I don’t know too many genealogists who do not enjoy an excursion to a cemetery. Those who may be new to the hobby or for those who are not interested in genealogy may find it hard to understand what all the excitement is about.
The question I’m often asked is what can you possibly find in a cemetery besides the obvious. Therefore, here is my list of the kinds of information you can find when visiting a cemetery, that can help aid your genealogy research.
• Birth, death and possibly marriage dates
• Unknown family, such as infants or second wives
• A wife’s maiden name
• Epitaphs and ancestors last words
• Engravings on tombstones that reveal the ins and outs of a family relationships
• Engraving on tombstones that reveal an individual passions such as music, or cars or the affiliation with an organization or even a brief resume
• A tombstone can reveal a country of origin, or possibly a hometown
• Markers may reveal a military history, a unit and ranking
• A cemetery may reveal other family members buried side by side
• A cemetery may also reveal neighbours
Besides the tombstone, you may also want to inquire into the cemeteries records. These records may reveal who owns the plot, the cause of death of the individual and the last known address of the deceased.
If you can’t make it to cemetery in person there are many on line databases that you can search for your ancestors. Find a Grave and Ontario Cemetery Finding Aid are two of my favourites. If you are new to cemetery research then a few tips for a successful cemetery outing may be in order. Doing a little research in advance to be sure you are in the right cemetery and knowing the format of that cemetery is important to a successful outing.
Once you arrive it will be clear, there is something to be said for the connection and the bond that occurs when you are physically standing at the tombstone of an ancestor.