Tombstone Tuesday: No Tombstone? No Body?

Recently, two of my relatives passed on and had opted for cremation instead of a traditional burial. Cremation is very rare in my neck of the woods. It made me think about the implications of such a choice, as it relates to genealogy. Cemeteries are often used as a source of information to help shed light on an ancestor. But what do you do when there is no tombstone? And no body?

Many of us are familiar with the predicament of an unmarked grave, but the thought of no grave at all had never really entered my mind. I was curious to know whether there were particular time periods in history in which cremation was more utilized than at other times. A Wikipedia article on cremation sheds some light on this. It also illuminated situations in which people may have someone cremated, such as to prevent a known burial site from being turned into an unwanted memorial. Interesting, although incredibly morbid.

Of course, an action such as burial or cremation would be left to individual preference of either the deceased or the one in charge of the deceased’s final arrangements, but it certainly gives us something else to consider when researching. With no burial, we certainly are missing out on some potential details.

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One thought on “Tombstone Tuesday: No Tombstone? No Body?

  1. Thomas, In the past few years I have known of at least 4 cremations. 3 were my relatives. I thought I would share the reasoning. My uncle died in New Jersey and was buried in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Cremation helped make this more possible and easier. My brother was cremated a decision made by his children but probably for a couple of reasons. By cremating him he could be buried in the same plot as my uncle and he had been dead for several days so viewing was not possible. My father was cremated so he could be buried in the same cemetery space as my mother. His urn was placed on top of her casket. (she passed away in 72) So, one cremation in New York, One in Omaha, Ne and one in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I should note that in the cases above they all will have headstone.

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