How to Find a Grave in Indiana for Free: Step-by-Step

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Are you looking for a grave in Indiana? Hopefully, with our help, you’ll find the information you need within minutes. 

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Some people visit burial sites to say goodbye to the deceased or to get “closure” following the death of a loved one or friend. Others may wish to see a grave (or look at a headstone) to get more information for a family tree. 

Regardless of your reason, we will give you some free resources to help you find a grave in Indiana. 

What Information Will You Need Before You Try to Find a Grave in Indiana?

Some of you looking for a grave in Indiana will be able to find the cemetery plot in question within minutes. But, unfortunately, others may be entering a long, frustrating journey that will end up with zero results. 

Having a lot of information about the person in question will help. Here’s the information that may help find a grave in Indiana.

Please understand that this article does not give you advice on finding a grave within a cemetery. Instead, we will attempt to help you find the cemetery of your ancestor, loved one, or friend. 

» MORE: Death is hard, but you can make it easier on your loved ones. We walk you through what to do, including helping you get a will.

 

Name

Knowing the name of the deceased is essential in finding their headstone. However, names can be tricky for a variety of reasons. 

The state of Indiana didn’t begin registering births until 1907. In a few preceding decades, Indiana counties may have taken care of this administrative task. However, if your loved one was born before in 1881 in Indiana, there probably is no official record of their birth.

You might find a record of the birth in the family Bible or church baptism records. You can also look at the census records to see the names and ages of people living in a specific residence – even though census records are full of misspellings and nicknames. 

Even if you know (or uncover) a person’s full name given to them at birth, you may still struggle to find information regarding their death. 

For one thing, It was common (and still is) for people to use nicknames instead of their given names. Some people use their middle name as their first name. Also, names were often repeated in the same family tree – even within the same generation. Of course, marriage, divorce, and re-marriage further complicate matters.

People who immigrated to Indiana may have Anglicized their names (or changed their names completely) to make it easier to blend into an English-speaking country. 

So, when your ancestor died, the name that their next of kin chose to engrave on their headstone may not be the same as the name you found in your research. For example, your great uncle Fred’s headstone may say “Alfred.” Your great-great-grandmother Esther Buleah may have always been referred to as “Bea.”

While knowing your ancestor’s name is important, having only that information will not help you find their burial location.

Dates

You’ll need the deceased’s birth and death dates to help you narrow down your search. The approximate month and year of the death is beneficial – especially if the deceased had a common name. 

Since the person’s death date is closer to the modern era, the likelihood of there being an official record of the death is greater. Also, knowing at least the approximate date of death may help you if you need to look through newspaper archives to find an obituary (which may include the burial information for the deceased.) 

Location of death

Finally, knowing the location of the death may help you find a grave in Indiana, especially if the person died before cremation became common in the United States.

Typically, people tended to be buried where they died because moving a body for burial may have been too expensive for a typical family. Remember – cremation was not a common option until the last several decades, so it would be doubtful that the body was cremated and then transported to another location for burial.

So, if the obituary of the deceased states that the person died while visiting their cousin in Kansas, you might need to look through the cemetery records in Kansas to find where the person was laid to rest. 

Indiana-Specific Resources to Help You Find a Grave

If you have the deceased’s name, the approximate birth and death dates, and the location of death, you may be minutes away from finding where they were buried. Here are some websites that might help you in your search.

Find A Grave

If you were to do a Google search for a person’s burial site, your top hit would undoubtedly be Find a Grave. This aptly-named website allows visitors to search for the burial locations of loved ones for free. 

Here’s how it works. First, you plug in all the information you have about the deceased – their name, important dates, location of death, and names of other family members. Then, you may be immediately awarded with the place of burial along with a photograph of the headstone.

Find a Grave is run by volunteers. These individuals visit cemeteries in Indiana (and all over the country), photograph the headstones, and record the information on this website. 

