Launched to Attempt to Get Cremated Remains to Loved Ones

The following news release is from PRNewsWire:

WASHINGTON, Pa., Feb. 18, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — Every year, thousands of cremated remains go unclaimed for a variety of reasons at funeral homes, cremation providers and local and state agencies across the country.

Attempting to fix that issue, Michael Neal, a funeral director in Washington, Pa., has launched a revolutionary website to help with the painstaking task of identifying those unclaimed cremated remains and reuniting them with their loved ones.

To help with this effort, Mr. Neal is announcing his partnership with the Oregon State Hospital, a division of the Oregon Health Authority, to assist that state with finding the families of more than 3,500 individuals in their care who have been cremated, but never claimed.

“The task of trying to reconnect families with loved ones’ cremated remains in this way has never been done and it would be a shame not to harness the power of the Internet when addressing such an important problem,” Mr. Neal said.
To help with this delicate task, Mr. Neal launched that he hopes will connect families with their deceased relatives. Mr. Neal said the website currently has information for more than 1,000 people whose unclaimed cremated remains are awaiting reunification with their families.

The online database also goes beyond Oregon since anyone can log on to view the registry, and cremation providers may apply for online privileges to upload information related to their own unclaimed inventory at absolutely no cost.
“This has never been done before and is a completely unique service,” Mr. Neal said. “It’s a service with the single purpose of bringing long separated family members and their loved ones together again, thus enabling a final disposition to take place.”

Forgotten Ashes contains the names of the cremated as well as possible survivors, when available, and allows for the easy sharing of that information through social networks. Any funeral home can register to list their own inventory of forgotten ashes, which will be available at any time until they wish to remove them or until they have been claimed.
For more information, go to or email Michael Neal.

I note that the listings on the website thus far are for the states of Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington.

Drive By Viewing

The following excerpt is from WTVR in Virginia:

FARMVILLE, Va. (WTVR) —The drive-thru itself was an innovative concept, but at this one, it’s unlikely you can order any fries or a shake.
Carl Eggleston of Farmville believes in innovation when it comes to his funeral business. After 30 years in the business, he’s seen some changes and he’s tried to be one who keeps up with the times and needs of families.

Next month he’ll have cameras installed in the chapel, so services can be viewed online for family out-of-state. He’s already seen many grieving families choose to have their loved ones fingerprints made into rings, pendants and ear rings.

But now he’s leading the way in Virginia with a new service, the drive-thru.

“You can stay in your car and ride by this window, see your loved one–also see when the place and time of service is going to be held, on this board here–without leaving your car,” Eggleston said from the Oliver and Eggleston Funeral Establishment.

Read the full article atthe WTVF website.

Donated New Glasgow Funeral Home Records Fill in Gap of 31 Missing Years of Death Records

The following teaser is from the October 3, 2012 edition of

NEW GLASGOW [Pictou County, Nova Scotia] – The brown and faded documents that lay on a table at the local library have caused a buzz of excitement in the Pictou County Roots Society, which hopes to fill in the gaps of Nova Scotia’s history with these funeral home records that date back to the 1800s. 
“These approximately 15 books and plans, they’re important because the death records that are on file with the government office and the records that you can get online for the death records, there’s a large gap of 31 years,” said society member and author of Pictou County history books Clyde Macdonald. “So between 1877 and 1908, those death records aren’t available.

These death records are indeed a major find and something that has excited all the members of the Pictou County Roots Society that have seen them and the library staff is just exhilarated over this donation.” 
Macdonald said the documents are the records of Ross’s Funeral Home on Donald Street in New Glasgow and contain death records, funeral arrangements and other documents from before 1880 to 1971.

Read the full article.

The Records of the African-American Dale-Riggs Funeral Home of Toledo, Ohio

The following excerpt is from a long article by Claudia Boyd-Barrett, published in the January 3, 2010 edition of the Toledo Blade.

[Toledo, Ohio]: Inside the expansive rooms of the Dale-Riggs Funeral Home at Nebraska and City Sheryl Riggs, managing director of the Dale-Riggs Funeral Home at Nebraska and City Park avenues, aims to make its voluminous records more accessible to genealogists.  From The Blade. Photo by Andy MorrisonPark avenues, tucked away in old boxes, filing cabinets, and on dusty basement shelves, there lies a veritable Toledo treasure.

Records — thousands of them, written in ledgers, typed on index cards, and stored in paper files — document the names, family ties, and biographical information of each person who has passed through the traditionally African-American funeral home since 1912.

