Monday, July 30, 2007

Genealogy Through Cemetery Research

Sometimes the only way to gain information and further your research is by visiting the graves of your ancestors. You may wonder why you should go to the trouble of locating and visiting cemeteries. I'll tell you why. You may think you are visiting the grave site of one person, then when you get there you discover a whole family plot. There can be a spouse (maybe even a maiden name), children, possibly the children's spouses, full or partial birth and death dates, birthplaces, and parent's names listed on the stone. Sometimes a grave stone will even provide military information or a hint of membership in an organization.

Yes, it is true! It has happened to me. I can't tell you how excited I was when I found such extended information. The grin on my face was huge. I began taking notes and pictures like crazy. What I thought would be a short half-hour visit to a cemetery turned into a couple of hours. I have even found evidence of previously unknown baby deaths.

Just remember, this is considered secondary information not primary. The people providing the information or the stone carver sometimes made mistakes. You will need to confirm the cemetery information with sources - birth and death certificate, marriage records, probate records, etc.

Is it worth it? Absolutely! It is a wonderful feeling to stand in the place that holds your ancestors' remains and see important information carved in the stones. If the cemetery you want to visit is a long distance away, use the trip as part of a vacation. And do it now. Older stones are deteriorating or being destroyed by vandals; old cemeteries are disappearing. You won't regret the trip, but you might regret a missed opportunity.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Beverly National Cemetery, Beverly, New Jersey

The Beverly National Cemetery is a military cemetery located in Burlington County, New Jersey. Non-military spouses can often be found buried next to their military spouse. If you write to the cemetery office they will send you a map with the area(s) marked for the person(s) you are looking for.

As you can see from the photos, it is a beautiful cemetery with an Avenue of Flags Honoring Deceased Veterans and a lovely sitting area with 2 benches.

The Section and Grave numbers are on the back of the stones, which makes it fairly easy to locate the one you are looking for.


My Woodside grandparents are buried here, side by side:

John T. Woodside
June 15 1877
May 14 1948

(John Thomas Woodside is the son of William Steward Woodside and Rose Ann Lyons Smith, of Perry County, Illinois.)

Ida May
July 5 1883
February 15 1959
Wife of
Sgt J T Woodside
Since the Elmlawn Cemetery is located near Buffalo, New York and Niagara Falls, my daughter and I decided to make it a vacation trip. For us it was a 6 hour trip by car to Buffalo. We stayed near the 290 Expressway to make it easy to get to both the cemetery and Niagara Falls. A good portion of one day was spent visiting the grave sites and taking pictures.

The office at the cemetery is very helpful if you have any questions or need directions to a particular area. I suggest you write to the cemetery in advance with the names you are interested in. They will send you a map of the cemetery with the grave sites marked.

Elmlawn has a new website with more information on the cemetery, a map and directions, plus some genealogy information. You can visit them at

While you are there be sure to take time to take in Niagara Falls and visit some of the sites in Buffalo.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Elmlawn Cemetery, Kenmore, New York

Elmlawn Cemetery is located in Kenmore, just north of Buffalo, New York, at 3939 Delaware Avenue. Located in this cemetery are the graves for my grandfather's brother - William J. Woodside, Sr. - as well as his wife, 3 of his children and and their families. All are located in the West Chapel Lawn section.

Front side of Woodside gravestone (Lot 515, graves #7, 8, 9). Names at bottom of stone are:

Edna M. 1915 - 1928
Lillie B. 1881 - 1954
William J. Sr. 1879 - 1959

Lillie B. (Samcoe) is the wife of William J. Woodside, Sr. Edna is one of their twin daughters.

Rear of Woodside gravestone. Names at bottom of stone are:

Thomas A. 1914 -
Evelyn A. 1915 - 1954 (grave #2)

Evelyn A. (Woodside) Green is the twin sister of Edna M. above.

At time of photographing (Sept. 2005) Thomas was still alive according to the cemetery office.

This Woodside marker is flat in the ground (Lot 514, grave #8). The names on it are:

William J. Jr. 1907 - 1961
Anna G. 1904 - 1991