.

Fundamental Sources

Sexton's records - active records or archived/microfilmed records; transcriptions are fine as secondary sources but the originals or microfilms of the originals should be sought since they may contain additional details.

Cemetery Transcriptions - easily searched & if your ancestors are found, further research can be done in the Sexton's records.

Virtual Cemeteries - again these are quickly and easily searched. However, the likelihood of finding a particular ancestor remains somewhat small. Follow up with the Sexton's records.

Veteran's Cemeteries and Widow's Pensions - If your ancestor was in the service, search the Veteran's Cemeteries and, by all means, request any Pension Files from the NARA. Widow's pensions may contain statements from cemeteries confirming the death of their husband.

Church Burial Records - May be from an active church, archived records, microfilmed records or transcribed in books or local history and genealogy journals. These may also be found transcribed in church histories. If you find the records in secondary sources (transcribed), seek the originals.

Cemetery Location Sources - If you haven't yet found a cemetery listing your ancestor, search for cemeteries in the area where he or she lived. This is a case where searching locally truly pays benefits. There are many, many cemeteries of all sizes in every county - knowing the town or township where your ancestor died can be a great help.

Other Potential Sources
These may provide clues or locate a cemetery in a given region but generally do not identify a specific burial in a specific plot. These are sources to consult if other sources do not yield results.
City Directories - Locate cemeteries
County, Local and Family Histories - Locate cemeteries, may provide burial locations for some individuals
Diaries and Letters - May provide burial locations for some individuals
Cemetery deeds & plats - Vary widely in completeness and detail. Locate cemeteries and may provide burial locations for some individuals
Family Graveyards - May provide burial locations for some individuals. Note that not all burials had markers.
Graves along migration Trails - Cemetery locations and may provide burial locations for some individuals.
Grave openings and transfers - May provide burial locations for some individuals.

message 11: by Liz (new)

Liz | 379 comments Using Maps to Locate Cemeteries

Carmack mentions the USGS Board on Geographic names as a place to search for cemeteries. I frequently find that I am timed-out if I try to search for all the cemeteries in a specific county.

Here are some alternate strategies:
Searching Google maps will give some of the cemeteries but not nearly all and there is a bias toward active cemeteries. You can zoom in on a particular cemetery and view it in satellite mode to get an idea of the size of the cemetery. This can be useful information in planning a trip. If the cemetery is very large, you may want to obtain a cemetery map before heading out to the cemetery.

If you have the coordinates of a cemetery from the USGS or another website, you can plot the cemetery in Google Earth, Version 5 is available for free download. You can also search for cemeteries in Google Earth. Again, don't expect a complete listing but you can locate and zoom in on the cemetery. I've pasted the satellite view of Spring Grove Cemetery at There are 40 miles of roads in Spring Grove! Its nearly impossible to find a grave without both the cemetery map and section maps for the section where your ancestor was buried.

Animap Plus includes both modern and old cemeteries in its County Boundary Historical Atlas. Generally I use it to note county boundary changes over time but it can be a helpful cemetery locator as well.

Don't forget old property maps that may also include notations of cemeteries. These are great aids to finding older cemeteries and if you find one made at about the time that your ancestor died, you may also be able to locate family and defunct cemeteries. For an example, see and look for the map of 1869 Titus map of Madisonville, Ohio. Zooming in you will see not only the names of property owners but the location of the ME Church cemetery in Madisonville. I've posted this example to There are many early atlases for counties that include cemeteries. Check for these online and at the local historical societies and libraries.

In pulling this together I learned that David Rumsey has added some of his maps to be used as a layer in Google Earth! I can't wait to explore these.

message 12: by Liz (new)

Liz | 379 comments Liz wrote: "In pulling this together I learned that David Rumsey has added some of his maps to be used as a layer in Google Earth! I can't wait to explore these. "

Oh my gosh! This is sooo cool. You can overlay a historical map on top of the current map in google earth. Not all the maps have been loaded but for those that have, this is a great tool!

message 13: by Liz (new)

Liz | 379 comments Check the county Genweb site and the websites of any county historical or genealogical websites. Local libraries may also have lists of local cemeteries.

You can also search on County + State + Cemeteries. When I did this for Hamilton County, Ohio, I was taken to a website listing a few of the local cemeteries. Unfortunately, the list is very incomplete and while some links are provided to cemetery websites, the links are not current either. These websites are manned by volunteers and we applaud their efforts but they should be just one of the ways you search for cemetery records and locations. A more complete list can be found at complete with links and notations of which cemeteries are abstracted in the Hamilton County Genealogical Societies books of cemetery transcriptions.

These were just two of the sources returned on an internet search.

message 14: by Liz (new)

Liz | 379 comments Liz wrote: "There are a lot of interesting sources provided in this chapter. I've decided to post a some (maybe all if I have time) of my cemetery photographs online. The sites listed above that will post ei..."

Well, this was an interesting exercise . . .