Now, Ms. Riggs is working on making these voluminous records available to the public.

Together with the African American Legacy Project of Northwest Ohio — an organization dedicated to education about the history and culture of African Americans in the area — the funeral director hopes to raise enough money to create a computer database that would house all of the information in digital form.

The idea is to set up a site at the Legacy Project’s offices on Upton Avenue where researchers could look at the data and to make the records accessible online.

Read the full article.

Click here for a history of the Dale-Riggs Funeral Home.

Augusta, GA – African American Funeral Programs Posted Online

The following press release was received from Ed Johnson today.

The Digital Library of Georgia is pleased to announce the availability of a new online resource: African American Funeral Programs from the East Central Georgia Regional Library at

The African American Funeral Programs from the East Central Georgia Regional Library online collection consists of over Lucy Craft Laney memorial cardone thousand funeral programs ranging from 1933 to 2008 (with the bulk of the collection beginning in the 1960s) from the Eula M. Ramsey Johnson Memorial Funeral Program Collection. A majority of the programs are from churches in Augusta, Georgia, and the surrounding area, with a few outliers in other states such as New York and Florida. The programs typically contain a photograph of the deceased, an obituary, a list of surviving relatives, and the order of service. The collection provides extensive genealogical information about the deceased, including birth and death dates, maiden names, names of relatives, past residences, and place of burial. Alongside this genealogical information, the obituaries provide a rich source of local history about African Americans. Many of the people included in this collection were prominent in their communities, and many were involved locally in the struggle for civil rights.

Additional digitization projects are currently underway and will be announced as they become available online at the Digital Library of Georgia. Based at the University of Georgia Libraries, the Digital Library of Georgia is an initiative of GALILEO, the state’s virtual library.

The African American Funeral Programs from the East Central Georgia Regional Library is a project of the Digital Library of Georgia in association with the East Central Georgia Regional Library as part of Georgia HomePLACE. The project is supported with federal LSTA funds administered by the Institute of Museum and Library Services through the Georgia Public Library Service, a unit of the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia.

For more information, please contact us at

The date of the materials run from 1933 through 2009.

Millions of Historic Southern Records Now on the Web

Thanks to Paul Nauta for the following press release:


SALT LAKE CITY—FamilySearch announced today it has published millions of records from Southern states to its rapidly growing, free online collection. The collection includes both digital images and indexes. Millions of death records from North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida were the most recent additions. Viewers can search the free collection on the Record Search pilot at (click Search Records, and then click Record Search pilot).

In the past 18 months, FamilySearch has been diligently publishing digital images and indexes from Southern states. It is part of a worldwide initiative to provide fast, economical access to genealogical records. Fueled by over 100,000 online volunteers, FamilySearch is digitizing and indexing historical records and publishing them online.

The most recent additions are from the following collections:

  • Alabama Statewide Deaths 1908 to 1974 (Index)
  • Arkansas County Marriages: 1837 to 1957
  • Civil War Pension Index Cards (Digital Images)
  • Florida Deaths 1877 to 1939 (Index)
  • Florida State Censuses: 1855, 1935, 1945 (Digital Images)
  • Freedman Bank Records: 1865 to 1874
  • Freedman’s Bureau Virginia Marriages 1855 to 1866
  • Georgia Deaths 1914 to 1927
  • Louisiana War of 1812 Pension Lists (Images)
  • North Carolina Deaths 1906 to 1930
  • North Carolina, Davidson County Marriages and Deaths, 1867–1984 (Digital Images)
  • South Carolina Deaths 1915 to 1943
  • South Carolina Deaths 1944 to 1955 (Index)
  • Texas Death Index 1964 to 1998 (Index)
  • Texas Deaths 1890 to 1976
  • Virginia Fluvanna County Funeral Home Records 1929 to 1976 (Digital Images)
  • West Virginia Births 1853 to 1990 (Index)
  • West Virginia Marriages 1853 to 1970 (Index)
  • West Virginia Deaths 1853 to 1970 (Index)

FamilySearch has also published free indexes to the 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, and 1920 (partial) U.S Censuses—all important resources for Southern states research.

David E. Rencher, FamilySearch chief genealogical officer said, “This significant set of records fills a real need in Southern states research. To be able to search vital records across the South by name and locality leverages the best search techniques and greatly improves the odds of success for those researching Southern families.”

During both pre and post Civil War eras, there was general migration from the eastern seaboard, down through the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama, and on into Texas. “The publication of these records will begin to open up and answer many questions about family members that migrated and were never heard from again,” Rencher added.

