This week I had a chance to look at a book written by David Allen Lambert: A Guide to Massachusetts Cemeteries, Second Edition. As the title implies, this is the "everything you wanted to know but didn't know who to ask" reference book about burying grounds in the state.
Lambert's guidebook is organized alphabetically by town, then by graveyard name. He often mentions key sources that refer to the cemetery. He also lists the date that the town or city was established as well as what town it broke away from, if applicable.
Each burying ground in the state is listed by the year of consecration or oldest stone or burial, and its location. The book also includes the address and telephone number of the cemetery, usually the town hall although a few cemeteries may have different addresses. If a cemetery has been transcribed and the names published, Lambert also gives the name, volume, date, and publisher of the transcription.
Since I live in Massachusetts, I am quite familiar with a number of nearby cemeteries. When I looked them up in this new book. I first thought to myself, "He won't have that tiny cemetery up the street from my house. After all, it only has three or four tombstones."
Wrong! The book listed the tiny cemetery not only by its current name but also by a different name that was used in the early town records. (I didn't know that!) He mentioned that all the bodies were later exhumed and moved to a nearby, larger cemetery and he also gave the call number of a hand-written transcription of all the tombstones that used to be there. It seems that the cemetery once had dozens of tombstones, but only three or four remain. The hand-written transcription is the only remaining source of information about the burials in that cemetery. The transcription is now available at the New England Historic Genealogical Society.
I would not have known any of that if it were not for this book.
When I lent the book to Pam (the editor of this newsletter), she exclaimed, “Oh, that's a keeper!” Indeed, it is.
The second edition of this book added many previously undocumented burial grounds and also includes citations to published transcriptions of gravestone listings in places such as the New England Historic Genealogical Society, the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, and the official Massachusetts Vital Records to the end of 1850 series.
A Guide to Massachusetts Cemeteries, Second Edition is a must-have for every genealogy library that has any information on New England ancestors. I suspect that many serious genealogists will also want this 345-page paperback book in their home libraries.
A Guide to Massachusetts Cemeteries, Second Edition by David Allen Lambert sells for $17.95 and is available directly from its publisher: the New England Historic Genealogical Society. You can order it directly from the publisher or from most of the online book stores, such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, RootsBooks.com, and others.