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

Updated

With hundreds of cemeteries located across fourteen counties, finding a grave in Vermont can be a bit tricky unless you know where to look. And while some agencies will charge you to find one, there are ways to get around paying a fee whether or not you're sure or don't know which cemetery to search first. 

Jump ahead to these sections:

In most cases, you'll need to start with what you know, ask around for information from family and friends, and then begin your search online or in institutions such as religious archives or libraries. 

With that, if you're located in Vermont and need some help finding a grave in a cemetery, we researched what's on this list to help get you started.

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

Before you start looking for a grave in Vermont, locate as many pieces of essential information as possible, such as:

  • First, middle, and last names
  • Exact birth/death year
  • Date of death or a range, before or after a date
  • Memorial or contributor ID
  • Parent, sibling, spouse, or child's name
  • Alternate name spellings

While you may not have all of the information listed above, starting with the full name is a great start. With so many resources to help you locate your friend or loved one, you're sure to have success with a name and some ambition.

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Vermont-Specific Resources to Help You Find a Grave

Below are some great resources to help you find a grave in Vermont. But don't worry about missing data. Your research will provide answers to clues as you travel this journey. And if you get stuck, any of the organizations listed here can offer guidance in the direction needed.

Find a Grave, Cemeteries in Vermont

Look no further than Find a Grave if you have all of the information you could need (see list directly above). 

  • Then log on to their website and choose Vermont. From there, you'll click on State, then County, then Cemetery. 
  • The following page has blank fill-in boxes where you input the information to narrow the search or locate the gravesite in the cemetery. Some may even show photos of the headstones. Others will not.

Don't worry if you don't have all of the information. Play around with your data and see if you get warmer on your search using ranges for birth/death, nicknames, or siblings' names.

Vermont Old Cemetery Association

Founder and Professor Leon W. Dean sought to preserve Vermont's local heritage, folklore, and writings, which led to the development of the Vermont Old Cemetery Association (VOCA) in 1958. Their purpose was to restore and preserve neglected and abandoned cemeteries dating back to the 1700s.

Aside from repair, righting, and cleaning of grave markers, the VOCA also restores the land, which often includes fence repair and brush-clearing. Most importantly, they record inscriptions, which lends to historical reporting and documented accuracy of marker locations, including the story and lives of those buried.

Look to their site for additional support such as current cemetery laws, resources, restoration care techniques, and advice. The VOCA also provides quick links to online organizations like the Association for Gravestone Studies, Civil War Cemeteries, Descendants of the Green Mountain Boys, Preservation Burlington, and more. 

Vermont Historical Society, "Index to Known Cemetery Listings in Vermont" 

The Index is an extensive record provided and updated by the Vermont Historical Society. Look inside the document for a directory of cemeteries listed alphabetically by county locations. 

In addition to cemeteries, you'll find links to outside resources, archives, and other societies such as the Daughters of the American Revolution, New England Historic Genealogical Society, Vermont Old Cemetery Association, and more.

Note that the document does require scrolling through its 80-plus pages, and you won't be able to just skip ahead with easy, clickable links. Not only that, but actual names of people also buried within the cemeteries have been omitted. 

Vermont Secretary of State, Municipal Division

The Municipal Division of the Vermont Secretary of State acts as an advocate on behalf of the public, identifying and cataloging cemeteries and cemetery boards.

The purpose of the office is to oversee cemetery laws regarding or ensuring reasonable maintenance, upkeep, and oversight of all Vermont cemeteries. This applies to those with future-use plots or whose family members are at rest.

Look for links to the Office of Vital records if you need to know how to:

  • Find out if someone died
  • Make changes to birth certificates
  • Order death certificates
  • Look up additional vital records such as marriages, civil unions, divorces, fetal deaths, and more

Check out this page if you need help regarding Burial and Cemetery Laws. There, you'll find information regarding authorization for burial, transit, removal, or disposal. Also available are statutes and state laws about cemetery ownership, protection, and use of perpetual care funds. 

The Ancestor Hunt, Vermont Locations

If you're stuck finding records, check out the Ancestor Hunt. With an abundance of free links and resources, such as church records, you'll find just about any rabbit hole needed to complete your cemetery and genealogical searches.

