How-To Essay #3 - The Cemeteries of Rock County

 
Most of us are quite knowledgable on what a cemetery can offer the genealogist, so I won't cover that information here. Instead, I'll concentrate on available information for Rock County's cemeteries.
 
Where are the transcriptions?
 
Hopefully, online. The Cemeteries section is one of the fastest growing areas of The WIGenWeb-Rock County Project
(WIRock). The ultimate goal is to have all of Rock County's burials transcribed, photographed and online. Currently, about half of the cemeteries in the county are transcribed and a handful have been completely photographed for this purpose. Many other cemeteries have look-up volunteers available. Others have been transcribed by local societies and are available for purchase. A complete list showing what sources are available for each cemetery in Rock County can be found at WIRock's alphabetical listing page (link and address at bottom of page).
 
Where are my ancestors?
 
If you think your ancestor may have been buried in Rock County, try the cemetery closest to your ancestor's last known
residence. If you aren't sure where that may be, contact me; I'm always glad to help.
Rock County sits on the Wisconsin-Illinois state line, and, therefore, many of its residents (especially those who lived
in the southern half of the county) were buried in Illinois cemeteries. Eventually, once all of the "in house" cemeteries are transcribed, I do plan to branch out into the neighboring vicinity to catch as many as these out-of-county burials as possible.
 
Please note that transcriptions are not the actual cemetery records. Some kind heart has actually walked the entire
cemetery and written down all the names and dates off the stones. Understand that we're all human and errors are not uncommon, especially considering the condition of many of the older cemeteries and stones. Many of the stones are no longer legible, others are broken beyond recognition, and some are just plain buried or missing.
 
I am also available (and happy) to help you find your family in Rock's cemeteries. I know how frustrating it is to wait
for your cemetery to come online, and even more frustrating to wait for a photo to appear. My husband and I are the ones taking most of the photographs of the tombstones. Photographing an entire cemetery takes days, but we can find your family plot and capture the stones in JPG format in minutes. Contact me and I'll add your family to my to-do list. Don't be shy, it's a free service.
I'm not too good with the larger cemeteries (those in Janesville, Beloit and Evansville), but the rest of the county is open
for the asking. I will do Oak Hill if you can supply the plot/lot number to get me in the vicinity.
If you've submitted a request, be patient. The weather is not my friend but I will get to them all before the snow flies.
Any requests after the first snow will have to wait for the spring.
 
If no stone can be found, but you're sure your ancestor is buried at the cemetery, of course, write the records holder.
An obituary is a good source. Aunt Mildred is not (See Example 1). Please, don't write a cemetery records holder without utilizing the other available resources first. When all other resources turn up blank, then write the records holder. When writing to the records holder, be specific and brief. They don't need (or want) your complete family tree and history. A short, politely worded request does the trick. It's a good idea to supply your ancestor's given name, especially if you are looking for a common surname (see Example 2). Most important, include an SASE (self-addressed stamp envelope).
Some of the larger cemetery offices in Rock County charge a minimal fee for a search in their records. When the office
is dealing with over 15,000 burial records, you can't really complain too much about a small fee to help cover their costs.
How you can help!
 
We can always use more transcribers. Before you start walking a cemetery, check with me first to make sure someone
hasn't already done that one. Being only one person, I do have a bit of a back log sitting here, and I don't always remember to add the "Transcribed; online soon!" tag that denotes a cemetery's been transcribed and submitted.
I cannot legally accept transcriptions done by a society or group. You must be the owner of the transcription (the "one
who walked").
I will also gladly accept any photographs you may have of your family's stones or plots. E-mail to let me know what
you have, and we'll hash out the details. Don't worry if it's not the best, you'd be surprised at what I can do with a smudgy, cock-eyed photo. If you have a digital camera and live in the area, where have you been? Seriously, contact me. I'm trying to get up a group of people - digital photographers and people who can write standing up (sometimes, I can't) - who'd be willing to tackle Oak Hill and the other massive Rock County cemeteries.
 
Finally, if you need advice on finding your ancestor's grave, have a question or need directions to a cemetery, feel free to
contact me. I'm happy to help. Always....
 
Lori Niemuth* <dawnlea@ticon.net>
 
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EXAMPLE 1:
The obituary for John SMITH (d. 1915) states that he was buried in Grove Cemetery, Center Township, but I could not find a tombstone for him. Do you have any information regarding his burial? Please let me know if I can reimburse you for your time and effort. [Include a good scan of the obituary]
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EXAMPLE 2:
I would like further information regarding the John SMITH (d. 1915) family plot in Grove Cemetery. Please let me know if I can reimburse you for your time and effort.
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Online references:
Alphabetical list of the cemeteries, with links, at WIGenWeb-Rock County
<
http://www.rootsweb.com/~wirock/cemetery/alphacem.html>
List of the cemeteries by township, with links, at WIGenWeb-Rock County
<
http://www.rootsweb.com/~wirock/cemetery/twpcem.html>
Map of the layout of Rock County's townships
<
http://freepages.misc.rootsweb.com/~wirockbios/Maps/twpsmap.jpg>
WIGenWeb-Rock County website
<
http://www.rootsweb.com/~wirock/>
Rock County Genealogical Society website
<
http://www.rootsweb.com/~wircgs/index.html>
Origins website
<
http://www.OriginsBooks.com/>
 
 
*Please be aware that I'm not a genealogy, history or geology expert. I welcome any corrections or additions.
 
©2002 ALHN-Rock County, Wisconsin
Last updated: December 22, 2003