Billion Graves

Billion Graves is similar to Find a Grave. It works the same way – volunteers scour local cemeteries and enter the information on the headstones (or cemetery records) or this website. The Billion Graves website says it is the “world’s largest resource for searchable GPS cemetery data.”

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Interment

If you couldn’t find information about the burial location from Find a Grave or Billion Graves, you might need to use other sources to find information about the person’s interment. Interment is a website that enables you to search Indiana cemetery records (available online), Indiana newspaper obituaries, and funeral notices. However, not all of the records on Interment are free.  

Ancestry

If you struck out using those websites and are looking for the gravesite of one of your ancestors, you might want to seek the help of others interested in genealogy. 

Ancestry is a wonderful website that allows people to share their family trees with others who might be interested. People can share vital statistics about their ancestors, but they can also share photographs, stories, newspaper clippings, and records. 

If you have a common ancestor with a person who has posted their family tree, you might be able to uncover information about the person’s burial site. 

Ancestry also links to the Find a Grave index, but Ancestry’s search page is a bit easier to navigate. 

Sometimes the contact information about the person who posted the tree is available. So, even if the gravesite for your common ancestor isn’t listed on the tree or supporting documents, you might consider reaching out to your third cousin to see if they have additional information about the person in question. 

Please note that not all of the resources on Ancestry can be obtained for free.

Nationwide Gravesite Locator (provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs)

Did your ancestor serve in the U.S. military? If they were buried in a National Cemetery, the record of their burial should be available through this database offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs. 

You can also search for your soldier’s grave through the American Battle Monuments Commission website. 

Indiana Historical Society

The Indiana Historical Society offers on-site and online resources for people searching for historical information. 

For information on obtaining a death certificate for someone who died in Indiana, visit this website

Reasons You Can’t Find a Gravesite

Unfortunately, even after using all of these paid and unpaid resources, you still might not be able to find the grave you are seeking. We know how frustrating this can be. Here are some of the reasons that your search yielded zero results.

The person is still alive

Perhaps you can’t find the person’s gravesite because the person is still alive. Check the birth dates to see if this is a possibility. Discover how to find out if someone is still alive before looking for information regarding their death.

» MORE: Death is hard, but you can make it easier on your loved ones. We walk you through what to do, including helping you get a will.

 

The cemetery records aren’t available online

Volunteers support the Find a Grave and Billion Graves websites. However, perhaps your ancestor’s headstone isn’t available online because volunteers haven’t visited that particular cemetery in Indiana yet.

The headstone is difficult to read, or the volunteer made an error

If you have spent any time in historical cemeteries, you know how difficult it is to read the text on some graves. Headstones deteriorate over time, and the volunteer recording the information may have to guess on the spelling of names, which would make finding your loved one’s burial site difficult.

Also, the headstone may have crumbled entirely, leaving the grave unmarked (or perhaps the burial site was never marked with a monument).

Steps for Finding a Grave in Indiana for Free

We’ve given you several resources for finding a grave in Indiana. However, if those sources yield zero results, here are some additional steps to try.

1. Seek help from extended family members

Visit the oldest living person in your family and ask for information. Even if they can’t remember the burial location of your loved one, they might have a box of newspaper clippings and funeral notices to look through during your visit. 

2. Visit the Indiana community where the person lived and/or died

Indiana counties and towns have historical information to share with visitors. Also, people who oversee this type of information typically know a lot about the area’s history. 

3. Visit the local cemeteries and funeral homes

You might be able to find the burial information you are seeking by searching through the records of local cemeteries and funeral homes. However, if those records are unavailable or incomplete, you might need to spend some time wandering through cemeteries and looking at headstones. 

Did You Find Your Loved One’s Grave in Indiana?

Consider leaving a gift at the gravesite to honor your loved one. Appropriate gifts may include flowers, plants, or holiday decorations. Make sure you understand the cemetery policies before leaving anything behind. 

If you're an Indiana resident and ready to start preparing your own end-of-life planning documents, Cake has Advance Care Planning forms you can download. To help ease your planning, we have all the documents you need in one place.

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