Why Persistence Pays in Hunting Records
On 6 August 2010, I called a cemetery in Indiana requesting records of the family plot. I know I called that day and I know who I spoke with because I wrote a note on the ancestor's burial citation on my Ancestry.com tree. I was told it was against the cemetery's policy to release burial record information. I told the employee that I planned on visiting the cemetery and needed to know where the grave was located. That grave location was given to me and I dutifully recorded it.
That day I created a Find-A-Grave memorial for two of the individuals in the family, the husband and wife. I thought it was odd they were buried in Grave 2 and 3 but since the cemetery employee refused to give me who was buried in Grave 1, I had no way to know. I immediately put in a request for a photo on Find-A-Grave hoping that the mystery of burial space 1 would be revealed. No one ever came through with the photo.
In September, I wrote for the death certificate of the other spouse as I decided I would use this family for my Board of Certified Genealogist certification portfolio. It took 2 months, and several phone calls to Indianapolis, before I FINALLY received the record. I'm not understanding why the website says "Average Processing Time: 2 weeks (5-10 business days). Processing times could increase during peak times (holiday, travel, income tax months and school enrollment) and may take up to 3 weeks (5-15 business days) to prepare your order for shipping." when it took them 2 months but that's another story - I kept being told that it was a busy time. I was very excited when the record finally arrived and it confirmed that the burial was in the same cemetery as the wife. I decided the day after Thanksgiving to call the cemetery again to see if maybe their policy had changed and I could obtain a copy of the cemetery record.
I love getting the cemetery records because I have uncovered some very interesting info - names of children I had never heard of, confirmation that the family was in the area earlier than I had thought based on the purchase date of the plots and married names of female relatives who were listed as the next of kin.
Unbelievably, when I called the cemetery I got the same person I spoke with 5 years ago. She again told me that records weren't available. I told her I needed a picture of the stone and had placed a request on Find-A-Grave but no one had fulfilled it. She said that maybe there was no stone. I told her that I was interested in having a stone placed on the graves so I needed to verify that there was no stone. She agreed to pull the file which actually was only an index card. She stated there was no mention that there was or wasn't a stone. I asked how I could know for sure. She said I'd have to look. I told her I lived 2000 miles away and couldn't do that. She told me she couldn't give me any further information because she had no proof I was a relative.
I asked her how she would like me to get her proof - fax or email? She said to send via email so I scanned the 2 death certificates, one of their children's birth certificates, the grand child's birth certificate and my driver's license. Moments later she sent an email with a copy of the burial card and that's when I did a double happy dance!
The card, interestingly, showed that 7 burial plots were purchased in 1927. At the time of purchase, the couple had 2 children and the wife was pregnant with the third child. I could understand purchasing 5 plots but they purchased 7. Reviewing the record I learned that the wife's mother was also interred in one of the plots. I had tried to verify where this woman was buried for 10 years! Although I had her death date from family member recollections no one could remember her maiden name or where she was buried. I tried writing for a death certificate but was told that there wasn't one on file. I tried to get hospital records as there were only 2 hospitals in the area at the time of her death but was told by both sites that they don't have records that old. I tried contacting what I thought would have been the funeral home but they are no longer in business. I was so happy to finally find where this woman was buried! Unfortunately, the card did not list her maiden name.
I was also shocked to discover that an infant grandchild was buried in the last space. I knew of this child as I had found his birth certificate among family papers but I never knew where he had been interred.
I can only assume that 7 plots were purchased as the couple planned to have additional children but did not. Perhaps they were unable to have more children or the economic times was a detriment. Maybe they purchased the extra spaces for their young children's spouses. This was a family that really planned well so that, too, remains a possibility. All I know for sure is that I'm thankful that I was persistent and called again to get more information. Sad that it had to take 5 years to get information that was available. Since there are no relatives left in the area, I think I'm going to contact a reputable (meaning I've used them before and been pleased) monument company in the area to verify that there is no stone since the cemetery worker refused to leave the office and check and no one on find-a-grave has picked up the request.