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

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Are you looking for a gravesite in Oregon? 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. If this describes your situation, and the deceased died during the digital era, a simple internet search may reveal the information you seek—if the burial location was made public.

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But if you’re looking for a gravesite in Oregon because you’re researching your family tree, you might be interested in these online resources. Please note that this post will not teach you how to find a grave within a cemetery. Instead, we’ll provide you with some links to online resources that will help you find the name of the cemetery where your ancestor is buried.

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

It might be challenging to find the burial location of a person who died in Oregon before 1903, when Oregon began using death certificates. The more information you have about the deceased, the more likely you’ll be to find the burial location. 

Here’s the information that would help find a burial location in Oregon.

Name

Of course, the best way to begin your search for a burial site is to find out everything you can about the deceased’s name. This may sound like an easy task, but it may be more complicated than you would think.

A person’s given name may not be used on their headstone or in their obituary. The cemetery records may have been under a nickname. 

To complicate matters, it was common for the same name to be used in different branches of the same family, even within the same generation. So the Josiah Emerson Smith that died in 1882 may have been first cousins with the Josiah Emerson Smith who passed away in 1883. 

To make things more confusing, some families who immigrated to America may have anglicized their names (changed the spelling and pronunciation). 

So gather up all the information available about the person’s name. The burial records may be listed under their given name, a nickname, or an alternative spelling of the name. And let’s just hope the person wasn’t buried under a headstone labeled “Mother.”

Dates

Knowing the date of birth and death may help you find a grave in Oregon. Knowing those facts may help you narrow down your search, especially if the deceased had a common name.

Also, knowing the date of death may help you if you need to look through newspaper archives or funeral home records to find information about the burial. 

Location of death

Another helpful piece of information that may help you find a grave in Oregon is the location of the death. Moving the deceased person’s body may have been possible in the early part of the last century. Still, it may have been an expensive and complicated process, especially if someone lived or died in Oregon. Also, cremation wasn’t a common choice during that era. 

This means that if the person died while traveling or visiting someone in another region of the country, the burial site may be in that location instead of near the person’s home. 

Oregon-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 Oregon. Most of these sites are free.

Find a Grave

Find a Grave is an excellent source for those wishing to find a grave in Oregon. This website allows users to search for a burial location by entering the person’s name(s), the exact or approximate 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 or siblings.

Your search may reveal a photograph of the actual headstone, taken by volunteers who visit cemeteries across the country to record the information for the website. 

Billion Graves

Find a Grave’s competitor is Billion Graves. Volunteers also provide this website’s content. However, one difference between this website and Find a Grave is that Billion Grave volunteers also record the GPS location of the burial.

Interment

Although not all the records on this site are free, Interment is another helpful site for those looking for cemetery records. This site has a page dedicated to records from Oregon. There you’ll find links to 74 digitally archived, fully-searchable Oregon newspapers published from 1848 to 1987. You’ll also find links to Oregon obituary notices from 1988 to current times. Finally, there’s also a link for Oregon funeral notices.

This website also has cemetery records that are organized under the county where they are located. You might be able to access the information you need by signing up for a free trial with Interment.

Ancestry

You might find the information you are looking for about the deceased by consulting the records found on Ancestry.

Ancestry is a premier genealogy website, but not all of the information is available for free. The subscription website gives you tools to search available cemetery records, Oregon newspapers, and obituaries. However, the website also allows you to access the family trees of relatives with common ancestors. For example, you might be able to uncover the burial location of your great-great-grandmother by looking at the information others have posted and made public. 

Nationwide Gravesite Locator 

If your loved one or ancestor was an American service member and buried in a National Cemetery, the record of their burial might be found on this website. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs oversees the National Gravesite Locator. You can search the database 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. 

Oregon Newspaper Archives

The Library of Congress is overseeing a project called Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. This website has digitized, searchable archives of dozens of Oregon newspapers. And the archives can be accessed for free from your own computer. 

If you know the approximate death date of the deceased, you might be able to look up the closest newspaper to try to find a death notice or obituary.

Oregon Vital Records

Most states have restrictions on vital records. However, Oregon will allow you to search for a death certificate that is more than 50 years old. Learn how from their Department of Vital Records.

Even if the place of burial is not recorded on the death certificate, the document may help you gather information about the deceased that would be helpful in your search for the burial location.

Reasons You Can’t Find a Gravesite in Oregon

We’ve given you a lot of resources for finding a grave in Oregon, but you might still be in the dark. Here are some possible reasons that you weren’t able to find the information you were seeking.

The person is still alive

Could it be that the burial site you are searching for does not exist because the person is not dead? Verify the person’s birth date to see if this is a possibility. Learn more about how to find out if someone is still alive.

The cemetery records aren’t available online 

Even though more historical archives, Oregon newspapers, and cemetery records are being digitized every day, it could be that the record you are seeking is still not on the internet. 

The headstone is impossible to read

Even if volunteers for Find a Grave have visited the cemetery where your ancestor was buried, the headstone may not be in a good enough condition to read. And the cemetery records may not be available.

Your loved one was buried on private land

If your ancestor lived in Oregon before it was settled, they might be buried outside a cemetery 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 Oregon for Free

If our previous resources weren’t helpful, you might consider hiring a genealogical researcher from the Oregon region where your ancestor lived or died. However, here are some other options for finding a grave in Oregon for free.

1. Reach out to family members—especially those who live in Oregon

Reach out to the oldest person in the family and any other extended relative interested in genealogy. You might be able to connect with these people on Ancestry. 

The older person in your family may have a box of family records, which might reveal the information you’re seeking.

2. Visit the Oregon community where your ancestor lived and died 

While you probably already completed online searches for Oregon burial records, you might also consider visiting county and state historical societies. You might uncover the information you are looking for on microfilm, microfiche, or in a bound periodical. You might also want to search local cemetery and church records if they’re available. 

3. Visit cemeteries in Oregon

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 burial site, or you might need to spend a few hours wandering the grounds and reading headstones. 

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

If you found the gravesite in Oregon, you might want to leave a gift at the gravesite to honor your loved one. 

If you're an Oregon 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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