Tales From the Crypt: Digging for Information
Expert Advice for Doing Family History Research in Cemeteries
PROVO, Utah, Sept. 30 /PRNewswire/ -- Ever think about getting started with your family history? Cemeteries may be the perfect place to do some digging ... for family history, that is. You can find out a lot by delving into the lives -- and deaths -- of the dearly departed. But before you begin your sleuthing, http://www.Ancestry.com offers some advice for proper cemetery research.
How to avoid a grisly death: Cemeteries can be dangerous so never go alone or at night. You may fall into an empty grave; this has happened. One historian recalls tripping over some loose dirt and winding up with one foot in the grave, so to speak.
Bring essential supplies: Unless your memory is eerily photographic, bring a camera, a notepad or a tape recorder. You can also bring crayons and paper for grave rubbings, although you'll need to ask permission from the cemetery office. To avoid wandering, ask for a map of the site at the cemetery office.
Secrets in cemetery offices: A cemetery office assistant can help you track down key bits of information like your ancestor's death date, burial date and even next of kin. This information can lead you to other important records.
What a tombstone can tell: There are more to tombstones than names, birth date and death date. Symbols like a compass or crescent moon can reveal that your great-grandfather was a Freemason or a Shriner. Other symbols like an anchor, indicating a mariner, or an open bible, indicating a minister, will reveal their career or interests. Also, check the back of every tombstone. Family members sharing burial plots would often share tombstones.
Unusual grave markers: Footstones were added to gravesites from the nineteenth century purportedly to keep coffin-less feet from making an appearance aboveground. Other variations on traditional tombstones included box tombs, body stones from medieval times, tomb tables from the American Colonial era and barrel vaults.
Skeletons in your closet: Beware of digging too deep. You're likely to uncover some morbid information. One particularly good story involves a historian who managed to locate an obituary based on records from a cemetery office; it revealed that her great-aunt had been murdered by her great-uncle.
For more information visit http://www.Ancestry.com .
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