Tracing Immigrants Arrival CemeteriesEdit This Page
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Tombstone inscriptions and sextons' records sometimes list a foreign birthplace—often a country, less often a county or city, and a year or even the date of birth, which helps to narrow down the search for the birth and origin of an emigrant ancestor especially in cases of ancestry with common surnmes. This is more likely in cemeteries maintained by certain churches. For example, counties of origin are often listed on tombstones of Irish immigrants buried in Roman Catholic cemeteries. In Presbyterian cemeteries, the shire and even the town where a Scottish immigrant was born may be on the tombstone.
When the birthplace is not listed, a tombstone inscription or a sexton's record may furnish that information for a relative buried nearby. However, even if a birth date and place is furnished, the relative who supplied the information may not have been correct, especially if the birthplace was in a country unfamiliar to that person.
If you cannot visit the cemetery, search any transcriptions that may have been made. The Family History Library and state and provincial archives have collections of published and manuscript tombstone inscriptions and some sextons' records. Others are at county and local genealogical and historical societies.