Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Cemetery Records – And the Plot Thickens……

There are several records that genealogists search for in regard to a death.  These include cemetery records (and grave inscriptions,) church records, sexton’s records, funeral home records, death records, and mortality records.  We will take a look at each, in turn.  Today, let’s investigate records from the cemetery.

Permit for Disposition of Human Remains
Even if you already know the date of death for your ancestor, cemetery records can offer you much more information about them.  For example, burial permits can be a wealth of information.  The boards of health of a state have been granting these permits for over 90 years. A burial permit gave a funeral director or undertaker authorization for the burial to take place. The information on a burial permit includes the name of the deceased, date of death, city of death, date of burial, and plot number and section where the grave is located, along with the name of informant and their relationship to the deceased.  That’s a lot of information!  But keep in mind it was supplied by an informant and is subject to errors. Burial permits are now known as Permits for Disposition of Human Remains. This form also allows for the cremation of remains.
Burial plat map

A burial plot (plat) map shows the ownership and the specific location of the plot.  It may also include additional details concerning the individuals buried there; depending on what that particular cemetery collects as information.
Burial or Interment Register for a National Cemetery

The burial or interment register is a record of burial for the deceased.  It includes the name of the deceased, age, address, marital status, date of death, date of burial, burial lot number and section where the lot is located for each individual.  When dealing with cemetery records, remember that the date of death and the date of burial are usually different. It is easy to confuse the two when you are involved in the thrill of finding that elusive information.

Private cemetery
Remember, cemeteries may be public or private.  A public cemetery is funded by taxpayers dollars and is under the jurisdiction of a governmental entity, be it local, county, state or federal.  A private cemetery is just that - private.  Private monies and contributions fund it.  You must have the permission of the governing organization in order to view their records. Privacy laws may limit what can be shared with the public.  Private cemeteries can include those with religious affiliations, organizational ties, fraternal groups and family cemeteries.

Friday we’ll take a look at grave inscriptions, discover what to search for, and decipher how to read them to learn more rare information about an ancestor.

~ Joy

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