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Search online tombstone records. This search of cemetery records includes sites across the internet. Some results may include transcriptions and photos of the tombstone.
Searching cemeteries is an important part of any genealogy search. Tombstones often contain important vital records - birth date and death date - as well as family relationships, religion, military, and more. It can be fun to wander through cemeteries, but sometimes you can learn even more by searching online cemetery website because of the additional user contributed data. Here are some of the things that can be gleaned by finding an ancestor's tombstone online:
Birth date and death date.
The month, day, and year may be carved on the tombstone, but sometimes only the year. Date of death and burial location gives a place to look for death records and a newspaper obituary. Be aware, however, that these dates could be wrong. The person who commissioned the tombstone may be wrong about the birth date. I have also seen a death year on a tombstone incorrect when the tombstone was erected years after a death.
Age at death.
Subtract the birth date from the death date to calculate age at death. You can do it automatically with the
tombstone birthday calculator
. Or your genealogy program may do the calculations automatically.
Sometimes a husband and wife share a tombstone, and sometimes extended family is buried in the same plot. I've seen names carved on the front, back, and base of a tombstone.
Sometimes, a woman may have her maiden name listed as her middle name.
Place of birth.
The place of birth may be carved on the tombstone, especially if the person was an immigrant.
If the tombstone is located in a church cemetery, there is a very good chance they worshipped at that church, and you may be able to request birth, baptismal, marriage, and death records from the church.
Many times a soldier will have his company and regiment engraved on the tombstone. Sometimes, there were be a medallion placed next to the tombstone by the Veteran's Association listing the name of the war the person served in.
Some of the tombstone websites, such as findagrave.com, have photos of the tombstone as well as photos of the deceased person, plus user-contributed obituaries, stories, birth date, marriage date, and death date.
If you cannot find your ancestor's tombstone online, and you know where your ancestor is buried, you can write to the cemetery and request the burial records which may include others buried in the same plot. Many cememteries will charge for this information.