This was the third chat for the #ANZAncestryTime twitter group. Tonight was more informal and included many images of gravestones and cemeteries members had visited. But we still had our set questions. Two new words I learnt tonight were:
Taphophilia – here is a site to check out its meaning
Coimetromania – post here about the meaning
Q1 Where is your favourite cemetery to research and why?
I’m going to put a list of cemeteries mentioned at the end of this post with links to any databases etc related to them. But most mentioned they research a cemetery where their ancestors were buried. A few different reasons appeared:
Fran said: The winning cemetery for me is Karori Cemetery in Wellington, NZ. It has many of my ancestors graves or entries in the memorial book. Best they have a great free database managed by Wellington City Council.
Jennifer had a different reason: At the moment it’s Axedale in central Victoria. I’m currently recording all the graves for my One Place Study.
Hilary said: No favourite as not had chance to get to any where family are since I retired
Jill mentioned: One of my favourite cemeteries is Glasnevin in Dublin. Friendly staff, genealogist on site, online ancestor search. Fantastic graves and headstones. Interesting tours and brimming with history.
Sharn had a great reason for liking her cemetery: I have a soft spot for Cooroy Cemetery in Qld where my gg grandparents were both buried in 1927 because my husband David restored the headstone. Now, there’s more to the story but…. another time! See question 3 below for rest of story.
Jill enjoyed visiting another on her travels: I loved the Green-Wood Cemetery in New York. The staff were not at all helpful but we still managed to find a monument that listed details of ancestors we didn’t know about.
Seonaid said: My favourite NZ cemetery would have to be Symonds St Cemetery – the 1st cemetery in Auckland, where all the early Auckland settlers were buried. In use since 1842.
Being Tasmanian: My favourite cemetery is at Cornelian Bay in Hobart as that is where majority of my ancestors are buried. Also love that it is online and searchable through Millingtons.
Pauline mentioned: My absolute favourite cemetery for research is the large Drayton & Toowoomba Cemetery in Qld. Lots of rellies but an excellent search facility giving dates, locations and even photos of the gravestones!
Liz said: I have researched burials in many cemeteries but especially like the country cemeteries where the pioneers lay at rest. Many historical graves
Maggie said: Love Temuka cemetery in South Canterbury – lots of whānau buried there. Timaru District council and their cemetery search and photos means you can do it from home too
Brooke had an unusual reason: My favourite cemetery is the graveyard attached to All Saints Anglican at Sutton Forest. Why? It’s a good day trip escape from my kids 😉
Melissa said: Maybe I’m biased because I live out West, but Waikumete Cemetery is my fave. I only have a couple of relatives there, but it’s full of awesome characters.
Q2 was about links or tips about favourite cemeteries
- I love visiting my ancestors’ last resting place, a way of connecting to them.
- Cemeteries are a good way to get kids interested in They like ghoul.
- I have started to take photos for the one in my village at the end of my cul de sac.
- So important to take photos before headstone degrade. Most important now that some cemeteries are removing headstones and recycling graves.
- When we visit the cemeteries we also get to see the area where they lived and worked.
- Some cemeteries are huge so wear good walking shoes. Many of the older parts do not have paths and it’s hilly too. Check out possible locations of graves before hand so you can park closer. The office is typically most helpful.
- It is always terrific if you are able to visit the cemetery in person if possible and locate the graves of your relatives.
- Always look for more than one burial, even if you are just concentrating your search on an individual. It is not uncommon to have family members buried with each other and / or very close by.
- Check to see if there are any memorial inscriptions or graveyard maps published – many local societies have done amazing work. Especially useful when headstones have been removed or are illegible.
- Combine the information on a headstone with some Trove research. How could I not try to find out something about a man named ‘Dolphin’? He’s no relation to me, but I popped my findings onto Ancestry & helped someone.
- Headstones can give additional information that may not be found elsewhere. There might be a year or exact date of birth, or the place where they were born, or other family members on the headstone or nicknames.
