Have you looked at a family tree and discovered several branches with generations of relatives you never knew you had? Perhaps you’ve wondered which branch of the family you got your artistic talent from or if you have any famous or royal ancestors.
In many cases, a great deal of information and clues about your relatives are available from cemetery records and other sources.
Whether you want to know more for entertainment purposes, to share with other family members, or for some other reason, researching genealogy using cemetery plot maps might provide the key to unlocking your family mysteries.
When people mention genealogy, they’re referring to a practice that goes back centuries. The 12th-century French word “genealogie” described a line of descent or pedigree of descent. Today, genealogy research refers to the act of tracing one’s ancestry or the science of studying family history.
Genealogy research typically involves tracking down various documents and other informational clues from different sources to piece together the story of a family’s relatives and their heritage. It makes a great hobby for many, especially those who love to follow clues and solve mysteries.
To research a person’s background, you might look at some or all the following:
Many people research genealogy as an intriguing way to find out more about themselves and their families and to make connections with others. Researching your relatives often costs nothing more than the price of an Internet connection, and it makes a great pastime for individuals in retirement who want to share their family history with the younger generations.
Due to a wealth of online informational and genealogy websites, you can explore a great deal about your genealogy without even leaving the house. Researching genealogy also offers many social and emotional benefits.
It allows you to:
Cemetery mapping is a way of tracking the details related to cemetery plots. It’s beneficial for people doing genealogical research because they can often look up a person’s gravesite by name, city, birthdate or other details. Many cemetery administrators use a paper ledger; some use spreadsheets, and others have moved into the digital age by using software designed especially for cemeteries to track detailed information.
Visitors can locate specific graves, memorials and monuments on the property by viewing a map of cemetery plots. The accuracy of the record-keeping can vary significantly from one cemetery to the next, but it’s still helpful to many.
Additionally, cemetery mapping helps the cemetery manage its plots more efficiently and effectively. A documented map of all the grave plots enables accurate records of which spaces remain unoccupied and the individuals interred in existing graves. The mapping is also helpful for managing other day-to-day tasks involved in cemetery operations.
Cemetery managers often inherit the cemetery records and systems of those that came before them. That can mean everything from worn-out paper notebooks and hand-drawn map templates to spreadsheets.
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In the past, cemeteries often kept records on paper in books and tied each set of records to a plot number on a hand-drawn map. In many cases, this system worked well, but in others, the cemetery workers’ lack of attention to detail, unclear writing, incomplete records, and more created ongoing issues.
Cemeteries that have existed for several decades or longer often have recording systems and management changes that create inconsistencies in the method and accuracy of record-keeping.
Digital cemetery mapping has dramatically improved the accuracy and precision of these plot maps.
A cemetery plot map gives an overview of the entire cemetery and provides detail on the layout to help visitors better visualize the areas they want to research. Some cemeteries have digitized their burial records and have a website where people can log in and search all of the cemetery’s burial and plot details. In this case, when a genealogist researches and locates a grave online, they will be able to know the exact location of the grave before they even visit the cemetery.
For genealogists, burial and other cemetery records hold the key to many discoveries regarding their ancestors, both known and unknown.
The individual who bought the plot or plots initially, the people buried in the plots, and their proximity to others (possibly relatives) in or around the same plot can reveal a lot of helpful information about ancestors’ relationships with each other and their connection to living relatives.
The trail of plot ownership, from the original buyer to the current day, can provide information that may open up new leads to additional family members.
It’s also important to understand that cemeteries often have at least some unmarked graves. When a cemetery decides to go digital, they may use a specific type of non-invasive scanning to locate any additional graves that might have been excluded or inaccurately recorded in historical records. This information could result in a huge victory for you and your genealogical research.
Generally speaking, the rights to a cemetery plot are sold for a period ranging from 25 to 100 years. If the plot ownership is not transferred to a next of kin, the interred body will remain in the grave, but the cemetery will remove the headstone. This same plot may then be sold to someone else and used for another body, along with a new headstone.
Due to this practice, visitors attempting to identify family graves from decades ago may not see any headstones for their family. The cemetery plot map and related records could provide the only evidence of their relative’s burial site and details.
If a cemetery plot map does not immediately reveal the information on your relative that you expected, don’t give up. Ask if the cemetery has changed lot numbers or other details while updating an antiquated system, and ask for more information on mapped plots that no longer have headstones.
You can also ask about any other records the cemetery may have, such as deeds to plots or other cemetery paperwork that might have recorded information for your relative. This information is usually available, especially for larger city cemeteries, for the past 150 to 200 years. The additional research may pay off and reward you with many new finds to add to your extended family history.
If you’re a cemetery administrator in search of effective cemetery mapping software or other cemetery management solutions, contact the experts at Axiom today. Our team can help you streamline sales, marketing, cemetery mapping, customer service records and finances—all from one central hub.
Learn more about Axiom Cemetery Management Solution: a unique, centralized software solution that seamlessly integrates all of your core cemetery management functions into one easy-to-use interface.