With just a few clicks, visitors can now search millions of records online for that elusive ancestor. Or pore through digital images of historic documents that before this time were inconvenient or impossible for many to access because the original documents were located in an archive somewhere in the South.

“There is much more to come,” said Rencher. “FamilySearch has a large collection of records [on film] from the Southern states that still need to be digitized, indexed, and made available for the public online—and we are acquiring new records all the time. It’s a great time to be a family history enthusiast,” concluded Rencher.

FamilySearch is currently working on federal and state censuses and birth, marriage, death, and war records. New indexing projects and searchable collections are added weekly.

The Funeral Home History of Brewton, Alabama

There’s an interesting article posted online, written by Lydia Grimes of the Brewton Standard, that deals with the history of the funeral homes of Brewton, Alabama. Ms. Grimes realizes the historical and genealogical value of the local funeral homes, as well as the Brewton Standard newspaper. Check it out.

It’s Cheaper to be Fried Than to be Buried – and That’s Tough on the Funeral Home Folks

The recession is taking its toll on funerals… I hadn’t thought about it too much, but when my brother passed away on Feb. 21, I found that he had opted The Japanese Garden Behind Neil Meitzler's home in Walla Walla, Washington. It's even beautiful in mid-winter.for cremation instead of being buried next to his father in Albany, Oregon. From what I’m told, he walked in the door a month or so prior to his death and declared, “I’m cooked.” The family had always kept the grave in Albany open for Neil, as we’ve heard him say numerous times that he was going to be buried next to his dad, Maynard Claussen. However, that’s not what happened. At his request, he was cremated and his ashes are to be scattered in Japan – as well as the ornamental Japanese garden behind his home.

I have an idea that the expense of a funeral today may have played a part in Neil’s thinking… According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the average cost of a funeral, not counting the plot and headstone, was $7,323 in 2006.

More folks are opting for cremation today. What effect will this have on genealogy? It certainly means that there will be far less new monument research to do in the 22nd century. It also means that there will be one less semi-permanent memorial in place by which to remember the ancestors.

It’s now been confirmed that funeral home revenues have weakened as more consumers opt for cremations, cheaper caskets, shorter viewing periods and cheaper wakes. Also keep in mind that many funeral homes are prepaid for their services. That prepayment cash is usually invested. And I’m sure you know what’s happened to most of our investments of late.

Cremations went up 46 percent nationwide from 1997 to 2007 – and I’ll bet that figure is skyrocketing at the moment. Cremation represents from 24 to 35 percent of funerals currently. However, over 2/3 of funerals in Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington now include cremation, while cremation is still under 15 percent in Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Texas. Funeral homes aren’t selling as many caskets now as in prior decades (averaging $2,250 each).

The word is out that the mortuaries are planning to raise the price of cremation – and another thing in the funeral homes’ favor is that the current U.S. death rate is 8 per 1,000 per year and it is projected to rise to 9.3 by 2020 and 10.9 by 2040. They may not be able to put on a fire sale, but the customers will keep dropping in…

For more information on the cash-strapped mortuaries, see the article by David Coffey in the April 1, 2009 edition of the Fresno Bee.

Also see:

Fresh Resource Now Posted for Those Dealing in the Dead – Oh, Lay Me Down in Forest Lawn…

Nomis Publications – the folks who brought us the “Yellow Book” of Funeral Homes, has just announced a completely nomispublications-logoupdated and easy-to-use website. I’ve been a Nomis fan since I got my first “Yellow Book” from them (I believe that was 1986). Dollarhide knew about my interest in Nomis, and emailed yesterday with the information that the new site was up. So I went over to to take a look.

Nomis is in the business of publishing directories of interest to those in the funeral business – whether as principals in funeral homes, cemeteries, or as suppliers to these services. However, they also have a website that every genealogist should be aware of. The following online directories are of interest to genealogists:

Directory of Funeral Homes: International in scope, and divided into three parts; United States, Canada, and International. Note that these aren’t just mortuaries that happen to belong to an association, but a listing that should cover all of them.

Cemetery Directory for the United States: It may be subdivided into three categories prior to a search (human, pet, veteran).

U.S. Daily Newspapers: Searchable by city and state.

Cemetery and Funeral Associations: Searchable by city and/or state. At a quick glance, it looks to me like there are in excess of 175 associations of this nature in the United States.

Of course, the Funeral Home and Cemetery directories are probably the databases of the most interest to genealogists. It looks to me like there are right at 1000 funeral homes currently listed as operating in the United States alone. Searches can be made by name of the funeral home, city, and state or any combination thereof. The directory listing gives the name of the place, address, and phone and fax numbers.

