cemetery, locating cemeteries, finding gravestones

Locating and Visiting Cemeteries

Editor’s note: The following post is by William Dollarhide, who has not only provided excellent tips of both the serious and witty variety, but is an accomplished Genealogical Publishing Company author. As Mr. Dollarhide excels not only an author but also as a gifted speaker and award winning genealogist, we are always delighted to share his advice, wisdom and wit with our readers. This is part one of his coverage of the topic of locating and visiting cemeteries. 

Locating and Visiting Cemeteries – Part One

DOLLARHIDE GENEALOGY RULE #21: To understand the living, you have to commune with the dead–but don’t commune with the dead so long that you forget that you are living! (From “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.”)

Although I would not consider myself to be obsessed with death, burials, or other ghoulish activities, I have had some wonderful experiences in cemeteries. I am sure I am not alone. Since visiting cemeteries is part of what we do to find information about our ancestors, every genealogist has a cemetery story. These stories may include the weird problems associated with cemeteries as well as the wonderful discoveries that can be found there.

To most genealogists, the first problem is always that of finding the exact location of a cemetery where an ancestor was supposed to have been buried. But once the cemetery has been located, other problems prevail, such as finding a gravestone in an old unkempt graveyard with no finding aids available.

Here are some thoughts on finding and visiting cemeteries that may be of use to genealogists:

Finding-Tools for Locating Cemeteries

Death Certificates and Funeral Homes

A death certificate may give the name of a cemetery where the deceased was interred, as well as the name of a funeral home. The funeral home (or its successor) is probably still in business and should be contacted. To do this, use the “Yellow Book” (a directory of funeral homes) to find a funeral home today. Funeral home directors are clearly the best experts on the location of cemeteries in a particular area.

The “Yellow Book” is distributed annually to every funeral home in North America. Anyone should be able to call or visit a local funeral home and request to use their directory to find an address and phone number for any other funeral home. Fortunately, the same “Yellow Book” database is now on the Internet at www.funeralnet.com where the address and phone number for virtually every funeral home in the U.S. and Canada can be found online.

GENEALOGY RULE #3: When visiting a funeral home, wear old clothes, no makeup, and look like you have about a week to live–the funeral director will give you anything you ask for if he thinks you may be a customer soon.

Obituaries

Another possible source for locating a cemetery where an ancestor was buried is to see if a printed obituary for the deceased person includes information about where the body was interred. Obituaries are found in newspapers published near the place where a person died. Many old newspapers are available to genealogical researchers on microfilm, and they usually are located in a public library, college library, archives, genealogical society, historical society, or some other institution near the place of death of the subject.

A two-volume publication, “Newspapers in Microform,” published by the Library of Congress, is the best listing of what newspapers might be found on microfilm. The publication acts as a means of identifying and then borrowing rolls of film, which can be used at a local library through the national Interlibrary Loan System at more than 6,000 libraries in the U.S.

In addition, state libraries or state archives usually have the best collection of newspapers for a particular state. Most state archives now have a website on the Internet, where you may discover a detailed review of county newspapers.

The Internet is also a good place to search for obituaries that may have been published for a particular area. Check www.cyndislist.com under that category, or use your browser to search the web for the keyword, “obituaries.”

Using the GNIS to Find a Cemetery

There is another great tool for locating a particular cemetery that may not be obvious to researchers. The most complete listing and locations of named cemeteries in the U.S. can be found at the United States Geological Survey (USGS) website at http://nhd.usgs.gov/gnis.html.

This site has the USGS’s Geographic Names Information System (GNIS), which encompasses some two million place names (map features) in America, of which about 107,000 are cemeteries. The GNIS includes the largest list of named cemeteries published anywhere. (A few years ago, a very expensive printed publication advertised as the “most complete list of cemeteries in America” was produced, showing about 25,000 cemeteries–less than one-fourth the number that can be found in the GNIS listing.)

The GNIS cemetery names were taken from the detailed maps of the 7.5 x 7.5 minute series published by the USGS. (Each map in this series covers 7.5 minutes of latitude and 7.5 minutes of longitude, a rectangle representing an area about 6-7 miles wide by about 7-8 miles deep.) For the 7.5 series, more than 50,000 maps were required to show the entire U.S. and its possessions.

In addition to cemeteries, all other named features from the maps were extracted, including cities, towns, villages, hills, mountains, valleys, oil fields, airports, post offices, streams, lakes, and any other place on a map with a name. For years, genealogists were compelled to pay up to $3.00 per map for the USGS 7.5 series maps. Today, they are all accessible from the Internet and can be downloaded directly to your printer.

Image credit: By Kevin M. Byrne (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

 

Aberdeen Scotland

The People of Aberdeen, Scotland

Genealogical Publishing Company is pleased to announce another excellent publication from author and expert,  David Dobson, The People of the Scottish Burghs: A Genealogical Source Book. The People of Aberdeen, 1600-1799. Many genealogical researchers are familiar with other publications from Dr. Dobson, such as Irish Emigrants in North America and Scottish-German Links, 1550-1850, just two titles of over twenty acclaimed works in the Genealogical Publishing Company collection.

Mr. Dobson’s new book, The People of the Scottish Burghs: A Genealogical Source Book. The People of Aberdeen, 1600-1799, is now available for purchase on the Genealogical.com website.

