How to Find Unmarked and Marked Graves in North Carolina
Unmarked Graves In North Carolina
A new Hubber asked HubPages to help find the location of an unmarked grave of a loved one in North Carolina. The death occurred in 1966, so we hope that the cemetery has a grave plot index of those interred within its borders.
Barring that, the North Carolina State Archaeologist's office is immersed in an ongoing project that is helping to identify unknown remains and unmarked graves throughout the state. It seems that the state probably has more unmarked graves in it than any of the 49 other states. The project should be quite informative as it proceeds.
Tracing ancestors and other loved ones can be a gratifying hobby, but the State Archeaologist's identification project in North Carolina sounds particularly interesting.
See the original HubPages Question at the embedded link.
Cemeteries, Church Burial Grounds, and Hospital Graveyards
This HubPages Question intrigued me, because of my own attempts at finding gravesites recently. It is an interesting activity, but very frustrating at times.
In addition, some graveyards in my area are so large that I need to consult the map plot of the grave sites every time I wish to visit a grave of an ancestor. It would be convenient to be able to purchase a map plot.
Methods of Finding Unmarked Graves
Certificates and Records
As some other individuals have explained, a Death Certificate and the name of the cemetery in question are useful in finding an unmarked grave. The gravesite map plot I mentioned would ideally show the name of each person buried without a marker in a particular graveyard.
If there is no mention of a specific cemetery anywhere to be found, one needs to look at all the cemeteries in the place where the deceased died, including church graveyards. Many people are buried in the town where they died or very near to it.
NOTE: It has been found that some hospitals, especially mental hospitals, also have their own graveyards. In one such place in Columbus OH, none of the graves were marked, the graves being dug from about the time of the Civil War to about WWII. Look at hospital graveyards as a possibility, if other places fail to produce the person you seek.
If not in any of those burial places, the place of birth may help, because many people wish to be buried where they were born. In that case, the Birth Certificate or a Church Record would list the birthplace. All the cemeteries there could be examined and hopefully, they have updated gravesite map plots.
Gravesite Research Companies
I located an unmarked grave at Find A Grave once on the Internet and even came up with a photo of the grassy spot where the grave was placed. A number of these research companies exist.
These companies usually charge a fee for individuals to access their databases and look for locations of gravesites by using the name of the person in question, birth and death dates, location of death, and other information.
Unfortunately, some people spend quite a bit of money this way and never find what they are seeking. Check with your local libraries to see if they have free public access to databases from the following companies. The last one mentioned offers substantial information at no charge.
- FindAGrave.com (Recently purchased by Ancestry.com)
- WorldVitalRecords.com -- This one works best for me and includes free information and grave photos. For cemeteries, it often gives the plot location.
More About NC Unmarked Graves
The State of North Carolina has a large number of unmarked graves, because of Native American and slave burials without markers and some instances of Civil War casualties buried without knowledge of the individual's name.
The State Archaeologist's Office is working to map all the cemeteries in the state, including unmarked graves. In addition, staff is interested in any and all human remains accidentally turned up in construction.
Example: WorldVitalRecords - Some Free ServicesClick thumbnail to view full-size
Example: Searching a Specific Cemetery
Hubber Serbennia wants to find the unmarked grave of a loved one that is said to be in Resthaven Cemetery in Dunn, North Carolina (40 miles south of Raleigh), although government records have been lost.
The following are steps to take in order to find whether a specific person is buried in an unmarked grave at that cemetery.
- The cemetery is located at the end of Burke Street in Dunn NC and is listed at Find A Grave at http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=cr&CRid=48552
- On that cemetery page, the "View all interments" link reveals 142 graves with the decreased in each grave named. None of these entries indicates that the grave is unmarked, so looking at the 142 names that are in alphabetical order, according to the last names, is the place to start a search. (NOTE: Serbennia is looking for someone who died in 1966 and the list of 142 names includes only one person that died in that year: SGT John D Morgan, Vietnam Veteran, died June 30, 1966).
- If the name of the specific person is not found in the list in #2 above, then call the cemetery at (910) 892-2948 and ask a) if they have more than 142 people buried there, b) if they have any unmarked graves, and c) if they have names to go along with any unmarked graves. Ask all of these questions, even though the records to the specific person in question have been reported lost. Records may have turned up.
- If Resthaven Cemetery has no unmarked graves or does not have the name being sought actually connected to any of the unmarked graves it does have, then call the State Archeaologist's Office to ask about the Cemetery Survey Project - specifically, ask a) if Resthaven Cemetery has been surveyed yet, b) if any unmarked graves were found, and c) if any names were found to go with the unmarked graves. That phone number is (919) 807 - 6552 and the office is located at 109 E. Jones Street in Raleigh NC.
If, after all this research, you are left with only some unmarked graves in Resthaven Cemetery and there are no names to go with them, you can ask the State Archeaologist's Office what to do next. Ask them for help and suggestions.
One option is to have those graves exhumed and dental records matched or DNA analysis performed if possible, but this is not likely to be done, because of costs.
I would also try the same steps with the other two cemeteries in Dunn NC, just in case the wrong cemetery name was provided. These other two cemeteries are:
- Greenwood Cemetery. Corner of South McKay Avenue and Susan Tart Road. (910) 892-2948.
- Memorial Cemetery, for Veterans. On Fairground Road at the split of Meadowlark Road. (910) 892-2948
Dunn NC Cemtery Locations
Questions & Answers
If you think a grave or cemetery is one that is unmarked and located close to you, and someone is about to build over it, to whom do you go to stop the destruction of graves?
First, look for a Department of Historic Resources or some similar type of government offices associated with historic preservation in your county, if you are in the United States. To do this, search online or call your local government offices, either city or county. National acts have been passed to protect unmarked graves as well, including those of Native Americans (NAGPRA). Graves can be found with a ground penetrating radar, of which the government might or might not pay for. If your city/county offices cannot help you, you may need to turn to your Governor's Office to ask whom to contact.
© 2013 Patty Inglish MS