Jamestown Gazette

Fall, Cemeteries and Research

Contributing Writer
Janet Wahlberg

Well, it’s that time of year again Fall. The leaves are starting to change, Saints and Sinners Tours are being advertised, and everyone is selling Pumpkin Lattes. What does any of this have to do with genealogy? Well as we begin to do genealogical research, the cemetery that our ancestors are buried in is a logical place to start looking for information.

Where should you start to look for death and burial records. Obituaries often list the burial location. If you do not have an obituary but have a death date and the city where they died, you might try looking at newspaper microfilm. Here in Jamestown, the Prendergast Library has an extensive selection of newspaper microfilms. Armed with the obituary, you should extract as much information as possible. Who survived, who preceded them in death, what organizations did they belong to, what church did they attend, who attended from out of town and what charities are suggested. All of this information can answer questions and point you to other records. Once you have found the obituary, you should check the paper for the next couple of days as there may be a burial record that often lists the pall bearers and other information. These might be family members or men that the person worked with. Again, this presents other avenues to research.

Some cemeteries retain records and are generous enough to share with those of us who are researching. Lakeview Cemetery comes to mind immediately. They have a website (https://nyheritage.org/collections/lake-view-cemetery-records) that contains information on many of the persons interred there. They are also very gracious when you call asking for information. I would just remind you that you need to have the name and death date (at the very least the year) of your ancestor when you call. Sunset Cemetery has records and provides information. I suspect that other cemeteries in the county have an office that you can call. If you had an ancestor who resided at the Dewittville Poor House and may have passed there, you might wish to Google Chautauqua County Poor House Cemetery. While not every person buried in the cemetery is documented, many are.

There is a publication on the shelves at the Hall House Research Library that lists all the Chautauqua County Cemeteries. It includes maps of where the cemeteries are located and what repository the records are housed at in the county. The Hall House Research Library has a collection of cemetery records from most of the cemeteries in the county, including deserted cemeteries.

Of course, there are the standard resources Find A Grave (https://www.findagrave.com/) and One Billion Graves ( https://billiongraves.com/ ) Both are relatively easy to use. By creating an account, you are able to add images and information to each person that you select. Conversely, you can extract information that you find there.

Now back to fall, cemeteries and Pumpkin Lattes. Walking in the cemetery in the fall is wonderful. The leaves are changing color. Some have fallen and crunch under your feet as you walk around looking for your family member’s gravesites. Lakeview in particular is like a large park, a great place to walk. At this time of year many people take advantage of the opportunity to take part in the Saints and Sinners Tours at Lakeview. This year they are October 7th, 14th and 15th. Unfortunately, the Carriage Tours are sold out. Then there is Pumpkin Lattes. Wrapping your hands around a mug of Pumpkin Latte while you sit at your computer and search for records will only enhance the experience.

Take a bit of time on a rainy fall day and get started or get back to your family history research. Next month we will work on those pesky Pilgrims that you may have in the family.

To read Janet Walberg’s previous genealogy columns or to delve deeper into her writings and insights for searching out and recording your own family’s genealogy, please go to jamestowngazette.com and visit Janet’s own web page.

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