Saturday, March 29, 2014

My Burial List

Like most of my genealogical projects, I have no idea what propelled me to create a burial list; but I must say it's turned out to be quite handy.

I believe it stemmed from a desire to focus on my closest relatives - grandparents, aunts, uncles, first cousins - and work harder on filling in their missing bits of information, as opposed to finding (and becoming overwhelmed by) the "low-hanging fruit" philosophy under which I'd been operating.

By "low-hanging fruit" I mean, "Hey, look, a new leaf popped up on my Rootsweb family tree!" and several hours/days/years later, I was the new owner of several hundred more names, most of which were very, very distant relatives. Not a bad thing, but I've been on my genealogical quest since around 1989, and my PAF program is getting pretty full of very, very distant relatives. (Yes, I still use PAF - only judge me favorably.)

The burial list I generated using the "Custom" printing feature of PAF only includes those closest relatives. Fields include Names, Birthdates, Death Dates, Burial Places - I added Relationship in Word. Once I created the report and "printed to file," I began to organize the names by generations - first my grandparents, then great grandparents listed in order of their placement on my pedigree chart, then 2nd greats, and so on. Grandparents are in bold font, with their children listed underneath.

A typical entry looks like this:

Go on, give it a click
Why am I so concerned with the burial places of my close relatives? 

1) I love my ancestors. I like knowing where they are, their last physical presence here on Earth. I like seeing their headstones. I never knew these people but I feel closer to them when I can visit them, or at least look at their headstones via the wonderful volunteers at

2) If I know where someone is buried, the odds are good that I have a good amount of information about that person's life - at least from a genealogical research standpoint - from birth to death.

3) I like seeing where everyone ended up. Two people have a large family of children, the children marry and spread out or stay in the same county their entire lives. What were the dynamics that made all of that happen? Seriously, it's fascinating.

4) Having the list helped me zone in on who was "important". Obviously everyone is important, but neglecting my more difficult direct ancestral lines in favor of locating third cousin Harry's military history was a problem, and this has helped me solve it.

If you decide to create a burial list, or have some other method of keeping yourself focused in the midst of so many inherited or downloaded names, I hope you'll tell me about it. :)