Documentation of CT Cemetery Locations and Databases
One of the long range goals of the Connecticut Gravestone Network is to locate all of the cemeteries in Connecticut and post the list on this web site. As the list is being compiled and checked, we can respond to requests for information because the required research will add to the growing list. There are many sources for this information, including two statewide compilations:
- The Hale Collection at the CT State Library and on microfilm at several locations
- The Hearn Collection
The Hale Collection
Charles R. Hale started recording the burial locations of Civil War veterans for the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War in 1916. He continued this work until 1934 when he headed a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project to record the inscriptions in all of Connecticut’s cemeteries. With a staff of eighty, the job was completed and published in 1937.
The many volumes of the Hale Collection are shelved at the Connecticut State Library, which co-sponsored the project. The volumes Andover through Sterling have been copied and rebound and can be photocopied. Unfortunately, Stonington through Woodstock have not yet been copied and are too fragile to copy. To print the data for the latter towns it is necessary to use the microfilms which were made by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) and are available through their Family History Centers and numerous libraries.
The Hale project found the location of 2,269 cemeteries, some of which have been moved, buried or lost. The locations of the cemeteries are described in very general terms and the approximate locations are shown on a 1930’s topographic map. Our goal is to update these descriptions to include current street names and the latitude and longitude of the site. With Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers costing as little as $100, it will be possible to locate the cemetery location within less than one hundred yards; ninety-five percent of the time.
The Hale records are indexed within each town but the actual listings are in the order that they were recorded. This greatly assists in finding the location of a stone within the cemetery once you learn where the work was started in that particular cemetery.
You may access the Connecticut State Library page on the Hale Collection here.
Daniel Hearn Collection
Daniel A. Hearn of Monroe, CT started, as a teenager in 1975, to record the inscriptions on all pre-1800 gravestones in Connecticut. When he finished in 1987, he had recorded 22,400 inscriptions from 411 cemeteries located in 164 out of 169 towns in the state. The typed manuscript consists of 1,892 pages.
Comparison with the Hearn Collection allows the serious researcher an opportunity to determine how many stones have disappeared between 1934 and 1975 or are no longer legible. While using the Hearn files, we could see no evidence that he used the Hale collection to determine which cemeteries had pre-1800 stones. Several were missed.
The inscriptions, unlike Hale, are recorded in their entirety, and are listed in alphabetical order. This facilitates finding family groups in the cemetery but makes it difficult to find individual stones. The recording is generally accurate when compared against other listings but there are some problems with spelling which may have resulted from recording on a tape recorder for later transcription.
In some of the burying grounds, Hearn recorded the type of material on which the inscription was carved. When found, he also recorded the name of the carver.
Although Hearn describes the location of most of the cemeteries, it is planned to verify the locations and prepare a list containing detailed directions to reach the burying grounds and the geographic coordinates (latitude/longitude).
The Hearn Collection was used as the basis for the compilation of epitaphs “Connecticut 18th Century Epitaphs” by Pat Miller (now out of print). Pat brought it to the attention of AGS members in the AGS Winter 88/89 Newsletter.
The Hearn Collection, which is being compiled at the county level, is located in Manchester, CT. Inquiries should be forwarded by E-mail here.
USGS Topographic Maps
Most, but not all, of the Connecticut cemeteries are shown on the US Geological Service (USGS) topographic maps. However, only 663 are listed by name. The rest are noted by “cem” or the map symbol of a dashed area with a cross inside. Just to keep you guessing, some of the names are not the same as used by Hale or local authorities at this time.
Another valuable source of cemetery location data is the information published by towns, counties and local historical societies. CGN is collecting copies of these books and pamphlets as we learn of their availibility. A bibliography will be compiled in the future as more and more local library “Card” catalogs go on-line. CGN welcomes donations of copies of these valuable documents.
The New England Historic Genealogical Society Register has also published information on Connecticut cemeteries, particularly Barbour listings.
It is a genealogist’s dream to have the entire Hale Collection on CD-ROM. Nothing is underway to do this so we will continue to depend on the microfilm that is available through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon). .
In an effort to provide rapid access to the pre-1800 inscriptions in Connecticut, the Hearn Collection is being compiled using the Association for Gravestone Studies (AGS) Standard Database program. The database is being done at the county level to keep the size of the database manageable. At the present time, January 1999, about twenty percent of the Hearn Collection has been transcribed.
Rootsweb is adding Connecticut cemetery data as it is being provided. The largest to date is Center Cemetery in East Hartford with its 5,600 inscriptions. Access the Connecticut Cemeteries here to see the current availability.
Many Connecticut stones are included in the Farber Collection of gravestone photographs on CD-ROM. Published by The American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, MA, and available through Visual Information, Inc., 1009 Grant Street, Suite 303, Denver CO., E-Mail: email@example.com Three disks out of the eleven disk set include Connecticut photos. One hundred twenty-nine towns in Connecticut are included. In addition to the Farber photos, the set includes photographs taken by Harriett Forbes in the 1920’s and by Dr. Ernest Caulfield in the 1950’s. The duplicates in the set provide an opportunity to compare the changes in conditions of the stones between 1920 and 1980.
Just as Charles R. Hale was recording Civil War veteran burial locations for the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (which were subsequently included in the Hale Collection), the organization is continuing to compile a national database. Although the Hale data is a valuable resource in Connecticut, the SUVCW is stressing that the recorders find the existing stones before entering the data in the national database. After two years, more than 3,000 of the estimated 50,000 Connecticut veteran burials have been added to the database, primarily from New London County.
Connecticut inquiries can be made to firstname.lastname@example.org while national inquiries should be sent to email@example.com.
The Connecticut Gravestone Network stresses cemetery preservation and documentation. Although we collect a lot of genealogical information as part of our documentation efforts, we are NOT committed to providing genealogical information. On the other hand, if you have exhausted all other sources, including those listed above, you can contact us to locate a gravestone in a Connecticut cemetery at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will make a reasonable effort to locate the stone. Our trips to the State Library are infrequent!