Before Going to the Cemetery

Going to a cemetery is more than knowing where it is and having your camera and other supplies with you. A few things to think about:

  • Is it in a safe area? Contact locals who should be able to give you some insight into concerns you might have about safety of the area in which the cemetery is located and areas you may have to drive through in order to get there.
  • When is it open? Are there a limited number of hours during the day when the cemetery is open?
  • Can you find out where the stones are before you get there? Is there an office you can visit when you get there to determine the location of the graves you wish to visit? Some cemeteries are large. Browsing the stones may take significantly more time than you think. Rural cemeteries can be larger than you think–don’t assume they are all small.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings–whether the cemetery is large or small. Rural cemeteries are often good places for non-genealogists to go to engage in a variety of activities. I encountered a middle-aged couple having a rendezvous late one afternoon when I went to visit my grandparents’ rural grave. They were more surprised to see me than I was to see them–largely because I think they were concerned that I knew who they were.
  • Make certain you have permission to access the property if the cemetery is on private property or requires crossing private property to access.
  • Consider taking someone with you.
  • Let someone else know where you will be going and what cemeteries you plan on visiting–just in case.
West Point Cemetery, West Point, Hancock County, Illinois, taken 28 May 2017 by Michael John Neill
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