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The word cemetery brings up many images in different people's minds--to children, they are often a scary place to beware of, teens dare each other to run through the cemetery, family members bring flowers and remembrances to loved one's graves...and to genealogists, a cemetery is a gold mine!

The type of information you find depends a lot on how well-maintained and documented the cemetery is; cemeteries alongside a church are usually well cared for, and you can often find burial records in the church itself. Government owned cemeteries are often run by a city or municipality, are generally well maintained, and records are most likely found in the local town archives, or with a nearby genealogy society. Privately owned cemeteries are also generally well taken care of, but records can be more difficult to find. Businesses change hands and records can get lost. If you are unable to determine who has possession of the burial records, you may need to contact the local town hall, or nearest genealogy society.

The last type of cemetery you may encounter is the hardest to find and document--the family cemetery. These small plots are on private land, and often few records are kept. Headstones are often hard to read, if you can find them at all. Always ask permission of property owners before you visit private cemeteries--not only is it polite, they are the most likely people to have information about the graves!

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