- Symbolism about the person may be reflected in the actual monument or style of grave.
- I take photos of family graves and their neighbours when visiting cemeteries and upload them to BillionGraves.
- If not online, consider visiting in office hours where some of the big cemeteries have staff to consult. They may have grave maps to direct you to the plot
- Remember, sometimes they have incorrect data – as always -need to check.
- Calling ahead is also a good move
- Take a notebook and note down the inscriptions in case you can’t read them properly on the photo later
- If the cemetery is associated with a church (as many in the UK are) researching the church’s history may be advantageous
- Burial records will indicate who is also buried in the same grave and it is not unusual to find unknown people in your research. All internments may not be indicated on the headstone
- if travelling check ahead to find out as much as possible about the cemetery
- A lot of burial records are now online, either via local councils or cemetery Trusts or via other larger websites such as FMP, Ancestry and FamilySearch or via crowd sourced websites such as Find a grave and Billiongraves
- I find that searching regional council websites can lead me to their grave search options – very helpful. Some are database and some are pdf.
- I’ve found funeral notices or obituaries more useful for burial information.
- Also beware that the person may have been buried elsewhere then relocated and reburied closer to family.
- Public libraries hold unique often fairly accessible local history collections. Check the library in the location where your ancestor lived for cemetery records
- The local Family History Society often have indexes.
- Errors in transcriptions online does happen, so if a photograph of a headstone is not available, try to find and compare several different versions of headstone transcriptions for a particular cemetery.
- We can’t always rely on the inscription on the headstone. Multiple sources to verify are important
- So many people are cremated these days that we cannot often locate the place of scattering. A frustration for genies
- Be very imaginative with your spelling. The search engine isn’t very intuitive. I discovered that many names starting with Mc have a space between the Mc and the rest. Eg, my McClure ancestors are listed as Mc Clure. I drop the prefix altogether and find I get much better results in most cases. Eg: Search Clure only or search Kilda instead of St Kilda
- We need to apply the same rules that we apply for all searches.
- Do other people use funeral director’s records? They can offer more info and also take you beyond the closure period on BDM.
- Best trick EVER to read old Gravestones given by a stone carver! PART 1 youtu.be/dyGlVWvGZbs This guy’s voice! But he’s right about the mirror.
- Can also read the inscription aloud and record your voice on your smart phone
- Yes, whenever I visit a graveyard or cemetery, I photo all the headstones in my ancestor’s plot and post on FindAGrave. It doesn’t take much time and if it helps someone with #, I’m paying it forward in thanks for what others have posted in the past!
Q3 mentioned scary or funny happenings while you have been at a cemetery
Fran: Nothing exciting ever happens to me at graveyards or cemeteries. I have stayed at one when visiting an Aunt and Uncle. My Uncle worked at the Taita Cemetery and had a home with the job. Perhaps this is why I am not frightened of them from playing there
Pauleen: amusing (for me, not hubby)> standing on the bonnet of the hire car to climb over the metal spikey fence at Bodyke cemetery, Co Clare. Tore my trousers but not me 😉
Sharn: I fell into an old dry grave once. It was not a nice feeling!
Liz: A couple of times I have found family graves just by walking around the old fashioned way with no knowledge of the location of a grave. Was I being guided in some way ??
Seonaid: Many have tales to tell of meeting unexpected characters in Symonds St Cemetery – see links below in cemetery list
Sandra: A few close-enough encounters with snakes, spiders and webs. Once I was engrossed in writing something down and looked up and noticed I was surrounded by a group of kangaroos
Sharn: Scary experience for others while my husband was restoring the headstone at Cooroy Cemetery. being a very hot day, and with no one around, my husband striped to his undies to do the work and suddenly a funeral procession arrived….
Pauleen: scary..a bit. The rabbit that burst out of its burrow under a semi-fallen gravestone in Bothkennar kirkyard in Stirlingshire.