First I posted to the Virtual Cemetery at, The process was fairly slow and laborious. First I had to convert all my photos to 300 KB or less jpeg images. There was no option to post more than one photograph for an entry. It would have been nice to be able to post a photograph of the entire monument and also a zoom-in showing the inscription. The only way to edit an entry once it is posted is to delete the entire posting and re-enter the data! Yikes! So, it's a good idea to proof-read very, very carefully before hitting the submit button. Even with very small images (less than 100 KB), the pages were slow to load and in general navigating around the site was slow. After entering my 2nd great grandaunt and her husband, I gave up. I won't be posting all the burials in that lot to that site!

Next I went to This site is focused on complete transcriptions of cemeteries. While they will post partial transcriptions, it is not their priority. I elected to skip this one.

Finally I tried They have multiple methods of submission and I'm looking forward to trying them all out. First you must set up an account and activate it after receiving an email from them. I tried the quick submit and it worked very simply. You can load multiple photos and link members of the same family together. However, you do need to shrink the photos to small images. Definitely the easiest of the three options!

The quickest, easiest method I found for shrinking the photos was to use windows to send them to an email message. I selected the option to make the photos small and then just dragged them from the mail message to the desktop. Too bad there isn't a utility in the website to do this. :)

message 15: by Maryd (new)

Maryd | 28 comments I'm so excited! I earlier posted my gggrandpa & gggrandma John & Jennie Barnard were buried in Mount Hope Cemetery in Rochester NY. I found the mount hope volunteer site & emailed requests for their records, I hadn't heard anything. But yesterday in the mail were copies of their burial records, cause of death, even a copy Jennie's initial purchase of the plots, all free! Of course, i will mail a donation!
PS Another stumbling block i learned - Jennie was born Eliza Jane - but Jennie E is on her tombstone. So sometimes people change their names or go by a nickname - didn't they realize how confusing it would be for us descendants? ;-)

message 16: by Liz (last edited Dec 02, 2009 06:27AM) (new)

Liz | 379 comments WOW! What great news Mary. And, now you will have another name to search that may fill in some additional missing pieces. Jennie may have used Eliza Jane in the early years. Gotta love those cemetery records!

message 17: by Liz (new)

Liz | 379 comments Mary, another thought, have you checked to see if that cemetery is listed on Find-A-Grave? There might be a volunteer willing to take a photo of the tombstone. :)

message 18: by Liz (new)

Liz | 379 comments In this chapter, Carmack includes some state-wide cemetery books. I did not include the sources here because they were limited in scope. But it did make me think about the importance of getting local in your search for cemetery locations where your ancestor might have lived. The problem is, quite simply, that there were a LOT of them.

Carmack mentions the following books:
Ohio Cemeteries. Mansfield, Ohio: Ohio Genealogical Society, 1978.
Ohio Cemeteries Addendum. Baltimore, Md.: Gateway Press, 1990.

These are great helps in getting a little more local but if your ancestor lived in Hamilton County, there is a much better resource. Guide to Genealogical Resources in Cincinnati & Hamilton County, Ohio by Connie Stunkel Terheiden & Kenny R. Burck is now out in its 6th edition. As part of this book there are 16 pages of cemeteries compiled by Mary H. Remler. Mary is the guru of Hamilton County cemeteries and the lists provided are more complete than those that could be found in any of the searches mentioned above. Mary includes extinct cemeteries and, when known, the cemeteries where those burials were moved. (Follow the link to Mary's name and you will see that she has published numerous transcription of cemetery records.)

I've just used this as an example of the importance of getting local. To find out if there are similar published resources in your area check the web pages of genealogical societies for your county. You can also search for books using WorldCat, . This is an online catalog compiled from numerous libraries and other repositories. Search the same way you would a typical library catalog. The nice thing about electronic catalogs is that once you find a book on a topic of interest, there are subject links that you can follow to locate additional books. For a Hamilton County Ohio cemetery book, I found the following subjects: Hamilton County (Ohio) -- Genealogy; Registers of births, etc. -- Ohio -- Hamilton County; Inscriptions -- Ohio -- Hamilton County and Cemeteries -- Ohio -- Hamilton County in the "More like this" column on the right hand side of the page. Following each of these links would give a fairly comprehensive view of the published sources available on Hamilton County Cemeteries. The other really nice thing about WorldCat is that you can enter in a zip code and it will list the repositories that have than item by distance from that zip code!

message 19: by Maryd (new)

Maryd | 28 comments Yes, FindaGrave has photographed these Barnard tombstones! That's how i figured Jennie was buried there & not in iowa where she died.
i think it's kinda creepy they transported these bodies so far in the early 1900's! by train, i assume

message 20: by Liz (new)

Liz | 379 comments It is pretty amazing. In the Jones plot there is a guy who was shipped from California to Cincinnati in the early 1860s!

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Books mentioned in this topic

Your Guide to Cemetery Research (other topics)
The Unpublished Roll Of Honor (other topics)
The Plains Across: The Overland Emigrants and the Trans-Mississippi West, 1840-60 (other topics)
Cemeteries in the United States (other topics)
American Diaries in Manuscript, 1580-1954: A Descriptive Bibliography (other topics)

Authors mentioned in this topic

Connie Stunkel Terheiden (other topics)
Mary H. Remler (other topics)