Aberdeen during the early modem period contained two distinct burghs–Old Aberdeen, the original settlement, and New Aberdeen. Old Aberdeen was an important ecclesiastical town and, with King’s College, an educational center in the medieval and early modem period. Additionally, a Royal Charter of 1179 confirmed the commercial rights of the burgesses of the old town, the social and economic elite of any burgh. A mile or so distant lay another settlement known as Aberdeen. This was the commercial center of north east Scotland, with trading links all around the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. New Aberdeen was a Royal Burgh with a major port and, from 1593, was the home of Marischal College, an important center of learning. The two Aberdeens functioned separately until they formally merged in 1898. The two colleges–King’s and Marischal–amalgamated in 1860 to form Aberdeen University.

During the 17th and 18th centuries Aberdeen was an important administrative center and market in north east Scotland. Its vessels traded increasingly across the Atlantic to the West Indies and the Thirteen Colonies. Aberdeen was also a major fishing port and participated in whaling around Greenland. Emigration from Aberdeen was mainly to Scandinavia, Poland, and the Netherlands and latterly to the Americas, as is shown in this source book.

The People of Aberdeen concentrates on the period from 1600 to 1800 when Aberdeen was one of the main cities in Scotland. By the middle of the 17th century it had a population around 5,000; however, by the close of the 18th century the population had nearly tripled to 17,500. Dr. David Dobson, the compiler of this collection of Aberdeen’s inhabitants during the era of New World emigration, consulted a range of documentary sources, including testaments, deeds, sassines [property], marriage contracts, bonds, court records, and others, all of which provide a useful insight into the lives of the people of the period. Dr. Dobson identifies each of the nearly 2,000 inhabitants of Aberdeen by name, occupation, a date, and the source. In many instances he also provides additional facts, such as the name(s) of family members, if/when traveled to the Americas, contestants in civil suits, and so on.
Nb. The People of Aberdeen, 1600-1799 should be used in conjunction with Frances McDonnell’s Roll of Apprentices, Burgh of Aberdeen, 1622-1796 and her Register of Testaments, Aberdeen, 1715-1800, both published by the Clearfield Company.

Image credit: Marischal College, Aberdeen, Scotland. By Photochrom Print Collection [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

colonial maryland, white slave, white slave children

Origins and Descendants of White Slave Children of Colonial Maryland and Virginia

Editor’s Note: The following post is written by Genealogical Publishing Company author Dr. Richard Hayes Phillips. His books tread into territory that has been previously underreported, colonial white slave children. In his post below, Dr. Phillips discussing some of his research efforts that went into the making of White Slave Children of Colonial Maryland and Virginia: Birth and Shipping Records, as well as the reasons behind writing this book.

The Genealogist as Detective: Richard Hayes Phillips and the Search for the Origins and Descendants of White Slave Children of Colonial Maryland and Virginia

Some time ago I published a book — Without Indentures: Index to White Slave Children in Colonial Court Records  — in which are identified, by name, 5290 “servants” without indentures, transported without their consent, against their will, to the Chesapeake Bay, and sentenced to slavery by the County Courts of colonial Maryland and Virginia.  The younger the child, the longer the sentence.  These were white kids, with surnames different from those of their masters. Continue reading…

white slave children

White Slave Children of Maryland and Virginia

Picking up where he left off in his acclaimed book Without Indentures: Index to White Slave Children in Colonial Court Records, Dr. Richard Hayes Phillips has now taken the story back even further — back to the scenes of the original crimes–kidnapping of children to be sold into slavery (ca. 1660-1720).

In his original book, Dr. Phillips identified 5,290 “servants” without indentures, transported against their will. He culled that evidence from the Court Order Books of colonial Maryland and Virginia, where the county courts were authorized to examine the children, adjudge their ages, and sentence them to slavery for a number of years. The younger the child, the longer the sentence. In this book, White Slave Children of Colonial Maryland and Virgina: Birth and Shipping Records, compiled from shipping records found in the Library of Congress, the Bristol [England] Record Office, and elsewhere, the author has identified 170 ships that carried white slave children to the plantations of colonial Maryland and Virginia. The shipping records itemize the unfortunate kids as “cargo” and specify the import duties paid to the Royal Naval Officers for each child. The white slave ships sailed from no fewer than seventeen ports of departure in England. Continue reading…

white slavery

White Slavery – A Story Behind the Index

Editor’s note: In this groundbreaking work, Without Indentures: Index to White Slave Children in Colonial Court Records, Richard Hayes Phillips has collected the names of more than five thousand children kidnapped from Ireland, Scotland, England, and New England, and sold into white slavery in Maryland and Virginia, c. 1660-1720.

As this topic tends to be largely under reported, save for the predominantly inaccessible historical records, Without Indentures brings forth the names of those children bound into white slavery so they can be placed into context within their family histories.

Please enjoy the following behind the scenes look on the making of the book, written by the author, Richard Hayes Phillips, Ph.D.

The Story Behind Without Indentures: Index to White Slave Children in Colonial Court Records

By Richard Hayes Phillips, Ph.D.

I do not seek out controversy.  It finds me.  I do have an inquisitive mind, and one thing leads to another, but I didn’t know genealogy could be so controversial. Continue reading…