Thursday, April 11, 2013

Exploring our Past: Genealogy and Cemeteries

Have you spent time in a cemetery, looking for that elusive ancestor's grave?  Remember the excitement you felt when you finally found it?  If so, then you know how invaluable cemeteries are to genealogy research. 

The Virginiana Room at the Warrenton Library has a number of indexes to local cemeteries that will help you begin your research.  One of the most popular is the two-volume set of Fauquier County, Virginia Tombstone Inscriptions, compiled by Nancy Chappelear Baird. These volumes list the known burials in most of the larger cemeteries in Fauquier County, and in many of the smaller cemeteries as well.  Lee Moffett's Those Who Were: Annotated Inscriptions of Two Thousand People in Warrenton, Virginia, Cemetery 1811-1998 is an interesting and often amusing look at some of the tombstone inscriptions found in the Warrenton Cemetery.

If you are looking for cemeteries in other Virginia counties, try the six-volume set of Fairfax County, Virginia GravestonesMiddleburg Cemeteries, Loudoun County, Virginia is a popular resource, as is the book on Richmond's Hollywood Cemetery: The History of a Southern Shrine.

Civil War enthusiasts may want to check out The Memorial Wall To Name the Fallen: Warrenton, Virginia Cemetery.  This book is devoted to the Confederate Soldiers buried in the Warrenton Cemetery. The Cedar Grove Cemetery Veterans Project, compiled by students at Liberty High School in Bealeton, includes biographical information on ten Civil War veterans buried in Bealeton's Cedar Grove Cemetery.  Another resource is the 16-volume set Virginia's Men in Gray Interments, which lists Confederate soldier burials in cemeteries all over Virginia.

If you would like to begin your cemetery research, but aren't sure how to start, check out Sharon DeBartolo Carmack's Your Guide to Cemetery Research, which covers topics such as locating cemeteries and their records, American burial customs, and cemetery projects.  For more information on cemetery preservation, see the Gone But Not Forgotten: Cemetery Preservation Guide compiled by the Fairfax County Cemetery Preservation Association, Inc.

In addition to the many resources available at The Virginiana Room, a Cemetery Conservation Workshop is being held on Saturday, April 13, 10 am - 4 pm at the John Barton Payne Building in Warrenton. The workshop, presented by the Fauquier County Architectural Review Board, in partnership with the Fauquier Historical Society and Virginia Department of Historical Resources, will focus on how to care for historic cemeteries.

Additional resources are also available at The Virginiana Room at the Warrenton library.

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