Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Cemetery Research can be an Adventure


We genealogists have a lot of investigating and verifying to do when searching for our ancestors.  We know about finding birth certificates, marriage certificates and death certificates.  We know to check birth, marriage and death dates to validate if this is our forebear.  But there are other records available with cemetery connections that can help us gain more knowledge and a better understanding of our ancestors’ lives.

Cemetery records include church burial records, Sextons records, cemetery deeds, plot or plat records, burial permit records, grave opening orders and gravestone inscriptions.  Also of note are funeral home records, church and religious records, family bibles and cemetery associations.  All are a wealth of information and we will look more in-depth at each of these records in upcoming blogs.

Notice the death date for William has been scratched in

Tombstone research can provide a lot of information.  The usual birth and death dates should be given.  Although, not always the way you expect.  


Social status, Organization affiliation &
Military service are shown






Many times a marriage date is also listed.  But gravestones can also help us identify the deceased’s occupation, religion, military service, social status or sentimental regard held by others.
 Though it is exciting and thought provoking to locate your ancestors grave (and that alone may be enough reason for making the trip,) remember that you may gain more out of your excursion if you know what you are searching for.  It could be as simple as just wanting to visit the site or town.  Or it could involve searching for other relatives who may also be buried here, possibly infants or female relatives you were not aware of.

My Great-Grandmother Rachel (Gladish) France

Keep in mind too, that some older cemeteries are very difficult to locate.  They may no longer be in use, they may be on private property, they may have been relocated, or the name may have been changed or varied.  When my great-grandmother, Rachel (Gladish) France, died in 1970, I was extremely saddened to have lost one of my closest allies. As a child, I noticed few things about the day of her funeral, except that we drove for a long time in the country to get to a cemetery called Beatle.  Years later, when I started my genealogy research, I searched for Beatle Cemetery without luck.  The local genealogical society had no records on the name. I then approached the funeral home where the service was held, although it had changed ownership.  They were able to produce a copy of Rachel’s funeral card that showed interment in Biddle Cemetery.  After more research I discovered that it was actually Beadle (Beedle) Cemetery and it was located in an adjoining county, hence the long drive in the country.

My Great-Grandfather Marion France
Once there I remembered it and that hot August day, long ago.  There was the stone for Rachel along with one for her husband, Marion France, a great-grandfather I never met, but whom I was told I had a temper like.  (Quick to rise, quick to pass.)  That is when I discovered Jesse France, a child of my great-grandparents that I had never heard of.  


Paternal Great-grandparents Thomas & Sarah (Perry) Ready

And to end the day on an even more surprising note, I discovered that my paternal great-grandparents, Thomas and Sarah (Perry) Ready, were also buried in this cemetery, cat-a-corner from the Frances.  These are the only two groups of my relatives I am aware of that are buried in what is a family cemetery for the Beadle (Beedle) kin.  
Maternal Great-Grandparents stones in front,
paternal Great-Grandparents stone in back, toward left
Why both sets of great-grandparents are here, I have yet to find out.  But that is part of the fun of genealogy research; you never really get all of your questions answered.  Just enough to keep you looking backward and moving forward.

~ Joy