Now that we know how valuable cemetery records are, how do we find them? Graveyard locations are mentioned on death records, in obituaries, in probate records and occasionally in family bibles. What if the cemetery is no longer active, changed its’ name or has been lost to current memory? There are many options available to help locate these cemeteries.
One valuable resource is Epodunk cemetery locator.
At Epodunk, you can search by state, county, community and cemetery name. Once you select a cemetery, a map and GPS coordinates are provided along with other options such as nearby cemeteries and communities, local genealogical resources and historical societies, and nearest air ports. Another excellent site is Saving Graves. This site has many informative articles in addition to listing endangered burial sites and giving contact information for each state regarding preservation and laws affecting burials.
Websites such as Find A Grave, Interment.net, and BillionGraves.com frequently mention location and name changes of cemeteries. A cautionary note for these sites, make sure the transcription matches the inscription in the picture. I have found several discrepancies which made a huge difference in the direction I took in researching. Many of the larger cemeteries have their own websites which include plot locations. There are two unique sites for Utah burials; one is from Utah State Government and the other is Utah Gravestones.
Now that you have arrived at the cemetery, you are finding that the stones are cracked, faded, or covered with overgrowth. What can we do to garner the information the stones may offer? Make a cemetery discovery kit!! You will need a foam pad to kneel on, sunscreen, bug spray, bottled water, a wide brimmed hat, gardening gloves and boots tall enough to tuck your pants legs in … this protects you from the sun, heat, dirt and unwanted critters such as chiggers. Next, assemble a fully charged camera or phone, flashlight with extra batteries, spray bottle of water (no soap or shaving crème), soft brush, small whisk broom, rags, masking tape with low tack back (painter’s tape) pruning shears, scissors, various length bungee cords with hooks on both ends (these can be used to hold paper in place if the cemetery doesn’t allow tape on the stones), rubbing wax (can be made of old, dark colored crayons melted together) chalk, charcoal, large sheets of paper (butcher paper, tracing paper, parchment), hairspray (only for setting chalk or charcoal rubbings … never put on stone itself), small notebook and pencil for making notes and a poster or document tube or gift wrap tubes. A good article on how to make stone rubbings is at http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Gravestone-Rubbing.