AncestorNews: Find a Cemetery Online

By Nancy Hendrickson Premium

On my next trip to Missouri, I want to hunt up the Shore family cemetery, the burial place of my Moravian Shore (Schor) family who emigrated here from Switzerland in 1750. Although I know the cemetery exists (I’ve found reference to it in a Shore genealogy book) I wasn’t sure of the exact location. The Internet to the rescue!

My first stop was a long-time favorite tool, the Geographic Names Information System. This dandy database contains location information for more than 2 million physical and cultural geographic features, including historic places, in the United States.

Because I wasn’t sure of the county, I asked the GNIS server to find a place named Shore that was a cemetery located in Missouri. Two results came back, one in Lafayette Co., the other in Wright. Because the Shores lived in Lafayette Co., I knew this was my cemetery.

Next, I had several choices. I could take the latitude and longitude from the GNIS site (385528N and 940455W) and purchase the appropriate topographical map, then pinpoint the exact location. (Topo maps are available for about $7 at many sporting good stores and online vendors, such as MapSport.) Or, I could surf over to TopoZone and either search for the cemetery by name or enter the latitude and longitude to purchase a downloadable topo map. I opted to buy a paper copy from MapSport.

What next? Just for fun, I went to TerraServerUSA to see if I could find the cemetery in an aerial photograph. I entered the latitude and longitude coordinates, and bingo! I was looking down on the cemetery area. Although I couldn’t see the cemetery itself, I could easily tell the area has a lot of wide-open farm roads. Based on past experience, I’m betting someone on that road knows where the cemetery is. More research, yes? (By the way, if you use the TerraServer site, be sure to use a minus sign [-] when entering data in the longitude search field, i.e. -94.08784.)

Lastly, I got an even better look at the area using Google Earth, a free download that combines satellite imagery and maps to help you find almost any place on earth. Nothing like flying around the Missouri skies while sitting in my San Diego office.

I hope these sites will help you locate the places in your family tree research. Write and let me know what you found. Happy flying!