Heading Out on the Road, part 2
Graveyards are wonderfully varied:
some are easy to find, others less so;
some are meticulously cared for, others are hopelessly overgrown, to the point that nothing is visible;
some have staff on site of whom you can ask questions, others seem all but abandoned.
If you know ahead of time the proper name of the cemetery, this can be very helpful.
Places to research before you leave home include: findagrave.com, googling graveyards of the county, and even checking local obituaries of the area to see what graveyards are still active.
Luckily, quite often much research has already been done for you.
Depending on the county, binders may exist full of such information as what cemeteries are in the county, who is buried there, and even exact instructions on how to find the graveyard.
This is always a welcome find if it exists in the first place, and if you can locate it.
But too often people were buried on their own private property, and then either forgotten, or the stones were broken and/or removed.
Do not assume:
all graveyards are active;
your ancestor was buried in the largest and most prominent cemetery in town;
if your ancestor is not listed on findagrave.com then he/she does not have a headstone.
If you really get stuck, you can check with the library or genealogy/history societies.
Sometimes they can not only tell you if your ancestor was buried in a particular cemetery, but also where the cemetery is located.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do about missing markers.
I have been in a cemetery that only had broken stones (and most of these largely unreadable) due to a creek being redirected over the graveyard for a time.
I have been in a graveyard that was only accessible by getting permission from the landowner. Luckily, the local librarian was able to arrange this for me.
I have arrived at a huge cemetery, walked around confused for a few minutes, only to have the caretaker drive up and hand me a binder showing all the locations of every grave…a binder he had only received 3 days prior!
I have successfully found the exact location of my ancestor’s grave without a marker, however.
I checked with the cemetery office.
They had paperwork (and made copies for me) showing my ancestor’s son had purchased and paid for a plot where my ancestor was shortly afterwards buried.
The main thing is to keep looking…including Internet research.
One of my ancestors was documented as buried in a particular graveyard, but the marker was so badly worn and broken, the genealogists who listed the marker information thought it was her husband’s stone!
I was able to subsequently determine it really was her grave after all, when after much research I discovered that the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s had taken on the marker identification project of this particular cemetery, and at THAT time, her marker still clearly showed my ancestor’s accurate information. Success!
Next post: 2. Courthouses