Headstones and cemetery records can be incredibly useful records to find. The information found on headstones can be remarkably varied in content, with anything from a simple name to the details of parents, spouse, children and dates and places of birth and death. Sometimes finding one relative in a cemetery leads to the discovery of several more, with whole generations of family all buried in the same location. Over the years I have had some great finds in cemeteries that have helped me overcome brick walls and the loss of other records.
As digitization of cemetery records and photographing of headstones becomes increasingly common, we are able to access from home even more records. While nothing can replace actually visiting an ancestor’s grave in person, finding records I cannot visit myself available online is a definite bonus. I have found online the cemetery records of a number of relatives who lived overseas, whose graves I am unlikely to be able to visit for some time, if ever. Like so many other researchers, I owe a debt to those who have given their time to photograph headstones and transcribe cemetery records.
I have been lucky enough to acquire photographs of the headstones of many family members, some during personal visits and others sent by relatives or located online through sites like Find-A-Grave or BillionGraves. The quality and amount of information on them varies a lot, as does the legibility and the state of preservation of the headstone. It is worth noting that not all tombstones actually date from the time the gravesite was actually used - the stones themselves could be installed at a much later date by relatives, or be replacements for older stones which have been damaged or destroyed.
One particular headstone I have photographed was in extremely good condition, and commemorated several family members from a couple of generations. The stone probably dates from the time of death of the last person included - was there an older tombstone in place at some time that has now been replaced, or is this a more 'general' tombstone that commemorates several family members buried in the area over time?? Who erected this stone, and where did they obtain the information they have included on it? I need to delve into the cemetery records for this particular tombstone to find out more, and confirm the accuracy of the records, especially the older names and dates.