Tombstone Records

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With tombstone inscriptions you never know what you’re going to find.  In some cases, in fact, there may not even be a headstone large enough for a transcription of any type. You may find nothing more than a marker. Unless you’re dealing with a very old, a private, or a badly maintained cemetery, however, you have a reasonable chance of securing at least a few pieces of information.

Almost all tombstones include a full name and possibly birth and/or death date information.

If you’re especially lucky, though, they may reveal much more. Perhaps the inscription will begin with “Beloved wife of . . .”, thereby showing you a relationship. Military tombstones may furnish some details of military service. Similarly, you may find a special logo, indicating participation in an organization that apparently meant a great deal to your ancestor. Older, urban cemeteries in immigrant-heavy cities often contain at least a few tombstones that give the person’s place of birth in the old country, information that can be extremely difficult to come by. The inscription itself may tell you about your ancestor’s views or how those left behind regarded them.

For all of these reasons, even if you already have the basic name and dates of birth and death data, a visit to the cemetery can be a rewarding experience.

TIP:  Grave markers can be a great source of information. Older stones are sometimes too weathered to be easily read. Try this: take a can of shaving cream, a straight edge, and water. Filling in the carving of an old marker will make it easier to read. Be sure to wash it off with water to prevent any damage. It really works!

More Info at FamilySearch Wiki

Almost always include:   
•  Name of deceased
•  Years of birth and/or death

May also include:
•  Full name, including maiden name for women
•  Full dates of birth and/or death
•  Relationship clues (“Beloved wife of…”)
•  Birthplace
•  Age at death
•  Inscription (e.g., poem, Bible quote) providing insight into the ancestor or those left behind
•  Information about military service, such as unit
•  Logo of organization deceased belonged to (ethnic, religious, military, etc.)
•  Cause of death
•  Marriage date (rare)

1)  Visit The Cemetery — there’s no better place to find a tombstone than in a cemetery.

2)  Family History Library — check for both the county and the town in the FHL Catalog under [State], [County], [Town] – Cemeteries.

3)  Local Genealogical & Historical Societies — they often have special projects where they transcribe the tombstones in cemeteries throughout their area.

4)  Internet — there are numerous online transcription projects and photobases; check http://www.usgenweb.com and
http://www.cyndislist.com for the location you’re interested in.

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