Welcome to the CCCGS blog.

The purpose of this blog is to promote the Contra Costa County Genealogical Society by announcing upcoming events and reporting on past events. In doing so, I hope it will encourage all who are interested to attend any of our events and meetings, and share in our enthusiasm of genealogical research.

October 10, 2010

Cemetery Trips

Cemeteries are like taxes to the genealogist, you just can't avoid them. You have to pay your taxes and sooner or later, you will go to the cemetery. Cemeteries are full of great information for the genealogist. There's headstone information, date of death, wife, husband, child. Then there's other information that may be a surprise...

 It was a family fact that our relatives seemed to be buried at the same cemetery and one day early in my research, I convinced my father to go with me to show me where his grandmother was buried. I would have never found her as she doesn't have a headstone which surprised me. 

We spent the morning walking from site to site and talking about dead relatives.  My dad took me to his parents, aunts and uncles graves and as an after thought we stopped by his grandmother's sisters plots. There, I found several NEW names that I didn't have before. The SURNAMES were unfamiliar to me. If I had been by myself, I would have missed that information. If you can, take an older relative with you, it will be worth your time and you may hear old family stories that you would have never heard otherwise. Keep in mind that you should always verify the information you find on headstones with death certificates or other records.

On a trip to Colma, CA to find my dad's grandfather I wasted an hour walking around in circles, looking for the headstone that didn't exist. All of the information, I gathered came from the office that day. 

If you go, be sure to visit the office of the cemetery and have the records pulled. The records provide information that you may have not thought about, such as who owns the plot, other parties that may have paid for expenses, date of death, doctors names etc.. Before you go make a plan of who you want to find, what other relatives could be there and questions to ask the office.

If you can't go, there are a number of good resources for this information Here's just a few:
  • Douglas Keister has written: Stories in Stone: A Field Guide to Symbolism and Iconography. 
What cemetery stories do you have?

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