Virginia Cemeteries, Part III

10.  Small children are frequently buried at the foot of a grandparent’s grave or in a small burial between grandmother and grandfather. When a child dies, the whole extended family grieves–watch for these graves, they often prove missing maiden surnames. When you search printed cemetery inscriptions or older online databases, be sure they include children under 12 years of age. Transcripts of the past left out children because they were not ancestors. And while that is correct, the burials of children provide access to other genealogy evidence.

11.  Migration patterns apparent in places of birth for several generations can be seen in the same family plot. Or observed on the stones from the whole cemetery. People travel together in groups and settle in clusters near each other. The burial yards will reflect the migration patterns with an accuracy no other source can match. The migration patterns may be subtle and visible only in the artwork on the stones, the color and size of the stones, the original spellings of the names–evidence which you have to study to discover.

12.  Watch carefully for immigrant family members who die within a few days or weeks of each other. Two or three similar families, related to each other, travel together. When family members die, they create a blended family made up of the survivors. When you first begin your research, you are searching for the blended family! You might not recognize the original family units in the passenger lists unless you search the cemeteries and church records first. One of the most dramatic examples, although it does not come from Virginia, provides a glimpse of discovering cemetery evidence:

Bath Cemetery, Bath Maine, Route 295 (between Portland and Augusta)  Notes made in the cemetery: We walked every stone in the cemetery looking for George Briggs’ stone. It was located on the edge of a mounded hill on the lane for that section. The stone was  a large one–the only stone in that section. Since apparently, the plot holds the graves of 7 children along with the the mother, we reasoned that the plot was pretty full.

It was as if, George Briggs, having buried his wife and 7 children between 1861 and 1865, placed the stone on the grave and left Maine forever. Leaving all trace of his origins behind him. He never spoke of this family. Please compare the 1870 census in New York City (Manhattan), for the only family he had left–one surviving daughter–

We bowed our heads a moment and wept. Arlene Eakle and Ruth Messick, Bath Maine, 27 Apr 1999.

Along the Virginia-North Carolina state line the creeks and rivers run north and south, not east and west. When they cross the line the names change–sometimes those name changes are known only to local residents and the names have not been recorded on standard maps. You will be familiar with this phenomenon for streets in many towns and cities. The same thing happens with cemeteries located along these boundaries. Named for a family on one side and for a church on the other side. To determine in which state the burial occurs, you have to go there or find the cemetery on Find-a-Grave or some other online cemetery database.

Allied sources: for burials where no stone is found–
__Stone carvers ledgers or card files (See FHL film #383063 Reading, Berks, PA)
__Carpenters account books
__Sextons records
__Newspaper obituaries
__Family bibles
__Society or business memorial with names of members
__Printed eulogies
__Local funeral directors–they always have a Cemetery Map of their area. And some will index maps to each cemetery showing where  people and families are located. Your favorite Virginia genealogist, Arlene Eakle

PS  Linda and I have been updating and revising the book How to Search a Cemetery, first published in 1974 (over 8,000 copies sold!). Watch for Table of Contents to appear on this website. $20.00 plus postage. You can reserve your copy if you like, by sending us an email and we’ll ship with invoice or receipt when it is finished.

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