As a list admin and a county coordinator, I receive a monthly newsletter. I snipped the business and a few other things out. What’s left are a couple of articles packed with info and links. There are quite a few links. Hope you find a clue. Let us know if you did and where.
The USGenWeb Project
N E W S
Volume 4, Number 5
by Linda K Lewis, Chronicles Editor
The World of the Cemetery Sexton
Sexton n. Church custodian charged with keeping the church and parish buildings prepared for meetings, caring for church equipment, and performing related minor duties such as ringing the bell and digging graves.
- Encyclopaedia Britannica
Long before the garden-style cemeteries of the 1800s, burial grounds were located on church grounds, and it was the job of the church sexton, or caretaker, to manage the burials in the cemetery. While today most cemeteries are privately owned, either by a corporation or a cemetery association, and graves are no longer dug by hand, the cemetery sexton still plays a vital role in the health of a cemetery.
At a high level, the role of a cemetery sexton is to take charge of, care for, and supervise the cemetery under the direction of the Cemetery Board or other governing party. But what exactly does that entail?
Opening and Closing Graves
One of the main functions of a cemetery sexton is to open and close graves for interments. In order to do that, the sexton must know where the plots are physically located in the cemetery, the dimensions of the plots, and which graves are filled.
It is the sexton’s responsibility to open graves without disturbing prior interments. It would not be a happy event for the backhoe to hit another casket. In some cases this means that the sexton must probe the ground to make certain the neighboring graves will not be disturbed.
Another major function of a cemetery sexton is to be able to show prospective buyers lots that are available for sale. That means that the sexton must not only keep up with what plots are filled, but also what lots are sold. The sale of a cemetery plot is much like the sale of any real estate and usually includes a deed.
Similarly, once a headstone is shipped to the cemetery, it is the cemetery sexton’s responsibility to know where the monument is to be installed and direct the installation. In many cemeteries, it is also the sexton’s responsibility to notify the installers when the stone arrives. In most cases this also includes arranging for free installation of military markers that are shipped to the cemetery for installation.
The cemetery sexton is also responsible for the grounds, turf, and landscaping maintenance. This includes mowing, filling holes and sinking graves, the upkeep of trees and plantings, the cemetery fence (if there is one), signage, and any memorial areas in the cemetery.
Rules and Regs
One of the least favorite jobs of a sexton is enforcing the cemetery rules and regulations. This includes when people can visit, appropriate conduct in the cemetery, grave decorations, and litter. Most modern cemeteries have rules about what can be installed at a grave, and what can be placed at a grave. Some cemeteries do not allow plantings at graves, holiday decorations, lighting, or other memorabilia, while other will allow some or all of these things. Many cemeteries have rules about live and even artificial flowers and post signage stating their policy. This helps to keep the cemetery clean and fresh of pots of dead flowers throughout the harsh winter.
It’s all about the Map
Modern cemeteries are typically platted out and every square inch is accounted for. The cemetery may be comprised of different lot layouts in different sections of the cemetery. There may be differing sizes of graves and usually some smaller crematory plots. A map is created and each grave is identified by some naming or numbering scheme, usually identifying sections, blocks, lots, and plots, and it is the job of the sexton to maintain this map. This map is essential in the ability to do their job.
Not a Mason
It may seem that the sexton has an obligation with regard to the maintenance of markers and monuments; however this is not the case. The monuments are owned by the purchaser and installed on private property (the purchased lot) and it is really the responsibility of the family to perform any cleaning or repair. However, some cemeteries do step up and try to repair and curate old broken stones which have long been forgotten. This is purely a voluntary action on their part, and if they do it, it’s because they love their cemetery.
Not a Genealogist
While many people contact cemetery sextons to find out genealogical information on past interments, answering these types of questions, and doing genealogy is NOT their responsibility, and if they choose to provide this information, it is purely of their own free will.
Your Faithful Caretaker
Always remember: it is not the job of a sexton to know what is inscribed on the stone, or the relationship of any individual to any other individual, or to fix a broken stone; it is the sexton’s job to keep up the cemetery and to know which lots are filled, what lots are sold, and what lots are available. They have to deal with the finality of death, eternal resting places of loved ones of the living, and be sensitive to the emotional state of the public, sometimes during their time of great loss.
It’s not just a job.
Public Records and Information Web Sites for Genealogy
by Anne J Lex - Records Editor
Public records and Information Websites available on the Internet provide genealogy researchers with several databases to search for information on the World Wide Web. Most databases are free. However, some databases require a fee. Fee based databases typically have a dollar sign next to the database.
One of my favorite websites to search for public records and information website links is Onsight Resources Worldwide Public Records http://www.onsightresources.com/.
> Onsight Resources provides access to "search thousands of free online sources of public records and information sites from each of the 50 states, US territories, the Federal government, Canada, Europe, Asia, North and South America and Africa."
