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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Looking for grave markers

Like many genealogists, I have spent my time tramping through old cemeteries to find information about family members. Although, the online records of grave markers seem to be increasing exponentially, a survey of the records show that they are still fragmented and incomplete. Although you may hit the grave marker prize and find your ancestors' records online, there may still be a need to travel to the sites.

The most popular and by far the largest Website is Find A Grave, but your search should not stop there. Just as an example, my grandparents are buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery in Utah. However, my grandfather, Harold Morgan, is not listed in Find A Grave. But if I go to the Utah Cemetery and Burial Database, I can immediately find his grave site and burial information. However, my paternal grandfather, Leroy Parkinson Tanner's grave marker and information is immediately available on Find A Grave. On the other hand, he has two grave markers in the St. Johns Westside Cemetery and only one of them appears in Find A Grave. The one that does not appear is the one containing information about his World War I service. However, in the Arizona Gravestone Photo Project, both of the grave markers appear and, by the way, the photos are better. See the photo at the beginning of this post.

But in the case of either of my grandfathers' graves, there is a lot of associated information that is entirely missing from an online search. For example, there are other grave markers in the St. Johns Cemetery that are near to my grandfather's grave but that information is lost online.

Almost any other state may have similar databases and issues. Another example, one of my remote ancestors, William Tanner, is found in a private Tanner Cemetery in Rhode Island. That cemetery does not appear in any of the more popular lists of cemeteries but does appear in the Rhode Island Historical Cemeteries project. Using the directions on a trip to Rhode Island, we were able to find the cemetery even though it was completely hidden and overgrown.

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