A Beautiful Snapshot of the Past…Cemeteries

I love cemeteries. Cemeteries to me are just silent communities; full of people who lived in that city archived in one place for eternity. I enjoy the peacefulness of cemeteries and the beauty of the intricately decorated gravestones.

Cemeteries can hold an enormous amount of information: birth, death, and marriage dates, a child you never knew existed, or a first wife that died during childbirth. Headstones can also provide clues to nationality, hobbies or interests, and clubs or organizations to which your ancestor may have belonged.

Besides the cemetery caretaker, there are other places to locate burial information. Some other sources can include the local funeral home, a church or religious organization, a local genealogical or historical organization, or library. Burial registers, plat maps and plot records can provide information for ancestors that either do not have a gravestone or who once had a stone that has since deteriorated.

I always check the area cemeteries of other towns where my ancestors lived to see if anyone was left behind. I also check for surrounding graves, as family members are often buried close by. Often times an ancestors’ gravestone is all you may have of their memory.

Listed below are several websites and Des Moines Public Library books and online indexes to help you locate your ancestors’ gravestone or obituary.


Find A Grave


Iowa Gravestones

Iowa WPA Graves

Association for Gravestone Studies