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 How to find a lost cemetery


PROBLEM:
Have you ever tried to find a cemetery where ancestors were probably buried, but it's not on any map you can find? The road may have changed. The cemetery may be in a field somewhere, hopefully fenced in somehow, probably overgrown with weeds and brush. But where is it?

FIRST STEP:
There are two major places on the Internet to begin your search.
(1) Yale Peabody System at http://george.peabody.yale.edu/gnis/ and
(2) The USGS Geographic Names Information System at http://geonames.usgs.gov/redirect.html
The Yale-Peabody system seems much more user friendly.
Both of them list a multitude of features beside cemeteries. There are populated areas, churches, streams and many more, both present-day and historic.

Let's use this as an example. After you've entered what you know into the form, you'll get something like this:

 

CALHOUN CEMETERY cemetery Noxubee 325917N 0884107W Gholson

 

Calhoun is the name of the cemetery you want, Noxubee is the name of the county in Mississippi, and Gholson is the name of a nearby community. Those numbers are the coordinates in Latitude (north or south of the Equator) and Longitude (east or west of Greenwich, England). So next, you need to plot them on a map.

PLOT THE MAP:
You are not likely to find a map of Gholson and environs, so find a map of Noxubee County. Google lists about 14,900 maps of Noxubee County. Get one for the county you need. Along the right or left edge of the map in very tiny print are the Latitude numbers, 32N and 33N in our example. At 325917, our cemetery is a little more than half way between 32 and 33 degrees north Latitude.

Likewise, along the top and/or bottom are the tiny Longitude numbers, 88W and 89W in our example. Our cemetery is farther west than 88 degrees, but not as far west as 89 degrees.

And now you have a little imaginary square and the cemetery is right in there somewhere.

For our purposes, we don't really need to be as precise as the data given. It's enough to know that the cemetery is a little over half way between Latitude 32 and 33 (5917 is roughly 60% of the way). So with the Longitude, 4107 is only about 40% of the distance from Longitude 88 toward Longitude 89. Get the idea?

People who live in that neighborhood can probably help you find the exact spot. Maybe the County Agent could help or one of the local Pastors. And of course, there are always our friends at the local Historical and Genealogical Society.

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