Those who have never researched rural ancestors are sometimes in for a treat when they try and locate someone who has a map of the cemetery or a listing of who owns which plots, etc.
For some rural cemeteries, particularly ones that are no longer used, no such list exists. Township or other local officials may oversee the cemetery, maybe. Or no one at all may look after the cemetery and the records, if there ever were any, may be long gone.
And rural cemeteries rarely have phone numbers you can call to get information. Local historical or genealogical societies and libraries may have information or they may not. Local funeral homes may know who to contact as well. And local government officials, even if they are not responsible for the cemetery’s upkeep, may be aware of someone who knows about who is in the cemetery.
Adjacent landowners may know who knows something about the cemetery, but get permission before walking on someone’s property.
Occasionally I get emails from readers telling me that there simply “have to be records” and comments indicating that “someone, somewhere has ‘them.'”
While a church might have kept records sometimes pastors keep the records of their church and they eventually end up lost or destroyed. The records of some cemeteries, particularly smaller ones, end up in private hands and sometimes those too end up being accidentally destroyed.
This does not mean that one should not look for records. What it does mean is that one cannot always insist that they “have to be around somewhere.” Sometimes they are–but sometimes they are not.
Years ago, I discovered that my grandmother had a step-grandmother who had never been mentioned. For a long list of reasons, I never mentioned the step-grandmother to my own grandmother.
However, I did learn where the step-grandmother was buried. A few months later, my Dad and I had cause to go close to the cemetery on a trip somewhere else and I asked if we could stop for a few minutes to see if I could find the stone.
There was no stone.
Dad mentioned to Grandma the next morning that we had stopped at said cemetery. Grandma later very directly asked me WHO I was looking for in THAT cemetery. Grandma probably knew who I was looking for as there are NO other family members buried there.
Her pointed question and the look on her face told me that she knew darned well who was buried there and whose stone I was looking for.
Sometimes clues aren’t always written, spoken, or photographed.
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It’s always possible that a grave marker was never erected for your relative. Sometimes financial difficulties or no family living in the area was the cause. The end result, no stone, is still the same.
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In the time period in which your ancestor married, how far were they likely to travel to find a spouse? It might not be as far as you think. Travelling 5 miles in 1830 was not as easy as it is today–your ancestor’s “pool of potential mates” is geographically pretty small.
County Recorder’s offices usually records deeds and other legal instruments. They frequently have a “miscellaneous” record where a wide variety of documents might have been brought in to be recorded so that an official copy existed if the original was lost. Have you searched through these records in the local County Recorder’s office?
In one Illinois county, the miscellaneous record contained out-of-state death certificates, a divorce decree from a divorce granted in Florida, my great-uncle’s medical license, military discharge papers, and more.
Give them a look over.
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At the county level, in some places and time periods, there might have been several different “courts” housed in the same physical location–probate court, court of equity, chancery court, guardianship court, etc. Make certain you’ve searched all the records when using the indexes. If a “court” housed several different “courts,” each court would have had a separate series of records, including indexes.