Searching on the City of Everett, in Washington State, I got four hits. See the following screen shot:

In searching the cemetery listing, I just looked for Forest Lawn, leaving out any specific place. Would you believe there are better than 60 of them in the U.S? Again, the directory listing gives the name of the place, and address, as well as phone and fax numbers.

One more note. The use of the Nomis Publications website is free. However, they do ask that you register when you first visit the site. It only takes a minute or two…

Now for a few old John Denver lyrics…

Forest Lawn

Oh lay me down in forest lawn in a silver casket
Put golden flowers over my head in a silver basket
Let the drum and bugle corp play taps while the cannons roar
And sixteen libertied employees sell souvenirs from the funeral store

I want to go simply when I go
They’ll give me a simple funeral there I know
With a casket lined in fleece
And fireworks spelling out rest in peace
Oh take me when I’m gone to forest lawn

Oh lay me down in forest lawn they understand there
They have a heavenly choir and a military band there
Just put me in their care I’ll find my comfort there
With sixteen planes and a last salute they’ll drop across in a parachute

I want to go simply when I go
They’ll give me a simple funeral there I know
With a hundred strolling strings
And topless dancers with golden wings
Oh take me when I’m gone to forest lawn

Oh, come, come, come, come
Come to the church in the wild wood
Kindly leave a contribution in the pale
Be as simple and as trusting as a child would
And we’ll sell you the church in the dale

To find a simple resting place is my desire
To lay me down with a smiling face comes a little bit higher
My likeness cast in brass will stand in plastic grass
While hidden weights and springs tip it’s hat to the mourners filing passed

I want to go simply when I go
They’ll give me a simple funeral there I know
I’ll lie beneath the sand
With piped in tapes of billy graham
Oh take me when I’m gone to forest lawn

Rock of ages cleft for me
Forest’s lightly higher fee
Oh take me when I’m gone to forest lawn


Made popular by John Denver; Words & music by Tom Paxton

New Digitized and Indexed Records at FamilySearch

The following news release was just received from Paul Nauta, with FamilySearch:

30 January 2009 – Since the last update on January 5, 2009, FamilySearch added over 40 million new records to its Record Search pilot. Individuals with international roots from Argentina, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Germany, Netherlands, and the Philippines will find some nice surprises in the newly added collections.

Birth, marriage, and death records were added for the Netherlands and Ireland. Irish researchers in particular have been anxiously awaiting the 23 million records from the Irish Civil Registration indexes. These records date from 1845-1958 and are also known as the Statutory Registration Records. Statutory registration for Protestants began in 1845 and for Catholics in 1864.

Many thanks to the thousands of online FamilySearch Indexing volunteers who helped make these wonderful records available.

See the chart below for more details. The new records can be searched for free at (Click Search Records, then Record Search pilot).
New at Familysearch 01-31-09

Funeral Services Now Available Via Webcast

The following press release proposes a novel idea that I predict will quickly catch on nationwide. If you can’t make the funeral, just watch it on your computer… By the way, Flanner and Buchanan do some really unique funeral stuff… Hmmm. Want to have a service for Spot or Kitty? They can do it… and in style.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN — Flanner and Buchanan Funeral Centers is now offering video recording and webcasting of funeral services to families.

broadcastingDifficulties in traveling to the funeral site – where services typically take place except in truly extreme circumstances – can prevent family and friends from making it to the important event. Now, with webcasting available, remote locations, either in the greater Indianapolis area or even overseas, can be utilized to view the funeral while it is taking place or at a later, more convenient time.

The portable system is available at all 14 Flanner and Buchanan Funeral Centers in Indianapolis and Hamilton County, or it can be used if the funeral service is being held at a locations, such as a religious institution, community center, or other gathering place.

The system was barely in place when a funeral in the Indianapolis area was viewed, in real time, by a relative stationed in Iraq. Other funerals have been broadcast to Japan and to locations much closer to home.

“This cutting-edge technology is an innovative way for us to bring memorial or funeral services to members of the family and the wider circle of friends who are unable to attend in person,” said Clayton.

“Families and friends are scattered – often around the world – and at times of grief and loss, their absence is keenly felt by those left behind. It’s our goal to help everyone come together to celebrate the life of their loved one, and find comfort. These webcasts also preserve a valuable piece of family history.”

