Cemeteries…Why you should research there

Michael S Sheaffer finding his 3rd Great Grandfather's headstone 2007

Michael S Sheaffer 2007

Over the years in my research cemeteries are by far my favorite research area.  Most people look at cemeteries as a spooky place to be. I have always looked at cemeteries as places to learn your own history as well as the city or towns history as well. I also love to look at the beautiful artwork on the headstones, with some of the older gothic cemeteries providing a unique artistry style that has to marveled at. In cemeteries you can find entire families buried in the same section that makes it so much easier to record when they are all there. I don’t know how many times over the years I have found a persons headstone only to find out later that the surrounding headstones are also from the same family line. Now when I visit a cemetery for the fist time looking for  a headstone I always take photos of the surrounding headstones to use later and see if they fit in or not. I have also been in cemeteries and met other family researchers and begun a conversation with and collaborated with them on different projects that have helped myself and them that otherwise would not have happened had we not met researching in a cemetery. 

Another overlooked area of researching cemeteries is the records that are stored there. I always try to get a burial card from a cemetery although many nowadays charge you for this service. These burial cards can have such great info from cause of death, spouses name to the plot holder who in one particular case of my own research was what broke down a longtime brick wall for me. I have even gone to one particular cemetery and been given full access to their burial book that I was able to find an actual burial card from a 2nd great-grandmother who had died 80 years earlier! In this burial book the burial card was in an envelope inside the pages. The burial card had listed all the pall bearers one of which was my grandfather and a couple of his cousins. The cemetery offered this original burial card to me at no cost! something that sounds hard to believe nowadays. 

.Johan Cemetery  Cemeteries as I have written here can yield such great results that in my opinion if you are not actively researching in a cemetery you are  denying your research some of the most valuable information your going to find. Along the way you may not only learn more about your family but also learn more about your local history and the cast of characters that made that history possible. 

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