Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Tuesday's Tip~Gettin' By With Help From Our Friends~J. Paul Hawthorne

Today's Tip comes from GeneaSpy J.Paul Hawthorne.

 Cemeteries, plots, and records, oh my!
 We all know about Find A Grave and Billion Graves, but there are more information out there besides pictures of tombstones, if you just dig down a little (excuse the pun). Of course we know about the information the cemetery office holds, like when the person was buried, the exact row and plot, if there is an actual body there or just ashes. But, what else can we find about our ancestors final resting place? Below are three examples of how I found additional information with just a little sleuthing.

Grave Markers
 Somebody created them, somebody paid for them, but who? Check local grave marker companies for the time period using city directories. Do the companies still exist today? If so, contact them and ask if they still have records for the time period you’re interested in. If a company is not in business anymore, try local city, county, or even state archives. I found a book of a monument maker entitled, “J. Henry Brown Monuments, Inc. Order books, 1899–1920” in the Library of Virginia. Not only did it have a conceptual artist sketch of the monument (with dimensions too!) that I was looking for, but also included the name and address, and how much it cost.

Funeral Homes
 Another worthwhile research strategy is funeral home records. Who took charge of a deceased ancestor’s body? The two best places I have found for this information is the death certificate and the newspaper obituary. Check to see if they are still in business and if they have records for the time period you are researching. If they are not in business, check other nearby funeral homes, sometimes they will take over the business and keep their records. Be courteous when asking for these records, funeral homes are private businesses. They are not obligated to show you anything, so take it slow and easy when approaching them. Always thank them for their work in locating them for you.

Coroner Records
 Yes, coroner records. There may not be one for your ancestor, but hey, don’t you want to know? Again, the best place to know if an autopsy was performed is the death certificate. Also, if you suspect one after reading an obituary that say’s so and so died unexpectedly at age 40. That would be a big clue that there may be one done. Sometimes there is just an inspection done for the cause of death and no autopsy. The best place to find these records are the county medical examiner’s office. County websites usually have a link to their office where you can learn how to contact them. In the case of Texas, autopsy reports are public record and are accessible upon request. Check your state for accessibility.

Further Reading
 The following articles will expand the three topics I briefly touched upon.
·      United States Cemeteries https://familysearch.org/wiki/en/United_States_Cemeteries
·      What Info Found on Coroner's Report? http://www.genealogy.com/articles/over/heard040600.html

Paul is a passionate genealogist who loves to have fun digging up the past. Brought up in San Diego and now works for his family’s tractor business, Paul spends every spare moment in his quest of discovering his own family roots. Education is the key to documenting correctly your family tree. Belonging to several local, state, and national genealogical societies, along with attending conferences and institutes, he aggressively learns so he can correct and expand his over 20 years of research to new heights.

Thanks for the great tips, Paul!

What has helped you with your cemetery finds? We'd love to hear your suggestions. 

Are we kin? Need help with your research? Please contact me.
Together we can find our people.
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