Tag: tombstones

A primer on cemetery research to find ancestors.

I’ve always loved gravestone and cemetery research. Although I do most of my genealogical research via the internet, and in a very small amount via snail mail, there is something visceral about visiting the actual graves of our ancestors and recording the information about them (and their families if in family plots). In previous posts, I related the story of my family’s genealogical driving tour of Nova Scotia a few years ago. The first was about our exploring a community cemetery and the other was regarding our experience taking the Fort Anne graveyard tour.

By Jillynn Stevens, Ph.D., MSW

A Primer on Cemetery Research

Cemetery research to find ancestors.

When you’re working on researching distant generations of ancestors, cemetery research is one of the most satisfying, hands on forms of genealogical exploration you can do. It’s one way to connect with a tangible reminder of particular ancestors, which is often an elusive feeling. Finding a tombstone or other sign of the resting place of an ancestor can give you insights into who they were. Is their tombstone humble or grand? Does it contain an inscription that speaks of a simple life, of one that hints at a great love story, or a somber and religious disposition? What dates are inscribed? The information source is rich, yet locating cemeteries and navigating the research process isn’t always straightforward. Here’s how to get started with genealogical cemetery research.

What can I expect to learn from a cemetery?

It’s important to note that cemeteries and grave markers can be excellent sources of information about the deceased. While they are not primary information sources, they can clarify details such as:

  • an ancestor’s name, including obscure details like maiden names and middle names or even occasionally pet names;
  • date of birth;
  • date of death;
  • names of family members including parents, spouses, and children;
  • religion;
  • military service; and
  • fraternal order membership.

Cemeteries are a wonderful source of information that can confirm what you’ve learned from earlier research. In other cases, you’ll garner information that you didn’t know. For example, there may be symbolism on a tombstone suggesting that your ancestor was a member of the Masonic Lodge or perhaps they are buried in a Catholic burial ground. Each of these small clues can open up new avenues for research and exploration.

What’s the best way to find out where someone is buried?

There are many ways to find where your ancestors are buried. The first is to look at any records associated with their death, including certificate of death, obituaries, church notices, and other funerary documents. Consulting similar information for spouses, siblings, children, and parents can also sometimes lead you to the right information. If you know your ancestor’s religious affiliation, it’s possible to find out if there’s a church or community cemetery. Consult local records and histories.

Finally, there are a number of cemetery guides online that can help you locate an ancestor’s gravesite. You might also want to try billiongraves.com and findagrave.com. They can be very helpful in locating family members and their information.

Making the most of a cemetery visit.

Whether you’re already near a cemetery where an ancestor is buried or you’re making a special trip, there are several things you’ll want to do to make the most of your visit. The first is to bring a copy of any information you have about the ancestors, such as names and dates of birth. If you have a map or details of the cemetery, bring those as well, as large burial grounds can be difficult to navigate.

To document as much information as possible, bring paper and writing implements or electronic devices to record information and make any notes. Consider bringing a digital camera with you to document the cemetery, individual headstones, and the relationship between specific stones that may be useful later. Avoid taking grave rubbings, if possible. It’s a source of conflict but most people today feel that the risk of damage to the stone is too high. A high resolution camera now yields a wonderful degree of detail.

A final note on the logistics of cemetery visits: dress appropriately for being outdoors, and think ahead to things like bug spray and sunscreen. Wear a hat, and bring plenty of water as your visit may be a lengthy one. If the cemetery you’re visiting is on private property, get permission first. If the cemetery in question has a caretaker and you’re able to find them, spend a moment saying hello and explaining your mission. They may have valuable information. Finally, if you’re headed into a cemetery that’s overgrown, isolated, or in an unknown area, consider bringing a companion for both company and safety.

A professional genealogist can help you with all types of genealogical issues, from completing all your research to answering specific questions about cemetery research. If you’re currently in need of guidance or assistance with your research, contact a professional genealogist today to arrange for a personalized consultation. You’ll soon be on your way to successfully identifying where your ancestors are laid to rest and getting to visit them in person.

