21 September 2013

Is the Location of Remains a Genealogical "Necessity?"

I don't have an answer to this question.

Genealogists have always wanted to know where various relatives were buried. Some wanted this information so they could visit the final resting place of their relative or forebear and feel some sense of connection with them and visit the grave.

I understand that. I've visited many ancestral resting places myself.

But it seems that the real reason we want to know the final resting place of most of our relatives is to obtain the information on the tombstone. How many of us have visited the graves of all the thousands of relatives we have in our genealogical database? The answer is probably that very few have.

 It is always frustrating to know where a relative is buried and learn that there is no stone. Even if a person has a general idea of where the ancestor is buried, it often is the information on the stone that we are after. The frustration is even greater if an ancestor died before death records were kept and the stone is the one place we hope to obtain a date of death or other information for ancestor.

So do we need to know where a cremated relative had their ashes scattered or interred? I'm asking because I don't really have an answer to this question.

This "need"  to know and the importance of knowing where the "remains" were came up in a conversation I had with another genealogist recently. After our conversation ended, I remembered that I have an ancestor who died in 1916, was cremated and had his remains scattered in what now is an unknown location. I realized that it would have been nice to have known where they were, but there would have been no information on his stone that I already did not have from records that are probably more reliable.

Knowing the place would have given me a sense of connection. Is it necessary to have that?

Or is it really the information that we are after?
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