ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Using Cemeteries As A Resource In Your Family History Research

Updated on June 20, 2016
lrc7815 profile image

Linda lives in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in central Virginia. She has been researching her family history for over 40 years.

Now that you've decided to begin shaking the branches of your family tree, you may be wondering what it will cost you. Mostly, it's going to cost you a lot of time. Family research takes time; lots of time. The good news is that it's relatively free. The associated cost of researching will depend on how serious you are about doing it. If you are going to pursue certified copies of birth certificates, you're going to spend $8.00 to $15.00 per copy. If you're going to hire a researcher to help you, prepare to spend some money. Good researchers make between $75.00 to $200.00 an hour. That should motivate you to do it yourself. Researching doesn't have to be costly. There are endless resources available to you and the only cost is the gas you put in your car or a dime or two for photocopies.

Let's begin with what i think is the most fun resource. You may not think so and that's okay. I find it fascinating that there is a whole underground culture of people wandering around in cemeteries, documenting the dead. If you know where one of your ancestors is buried, it's a great place to start. Take your digital camera with you, and a notepad. That's all you need.

The time involved is totally in your control. You can survey an entire cemetery or just document your relatives. I'll limit this hub to cemeteries simply because there is so much to say.

Cemetery Records

Public Cemeteries:

You don't have to reinvent the wheel. Many cemeteries, especially public ones, have an office and staff who can oftentimes provide you with much of what you're looking for. I recently walked into the office of a local cemetery and asked if there was anyone buried there with a particular surname. A few keystrokes later and I hate the date of birth, date of death, plot location, obituary, and military record of someone I had been searching for for years. Wahoo !!! See how easy it can be. Try to control your excitement though. It's not always that easy. The amazing part is that getting information on that one relative was just what I needed to put more of the puzzle together. From the military record, I was able to get the names of parents, place of birth, etc. The lesson here is, never give up and document everything you learn about your ancestor.

Church Cemeteries:

If you know that some of your ancestors were buried in the local church cemetery, call the church secretary and ask if they have records on site. Most are more than happy to let you scan through the records. This is a great project for those cold or rainy days. Save the sunny days for doing the outdoor surveys.

Private Family Cemeteries:

I can't stress enough the importance of asking permission to visit private family cemeteries. First of all, it's the respectful thing to do. Second, it just might keep you out of jail for trespassing or from staring down the barrel of a shotgun.

» Note

Remember I suggested you take a digital camera? Even when you're looking at record books, it's important to snap a photo. Family research is only as good as the documentation that proves the facts. I've gotten some bad information from time to time from someone else's research, only to find out years later that it wasn't accurate. I've also gotten home only to find that I couldn't read my writing. A photo saves a trip back to verify. Document, document, document and you will be respected as a quality researcher and save yourself a lot of time.

Cemetery Surveys

Thank goodness for the wonderful people in this world who go out and survey entire cemeteries. I have learned so much about my family because of their dedication and hard work. This is where I make my plea for more volunteers and plug a wonderful Internet resource.

Let's define a cemetery survey, for starters. A survey is when a person with a generous heart takes the time to photograph every marked grave in a cemetery and records the information from the marker. Then, and this is the amazing part, they share that information with anyone who is interested - for free. How cool is that?

As a new researcher, I won't encourage you to survey a public cemetery with thousands of graves but I will encourage you to do so with those small family or church cemeteries. Make a day of it, or several mornings. Photos of grave markers in the early morning light can be incredible. It makes it easier to read the inscriptions too. It's called paying it forward. Your efforts may help someone find that long lost branch of their tree and that's what it's all about, researcher helping researcher.

Let's Wrap It Up

So now you have some tools to work with that don't cost a thing.

  • existing records from cemetery offices or church office
  • cemetery survey that you conduct
  • Find A Grave website

That should keep you busy for a while. Happy hunting !

© 2012 Linda Crist, All rights reserved.

Read more of my hubs here.

Geneaology from Amazon.com

Comments

Submit a Comment

  • patty31764 profile image

    patty31764 

    6 years ago from Decatur, Alabama

    I love researching in cemeteries as well. And they are a wealth of information. Gives you a bit if history of the area.

  • MizBejabbers profile image

    Doris James-MizBejabbers 

    6 years ago from Beautiful South

    Love your suggestions! I have haunted the local cemeteries in my hometown for years and have lots of good information and photographs. Luckily I took some of them to older family members (who have now passed on) and got some relationships clarified like "That baby Anna that died in 1910 was great-uncle Ray's baby, not his brother Charley's". Unfortunately, sometimes in rural cemeteries there may be headstones with no names. That is the case in a little community cemetery that my grandmother's family helped establish pre-Civil War. We play guessing games every time we go there as to the identities, and also where our family runs out and another begins. My uncle said that during that period of time, there were no stone engravers around that rural area to engrave the headstones. 'Tis a pity.

working

This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

Show Details
Necessary
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Features
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Marketing
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Statistics
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)