Onsight Resources and similar public records websites can be used to find a variety of records that are useful for genealogy. These records include: birth, death, marriage, divorce, property, wills, and court records to name a few. Public records can also be found on government websites and official state, county and municipal websites. "According to BRB Publications' Public Records Online, 5th edition, only 35 percent of public records are available online." http://www.brbpub.com/pubrecsitesStates.asp
Public records become available not only from official resources. Information becomes public when personal information is disclosed online by posting and uploading information on the Internet. Public records and information websites are a good place to find genealogical information on the Internet. Information found on these types of databases should be verified because the information could be scaled down or contain errors. Finally, always remember to cite your sources.
For further research and reading:
Social Security Death Index
National Gravesite Locator ~ Bureau of Veterans Affairs
Killed In Action ~ United States Marine Corps.
Birth/Death/Marriage ~ Onsight Resources
Access to Archival Databases ~ National Archives and Records Administration
Find A Grave
Genealogy Cemeteries and Obituaries ~ Public Records Finder
Introduction to Public Records Research
Public Records Directory ~ Search Systems
Public Information Search Engine ~ Zabasearch
by Christine Sweet-Hart, CG, Contributing Editor
Overcrowding in orphanages, hardships in immigrant families, and the inability or unwillingness of families to take care of their children started the trend in the North East United States to provide their children a better way of life with Midwestern farm families. Set up by orphanages such as the New York Juvenile Asylum, the Children’s Aid Society of New York, and the New York Foundling Hospital, a Roman Catholic organization set up by the Sisters of Mercy in response to Catholic children being placed in Protestant homes, the orphan trains resulted in a large child migration out of the Northeast United States to the Midwest. Many ended up in Illinois and Missouri.
An estimated 150,000 to 400,000 street children of New York’s orphanages were teens when they were shipped out west. Although there were some success stories in the placements, many were separated from their siblings and mistreated by the families who took them in.
According to the website at www.outfitters.com/~melissa/ot/ot.html, the orphan trains ran from about 1850 to the early twentieth century when the social programs of the 1930s made them unnecessary. A 1901 Missouri law banning them was never enforced.
Records Availability/For Further Reading
The Orphan Train Heritage Society of America
614 East Ema Ave., Suite 115
Springdale, AR 72764
Lists of Orphanages in the U.S.: http://www.alhn.org/~ahtopabp/orphanages/early.html
Rootsweb page on how to research U.S., British, and Canadian Orphans: http://www.rootsweb.com/~rwguide/lesson31.htm?cj=1&o_xid=0001029688&o_lid=0001029688&o_xt=22470719
For further information about orphan trains, check out Cyndi’s List for an extensive list of resources, both on-line and available through inter-library loan:
Orphan Train Heritage Society Membership: http://www.kesh.com/hnoh/AVOTART6B.html#OTHSA
Archives of Orphan Train Information: http://www.kesh.com/hnoh/AVOTART6B.html
To see a gravestone emblem of the Orphan Train Riders, scroll down the page: www.pastmassters.com <http://www.pastmassters.com/
Mail Lists You Might Not Know Exist
by Denise Wells, Managing Editor
A list for anyone interested in towns, communities, and settlements that are no longer found on maps and seem to have become lost in time.
A list for the discussion of copyright issues, particularly as they pertain to genealogical matters (e.g., reprints; fair use; mailing lists; publishing of books, web pages and the like).
Looking for old family photos? Tell us who you’re searching for and maybe we can help.
A list for discussion of USGenWeb topics, such as elections and other matters.
Everything you want to know about genealogy and family photographs. Help with identifying and preserving old photographs, as well as using the digital photography and scanning to share and preserve family photographs. Don’t forget to visit the Files section for wallpaper you can download.
A list to ask questions and receive assistance with almost any issue in genealogy, web page creation and management.
A mailing list for the discussion and sharing of information regarding our ancestors' medical histories, old diseases, and the practice of medicine in the past.
A mailing list for anyone with a genealogical interest in genograms, medical pedigrees, causes of death, illnesses and diseases, hereditary factors, medical computer software and more. This list is not for requesting medical advice about a present condition.
A list for the swapping of good genealogy URLs.
Discussing and sharing of information regarding asylum patients including where to write for patient records; whether a cemetery on the grounds exists; reported deaths, births, etc in these facilities; life in these facilities up through the 1930's; and all knowledge of any asylum, sanatorium, and/or state hospital.
The views expressed in this newsletter are those of the contributors and newsletter staff, and are not necessarily those of the USGenWeb Project.
Managing Editor: Denise Wells
Records Editor: Anne J Lex
Project Spotlights Editor: Darlene Anderson
Contributing Editor: Christine Sweet-Hart, CG
Graveside Chronicles Editor: Linda K Lewis
(c) 2007. Permission to reprint articles from the USGenWeb Newsletter is granted unless specifically stated otherwise and provided that a copy of the citing newsletter or publication is forwarded to the Managing Editor at EditorUSGenWebNL@...
, the name of the author of such article is stated, followed by the statement: Previously published in the USGenWeb Newsletter, June 2007, Volume 4, Number 5.
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