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Innovating Public Information: Buncombe ROD Launches Cemetery Finder

Imagine searching for a long-lost family tombstone, but with limited information you might have to search every cemetery in Buncombe County. With ancestry research being more accessible than ever, more people are looking to reconnect with their heritage. With that in mind, the Buncombe County Register of Deeds is rolling out a new online map making it easier to find local cemeteries.

With the COIVD-19 global pandemic, it’s not always pragmatic to go to the Register of Deeds’ office for this type of information, and now people don’t have to.  “The Cemetery Finder is another example of how information can be more accessible, especially if all you know is the road name or an alternate name to a cemetery as several have changed over time,” explains Deputy Register of Deeds Miranda Stewart. “Previously, lists were very basic and often had duplications because there was no way to verify if they were in fact the same cemetery based on the list alone. Something like the Absalom Dillingham Cemetery was also listed as the Williams Branch Cemetery, The Williams Cemetery, and the Dillingham Absalom Cemetery with the only descriptor being ‘location: Barnardsville.’” 

And there’s a demonstrable need for this service. As more people are spending time at home, it gives them the opportunity to use genealogy-based websites to dig into their past. Ann Broadbent with the Old Buncombe Genealogical Society says this type of historical data is in high demand, “Information on Buncombe County cemeteries is our number one request. We are excited to use this tool which will help family members find their ancestors more easily.”

So how did the Register of Deeds create this useful tool? By using tax records, Old Buncombe Genealogical Society records, recorded documents, and FindAGrave.com, the Register of Deeds has created a map which allows for people to find known cemeteries in Buncombe County. Information available includes cemetery name, alternate names, and a link to the Find A Grave profile if one is available. Tax information has also been incorporated so that a user can find the contact information if one is available. Please note, many of these cemeteries are on private land and it is recommended that you contact the land owner before visiting the cemetery.

Aside from helping people find cemeteries, the database is always looking to expand and you can help other families track down valuable information. If you have a family cemetery located on your property, let us know so we can add it. Also, if you have general information about any of these cemeteries, like an alternate name or location, send us an email at register@buncombecounty.org.

We hope this tool is useful in your research, and we look forward to seeing this valuable resource grow. To use the database, visit BuncombeCounty.org/CemeteryFinder.