What was the Pierce County, Washington, pauper cemetery is now a forgotten memory. More than 1,600 people are buried there, all laid to rest between the 1880s and 1920s. Researchers say either the county never kept a record of the burials or lost it, possibly in a fire.
If not for a curious funeral director who started six years ago to collect the names of the dead, they would remain hidden in handwritten ledgers kept by individual funeral homes across Tacoma. Bill Habermann enters the names on tracked down military records and newspaper stories about the deaths.
Then he painstakingly entered all of it into an online database at findagrave.com, along with other details from public records, so they can be found by searching historians and family members.
You can read more in an article by Karen Peterson in The News Tribune at http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/local/article98258267.html.
My thanks to the Tacoma-Pierce County Genealogical Society for telling me about this story.