American Ancestors New England Historic Genealogical Society - Founded 1845 N.E. Historic Genealogical Society Seal View Your Shopping Cart Join NEHGS

Discussion Board

Acquiring Ownership - Old Family Cemetery Plots
User Rank: Beginner
Joined: 1/31/2011
Posts: 7

Created By:Daniel Brown

I often see large family burial plots with only a few spaces used .... witness to the changes in society and the dispersal of family members across the lands.  I saw this in my own family line and decided that maybe I could help the situation.   


It took several years of effort but I recently acquired legal title to a four-person plot my GGF purchased in 1881.  I did provide informal documentation to demonstrate my linage to him, together with a small donation for maintenance.  This is a small rural cemetery operated by an association and has a few remaining plots for sale.  My GGF's young wife who died at that time is buried there, by herself, leaving three unused spaces.  Current and future members of our family may now use these spaces.

I since have started the same action to gain title of two other family plots in two other cemeteries which have noticeable unused spaces.  These are situations where there are no other surviving descendants.

As is often the case, old cemeteries have no surviving associations to manage them and the towns or villages they are located in are forced to maintain them (not including stones).  It's been my experience that they typically do not have the original deeds/records or sometimes even a map, and resist any implication that they "own" or "manage" the cemetery.  I usually initiate contact with the Town/Village Clerk and follow their lead, expecting to demonstrate my relationship with the original purchaser.

The sequence in searching to gain access/title is likely different in each case, but worth the effort if you wish to keep the family together.


New England Historic Genealogical Society
99 - 101 Newbury Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02116, USA

© 2010 - 2014 New England Historic Genealogical Society