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Finding The Grave Headstones Of Your Ancestors

Grave Hunting Can Be Good For You!

Thousands of grave headstones! How to find those graveyards which contain your ancestors. Don't overlook any possibilities. And, what do you do when you do find ancestors' cemetery monuments?

If you are able to find and read cemetery monuments' data you can often find facts about your family you did not know before.

However, be aware that grave headstone information can contain errors. I have a grandfather for whom the death date on the grave marker is wrong by one year.

Sometimes you find a gravestone because you know the death place or the church your ancestor attended.

Abandoned Graveyards

You discover the name of the cemetery your ancestor is buried in. And, then you discover you cannot find the cemetery anywhere - it is an abandoned cemetery, and is hidden in a field somewhere.

Finding those grave headstones can often be problematic.

Check out more information on abandoned cemeteries and what happens when your relatives were buried there.

Graveyards That Have Been "Read"

In some areas, historical or genealogical societies have undertaken the task of transcribing all the readable information from all the cemetery monuments in a graveyard. This is sometimes called "reading a cemetery".

They then have those transcriptions for sale. If you are lucky, you may find that some of the cemeteries you are looking for have been so read.

Check here for more information about cemeteries that have been "read".

Photographing Cemeteries

Old Ontario gravestone
Old Ontario gravestone

Consider taking pictures of the family tombstones you find.

Many of the old tombstones have disappeared, are unreadable due to weathering and erosion, have been broken by mowing machines or vandalism - all with the same result. The information that was on them is no longer available to you.

I am in the process of trying to get photographs of as many of my ancestors stones as I, or others, can find. My theory is that I am placing them in my family tree file(s), and they will be available to succeeding generations even if the actual headstones are no longer there or are illegible.

Check out more information on photographing gravestones.

Organizing It All

My maternal great grandparents gravestone
My maternal great grandparents gravestone

You need to keep good records on forms about grave searches - including what have you found, where, what you are still looking for, and all the other myriad details. It is disconcerting when you find you made a trip to a graveyard some distance from where you live, recorded the information for some of your ancestors, but missed others because of married names, for instance. If you have a list of all the people you need to find, and use a listing by cemetery name with all those you expect or hope to find in a particular location, you will save yourself extra trips.

Graveyards can be difficult to find. Make use of all the resources in the area where you are searching. Often someone who has lived there for a while can direct you to the right location.

Become a Cemetery Monument Reader - and Pay It Forward!



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