May 6, 2023

Finding cemeteries to explore.

Cave Hill Cemetery, Louisville KY

If you’re a conscientious cemetourist you probably like to explore cemeteries on trips and vacations, or set the destination of a cemetery as part of a day trip. Here are a few of the methods I use to find the best haunts.

  • Search on Find-a-Grave. This often shows you photos of cemetery and famous graves. It’s also useful for finding the resting place of your ancestors.
  • Search Cemeteries near XXX in Apple or Google maps. Apple is missing many small cemeteries and Google shows many that don’t exist anymore. A search return that has a photo is usually a good sign. Switch over to satellite view and you’ll see just how big the cemetery is. (I also look for shadows on the tombstones to make sure they’re not all flat, to the ground.)
  • Do an Instagram hashtag search. For example #cemetery #columbus #ohio gives you numerous returns.
  • Find IOOF cemeteries The Odd Fellows funded their organization by building almost 1,000 cemeteries across the US. Sadly there’s no master list of these. Many were later consumed by the municipality and may not be called an IOOF cemetery any longer. A map search of Odd Fellows nearby or through Find-a-Grave may reveal the ones in a specific area.
  • Search the age of cemeteries Cemeteries founded before 1900 are much more likely to have interesting stones. And trends after 1950 made things pretty bland.
  • In rural areas, look for cemeteries near the county seat. This is where the doctors, lawyers, judges and wealthy lived. Their families usually had more money to invest in burials.
  • Names can sometimes tell you purpose. If the cemetery has a family name it’s likely a smaller family cemetery. These sometimes are on private land and inaccessible. Biblically-named or church cemeteries can be small, but a time capsule of the era when the church was popular.
  • Kentucky Veterans Cemetery, Williamstown KY

My take.

The more research you do before you go, the more fulfilling the trip will be. I use Apple Maps to create a Guide of locations along a road or in an area to follow on my iPhone in the car. But on the other hand—it’s always fun to stumble across a cemetery you didn’t know was there.

My research on cemeteries is just a hobby, but I appreciate when someone buys me a coffee to encourage more articles.

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