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Genealogy Research and Cemeteries Make Excellent Partners
By Arlen K Burden

When you visit cemeteries in Waukesha, WI there's a good chance you will come across early 19th century gravestones. The first settlers in the area date back to 1834 and they lived in peace with the Native Americans. In fact, the name of Waukesha is derived from Indian names giving a fairly exotic element to the area's history.

Anyone who studies genealogy will tell you right away that cemeteries provide a wealth of information about family names, marriages, years of birth and deaths and sometimes hints of occupations or family status in memorial headstone carvings. Families used to be buried close together also making it possible to gain new information.

In addition, when you do family history research on those buried in cemeteries in Waukesha, WI, you will find that cemetery plot locations are mentioned in written records at the county courthouse or even in family diaries and Bibles. To a professional or amateur genealogist, the cemetery is not a place of sadness but rather a place of history and information where memories of loved ones are preserved for future generations.

Snapping Pictures and Rubbings

There are now two primary methods used by people to document their finds in the graveyard. The first method is possible because of electronics. You can take pictures of headstones with your cell phone or digital video cameras and then post those pictures online so others can take advantage of your research.

There are also many genealogists who still take headstone rubbings using fabric and rubbing wax. Though you can take pictures of the headstones, those images may not reveal worn ornamental patterns or details. It's a shame to lose the details on gravestones due to normal weathering because they are irreplaceable. Early headstones made before 1900 are often well worn because they are made from easily eroded sandstone. After the 1900s, granite was used more often, and granite is extremely durable.

Knowledgeable Staff Can Help

Waukesha, WI residents interested in genealogical research should first visit with cemetery personnel before wandering the graveyard. There's a good chance the staff can provide either information about the various graves of interest or can do in-depth research. It's important to give the staff some advance warning so researchers can check written and computerized records. When you are doing family research possibly covering 177 years, it takes a lot of time and effort to check resources for more details about the people buried in the cemeteries.

The staff working at cemeteries in Waukesha, WI is happy to help though. They don't see their jobs as the keepers of the deceased. They are the keepers of proof that family members lived and worked and died in the area. It's an important role they play that genealogists appreciate because it makes their research much easier.

If you are interesting in doing family research in the cemeteries of Waukesha, WI, first contact the staff. You can get valuable information that leads you right to the graves of interest. All the information you glean from their records after that can be used to trace your family connections through historical records.


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