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When Corpses Move

In keeping with the Halloween season, Judy Rosella Edwards tells us about the genealogical phenomenon of corpses that move.


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Type: Article
Resource: GenWeekly
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Word Count: 263 (approx.)
Labels: Cemetery 
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Don't be frightened, but corpses do move. They are relocated from one cemetery to another, all the time and for a myriad of reasons.

The most common reason for removals has to do with changing landscape. Those who were interred in burial sites on family farms are often moved to larger cemeteries.

Flooding is a common issue that results in coffins being relocated. Sometimes, it is just trendy to move family to a more prestigious cemetery. Other times, family moves a loved one from another state, where they died, so they can join the family in the hometown cemetery. Sometimes long after their funeral.

Why Does it Matter?

If you want to photograph your great-aunt's tombstone, you need to know where it is. That sounds simple enough. Armed with a published obituary clearly stating she was buried in the Jones Cemetery, you could spend hours looking for a stone that, along with auntie, was removed to the Smith Cemetery.

It might also be worth determining if your family still owns that original burial plot. If so, it could be sold.

What You Need to Know

Know the history of local cemeteries. In Peoria, Illinois, dozens of deceased have been moved to the very large historic Springdale Cemetery from every cemetery around, and from across the country. A few were removed from Springdale and interred elsewhere.

Corpses don't always stay put. Tracking them down can be quite a challenge.

If you don't know the local cemetery history, talk to the local genealogical society. They may have already created a publication tracking who went where and when.

Source Information: GenWeekly, New Providence, NJ, USA: Genealogy Today LLC, 2010.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Genealogy Today LLC.

*Effective May 2010, GenWeekly articles that are more than five years old no longer require a subscription for full access.

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