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Opinions regarding burial / cemetery place names

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#1 jdchess



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Posted 13 September 2017 - 05:51 PM

I know there is always debate regarding historic vs current place names. I think most would agree that recording the place name as it is at the time of the event is important as it leads other researchers to the proper jurisdiction for the records, particularly in the case of something like a place that is now in a different county. This has always been my general philosophy, but I'm curious what others think about this in regards to burial locations and cemetery place names. If someone was buried in a cemetery in Epworth, Edgefield County, SC in 1896, this cemetery would now be in Greenwood County, SC. Should the burial location still be recorded as Edgefield County (since that was the location at the time of the event) or Greenwood County, since that would allow a researcher to locate the current day location of the cemetery. Just curious what other folks think about this.

#2 Jerry Bryan

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 06:27 PM

I try to geocode burials down to the individual cemetery plot. That way, the plot should be able to be found in the future, no matter what. With GPS coordinates, perhaps how the rest of the information is recorded doesn't matter so much.


That does mean that I have to find and visit each plot with my handheld GPS device, the same one that I use for hiking and kayaking and other outdoor activities. There is not enough time in several lifetimes to visit all the plots that are in my database, so I have to settle for visiting the most significant ones. And in many cases I can geocode down to the cemetery level if not down to the individual plot simply by using Google maps. Geocoding burials, even if just to the cemetery level, can be important because cemetery names can change in time, multiple cemeteries in the same county can have the same name, and small family cemeteries can just be lost to time.


That being said, I usually try to record events where they happened at the time with a note about any modern geographical naming differences. For example, I have some marriages in my database in Greenbrier County, Virginia and I know that the church where the marriages took place is now in Monroe County, West Virginia. Documenting all of that information plus the church's GPS coordinates seems adequate. I don't yet have any burials of interest identified from the area, but I would probably document the original burial as being in Greenbrier County, Virginia with a note about the modern location of the church and also the GPS coordinates. Finally, I live where there have been lots of dams built that resulted in re-interments. I try to document the original burial site plus the current burial site. I record the GPS coordinates of the burial current site. Trying to document the GPS coordinates of the original site (even of the cemetery) would be hard with the cemetery being under 50 feet of water.


Genealogy software in general is not all that great about supporting GPS coordinates down to the individual grave site. FamilySearch is especially bad because their place name standard doesn't even support cemetery names. I record GPS coordinates in the Details field of a custom fact type in RM called Burial GPS. That way, the information is in reports I produce for family reunions. In addition, I'm in the early stages of storing the same information as a private note in the Burial GPS fact. Within the private note, the GPS coordinates are stored in a URL that will take you to those coordinates on Google Maps. I'm also in the early stages of including the same information on my Web site that I make from my RM data. So if I can get the data into RM properly, it will be a pretty automatic process then to get it onto my Web site.



#3 Renee Zamora

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 08:24 AM

I have started to add all my burials in the current day location. It makes it easier for me when I want a list of everyone in a cemetery. The death place uses the historic place name. 


#4 KFN


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Posted 14 September 2017 - 05:35 PM

I tend to use modern location information so that my automatic mapping process can find and plot all locations. I also do this so all locations, regardless of name changes, sort together. For example, a location that could be in either France or Germany depending on time of event, would always have the same name and therefore sort together. Or events in Christiania are always Oslo so they are listed together. I resolve name changes of locations by using notes. In my system notes can be added to a place, but if a place can't have a note in RM then a note associated with the event would be good enough.

As far as location information at time of event, my source and source_citation information has enough data to help a reader/researcher to find the citation and understand the location within a historical timeframe.