After dragging my children to and through cemeteries when they were young, while they moaned and complained, I was pleasantly surprise when, as an adult, one of my daughters gave me an unexpected phone call, from a cemetery. She told me that she was visiting it voluntarily, and that she now believed that cemeteries were “fun”. I had tried to tell her that for years. Finally she discovered it for herself.
I have always enjoyed visiting cemeteries. I like reading the tombstones, and I especially like finding my own family names among the gravestones. Cemeteries are worthwhile for establishing relationships. Families often purchased plots that could serve as burial sites for a number of family members. One cemetery I am familiar has plots that hold 8 graves. Those people buried in the ‘family plot’ with either be family or very close friends.
A cemetery index will give a list of the people buried there, and is usually in alphabetical order, which may or not be helpful as family members could have a variety of surnames. A married daughter and her husband might be buried by her parents, and the surnames would not be the same. A grandchild might be buried by their grandparents, again with a different surname.
Cemeteries can sometimes be helpful in ascertaining the maiden name of females. A woman may have been buried next to her husband but with her maiden name. “Lydia Lyman wife of Leo Finlinson”. Families sometimes added the names of their children on their headstones, often on the back side.
The surrounding graves may also belong to family members. Families liked the idea of having their burial plots near those plots of their family. A sibling might purchase the plot next their their brother, parents or grandparents.This is particularly true of smaller cemeteries.
When visiting a cemetery try to locate the cemetery sexton. A sexton is the person responsible for keeping track of who is buried in each plot. There are often additional records that a sexton keeps that may give you more genealogical information.
There are two excellent websites for locating graves. One is Find A Grave, http://www.findagrave.com and the other is Billion Graves, http://www.billiongraves.com. Both are free and can be very helpful.
Enjoy October, Halloween and Cemeteries.