Pet Peeve Rant Warning – Find-A-Grave Plopping and Burial Unknowns/Cremated August 1, 2019

You have been warned. One of my pet peeves when it comes to Find-A-Grave,, is plopping and using Cremated for Burial Unknowns (BUs) when a Contributor wants to make sure someone has a memorial and has no proof the person was cremated. If the person was cremated and they have a final resting place – cemetery, ashes scattered, etc., no problem. However, a family member who has the ashes is not a final resting place. For example, if my daughter toasts (cremates) me and keeps me on her mantle place, that’s not my final resting place. Most likely, my grandson is not going to keep my cremains after his mother dies. Even if he did, at some point, my ashes are going to wind up somewhere – landfill, scattered, etc.

In many cases, it’s a number issue or being the first to add a memorial. It’s funny when I see some people in social media groups claiming this rarely happens. I personally know a Contributor who has been known to add somebody before they are dead. To clarify, I am not talking about a pre-need stone (headstone purchased and installed before a person dies, often the spouse on a double or multiple headstone). In the past, pre-needs were allowed, but a few years back Find-A-Grave banned the practice. They didn’t remove existing pre-needs and rarely remove new pre-needs unless the individual or a family member complains. The exception to this rule is a Famous person who has a known burial location.

What is plopping you ask. It’s placing a memorial in a random cemetery although I would include Burial Unknown/Cremated as plopping for the many Contributors who go that route based on my last paragraph. I would also include plopping when you are relying only on death certificates or obituaries for cemetery information. Both obituaries and death certificates are wrong frequently enough to fall in the need verification before using either one. Simply because an obituary and death certificate show the same cemetery doesn’t mean they are right. There are plenty of Contributors who have no problem admitting they plop. In rare cases, it’s because they think the person is buried there because a spouse is buried there or other family members are buried there. I found a woman who was married three times. She has pre-needs next to each husband who are each buried in different parts of Kansas. However, she is buried next to husband number 1. The other two pre-need headstones would count as cenotaphs (memorial stones) since she isn’t buried in the other cemeteries.

I ran across an obituary where a person was supposed to be buried in an expensive cemetery per the obit, but I photographed his headstone in a pauper’s field in a different cemetery. He was cremated, and I am guessing the cost to inurn him in the other cemetery was more than the family could afford.

You are not doing family or loved ones or future descendants any favors by plopping, including relying on death certificates and obituaries without verifying where the person is buried, or using Burial Unknown/Cremated. That’s not counting those who are later moved. Mary Gates,, has been buried in several different sections of Maple Grove Cemetery. Between 1915 and 1918, her husband had her dug up and moved to Los Angeles, back to Maple Grove Cemetery, later moved to Salt Lake City, before moving her back to Maple Grove the last time in 1918. I came across this information reading a note in the cemetery’s records. In a strange twist, the cemetery originally thought the last move was a new burial as in someone who died in 1918 until I pointed out the note.

I bring this up because I saw a Contributor make the point about it being the numbers and justifying it by saying they helped the family by making a memorial. In this Contributor’s case, they have lots of memorials that are Burial Unknown/Cremated. They are not helping family members or future researchers by listing all of these people as cremated when many of them have been placed in a cemetery. 

They also openly admit to using obit photos which is not allowed by Find-A-Grave. Should I be unwise enough to complain to the admins, the most likely outcome is I would be banned, not the offender. They don’t even bother in most cases to switch the person to the cemetery once a later funeral home obit shows the correct funeral. I trust funeral home obits for the correct cemetery as they tend to be the ones transporting the dearly departed or giving the remains to the next of kin.

However, many funeral homes and a growing number of cemeteries are no longer providing the cemetery due to being hassled by Find-A-Grave Contributors who demand the cemetery information from the funeral home or cemetery.

I have not added an uncle or his wife because I don’t know where they are buried; I have a fair guess it’s the Florida Panhandle. They have been dead since 2008 or earlier. I don’t know any of the children well enough to ask where they buried, inurned, entombed, or scattered. He’s a veteran (Coast Guard/World War II) and would qualify for a military headstone, but the V. A. has no record of one being ordered.



About Wichita Genealogist

Originally from Gulfport, Mississippi. