Preparing for a Research Trip: Cemetery Tour

Almost every genealogist I know loves visiting a cemetery. I’m known to visit cemeteries even if I don’t have any ancestors buried there. Planning for a cemetery trip can be very important.

Tips for Planning the Cemetery Tour

  • Use maps to plan your tour. I use Google Maps: My Maps. If you have several cemeteries to visit in one area, use Google Maps to create a route for efficiency.
  • Get cemetery hours and sexton or office information ahead of time, if possible.
  • Don’t forget to plan for bathroom breaks, lunch breaks, travel time, and time to get lost.
  • Have a back-up plan if the weather gets bad. If you are doing this in conjunction with a  family visit, try to have a flexible schedule.
Front gate photo, Wellsville Cemetery, Missouri

Cemetery Tour Tips

  • When taking digital photos, take a photo of the front gate sign at the beginning AND the end of the session. This will ensure you attribute the correct cemetery to the correct tombstone.
  • Pay attention to who is buried around your ancestors. Often families bought plots together.
  • If there is a local person around, a sexton, groundskeeper, or office staff, be sure to talk to them. They most likely know something more or have supporting documents.
  • Take good, detailed notes and process your data as soon as possible.

What’s in the bag?

Be sure to pack the following:

  • Camera, reflector
  • Memory Cards
  • Battery back-up (USB), car chargers
  • SOFT brushes
  • Water, snacks, sunscreen, bug spray
  • Wear appropriate clothes & shoes (think about weeds, burrs, snakes, bugs, etc)

You never know what kind of obstacles or critters you might encounter in the cemetery. Here are a few that I’ve encountered over the years.

Weeds up past the bumper in South Dakota!
Made a turtle friend in New Hampshire.
Found some deer in Connecticut.
Found ducks in Ohio.
A wild hog warning in Texas.

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