Are you looking for a gravesite in Oklahoma? Maybe you wish to visit the burial site of a person who died relatively recently so you can say your goodbyes or obtain closure regarding the death. Perhaps you are researching your family’s history and trying to track down information that you hope to find on the headstone or in cemetery records.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What Information Will You Need Before You Try to Find a Grave in Oklahoma?
- Oklahoma-Specific Resources to Help You Find a Grave
- Reasons You Can’t Find a Gravesite in Oklahoma
- Steps for Finding a Grave in Oklahoma for Free
Regardless of your reason for trying to find a burial site in Oklahoma, we’d like to help. Please note that this post will not teach you how to find a grave in a cemetery. Instead, we will give you some ideas on finding the name of the cemetery where your loved one or ancestor is buried.
What Information Will You Need Before You Try to Find a Grave in Oklahoma?
You’ll probably have a pretty easy time trying to find a grave in Oklahoma for someone who died during the digital era. A simple internet search may yield an obituary or funeral home notice that will give you the details about the burial (if that information was available to the public).
However, tracking down the burial site of a person who died before 1907, the year death certificates were mandated in Oklahoma, might be a bit more challenging.
The more information you have about the deceased, such as the information that can be gathered from the death certificate, the more likely you will be to find the burial location.
Here’s the basic information you’ll need for finding the burial location of a deceased Oklahoman.
Of course, the best way to begin your search for a headstone is to find out everything you can about the deceased’s name. This may sound like an easy task, but before there was such a thing as death certificates and driver’s licenses (mandated in 1937), documents and records may have been under nicknames.
This means that the cemetery record, death notice, or obituary may have been recorded under their given name or nickname. It was common for people to use their middle name as their first name, and often the same exact name was used in different branches of the same family within the same generation.
To make things more confusing, some families who immigrated to Oklahoma may have anglicized their names (which changed the spelling and pronunciation).
When your ancestor died, their next of kin would have chosen the name to be engraved on the headstone. This may or may not have been the deceased’s given name. For example, your great-great-grandfather named Frederick Alfred might be buried under the name Rick, Al, Fred, or another nickname.
Knowing the date of birth and death may help you find a grave in Oklahoma. Knowing those facts may help you narrow down your search, especially if the deceased had a common name for the area or the name was shared within the same family.
Also, knowing the date of death may help you if you need to look through newspaper archives or records to find information about the death.
Location of death
Another helpful piece of information that may help you find a grave in Oklahoma is the location of the death. Moving the body of a deceased person may have been possible in the early part of the last century, but it may have been an expensive and complicated process. Also, cremation wasn’t a common choice.
This means that if the person died while traveling or visiting someone in another region, the burial site may be in that location instead of near the person’s home.
Oklahoma-Specific Resources to Help You Find a Grave
Once you know the possible names of the deceased, the birth and death dates, and the location of death, you can utilize one of these online resources to help you find a grave in Oklahoma.
Find a Grave is an excellent source for those wishing to find a grave in Oklahoma for free. This website allows users to search for the burial location by entering the person’s name(s), the year they were born, the year they died, and the location of the death. You can also add other names and keywords to the search, such as the names of the deceased’s parents, siblings, or children.
Your search may yield a photograph of the headstone, taken by volunteers who visit cemeteries across the country to record the information for the website.
Billion Graves is a competitor of Find a Grave. Volunteers also provide this website’s content. One difference between this website and Find a Grave is that Billion Grave volunteers also record the GPS location of the burial.
Interment is another helpful site for those looking for cemetery records. This site has a page dedicated to Oklahoma records, and on it, you’ll find links to 68 digitally archived, fully-searchable Oklahoma newspapers published from 1845 to 1923. You’ll also find links to Oklahoma obituary notices from 1981 to current times. Finally, there’s also a link for Oklahoma funeral notices.
If you know the county where the deceased may have died, you can also search the available cemetery records for the specific county.
Unfortunately, not all of the records linked on Interment are available for free. However, you might be able to access the information you need by signing up for a free trial.
Join Cake's monthly newsletter.
Learn all you need to know about end-of-life.
Since this article aims to tell you how to find a grave in Oklahoma, we first recommend websites designed for that specific purpose. However, you might find the information you are looking for about the deceased by consulting the records found on Ancestry.
Ancestry is a one-stop-shop for those interested in genealogy. The subscription website gives you tools to search available cemetery records, newspapers, and obituaries. However, the website also allows you to access the family trees of distant relatives with common ancestors. You might be able to uncover the burial location of your great-great-grandfather by looking at the information others have posted and made public.
Ancestry also provides you with the opportunity to reach out to others who may be interested in the same type of research as you. Genealogical research is often a group effort.
If your loved one or ancestor was an American service member, the record of their burial might be found on this website, which The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs oversees. This database allows you to search for a burial site in a national cemetery using the person’s last name, birth date, and date of death.
You can also search for your soldier’s grave through the American Battle Monuments Commission website.
The Library of Congress is overseeing a massive project called Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. This website has digitized, searchable archives of more than a dozen Oklahoma publications, and it can be accessed for free.
If you know the approximate death date of the deceased, you might be able to look up the closest publication to try to find a death notice or obituary.
Death certificates that are at least five years old are available through this website. Keep in mind that death certificates weren’t mandated in Oklahoma until 1907.
Reasons You Can’t Find a Gravesite in Oklahoma
We’ve given you a lot of online resources for finding a grave in Oklahoma. But, while we hope you could find the information you were seeking, we know some of you were left frustrated. Here are some possible reasons that your search was fruitless.
The person is still living
Could it be that the burial site you are searching for does not exist because the person is still alive? Verify the person’s birth date to see if that is possible. Learn more about how to find out if someone is still alive.
The cemetery records aren’t online
Even though more historical archives, newspapers, and cemetery records are being digitized every day, it could be that the record you are seeking is still sitting in a bound periodical on a library or untouched portion of a historical society.
The headstone is impossible to read
Even if volunteers have visited the cemetery where your ancestor was buried, the headstone may not be in a good enough condition to read.
Your loved one was buried on private land
It was common for rural Americans to bury their loved ones on private land. Even if the burial site was marked at the time, the headstone might not have survived over the decades.
Steps for Finding a Grave in Oklahoma for Free
We understand how frustrating it can be to look for information without success. If you aren’t ready to give up your search for the grave in Oklahoma, you might consider seeking the assistance of a genealogical researcher from the region where your ancestor lived or died. However, here are some other options for finding a grave in Oklahoma for free.
1. Reach out to family members – especially those who live in Oklahoma
Reach out to the oldest person in the family and any other like-minded individuals interested in genealogy. It might be helpful to find an older family member who never threw anything away. Ask to look through their boxes of “family records,” which may consist of shoeboxes and bags full of funeral programs and newspaper clippings.
2. Visit the Oklahoma community where your ancestor lived and died
While you probably already completed online searches for Oklahoma burial records, you might also consider visiting the historical societies for the state and county. You might uncover the information you are looking for on microfilm, microfiche, or in a bound periodical.
3. Visit the local cemeteries
If you are visiting Oklahoma, you might want to simply visit the cemetery closest to where your family member lived or died. The cemetery may have records that will help you find the grave, or you might need to spend a few hours wandering the grounds and reading headstones.
Did You Find Your Loved One’s Grave in Oklahoma?
If you found the gravesite in Oklahoma, you might want to leave a gift at the gravesite to honor your loved one. Visiting gravesites can be an emotional experience – even if the person died over 100 years ago.
If you're an Oklahoma 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.