Finding out where someone is buried

Cemeteries may have Sextons or caretakers, who may have kept records of the names and dates of those buried and maps of the burial plots. Some churches have kept burial records that may give birth, marriage and other family or health details. Tombstones or gravestones may also exist, or the information on them may have been transcribed. Cemetery burial records, sometimes called permits for burial, often include birth, marriage, and death information.

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They sometimes provide clues about military service, religion, or membership in an organization, such as a lodge. These records are especially helpful for identifying children who died young or women who were not recorded in family or government documents. Check the sexton's records, or visit the cemetery in person to see if other relatives are in the same or adjoining plots.


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To find tombstone or sexton records , you need to know where an individual was buried. The person may have been buried in a community, church, private, military, or family cemetery, usually near the place where he lived or died or where other family members were buried. You can find clues to burial places in funeral notices, obituaries, church records, funeral home records, death records and County deeds.

Copying tombstones and sexton's records is a tremendous help to people who cannot themselves visit the cemetery.


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  • It also preserves the information that may later disappear through erosion, floods, and the like. Several online cemeteries show how you can use your smart phones or iPads to transcribe these records. Cenotaph: engraved on a tombstone indicates an empty grave, with the stone erected in memory or in honor of a person buried elsewhere. It often indicates a stone erected in honor of a person lost at sea. Abbreviations are often used on headstones.

    A list of abbreviations, including military abbreviations, is available on Rootsweb.

    Tricks for Finding the Unknown Burial Location of an Ancestor

    You can also try contacting the newspaper itself to ask where it keeps old issues and how you can search them. They are typically in one of the cemeteries closest to where they lived, or on the property of the church, they belonged to. But a cemetery close by is generally your best bet as far as guesses go.

    Cemeteries that are still managed by a city, county, or church usually have records as to who is buried in them and where. You can often get the exact burial location, whether it is marked or not, just by calling the entity that manages the cemetery.

    United States Cemeteries Genealogy - FamilySearch Wiki

    If you decide to go visit it, the management can give you directions to the location of the burial, or provide you with a map so you can find it on your own. If the cemetery is a really old one and is no longer managed by any entity, you may still be able to get burial records for it by going to the local archives or historical society. Just use one or all of the above techniques, and you may just find that missing ancestor yet.

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    Discovering the burial location of your ancestors is an important part of genealogy. Knowing where the burial location is and visiting it, if possible gives you a deeper insight into your family in past generations, gives you a place to go to honor your ancestor, and puts you as close to them physically as you will ever be. There will be spaces between the headstones of other ancestors, often with indentations in the ground where the coffin underneath has collapsed over the years. Family lore may have handed down the location.

    It can be easy to find and often is. However, you will sometimes come across an ancestor whose burial location seems a complete mystery. Here are three ways you can discover the hidden burial locations of your ancestors. Most death certificates list the method of disposal of the remains.