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VA Expands Online Grave Site Locator

The Veterans Affairs Department has significantly increased its online list of burial locations and information inscribed on the markers to more than 5 million grave sites for veterans for whom VA has provided grave markers.

VA recently added to its database almost 2 million records for veterans buried primarily in private cemeteries. The grave site locator previously carried records on 3 million veterans buried in VA national cemeteries since the Civil War and in state veterans cemeteries and Arlington National Cemetery since 1999.

VA launched the nationwide grave site locator in April 2004 so veterans’ families, former comrades-in-arms and others can find the graves of veterans.

"By adding records to our online database, VA also helps families research their genealogy and ensures that future generations of Americans will be able to honor these veterans for their service," said VA secretary Jim Nicholson in a statement yesterday.

The new records date from January 1997, the earliest time for which electronic records exist. Beyond the 5 million records now available, VA continues to add about 1,000 new records daily to the database.

Internet users only need to provide the last name of the deceased veteran or dependent. Typically, the information available includes name, birth and death dates, rank, branch of service, and the address and phone number of the cemetery.

The database is available here.

from Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter

Ancestry.com Posts a U.S. Public Records Index

Ancestry.com has posted a U.S. Public Record Index. The following types of public records have been utilized to create the index:

  • White pages
  • Directory assistance records
  • Marketing lists
  • Postal change-of-address forms
  • Public record filings
  • Historical residential records

People under the age of 18 will not be found in this index. Folks who were alive as early as 1984, and have since died may be found in the index.

Ancestry.com does their best to warn the user right up front that just because a person’s name is found at a particular address doesn’t mean that the data is accurate today. In doing a few searches myself, I found this to be the case.

I searched on the name of Homer Daffern, my father-in-law, who died in Washington state 1993. He was only listed in the index once, but that address was one for a North Salt Lake, Utah, RV park where I lived for a short time upon moving to Utah in 2000. Homer never lived there, nor did I until another 7 years after his death. His full birth date is part of this record in the U.S. Public Records Index.

I searched on the name, Neta Daffern and got two applicable hits. One was for Neta Daffern with an address of Orting, Washington – where she lived years ago. One was for Neta F. Daffern with a North Salt Lake Post office box. This address Patty and I had her mail forwarded to after her death in 2000. The search that yielded the Orting listing also listed other “members in the family,” where I could click and get similar information on others living at this place.

I searched on Leland Meitzler, and found myself with two addresses in Orting, Washington, one in Elbe, Washington; one in North Salt Lake, Utah, and one in Bountiful, Utah. One of the Orting addresses was used by my brother at one time, but I don’t ever remember using it. The others are accurate, but not used any more.

I see the database as useful. However, I will use it with care, as should others. The database is nowhere near as powerful as FindUSA (available to Godfrey.org members), but then again, it is free to Ancestry subscribers.

from Genealogy Blog

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A Reburial Resurrects City’s Ugly Past