The webcasting service offered by Flanner and Buchanan is offered through Event By Wire, a California-based company that offers a broadcast of the service, distributed over the Internet, using streaming technology. It can be viewed live or recorded, and viewed when friends and family wish to – sometimes over and over again.

The technology is portable, too. “We can take it anywhere, broadcasting services and events held in parks, churches, and other locations,” said Brian Buchanan, principal of Flanner and Buchanan Funeral Centers. “This is another way to build flexibility into every celebration. No two lives are alike, and no two memorial services should be; webcasting allows for the utmost in personalization.”

Webcasting is the latest in a long series of innovations offered by Flanner and Buchanan Funeral Centers to provide its client families with a variety of ways to celebrate the lives of their loved ones.

“Historically, entire communities came together to honor the life of the deceased and share their grief,” said Clayton. “In the 21st century, we’re finding family and friends to be scattered across the country, even around the world, often preventing them from joining such a gathering. Now, with the webcasting technology, Flanner and Buchanan can unite them once again.”

Whether arrangements for funerals are pre-planned or made upon the death of a loved one, families will be given the opportunity to select webcasting as one of the many options. Included in the $200 cost for the webcasting will be the choice of viewing sites, literally around the world, where friends and family may gather to watch the funeral at the same time it is taking place.

The funeral may be viewed on a computer, through a link that will be e-mailed ahead of time to those family members and friends unable to attend the service. “This allows the friends and family to view the funeral from the comfort of their own homes,” Clayton said. “It is a great service for shut-ins, out-of-town friends and families who, previously, had no way of participating in such a meaningful way in the memorial to their loved ones.”

If it is impossible for someone to view the funeral at the time it occurs, viewing a delayed broadcast on the computer will also be possible, he added.

Cameras will be discreetly placed at the funeral, and the results will be fed, as a live webcast, to those signed up to view it at the time of the service, or they may access the same webcast or at a later time.

Halstead Mortuary (San Francisco) Record Images Online

DearMyrtle reported this morning that the Halstead Mortuary Records form 1923 to 1960 have been posted online by The mortuary records were posted by sfgenealogy, with Researchity holding the copyright. The 1961 through 1974 records are now being indexed, and they are looking for volunteers. Records from 1975 are held by the funeral home, and will not be online in the foreseeable future.

I did a search on the surname, Canfield, and got 8 hits on four different people. Their deaths were 1931 through 1961. Following is a screen shot of the hits.


Clicking on image 9909 for George Wallace Canfield, I got the following digital image. It is fairly light onscreen and I’ve added contrast with Photoshop Elements to make it more legible. I recommend doing this with any of your documents that are difficult to read, prior to filing them electronically.


This is a wonderful resource for San Francisco researchers. Search for your San Francisco ancestors in the online Halstead Mortuary records.

Why Check EVERY Source?

emma-canfield-funeral-homeOver 20 years ago I was searching for information dealing with my great uncle, Henry E. Canfield, and his wife, Emma Larimore. I began by obtaining the death certificates for both Henry and Emma. Henry died first, leaving Emma to act as the informant on his death certificate. Emma died a little later, with an F. C. Hilker listed as the informant. I contacted the Westminster Memorial Park in Westminster, California and they sent me copies of the internment cards for Henry and Emma. This gave me a lot of information. Did I need more? Feeling that I should leave no stone unturned, I contacted the Coon and Souder Mortuary in Long Beach. They sent me copies of their records. In reading Emma’s mortuary record, I found that the casket was ordered by F.C. Hilker. He was the same person who was informant on the death certificate. The costs were charged to Dr. Earl Anderson, DDS. This took place in 1935. Doing some quick calculations in my head, I figured that there was a chance that Hilker and Anderson were still living. I called directory assistance for San Pedro, California (where Hilker was listed as living in 1935) and found no Hilkers in the area. I then called for a number for Dr. Earl Anderson in San Pedro and was able to obtain a number. I called him and after a rather tense conversation in which he really wasn’t about to tell me anything, he did say that Fred Hilker was still living, that being in Denver, Colorado. I then called “Bud” Fred Hilker. He was extremely friendly and told me a number of stories about time spent on the ranch with my great uncle Henry. Toward the latter part of the conversation he told me that he was only distantly related to the family and that he had some items that I would be interested in. About a week later, a small box arrived containing Civil War artifacts that had belonged to my great grandfather, Henry Canfield (7th Michigan Cavalry). Did it pay off to go ahead and get that mortuary record? It surely did. Always get every document available. Even if you think you don’t need it. 
(The above item was used as a sidebar in Dollarhide’s Genealogy Bulletin #60. December 2003.)