Fri, Jan. 17

Online cemeteries are 'virtually' like the real thing

You may have heard stories of someone visiting a cemetery and leaving a note on a grave that is later found by a distant relative, who then contacts them. Wouldn't we all love to have a story like that to tell. I love cemeteries and over the Memorial Day Holiday I was able to visit several where I have ancestors buried. There were more I would like to have seen, but time, distance, and the cost of gasoline made it impractical.

If there are cemeteries you would like to visit this summer, but you just won't be able to do so, try visiting an online cemetery. If you are lucky enough to find your family in one of them you can do just what you would do on a Memorial Day: you can visit, leave virtual flowers, and possibly meet other interested family members. If you can't find your family burials in an online cemetery and you know where they are buried, you can add them.

Let me tell you about a few of my favorite cemetery Web sites:

The first is It is a site that contains transcriptions of cemetery records and tombstone inscriptions, from cemeteries in the USA, Canada, England, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and a few other countries. It is a free site and if you have transcribed a cemetery or just have a few family burial records you can publish them here.

Another good site is Cemetery Junction It basically links you to online cemeteries. Some of these will have online transcriptions while others may have just an address of the cemetery location, and/or a contact person. When you search the site, if you are aware of a burial or a cemetery that they don't have, you can add it. Many of the cemeteries listed here are linked to transcriptions entered by volunteers.

My favorite online cemetery is Find A Grave . It is also free and it is the largest. It is incredibly interactive. You can search by state, county or cemetery name - if you happen to know it. If you know your family is buried in a cemetery that isn't listed you can add the cemetery, or if a grave is omitted from a cemetery and you know it is there you may add it.

In order to add information you need to register. This is free, and allows Find a Grave to know who is accessing and adding to their site. To explain how functional this site is, I'll tell you about my experience with my deceased grandfather. When I found the grave of Norman Bliss there was only his name--no birth or death information. I added that information plus a picture of him, of his headstone, a short biography and some virtual flowers.

Now anyone who looks at Norman Bliss in the Find A Grave, at the Hinckley Utah Cemetery will see what I added and be able to contact me because I am identified there as the contributor. I was soon contacted by someone who was visiting the cemetery, on line of course, who had a family connection. He wondered if I would share some more photos with him, which I did.

Not long after that, my new found cemetery friend found the minutes of my grandfather's funeral and sent them to me. My grandfather died in 1920 when my father was only two years old. This was a treasure find for me.

Through Find A Grave I have found cousins I didn't know existed, obtained pictures of ancestors, and found family history information that I'm not sure I would have found otherwise.

If your search yields no information then possibly you can be the contributor and post the headstone picture, burial information, or maybe even a photo. Online Cemeteries are growing daily with the grass roots help of interested volunteers.

This summer you may be able to visit that hometown cemetery after all. Enjoy the Journey!

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