What a Trip To the Graveyard Can Tell You

A few years ago, Jeanie Croasmun, genealogist and blogger at Ancestry.com, was creeped out by the idea of visiting a cemetery. Now she takes her kids to the old cemetery by her house in Utah every October. Once a year, on the Sunday before Halloween, the graveyard has a historical festival in which actors portray the lives of the people buried there. She says her children adore the stories and looking at the tombstones.

A few days later in California, Mexican families celebrate the Day of the Dead on November 2. Christa Cowan, also a blogger and genealogist at Ancestry.com, relates a similar experience from her childhood. This was when she spent every Day of the Dead barbecuing and playing with other children in the local cemetery. She points out that Day of the Dead coincides with the Catholic holidays of All Saints’ Day, All Souls’ Day, and even her own birthday.

It turns out that cemetery records are one of the best ways to research your family tree. In America's early years, and even before that, burial records were one of the only times a person’s name was publicly registered. We got the skinny from Ancestry.com on the 4 main types of cemeteries in the US. To start perusing cemetery records at Ancestry.com, sign up for an account using one of these Ancestry.com coupon codes.

Church Burial Yards

Up into the 1940s, most churches had their own burial grounds for members of the congregation. According to accredited genealogists at Ancestry.com, many churches still have their old cemeteries, while others were paved over for new construction.

Public Cemeteries

There are several types of public cemeteries. Since the WWII years, most places in the US have cemeteries for the general public. There are public cemeteries intended for veterans and the military service as well.

Family Burial Plots

These days, everyone who dies has to be buried by a licensed mortician due to certain health codes. But prior to the 1900s, many rural families had their own burial plots located on their property. Some of them have been preserved while others have become overgrown and lost.

Commercial Memorial Parks

Commercial Memorial Parks are a private alternative to public cemeteries. The commercial cemetery industry grew out of the population boom after the Second World War. However, some organizations and families still own private cemeteries.

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