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Sunday, February 5, 2017

Finding Ancestors in Cemeteries

I know it's been forever since my last post. Life got in the way and then the holidays. I am going to try to be more punctual with my posts. My apologies for the wait. 

Today I am going to talk about headstones and cemetery records. I have made a lot of progress in my family tree using sites like Find A Grave and Billion Graves to fill in some gaps. 

Over the last few months, I recently upgraded to Billion Graves Plus and renew on a monthly basis. I have not regretted this decision. I was able to use the nearby family plots feature (where people with the same surname are buried) to find other possible ancestors in the same cemetery. I had the greatest amount of luck in Prince Edward Island, Canada where my father's ancestors are buried. I easily found an additional 20 plots that I didn't have in my tree. 

Through the help of some of my cousins, volunteers on Billion Graves (as well as Find a Grave), and obituary records I was able to pinpoint most of my ancestors' final resting places. For those ancestors I couldn't find in PEI, I was able to use the obituary records to locate the cemetery they were buried in and then contact the cemetery to get the plot number. Each person I contacted has been incredibly helpful (helpful fact: list the name, date of death and other possible family members related to them in your email to ask for the plot #'s). 

Headstones can also be used as cousin bait. I contacted a user on Ancestry.com about a headstone I found through a search that was possibly related to one of my Corcoran ancestors and included my email address. He contacted me back and included the headstone photo, and provided some information on the family. One story he recounted was how my 2nd great uncle Bernard Corcoran became blind.  Apparently he fought for the famous Irish "Fighting 69th" in WWI and was shot by a sniper in 1918. The injury caused him to lose his sight. Here's where it really gets good. He included the cemeteries in County Louth where some of the headstones can be found. I now have some more research to do! And yes I confirmed we are indeed cousins. 

How have you used cemeteries to assist records? 


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