Cemeteries · Newspapers · Researching your family history

Finding Burial Locations

After watching the Legacy Family Tree webinar Six Feet Under Down Under, presented by Jill Ball (who has the blog Geniaus), I have decided to share some examples of how I would go about trying to find a burial location.

To do this, I started off by running a search in Legacy

Search criteria

For my examples, I chose from my list William Cunningham Anderson and Sarah Caroline Scott nee Banks.

William Cunningham Anderson

For William, I only had the death year of 1876 and that he died in Victoria.  Since I didn’t have much to go on, I decided to try my luck on Trove.  If his name had been William Anderson, I wouldn’t have been too hopeful, but the middle name made it a bit easier.

I tried the search for “William Cunningham Anderson”.  Entering a full name doesn’t always work, but in this case it did, as I found his death notice:

William Cunningham Anderson death notice
Family Notices (1876, March 18). Gippsland Times (Vic. : 1861 – 1954), p. 2 (Morning.). Retrieved February 9, 2019, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article61913260

I now had his date of death, and where he died.  My next step was to use Google to see which cemeteries are near Tinamba.  I did this by searching for “Tinamba Cemetery”

I decided to look at the 3rd result, for Maffra Cemetery, and found an entry for William G. Anderson:

2019-02-09 William G Anderson Maffra Cemetery

William Cunningham Anderson had married Catherine Williamson, and her father Donald Williamson died in 1872, so it appears he was buried with his father in law.   The number on the left of this entry is the photograph number, so I can also order a photograph of this gravestone by email.

Sarah Caroline Scott nee Banks

The information I had was: Sarah Caroline Banks was born 1875 and died 1955 in Victoria.  She married Joseph John Scott in 1895.

Since all I had was that she died in 1955, I went back to the Victorian Births Deaths and Marriages website to see if the index entry included more information.

This was her death entry:

Record information
Event registration number6470
Registration year1955
Personal information
Family nameSCOTT
Given namesSarah Caroline
Father’s nameBANKS George
Mother’s nameSarah (Maywood)
Place of deathMELBOURNE
Spouse’s family name
Spouse’s given names

This entry not only provided me with her place of death, but also where she had been born.

Although I know which sites to try for someone who had died in Melbourne, I decided to pretend I didn’t know, and to do a search on Google for “Melbourne Cemetery”.  The main result was for the Melbourne General Cemetery, which is part of the Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust. The Deceased Search function doesn’t yet include Melbourne General Cemetery, so the next thing to try was to find a funeral notice on Trove.  I didn’t find a death or funeral notice, but I did find a Probate Notice, which told me where she had lived.

Sarah Caroline Scott Probate Notice
Advertising (1955, July 19). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 13. Retrieved February 9, 2019, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71668453

Because she had been living in Dandenong, I decided to search for cemeteries around Dandenong.  Google came up with Dandenong Community Cemetery, Bunurong Memorial Park, and St Kilda Cemetery. These are also part of the Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust.  Since there were a number of possible cemeteries she might have been buried at, I decided to search for her on All Cemeteries on the Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust search, and found an entry at Springvale Botanical Cemetery for Sarah Caroline Scott, date of service 23 June 1955, Burial type Cremated .

Jill Ball’s webinar didn’t mention the two big sites where you can find information about where relatives were buried: BillionGraves and Find A Grave.  I think if you are looking for where an ancestor is buried, you could try these sites first, because if your ancestors do have a memorial on one of these sites, it may be quicker.  However, since these are big sites with a lot of memorials from a lot of cemeteries, if your ancestors have common first and last names, such as the two in my example, you would need to determine where they were buried first, so that you’ll know you have the correct memorial for them.

I have found that BillionGraves has a better coverage for Australia, so I’d try there first. When searching, I would eliminate the middle name, because often only the middle initial is included on the headstone, and often a C is mis-transcribed as a G.

I did a search for William Anderson, death year 1876 +-0 years, country Australia, State Victoria.  There were no results for William Anderson who died in that year.  I also tried FindaGrave, and he wasn’t there either.

I then did a search for Sarah Scott, death year 1955, country Australia, State Victoria, and found a memorial for Sarah G. Scott, died 21 June 1955, buried Springvale Botanical Cemetery – https://billiongraves.com/grave/Sarah-G-Scott/6782970

UPDATE: When I wrote this post, I forgot about another resource for finding burial locations – FamilySearch.  FamilySearch indexes both the BillionGraves and Find A Grave sites, which means you can search both sites at once.  FamilySearch also has other collections of burial records and transcriptions, so you might find your ancestor in other collections as well.