Do not always assume that someone died near where they are buried. It is very possible that they died while travelling or living a distance away with a relative and were returned “home” for burial.

That death certificate or death record may be several states away. I recently located a man who lived the last few years of his life in California, but had spent the previous thirty years in Nebraska. Nebraska is where he was buried, but California is where he died and where his death certificate was filed.



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  1. Consider the possibility that they died in a larger place where there were hospitals. Charity hospitals drew patients from a wide area. Also, if they lived near a state line, they could have died in the adjoining state. For example, Vicksburg, MS had a charity hospital, but people across the MS river in Louisiana were patients there and died there. The death certificate would be filed in MS, not LA.

  2. I have had some success asking cemeteries if they have the body transport permits that contain info on where (in which county people died). I had two very different experiences with the same cemetery. When I called about person A, the employee on the line was able to quickly look it up and tell me the county (several hundred miles away) where the death occurred. When next I called a year or so later for person B, the employee on the line said the cemetery does not keep those records. I plan on calling back another time when that second employee may not be on duty.

  3. My parents were raised in Hancock County, IL, but (like many of their contemporaries) were born in Lee County, IA–right across the Mississippi River because that's where the hospital was at. My grandfather died in the same location.

    Anonymous is right–a person may have to cross state lines.

  4. Often people who pass away at an advanced age will be returned to where their spouse was interred. Especially women who have gone to live with relatives in another state possibly will be shipped home to be buried next to her husband.

  5. Another example: My mother moved with her husband #2, he then died. She married husband #3 and moved to another county, he also passed away. She then took ill and was transported to another county hospital #1, from where she lived. Then was transported to hospital #2, in a different county, where she passed away. To round out her life, her cremains are to be buried with her parents, in the county where she was born. All in the same state.

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