Posted 05-23-2003 at 04:16:06
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Lots of good advice below. To add a bit...
Make sure you do a through deed search on the property you're buying. The land that contains the cemetery may not be included with the property that surrounds it. For example, it may not be a "family" cemetery. A church may have stood there, lo many, many years ago. An acre or two of land may have been given to that church.
Visit the local newspaper offices to check on how far back their archives go. Armed with birth and death dates from some of those stones, research the newspaper articles around those dates. If you're lucky, you may find references to the cemetery in death notices. Birth notices, may give you further information about other family members who were later buried there.
In addition, you may find articles and even pictures relating to your farm. Family reunions, prize winning crops, barn raisings, and corn huskings are some events that may have been newsworthy, at the time.
Talk to owners of other family farms in your area. Especially those that have been held by the same family for a number of generations. Older family members may know that "great uncle Frank" was buried in that cemetery.
Visit local churches and funeral homes. Look for ones that were established within or before the timeframe of the dates you were able to find. Each may have some records that will aid in your search.
Spend some time at the county government offices. If the records haven't been destroyed by fire or other disaster, you may find much of what you need there.
Since you have some names and dates, use the Internet. Today, there are many databases on line with information that can aid in your efforts. Use your favorite search engine and combinations of keywords to focus your search. If you're very lucky, someone may have already done a family tree that contains info on one or more of the people buried in your cemetery. Your county and state may have public records, on-line, as well.
After you find out the 'rules and regulations' that apply to your cemetery, talk to your local newspaper. Explain to them what you are trying to do. A favorable article on your efforts, may bring forth resources that wouldn't be available from any other method. It can help quell some of the potential problems, as mentioned by another poster.
In closing, I'd like to give you a pat on the back for the respect you're giving the people buried there. Good luck with your efforts. And, please do keep us posted on your progress.