How to Find a Grave in Utah for Free: Step-By-Step

Updated

Whether you're looking for a grave in Utah to reconnect with a loved one or are simply doing so for research, it shouldn't require tons of time or money.

Even if you don't know the first thing about how to find a grave in a cemetery, there are steps you can follow to guide you in your search to make it much easier. 

Jump ahead to these sections:

You may be wondering if you'll have to pick a few cemeteries to wander around in and hope you get lucky — but that's not necessary. 

Even if you're unsure about the exact biographical details of the person or people you're looking for, you can piece together this evidence and determine a precise location with free resources (primarily online).  

Learn about locating a grave in Utah for free with these step-by-step instructions, resources, and tips. It might also be helpful to learn how to find out if someone died.

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

To find a grave in Utah—or anywhere—a great place to start is with any biographical details you may have about the deceased.

Though digital record-keeping is relatively recent compared to the age of cemeteries in Utah and around the US, there is a great deal of information online. 

Many states have online indexes that can aid you in your search. Of course, you can always start in your search engine of choice.

It's worth noting that record-keeping can be complex, especially for the biographical data of specific individuals. 

According to the Utah Division of Archives and Records Service, their archives hold records from many publicly-owned cemeteries in Utah, but cemetery and burial records generally take two forms:

  • Records documenting ownership of plots.
  • Interment registers documenting burials within the cemetery. 

The biographical details that will help in searching for graves in Utah (and specifically in the resources above) include:

  • County where the person passed away.
  • Date the person passed away.

If you're unsure of spelling for one or more of the details above, you can always make an educated guess. 

In addition, you can find the details listed above and more if you dig into death certificates, obituaries, and death notices. Therefore, you may also be interested in how to get a death certificate in Utah.

» MORE: Ensure your loved ones have a roadmap on what to do after you die. Create a will and easy-to-follow guidance for the important people in your life.

 

Utah-Specific Resources to Help You Find a Grave

Finding graves in Utah is certainly not about how much you search but how you search. In this section, there are some valuable Utah-specific resources to help you find a grave, as well as some additional options. 

Before you can get super specific about the grave you're looking for, you may have to start with a broader search. Doing so, however, will help you verify any details you currently have and perhaps add them to your list. 

Utah Division of Archives and Records Service

One of the first free resources to check out to find a grave in Utah is the division of archives and records website. This site has many sister resources depending on the complexity of the biographical or genealogical data you're hoping to find.

For example, according to the Utah Division of Archives and Records Service, interment registers are generally of the most use for genealogical research. Information in records may include:

  • The name of the deceased 
  • The birth date and place 
  • The death date and place 
  • Burial date
  • Cause of death 
  • Grave location
  • Names of relatives

Therefore, searching interment registers can help you identify or determine a lot of additional information about the person or persons of interest. 

Utah Cemeteries and Burials Database

The Utah Cemetery and Burials Database is a collection of three distinct sets of information, all of which may be helpful to locate a loved one's grave. It's an ongoing project to document burials within the state. This site, under the Utah Division of State History, includes methods to:

Additional resources

Also, according to the Utah Division of Archives and Records Service, there are some additional, more general resources you can use to locate graves in Utah. 

However, keep in mind these services may not be as localized or entirely free. Recommended resources include Names In Stone, a cemetery mapping site, along with Find A Grave and BillionGraves

Of note, if you have a membership to a genealogy site like Ancestry.com, searching for cemeteries in Utah from this resource is powered by Find A Grave.

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Steps for Finding a Grave in Utah for Free

Breaking up your search efforts into actionable steps will help you significantly. Though finding the resting place of a loved one is undoubtedly valuable, so is your time.

Looking for a grave in any state in the U.S. will likely look similar, as it's essential to use the resources closest to you first — rather than running to the nearest cemetery. 

1. Check-in with friends or family

While you might think it's easier to start searching online before consulting with loved ones about the grave or graves, you never know who could clarify something for you. Some clarifications might include insight about the specific county where the person or family is buried, when they died, or the correct spelling of their name. 

If you're unable to visit a bunch of friends or relatives in person to ask for their help, you can always use social media as well. This way, you might find an additional neighbor to reach out to who knows the area of Utah and the people who live there well. Someone in your network might even know exactly where the grave you're looking for is located, or at least provide a clue about where to look first. 

2. Look for free resources first

With any online record, there will likely be tempting paid services that help find a grave or other data. However, free resources can be just as practical, if not more so, and arguably a better use of your time. 

It may take a few tries or several adjustments to your search terms, but you should be able to get yourself on the right track. 

3. Narrow down your leads

As you search, you should note the most promising leads for the grave or graves you're looking for in Utah. How concrete your leads are will depend on how old the grave is, your certainty surrounding the person's biographical data, the quality of the data or photos provided, as well as any wear on the grave itself (if photo evidence is provided, for example).  

Even if you're feeling certain you've found the cemetery or even exact plot where your loved one rests, it can't hurt to document a few different possibilities as a backup in case the first one comes up inconclusive. 

Bringing different leads with you may also help you locate individuals of interest somehow related to the person you're looking for.

» MORE: Ensure your loved ones have a roadmap on what to do after you die. Create a will and easy-to-follow guidance for the important people in your life.

 

4. Confirm cemetery hours or rules

There might be one or more potential cemeteries or plots where you believe your loved one or person of interest rests. Before you visit, it's essential to check these sites about their hours or any special rules, such as what you're allowed to leave at a grave. 

In addition to respecting cemetery policies (if any), it's important to respect those buried and their families. If you weren't aware, there's such a thing as headstone etiquette as well as grave flower etiquette.

5. Call the county clerk or funeral homes nearby 

Another step to help you confirm your leads is to call the county clerk's office or funeral homes in the area. These offices can be great resources for Utah ancestry of all types. 

Someone at one of these offices might be able to help you narrow down the cemetery you should visit or even direct you to the exact plot on a map. 

6. Visit the grave (the right way)

If you've never visited a grave before, or you're uncertain what to expect because this grave is new to you, there are some things to consider. 

There are specific rules for what to leave at a grave for certain cemeteries. Therefore, it may not be necessary or even allowed to bring flowers, candles, stuffed animals, food, or other unique gifts. Though a thoughtful gesture, some cemeteries need support in the upkeep of the grounds, and these gifts can cause clutter or attract pests.  

Instead of gifts, you can write or prepare a poem, prayer, or speech to help you honor the person you're visiting and those around them. Or, you can always visit a grave to spend a few quiet moments if you're uncertain what to say or do. 

Additionally, if the grave is a bit older or in an area where it's particularly susceptible to the elements, you may be curious about grave preservation efforts. Luckily, the Utah Division of State History actively hosts gravestone preservation workshops open to the public.

Use the Internet to Your Advantage

Though sitting behind a computer and walking through a cemetery are two very different searching methods, a little bit of both may be necessary to locate your loved ones. 

The more you search online, in addition to reaching out to members of the nearby community, the closer you'll get to the graves you're looking for before even stepping foot in a cemetery.

You may also be interested in related resources, such as how to bury a loved one if you can't afford it or how to clean a gravestone.

If you're a Utah 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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