October 2008, V7#10: Genealogy Saturday, Jan 10 2009 

Use Funeral Homes When Researching

 Genealogists are fascinated with cemeteries.  Besides being the final resting place for ones ancestors, cemeteries provide vital information.  Tombstone and cemetery records often reveal more than death information.  Cemeteries, however, are not the only sources of information regarding the deceased.  Do not forget funeral homes. 

Funeral homes are another resource for providing family information.  Their records often contain biographical information not found on the deth certificate or in the obituary.  They may also have a copy of the funeral program, printed eulogies, as well as a copy of the death certificate and obituary. 

Funeral home records are private business documents.  You do not have a legal right to view them.  They are not covered by the Freedom of Information Act.  Most funeral directors, however, are individuals who are more than willing to help genealogists. 

Many funeral directors have allowed their records to be microfilmed.  Often genealogical societies have published the records.  For example, the Tulsa Genealogical Society has published 12 volumes of funeral home records.  The Lawton Ritter-Gray funeral home records to 1994 are on microfilm and available at the Lawton Public Library.

If you do not know what funeral home was used, the death certificate or obituary should provide this information.

If you are looking for a list of funeral homes and cemeteries currently operating, go to www.imortuary.com.  Select by location or browse the state and town.  The address, phone number, web address and location on a map are given. 

That web site is a quick and easy way to locate funeral homes and cemeteries throughout the country.  Memorial parks, such as Sunset Memorial (Lawton) are listed under funeral homes and not cemeteries. 

The site does not list all known cemeteries for an area.  Not included are rural, inactive, family and small cemeteries.  For example, Highland Cemetery (Lawton) is listed, but not the cemeteries in Cache, Indiahoma or Elgin.  Local funeral homes can often provide you with a list of local cemeteries.  They are experts on this subject. 

The National Yellow Book of Funeral Directors and The National Directory of Morticians, both published annually, are excellent print guides to funeral homes.  Arrangement is by state and town.  Genealogy libraries, including the Lawton Public Library, often own a copy. 

What if the funeral home is no longer in business? Again, ask the funeral home still in business as it may have the records of the old funeral homes or know where they may be located. 

(This information was taken from Paul Follett’s column Tree Tracers published in the Lawton Constitution on December 10, 2007.)

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August 2006, V5#8: Genealogy Tuesday, Jan 6 2009 

FAMILY HEALTH HISTORY: Know your past; protect your future! 

This summer as you plan for family reunions, don’t forget to take time to talk about your family health history. Family reunions are the perfect time to learn about and share, not only your genealogy but your family health history as well. And for some families, knowing this information could be life-saving. This is because many health problems like heart disease, asthma, cancer, and diabetes tend to run in families. When close family members have the same health problem or develop a problem at a younger age than expected, this can increase other family members’ risk of developing the problem. But the good news is, by learning about your family health history, you can make healthy choices to lower your risk.
 To help families talk about and share their family health history, the Utah Department of Health developed a free Family Health History Toolkit. The toolkit contains a pedigree chart, fun ideas, and talking points you can use with family members to collect about your family health history. 
 
To get a free Family Health History Toolkit visit www.health.utah.gov/genomics or call the Health Resource Line at 1-888-222-2542.

From Federation of Genealogical Societies “FGS Delegate Digest”  Volume 13, No. 9, July 2006

August 2005, V4#8: Genealogy Tuesday, Jan 6 2009 

A lot of LDS research resources are available through local LDS Churches.  “Stake Libraries” in your local LDS family history center can order any microfilm available in Salt Lake City +++  All this, without having to sit in front of your computer all day.

May 2005, V4#5: Genealogy Monday, Jan 5 2009 

Still looking for that lost ancestor?  When you run across the right surname in a general area at the correct time, never discard this information.  This data may be the same family (yea!) or different (boo!), but one can rarely tell when finding the data originally.  Likewise, a group that appears not to be related when the information is found, may be related and you uncover the link ten years later.  Don’t rely on research data sheets to go back and find information you uncovered 20 years ago: records get misplaced, misfiled, moved, go through natural deterioration, in some cases are discarded or destroyed, not to mention acts of God or vandalism.

August 2004, V3#8: Genealogy Sunday, Jan 4 2009 

Don’t forget when searching the census that several “schedules” exist for different time periods.  If available, use them together.  For instance, if you find someone on a mortality schedule, you will probably be able to find them on the main census.  Mortality listings also point to other non-census places that may have information such as death records, obituaries and funeral home records.

April 2004, V3#4: Genealogy Sunday, Jan 4 2009 

Have you checked out alternate Census options?  Don’t discount all census that were taken – in addition to state and federal options there are/were agricultural, etc. at different time periods.

July 2003, V2#7: Genealogy Saturday, Jan 3 2009 

While becoming that student of history we have already suggested, is your lost ancestor in America during the time the US was giving out free land to it’s citizens?  If so, your next stop should be the homestead records!  This little utilized collection of documents and information is housed at the national archives and has not been reproduced or indexed in any wide reaching way.  The Homestead National Monument has begun exploring the best way to augment NARA general paper preservation process by replicating them in Nebraska.

June 2003, V2#6: Genealogy Saturday, Jan 3 2009 

Basic research rule that is most commonly overlooked – no matter how much material you check, keep a record of what you have checked.

Basic research rule that is almost as most commonly overlooked – cite your sources.  Make sure when you locate a document, reference, or listing that you take detailed information about not only what reference you were using, but where and when it was found.

Keep these rules in mind and your search may be a much more orderly and enjoyable experience :o)

April 2003, V2#4: Genealogy Saturday, Jan 3 2009 

If you are stumped – another lost ancestor – renew your efforts to find further documentation on the family members you have verified.  One never knows when a notation in records for children, brothers, etc. will give your the lead you need to locate that lost link.

December 2002, V1#4: Genealogy Saturday, Jan 3 2009 

Having trouble deciphering old records?  In addition to spidery hand (which can’t be helped) and bad reproduction (you might seek out another copy – even in microfilm), a culprit may be differing styles of writing.  Check out information on old handwriting.  One example if the instance of double s’s (ss) was often written like a misshapen lowercase cursive “f”…

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