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Jillynn Stevens is a writer and researcher. She is the Director of Digital Content Marketing for Be Locally SEO where she enjoys helping clients expand and improve their businesses through articles, blogs, website content and more.

Price & Associates is a prestigious genealogy research firm serving clients from all over the country and abroad. They are located in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Article Source: EzineArticles.com

Who’ulda Thought Headstone Hunting Could Be Such Fun?

headstone hunting at Melanson Community Hall

Melanson Community Hall in the town of Melanson. My mother’s maiden name is Melanson.

Although my husband and children all enjoy hunting moose, headstone hunting is about as far as I’ll go.

About six years ago, we decided to take our one and only big family vacation – a three week driving trip from central Ontario to Acadian territories in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

Although this was a planned vacation, it was an opportunity as well to teach the kids something of their Acadian heritage and see the area in which my mother, her family and ancestors lived for generations.

Melanson Mountain Sign, across from the Melanson Community Hall while headstone hunting.

Melanson Mountain Sign, across from the Melanson Community Hall.

We did a lot of sightseeing in places like Moncton to see the tidal bore of the Bay of Fundy, and the Hopewell Rocks where I got a wonderful picture of Erin and Stuart against the rocks at high tide. I’ve since had several people accuse me of having ‘photoshopped’ the photo, but that’s not the case at all.

Other sites along our journey were:

  • Fort Edward and Fort Beausejour, where several of our ancestors were imprisoned during the Acadian Expulsion;
Grand Pré Chapel while headstone hunting.

Grand Pré Chapel.

  • Grand Pré, the site of the meeting in which Acadian men were informed of their imminent expulsion;
  • Melanson village and mountain, the site of the settlement of one original Melanson brother and pioneer, Pierre Melanson and his descendants;
  • Melanson Settlement, the historic site where our ancestor Charles, the other pioneer brother, settled;
  • Fort Anne, where we had the experience of a lifetime, experiencing the highly entertaining ‘Graveyard Tour‘ hosted by Alan Melanson, a distant cousin; our unexpected discovery of an original ‘aboiteau’ from the Melanson Settlement site, a hollowed wooden log with a hinged valve at one end which was used to drain the water from the fields (it had been in storage at North Hills Museum and she took us to see it when she heard me talking about it); and a visit to Ste. Anne University, where the students and staff were very knowledgeable and amazingly helpful, finding a great deal of documentation for my research.
The mysterious aboiteau used by the Acadians found on our headstone hunting trip.

The mysterious aboiteau used by the Acadians to control the water on the marshes where they homesteaded and farmed.

Our most unexpected discovery was at a tiny, charming Catholic church in Argyle, near Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.

When driving through we spotted a graveyard with hundreds of headstones right along side the road, noticing right away that there were some very old headstones in the mix. At my request, Mark stopped the car and we got out to have a look.

Ste. Anne Catholic Church in Argyle, Nova Scotia - headstone hunting trip.

Ste. Anne Catholic Church and graveyard in Argyle, Nova Scotia – where we spent one Sunday morning headstone hunting.

Our plan was that Mark would have the camera, I would have my notebook to write hard-to-read transcriptions, and Erin and Stuart would be the scouts, running ahead, raising their hands and shouting to let us know they’d found a ‘Melanson’ or ‘Fougere’ headstone.

Now this was a really quiet, cool, damp day and we were just waiting for the rain that appeared to be imminent, but that didn’t deter us. We made short work of the task, and went through the vast graveyard in great speed.

It wasn’t long after starting though, that I noticed the cars driving by slowing right down to check us out and see what we were doing. Some actually came to a dead stop in the middle of the road. Upon reflection, I realized how odd we all must have looked – especially the kids, running from headstone to headstone, raising their hands and shouting. Did they think we were playing some kind of game?

As silly as we must have looked, it was a great deal of fun and it’s a trip we all talk of to this day. We’d all love to do it again.

Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org Updates and Additions – June 26, 2014

Following are the Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org updates and additions.
FamilySearch.org Updates and Additions

Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org Updates and Additions

The list is extensive and will break into multiple pages as June 18th seems to have been a very busy, productive day at FamilySearch.org.

The countries with the most additions are Italy, Netherlands, Brazil, United States and Poland.

 

FamilySearch.org Updates and Additions

Argentina

Belgium

Bolivia

Brazil

Canada

Chile

China

Croatia

Czechoslovakia

Denmark

El Salvador

Germany

Honduras

Hungary

India

Indonesia

Italy

Mexico

Netherlands

Paraguay

Peru

Philippines

Poland

Portugal

Puerto Rico

Russia

South Africa

Spain

Sweden

Switzerland

Ukraine

United Kingdom

  1. England, Kent, Manorial Documents, 1241-1976
  2. England, Norfolk, Parish Registers (County Record Office), 1510-1997
  3. England, Norfolk Register of Electors, 1844-1952
  4. Isle of Man Parish Registers, 1598-2009
  5. United Kingdom, World War I Service Records, 1914-1920

United States

Venezuela

Worldwide

 

Ancestry.com Updates and Additions

Canada

Poland

United Kingdom

United States

photo credit: Stuck in Customs via photopin cc

Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org Updates and Additions – April 8, 2014

Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org Updates and AdditionsFollowing are the newest Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org updates and additions to date.

 

FamilySearch.org

Australia
Belgium
Brazil
China
Colombia
Haiti
Italy
Peru
Philippines
Portugal
Spain
United States

Ancestry.com

Ireland
Isle of Wight
New South Wales

 

Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org Updates and Additions – March 23, 2014

Below are the Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org Updates and Additions.

 

Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org Updates and AdditionsFamilySearch.org

Argentina
Australia
Austria
Barbados
Brazil
Canada
Chile
Costa  Rica
Czechoslovakia
England
Germany
Guatemala
Italy
Japan
Mexico
Moldova
Netherlands
Nicaragua
Peru
Portugal
South Africa
Spain
United States
Worldwide

 

Ancestry.com

Argentina
Brazil
Denmark
England
Germany
Guatemala
United States

Mobile app for findagrave.com is available for free download.

I’ve been a regular user of Ancestry.com for almost two decades, and for nearly as long I’ve been using the findagrave.com site to access information regarding the deaths and burials of our ancestors.

FindAGrave.com Mobile App for iOS7Let me just say, the information on this site is user generated and therefore cannot be entirely trusted to be 100% accurate. I use this information as the basis for further research to locate more concrete sources to confirm the information. The best thing about FindAGrave is the ability to locate photos of graves, cemeteries, and even the individuals themselves.

Ancestry.com recently acquired findagrave.com and is working to improve and broaden the benefits to the genealogy community.

With great foresight, ancestry.com decided that a mobile app would be a huge asset for users of the findagrave.com site.

The FindAGrave App for iOS7 is their initial foray into creating just such an app. It is free, just as the main FindAGrave site is and it allows the user to have the most important information and tools of findagrave.com immediately available. In addition to accessing information for your own research, this app provides the capability of taking photos and adding them directly with the app. One of the most valuable services available through the findagrave.com app allows one to request photos from and take photos for other users. Logged in users are able to request photos for grave sites and cemeteries, and the numerous volunteers are able to see the requests, claim them, and complete them – all with the immediacy of the mobile app.

It is a rich, modern interface with photos, providing a more modern version of findagrave.com. The product page provides a full list of features, however, it is important to keep in mind that this is just the beginning. As the app becomes more widely used, it will become improved through the feedback and experiences of the users.

An android app is in the works, but no release date is available as yet.

As always, the FindaGrave internet site will still be available for general use. Additions are being made to the iOS7 app to provide better and more immediate tools for mobile users.

The FindAGrave app for iOS7 can be downloaded at the Apple App Store. Any feedback is welcome.

photo credit: premasagar via photopin cc