In addition, you'll find microfilm links to miscellaneous town information like town meetings, road surveys, school reports, and more. Add this to your search for a gravestone or cemetery, and you might be able to write about your family's history from multiple town perspectives.  

Family Search, Vermont Cemeteries

Family Search is one of the more popular search engines for locating graves around the United States and in Vermont. 

One thing that might cause you a hiccup in a Vermont cemetery search is a redrawing or redistricting of county lines. Check out Family Search's tool to help guide you through those boundary changes.

Also, check out their information on: 

  • Birth, marriage, and death records
  • Migration routes
  • Extinct or renamed counties

For additional tips or support, check out their popular link on Research Strategies. They'll help you get unstuck when researching death records through obituaries, probate, church records, Bible records, and yes, even cemeteries.

Vermont in the Civil War

Vermont in the Civil War offers a veritable encyclopedia of facts and information for all things related to Vermont and the Civil War. Current projects include:

  • Continuing to add photographs of each gravestone to the virtual cemetery.
  • Increasing data for each person buried, including military service, vitals, college records, descendants, and more.
  • Developing a virtual museum for visitors far and wide to seek, learn, and understand.

Family Genealogical Research Kit

Now that you have several resources, it's time to put together a genealogy kit. You'll need the following.

  • Notebook: For those brainstorming sessions, addresses, and more.
  • Folder with pockets: Maintain copies of your work or keep copies from bending.
  • Camera: Take pictures to document your findings for all posterity.
  • Audio recorder: Capture stories and comments from relatives, historians, or librarians you gather information from.
  • ID: You may need this in a municipal building or when checking out library material.
  • Copy of your family tree: This can help you keep track of your relatives and other names during your search.
  • Plat book or GPS device: If your relative's grave is located by using coordinates, these will help you locate it.

Place all things in a sealable pack, like a backpack. And keep it in your car or a place for safekeeping when not in use.

Steps for Finding a Grave in Vermont for Free

If you've been thinking about finding a long-lost grave, you've likely been jotting down notes and gathering up ideas. Now, it's time to put them all in one location, sort them out, and come up with a plan.

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1. Talk with family members

Cousins, uncles, friends of twice-removed cousin's uncles, or even old neighbors can be a treasure trove of information. You never know what someone knows until you ask them.

Just be prepared to connect dots rather than make direct links. Sometimes it's just three steps away from Kevin Bacon before you find your answer.

2. Look online

Now that you have all of the information you can gather from familiar or friendly resources, it's time to take the search online. Again, use the resources listed above and take notes. You might even consider making a mind map to keep everything in order.

3. Conduct research at libraries, courthouses, and other archives 

If you can't find the data you need online, don't worry. There are more resources available to help. You'll just have to head down to the library or courthouse in person. 

Sometimes these locations will have microfilm (roll) or microfiche (card), onto which such things as newspaper clippings have been scanned. You'll need to utilize a micro reader to magnify the data and a reading room to look at these in low light.

4. Seek out an online forum

With luck, somebody somewhere has information to impart on your search for a grave in Vermont. Luckily, forums like Quora and Reddit make it easy to ask the "Universe" for help. 

5. Visit the grave

Once you've found the grave, visit it. Take note of who’s buried nearby and what the geography looks like. All these things may give you more information about your friend or loved one than you think.

And if you're not sure what to leave at a grave, flowers are typically a nice touch.

Locating Graves in Vermont

Whether you're locating graves of long-lost relatives or seeking fodder for your next novel about Vermont people and their history, locating graves based on very little information can be quite an adventure. Hopefully, we've given you enough info to begin your quest today. 

If you're a Vermont 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.


Sources: 
  1. The Ancestor Hunt. "Free Vermont Online Cemetery and Burial Records." The Ancestor Hunt, 19 October 2021. theancestorhunt.com
  2. Family Search. "Vermont Cemeteries." Family Search, 13 August 2021. familysearch.org
  3. Find a Grave. "Cemeteries in Vermont." Find a Grave, 2021. findagrave.com
  4. Nichols, J., Murphy, P., Murphy, R. "Index to Known Cemetery Listings in Vermont." Vermont History, Vermont History, 2012.  vermonthistory.org
  5. Vermont Old Cemetery Association. "Our Favorite Links." voca58, 2019. voca58.org
  6. Vermont Secretary of State. "Cemeteries." Vermont.gov, 2021. sos.vermont.gov

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