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The Value of Cemetery Inscription Books


It can be difficult to research individuals who were born in the early 1800's and died well before the 1900's. Resources for documenting their deaths online and in local courthouses are limited. The problem is compounded if the person moved from one area to another, and you do not know where they migrated from. I will share below one way that has proven successful for me in finding resources to document people given the circumstances described above.

I always check the online catalog of the public library where the person I am researching lived. I also look for a genealogy or local history section of the library website. I search for county or parish histories and books which provide indexes and abstracts to marriages, wills, and land records which I have not been able to locate using online databases. This often leads me to a local history or genealogy room within the library where assigned staff or volunteers assist patrons with family history research.

I checked The Louise C. Fox Local History Room at the First Regional Library in Hernando, DeSoto County, Mississippi in search of resources for the Nelms family who brought my family with them from North Carolina. At the time, I had no clue as to which county they came from in North Carolina There was a book in the room on DeSoto County cemetery inscriptions by the Genealogical Society of DeSoto County Mississippi.

DeSoto Cemetery Inscriptions

I discovered one of the Nelms brothers (Eben Nelms) who accompanied his other brothers (Charles and Presley) listed among the Nelms inscriptions. It said he was born in Anson County, NC:

I later discovered the genealogy of Presley Nelms which includes his descendants Eben, Charles, and Presley Nelms in the manuscript collections at Library of Virginia: Genealogy Among Manuscripts at the Library of Virginia. It confirmed that they were born and migrated from Anson County, North Carolina.

This important detail makes it possible for me to trace local records in Anson County, North Carolina for mentions of my ancestors who were enslaved in Anson County, North Carolina and transported to DeSoto County, Mississippi by the Nelms brothers. There are other cemetery books for DeSoto County.

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