Cemeteries and cemetery records are excellent places to look for death dates.
While actually visiting the grave site is the best thing to do, you may also find a death date by searching the gravestone inscriptions that some organizations have transcribed. These transcriptions are described below. There are several types of cemeteries in America. First, there are church-owned cemeteries, which include churchyards located right around the church, and cemeteries run by the church, but not adjacent to the church. There are also national, state, and local cemeteries which are owned by the government and maintained by tax dollars.
Privately-owned, non-church cemeteries are also abundant. This type of cemetery is usually operated for profit.
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Finally, you can find small family burial plots, which are found on private property. If you have the name of a cemetery, but do not know the location, look in telephone books for the area, or ask at the local courthouse, library, genealogical society, or even local churches. Also look at U. Government Geological Survey maps of the area, available in larger libraries and often in sporting goods stores. These maps show all of the roads, houses, and even the small graveyards. If you do not have the name of a cemetery, first ask other family members if they know where any old family plots are.
Missouri Death Certificates, 1910 - 1968
Where one family member is buried, it is likely that there are a few others. Also try obituaries, wills, and on death certificates -- they often list burial information or the name of a funeral home that you can contact. If you know to which church the individual belonged, you may want to ask the church if there was a particular cemetery where many church members of the era were buried.
This book lists cemeteries by location, and will at least give you a target list of cemeteries to search. Once you have a target list of cemeteries, try calling before you visit. This could save you a fruitless trip because staff members may be able to search their records for you and tell you whether or not your ancestor is buried there. If there doesn't seem to be an office at the cemetery, try calling churches and funeral directors in the area. They may know where any cemetery records are located, if they exist.
You may want to look at cemetery records even if you know that your ancestor is buried in the cemetery. These records usually include at least names and death dates, but you may also find information such as birth dates and spouse's and parents' names. If your ancestor is buried in the cemetery and you plan to visit the grave site, you should also find out when the cemetery office is open so that you can stop in and find out exactly where the plot is.
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This will save you the trouble of having to search the entire cemetery for your ancestor. If you do have to walk up and down among the gravestones, bring the whole family -- several pairs of legs and eyes are better than one. While actually visiting the grave site is the best thing to do, you may also find your ancestor's gravestone inscription among the transcriptions owned by some organizations.
Local libraries, genealogy libraries, and genealogy societies in the area where your ancestor is buried may have or know about transcriptions from local cemeteries. Contact the Library of the Daughters of the American Revolution or your local Family History Library of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for more information about their collections of gravestone transcriptions. The Library of Congress and other large libraries throughout the United States also have transcript collections. When you look at gravestone transcriptions, remember that there is always the possibility of errors.
Now you can also look for cemetery records online and even view photos of headstones. Many sites exist such as Ancestry, which has cemetery indexes , and FindAGrave.
1. Choose a search index
On FindAGrave. Occasionally you can find indexed cemetery records. These indexes provide you with a convenient way to find out whether or not your ancestor is in a particular cemetery. When looking for cemetery records, many people use computerized cemetery records indexes to help them find the record that they need. Some libraries have computerized cemetery records indexes and you can also search cemetrary records on Ancestry. Another place to check for a death date is a funeral home, because they often keep records about each individual that they deal with. Try calling several funeral homes in the area where your ancestor lived.
This book may be available through local community libraries and genealogical libraries. The funeral homes you contact may have records about your ancestor, or may be able to tell you the names of funeral homes that existed when your ancestor lived in the area. This often contains much information of genealogical interest.
This free search can help you by telling you if your ancestor is actually listed in the Social Security Death Index. Once you find a listing for your ancestor, you can instantly create a letter requesting a copy of their application for a Social Security card Form SS5 by clicking "Write It". You also can access the Social Security Death Index in several other places.
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These records are stored under the year the grant was issued, rather than the year of death. To find the will of someone who died in the early s, you may need to check the records that cover onwards. Not all probate records contain a will. Check the type of grant of representation when you search. Download and fill in form PA1S to search for a probate record by post. Send it to the address on the form. The agency should have a website that ends in.
Public records laws can vary wildly by state. Later, when a person born out of wedlock marries, his marriage certificate is not available to the public without a court order. These records are generally available a few weeks after the event. Vital records offices keep documents for roughly 80 to years. Older records may be kept at the state archives , and are generally available with fewer restrictions.
Very old records, like from the 17 th and 18 th centuries, may be at a local historical society.
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