Sylvia: Walked into churchyard in Wiltshire & saw a family surname on headstone very close to church door. Took photo & it turned out to be brides sister & witness of my 2xg grandparents wedding
Brooke: Not actually in a cemetery, but someone mentioned scattering ashes, which reminded me of the time I was helping with a service at the beach. Dad & I took the ashes & wreath out past the break. The wind blew old Frank’s ashes all over us as we scattered him.😱
Q4 was any unusual or dramatic gravestones discovered
— fran kitto (@travelgenee) October 20, 2020
— Jill Ball (@geniaus) October 20, 2020
Q4. An unexpected find in St. Helier, Jersey was Lillie Langtry’s grave. The minister who found our group wandering in his graveyard gave us an impromptu tour. #ANZAncestryTime pic.twitter.com/0gGSgibAhB
— Jill Ball (@geniaus) October 20, 2020
A4. Googled ancestor’s name – found his Grade II listed chest tomb! Nathaniel Phillips (1768-1842), St Simon & St Jude’s church, Cockshutt, Shropshire #ANZAncestryTime https://t.co/CFVFCT4ypj pic.twitter.com/zLqp678sgz
— Maggie @ iwiKiwi (@iwikiwichick) October 20, 2020
— Jill Ball (@geniaus) October 20, 2020
— Liz Pidgeon (@Infolass) October 20, 2020
— Jill Ball (@geniaus) October 20, 2020
- Symonds Street, Auckland – includes walks through cemetery, grave site search, map with plot numbers and names, ghost tales from the cemetery,
- Karori Cemetery, Wellington – history of the cemetery, noted people buried there
- Temuka, South Canterbury – search for Timaru council area cemeteries
- Waikumete, Auckland – includes guided walks,
- Useful list of NZ cemeteries that are online
- Website for finding burials in Auckland
- Axedale, Central Victoria – information on cemetery as part of goldfields guide, story about two cemeteries in Axedale
- Cooroy, Queensland – local gene group photographs for 3 cemeteries
- Cornelian Bay, Tasmania – Millingtons, funeral directors, has the database, a walk through the cemetery
- Drayton and Toowoomba, Queensland – website for search and photographs included, history of the heritage listed cemetery
- Norfolk Island – can search by name at this website and also includes other places to check photos, archaeological find at the cemetery, First Fleet headstone discovered
- Boonah, Queensland – online search as part of Scenic Rim Council
- Sutton Forest, New South Wales – All Saints Anglican church records, St Patricks Catholic records
- Rookwood, Sydney, NSW – The Catholic search database is separate to the rest of the cemetery database. Post about the cemetery in Traces Magazine.
- Brisbane City Council cemeteries – lots of different information from various cemeteries
- South East Queensland – headstone photographs and info, this can be clunky to use but persevere
- St John’s at Badgery Creek, Sydney – article about moving the cemetery, history of cemetery
- Devonshire Street Cemetery, Sydney – Brooke suggests this podcast for information
- Glasnevin, Dublin – watch this video before visiting this cemetery, 10 famous people buried here, history of the cemetery
- Green Wood, New York – including history and search database
- Old Cemetery, Southampton, UK – great information found here, friends group helping to maintain cemetery,
- Bodyke cemetery, County Clare, Ireland – graveyard inscriptions
- St John the Evangelist, Oulton, West Yorkshire – West Yorkshire archive services has lots of records some online, the churchyard on find a grave
- Bothkennar, Scotland – about the area of Bothkennar, where the records are found
Posts about cemeteries or headstones
Jill also has a website with many small cemeteries around Australia listed including links to them.
Seonaid wrote about headstones at Symonds Street, Auckland.
Merron has written about cemeteries in the Western district of Victoria.
Carmel has written about remote cemeteries not on Google maps.
Carmel has started a geneameme relating to cemeteries. Find out about it in this post.
Readers: What do you enjoy about cemeteries? Where is your favourite one?