GenTraveling to Chicago cemeteries


Good day GenTravelers!

A genealogy research trip almost always includes a visit to area cemeteries. After all, sometimes a gravestone is all that remains of our ancestors – that is if we’re lucky! I recently read “How to Find Dead People in Chicago” by Kellie Jensen in the Sept/Oct 2013 Family Chronicle magazine. Since we all participate in this GenTraveling activity at some point, I thought I’d share her tips with you today. Some are pretty common sense stuff, but reminders can be helpful, right?!

  • Research before your trip – make a list of cemeteries with addresses, phone numbers, hours of operation and driving directions and who was buried there.
  • Once there, take pictures, not only of gravestones, but of location finding aids in case you go back at some point.
  • Try to get the burial record from the cemetery office.  If you can, you can learn about other people who were buried with your family members.  You may or may not already have those people listed in your family tree.

Author Kellie Jensen described how she learned about a previously unknown relative buried with your family members.  She came home and researched this name.  After two years, she finally found that this unknown person was actually her great grandfather’s sister.  Further research led to information that provided the birthplace in Ireland of her great grandfather. We all know to research friends, family, acquaintances and neighbors – just remember to research “neighboring” names in cemeteries too.  Additionally, Kellie wrote of how a cemetery caretaker had said that, “in some cemeteries, people in the 1800s to mid-1900s were usually (but not always) buried with their family of origin, even if they were married”.  Keep that in mind while searching for you family member’s headstones.


So, are you planning your GenTraveling yet? Where do you plan to go? Be sure to share your GenTraveling Bucket list on our Bucket List Page.  GenTraveling: It’s the Real Deal Thrill!





GenTraveling – Cemetery Research in Italy


Hello GenTravelers!

Cemeteries should be on everyone’s ‘To-Visit’ list when GenTraveling.  However, cemeteries in Italy are quite different than what we’re used to in the United States.

If you’re planning a trip to Italy, you’ll want to read “Cemetery Research in Italy” by June C. Delalio CG, in the Jan-Mar 2011 NGS Magazine. June points out the following interesting facts about Italian cemeteries:

“People are not buried forever in Italy. Graves are rented for a period of from ten to fifty years. Payment is made to the town and when the time is up, if there is no one willing to renew the payment for the grave, the bones are taken from the crypt and put in an ossuary, or common grave”

Before the end of the eighteenth century, Italians were simply buried almost anywhere. It was only after Napoleon’s invasion of Italy that cemeteries were built, since Napoleon was worried about another plague and ordered cemeteries to be built outside city limits.

“When the cemeteries were built in the nineteenth century, they generally were a formal design with square blocks and straight streets. There were vaulted galleries on the outside walls with wall plaques sealing in the coffins.”

The articles goes on to explain where to go to find cemetery records, and points out that there typically isn’t very much useful genealogical information on the records. But the great thing is, most of the markers have a photo of the deceased! The author gives further tips you’ll want to know before you go.


So, are you planning your GenTraveling yet? Where do you plan to go? Be sure to share your GenTraveling Bucket list on our Bucket List Page.  GenTraveling: It’s the Real Deal Thrill!