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Friday, November 15, 2013

Understanding Online Searches in Depth -- Part Three wherein I learn the lesson

Now, it is time to continue the issues raised in Part One of this series; the search for Henry Victor Overson's burial information. Part Two was a digression into a very brief discussion about the differences between library cataloging and online searches. But now I will return to an investigation of the practical realities of making an online search when the immediately available resources do not seem to contain the information you are searching for.

As a short review, I found that my records did not contain any information about my Great-uncle's burial information. He died in Phoenix, Arizona in April of 1986. I checked's Family Tree and none of his descendants have added that piece of information. Searching in the obvious places is usually the best way to start a search for something as specific as a burial place and date. The next obvious place is

I have nine sources for Uncle Victor in, but none of them give a burial location. The main issue here is that his death is relatively recent. You might expect it to be easier to find information about people who lived and died quite recently, but the opposite is actually true. One major contributing factor creating this obstacle is the existence of privacy considerations. I quickly added 15 more sources from, but none of them gave burial information. was a long shot due to the aforementioned privacy concerns.

By now, you are probably wondering why I didn't start with You might note that I already searched, and Arizona obituaries in the Mesa FamilySearch Library. In each case, I looked for all of the "Overson" names and included "Oveson" in my search as well as "Ovesen." I also searched for Henry Overson and H. Victor Overson. I choose finding Uncle Victor's burial because I thought I could find it readily and then use additional searches to illustrate searching in depth. It turns out to be much more difficult than imagined.

After searching several additional cemetery indexes in Utah and Arizona, including the Utah State Archives and several other lists, this whole experiment started to get serious. In searching the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records, I found an Arizona Republic newspaper account of Uncle Victor's Golden Wedding Anniversary on August 3, 1975.  I guess this is the way to learn humility, looking for something in public and not finding it. I found the Golden Wedding Announcement using the terms "overson burial 1986 arizona."

I finally found a death notice for his wife on (the Arizona Republic Newspaper):
Jessie Frances Rice Overson, 96, of Phoenix, AZ, passed away December 15, 2003. Visitation will be held 6-8 PM, Friday, December 19, 2003, Greenwood Memory Lawn Mortuary, 719 N. 27th Ave., Phoenix, AZ. Services will be held 10:00 AM, Saturday, December 20, 2003, with a viewing at 9:00 AM, at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 3102 N. 18th Ave., Phoenix, AZ. - See more at:
Assuming, that Aunt Jessie Overson was buried next to her husband, I had now narrowed the search down to a probable location. However, a search of the Cemetery records from the Greenwood Memory Lawn Mortuary, did not even register an Overson at all. It did not look like the records went back further than 1999. but for some reason also failed to include the 2003 funeral for Jessie Overson. In going back to, it does not look like the over 100,000 people buried in Greenwood Cemetery are included in that website. turned out to have only 52 of the over 100,000 graves. Interesting. 

Well, this search is going to be continued. I suspect that the Oversons were both buried in the huge Greenwood Memory Lawn Mortuary & Cemetery in Phoenix. The Cemetery apparently has no listing of the graves online, so I will have to call tomorrow or next week and find out when and where they are buried. I am not quite sure what I proved, but I do suspect that in the end, I did find what I was looking for although not entirely online. 


  1. Do the rules of this game require you to find the burial information online or just to find the burial information? I ran a simple google search only I entered his name backward: "Overson, Henry Victor" and found a reference to his obituary in an online catalogue of the holdings of the Arizona Historical Society in Flagstaff. The obituary itself is not online. Looks like you will have to do this the old fashioned way and contact them. I don't think this is really a spoiler alert since I conducted this search when you posted Part 1, and I've been waiting to see if you would find it another way. There is no way of knowing if this is your Henry Overson until you request it. Maybe it will turn out that he was cremated and does not have a burial location.;query=arizona%20histo..

    1. Since I am making up the rules as I go along, anything goes. There might be a Part Four if I find more info. Thanks for you interest and your comment.

  2. Did you finally find the information you wanted about my grandfather Henry Victor Overson? He was actually known to his immediate family as Victor Overson that might help in your search. You could try contacting his daughters still living in the Phoenix area, Carole Overson and Phyllis Cameron.

    1. I knew Victor personally. No, I have yet to call Phyllis and get his burial information. Do you know where he is buried?