The following excerpt is from an AP article posted May 20, 2011 at

A decades-long quest to reconstruct thousands of missing burial records at a Detroit cemetery is nearing its end.

The Polish Genealogical Society of Michigan tackled the mystery 20 years ago after it found out that Sacred Heart of St. Mary Cemetery‘s burial records were gone.

The effort was set to draw closer to a finishing point on Saturday, when the society’s members, assisted by a Boy Scout troop, are to uncover 1,000 buried gravestones.

Sweetest Heart of Mary Church opened the cemetery in 1889 after members were excommunicated for joining the splinter church and couldn’t be buried in a regular Catholic cemetery.

Early burial records were destroyed by a flood of the church basement and a fire at the cemetery office.

The genealogical group filled the void by scouring death certificates and monument company sales records and collecting information from each gravestone in the three-block-long cemetery.

“I’m a nostalgic person,” Roger Laske, who helped revive the project in 2009, told The Detroit News. “I just feel sorry for people who are looking for ancestors but can’t find them.”

Members of the genealogical society were tracing their family roots in 1991 when they learned about the damaged burial records. The missing data spanned from 1889 to 1940.

The society’s members decided to try to re-create the records.

Little did they know, they’d still be at it two decades later.

Read the full article.