If you’re working on a legacy project, researching your family tree, or simply want to pay respect to a loved one, you might want to find a gravesite. But you may not know much about the whereabouts of their grave other than the state where the person died.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What Information Will You Need Before You Try to Find a Grave in Maine?
- Maine-Specific Resources to Help You Find a Grave
- Steps for Finding a Grave in Maine for Free
No matter how much or how little information you may have about their grave, with a little bit of research and some key details, you’ll be well on your way to finding your relative’s final resting place. It may not be easy, but it will be worth it.
What Information Will You Need Before You Try to Find a Grave in Maine?
Going on a search to find your loved one or distant relative’s grave can be a fun and exciting adventure. With the right information, you can zero in on the cemetery and even the gravesite where they were laid to rest a century ago. But having the right information is key.
When you’re prepared with all the information you need, your search will go faster and easier than if you are uncertain of key pieces of your relative’s puzzle. So what types of information do you need?
To perform a grave search in Maine, you’ll want to know your relative’s:
- First, middle, and last names
- Maiden names (if female and married)
- Spouse(s) names
- Children’s names
- Birthdate or birth year
- Death date or death year
- City or county where they died
- Cemetery where they were buried
Now, you might only be able to find a few pieces of the above information and that’s perfectly okay. The more you can find, the better, but if you have trouble finding some of that info, you’ll still be able to search for your loved one.
The reason why you want as much information about your relative as possible is that specific details will help you narrow down search results. Let’s look at a practical example of this.
Let’s say your loved one had a last name of Holberton and a first name starting with M. You also know that this relative was married and that Holberton was her married name.
Now, you could enter “M. Holberton” into a search engine, but you could potentially receive hundreds of results for every “M. Holberton” who ever existed in the state of Maine. If you could find out that her name was Mary and her maiden name was Timmons, you can perform an advanced search for Mary Timmons-Holberton, easily narrowing down the search results to only those that might pertain to your relative.
Another helpful piece of information is their birth and death dates. Even if you don’t know exact dates, approximates can help narrow the timeframe. With approximate dates, you can narrow your search results down to a few “M Holberton”s from your relative’s time period rather than being given all results for every “M Holberton” from today on back.
Maine-Specific Resources to Help You Find a Grave
Thanks to the growing interest in genealogy and ancestry research, there are plenty of resources to help you locate a relative or loved one’s grave.
Maine Inscription Project
The Maine Inscription Project is a volunteer-run project with the goal of transcribing every gravestone in the state of Maine. All transcriptions are fully searchable for members of the Maine Old Cemetery Association. Membership is only $7 a year, and the volunteers stop at nothing to search for old, out-of-the-way, hidden, and half-covered gravestones.
To date, the team has amassed detailed information on over 7,100 cemeteries in Maine. They specialize in helping families find those little-known, hidden gems such as, according to their website, “a 200-year old family cemetery in the back field of an old deserted farmhouse located a half-mile off the Route 23 county highway road, and 100 feet beyond a cluster of oak trees and bushes, with nothing but a crude slate marker, engraved by hand, that is partially covered by the earth.”
Find a Grave
Find a Grave is a resource you’ll see pop up a lot here on Cake since it’s the largest database of cemetery records in the world. If you’re uncertain where in the world your loved one might be buried, this is the first resource you want to try out.
The search functions allow you plenty of wiggle room to start with basic information or perform an advanced search with multiple parameters. You can search using just the person’s name or include items such as a spouse’s name, children’s names, maiden names, alternate spellings, and more.
Interment is a helpful free resource that can provide information about where a loved one is buried in the state of Maine. There are three ways to use their website. First, you can perform a whole-site search that brings up records that match your search parameters for every cemetery in their database. Second, you can search through records for the entire state of Maine. Third, you can choose to search through a specific cemetery or county in Maine.
The database is quite large and can be helpful when you’re uncertain of where in the state your loved one might be buried.
Military Grave Locator
The Military Grave Locator tool is the best if you’re looking for a database with information specifically for men and women who served in the armed forces. Records go back to the American Revolution, so even if you’re looking for a distant relative, this is a good place to search.
You can start a search with a minimum of a person’s last name. Other search parameters include a first name, birth date, and death date. The only required piece of information is the last name.
Results will show you every service member who fits within your search parameters. Click on a record and you’ll see their full name, record of service, cemetery and burial plot with a map, the cemetery address, and the phone number.
Steps for Finding a Grave in Maine for Free
Ready to start searching for your long-lost relative and find a grave in a cemetery? Use these steps to help you on your way.
Pro tip: If you’re trying to find out if someone died, you can use many of these same steps.
1. Conduct online research
Before you get started searching through cemetery databases, you’ll want to do a bit of research first. This step might take you the longest, but it’ll be well worth it in the end.
When searching for your loved one’s information, you’re looking for all the pieces to the puzzle we talked about earlier in this article. You’ll want to find out their name, whether they were married, the names of their children, and other helpful details like their birth and death dates.
Online databases like Ancestry.com have this information in abundance, and all you need to get started is the names of a few members on your family tree. You might be surprised by the overwhelming amount of information available to you. Even if you only have a few documents that identify your relative, you can glean a lot of information. Check for full names, spouse’s names, children’s names, dates, and related information.
Documents that you might find particularly helpful include:
- Birth certificate
- Death certificate
- Marriage certificate
- Divorce certificate
- Military records
- Draft cards
- Land titles
- Bills of sale
Even one or two of these types of documents can help you narrow down your search by locating a person’s full name and where they lived.
2. Conduct offline research
If you can’t find much information online, check with offline resources such as members of your family, family pictures, and heirlooms such as the family Bible.
Other places you can go include the library or county archives where your loved one passed away. Some counties have archived records that haven’t been uploaded to an online format. They are free to search through, but you’ll need to be on location to do it.
If the cemetery where you think your loved one is buried is now a historical site, they might also have offline archives available for research.
3. Visit the cemetery
Once you’re able to locate the cemetery where your loved one is buried, visit if you can. Once there, ask for a map of the cemetery and the location of your loved one’s plot. This information is typically available for cemeteries still in use and some historical cemeteries.
If your loved one had a natural or green burial, you might need to request the GPS coordinates for your loved ones’ grave, instead of a plot number. You can put coordinates into a GPS tracker on your smartphone or a dedicated GPS device, and it will automatically route a path for you.
4. Update your records
Once you locate your relative’s grave, be sure to update your records. Take pictures of the gravesite and the surrounding area, draw yourself a map of the area, and pin the GPS coordinates of the location. This information is perfect to ensure you have a thorough record of your relative’s gravesite even if the gravestone wears away or gets damaged.
If you want to place something at the grave before your leave, consider placing a flower there as a token of remembrance. If the cemetery is in operation or it’s a historical site, check with the office for a list of approved items that you can leave at a grave.
Find a Loved One’s Place of Rest
Locating a loved one’s or relative’s resting place is ideal for a legacy project, to connect with family history, or to pay respect. With a little detective work and the steps listed here, you just might find yourself standing before your great-great grandfather’s grave one of these days.
If you're a Maine 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.