If you need to find a grave, it’s not always easy to know where to begin your search. In the state of Colorado, cemeteries can be very spread out due to the natural landscape. If you’re wondering how to find a grave in a cemetery, there are several steps to take before you begin your search.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What Information Will You Need Before You Try to Find a Grave in Colorado?
- Colorado-Specific Resources to Help You Find a Grave
- Steps for Finding a Grave in Colorado for Free
Luckily, there has never been a better time to find the grave you’re looking for. With so many records made digital in recent years, it’s easier than ever to find than ever before. Whether you’re discovering your family history, saying goodbye to a loved one, or simply exploring long-lost graves, it’s easy to find a grave in Colorado for free.
No matter your experience level, you’re in the right place. This guide is dedicated to the steps for finding a grave in Colorado. Though many online search tools require a fee, this guide focuses on those that are free for all. These steps below are an act of compassion and remembrance, so congratulations on starting this process.
What Information Will You Need Before You Try to Find a Grave in Colorado?
Before you try to find a grave in Colorado, there are some things you should have ready. The more information you have, the easier it becomes to locate the grave you’re looking for. Beyond how to find out if someone died, you will also want to identify all of this key information:
- The full name of the deceased
- Any prior names of the deceased (maiden name, etc.)
- The place of death
- The date of death
These things are the basics, but any additional information makes your search even easier. This is especially true if the name you’re searching for is common. There might be several John Smiths buried in a single city, for example. Other information that might help includes:
- Family names’ and grave locations
- Cemetery of burial
- Death certificate
- Funeral home
However, you don’t need these things to begin. Besides a name, everything else merely helps speed up your search. If you’re ready to begin searching for a grave in Colorado, keep reading for helpful resources.
Colorado-Specific Resources to Help You Find a Grave
One of the benefits of living in the digital age is having a number of free tools at your disposal. In the past, people would need to visit local records offices or libraries to start a comprehensive search. While these resources are still beneficial, they’re far from your only option. With most records going digital in Colorado, start with these state-specific resources below to find the right grave.
First, one of the most well-known, trusted free tools is Family Search. Created for all levels of genealogy research, Family Search has an entire section dedicated to each state in the US, including Colorado. Their Colorado page has a list of online cemetery resources, search tools, and more.
Find a Grave
Another well-known tool is Find a Grave. Created to help people locate graves across the world, Find a Grave is a simple platform for sharing graves. Their Colorado page has 64 county locations to browse through, each divided by cemetery information. While you will need to know the place of death, this is one of the best tools online.
Interment is a specialized cemetery resource. With records dating back to 1959, this is one of the oldest search tools for Colorado graves. You can browse Colorado cemetery records by county, date, and funeral notices. There is also a name search tool powered by Geneology Bank.
Another state-specific cemetery resource is Colorado Cemeteries. As the name implies, this is a website led by Kate Barnes, a Colorado genealogist. Created to protect some of the state’s oldest burial grounds, this site aims to be a complete record of every person buried in Colorado. Cemeteries are organized by county, and you can find clear GPS coordinates for starting your own in-person search.
Though created by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), this is a website anyone can use. All visitors are welcome, and this directory has cemetery information for all states in the US. The Colorado page of LDS Genealogy has all types of records, including death records, military records, and cemetery records.
Department of Veterans Affairs
Those buried in military or veteran cemeteries might be easier to locate if you specifically use a VA tool. The Department of Veterans Affairs has a comprehensive search feature specifically for finding veteran graves. With several Colorado burial sites listed, this is a great option for veteran ancestors.
Additionally, Washington native Cyndi is an experienced genealogist. By helping others connect with their family histories, she finds meaning. Started in 1996, Cyndi's List is a comprehensive genealogy resource. Her Colorado page has links and guides for budding ancestry searchers and experts alike.
Steps for Finding a Grave in Colorado for Free
Now that you know the best resources for beginning a grave search, it’s time to get started. Though this can be a lengthy process, it’s one you can begin with confidence. Here are the steps to find a grave in Colorado for free, no matter whose grave you’re looking for.
1. Gather information
The first step, as you might expect, is to gather information about the deceased. You’ll need to know his or her name, at the very least. From there, it’s also helpful to know the county where they died. This limits your search to specific cemeteries. Lastly, it’s useful to have an idea for the date they died, since this might also point you to the right cemetery.
How do you discover this information? Besides free ancestry websites, you can also talk to family, do research online, and look through family documents. If you don’t know how, requesting a death certificate in Colorado is also a great step.
2. Search for the cemetery
In a perfect world, it will be easy to locate the grave with a simple online search. This is more likely for recent burials, whereas older ones might be less documented digitally. Once you have an idea of the cemeteries, search for them online.
The best way to find information fast is often to contact the cemetery directly. Don’t know which cemetery your ancestor is buried at? Contacting funeral homes that were open during their time of death can narrow your search. Your local Department of Vital Records will also likely have this information on file. Remember, there’s a chance they were cremated vs. buried.
3. Locate the grave
Once you know the location of the cemetery, it’s time to locate the grave. Most cemeteries have plots labeled, and this makes it easy to find the grave you’re looking for quickly. You can also find maps online, especially for cemeteries that are still operational.
If all else fails, take a walk through the cemetery. Though this can take time, it’s a worthy endeavor. The cemetery caretakers are also a great resource, and they can help you identify the grave faster.
4. Plan your visit
Next, plan your visit to the grave. Congratulations on making it this far! You’re ready to embark on the journey to the grave itself, honoring your ancestor’s memory. If you’re wondering what to leave at a grave, you have a lot of options. You might wish to bring flowers, a candle, wreath, flag, or other symbolic item.
However, many cemeteries have rules about what is or isn’t permitted. One idea might be to clean the grave, restoring it to life. After many years, the elements take quite a toll on gravesites. This is only natural, but that doesn’t mean you can’t tend to the stone with a gentle cleanser or water.
5. Document your trip
When you visit, don’t forget to take a photo and write down any information. You might want to add this grave to a website like Find a Grave so others can use this information in their own search. By taking part in genealogy research, you keep this tradition alive for all.
Remembrance is something we all take part in. As ancestry becomes a more common pastime, more people than ever are looking for ties to the past. By photographing this grave and those nearby, you share your story with others. Not to mention, you can always return to this spot in the future.
Find the Grave You’re Seeking in Colorado
Known as the Centennial State, Colorado’s diverse landscape often makes it hard to find graves, especially outside of big cities. With that in mind, now is the best time to start your own search. Whether you’re looking for your ancestors or creating a special record for future generations, this is a worthy task.
How do you honor those you’ve loved and lost? Taking a few moments to honor a loved one’s memory is a small way to make sure they’re not forgotten. Though simple, visiting graves is one of the greatest acts of kindness.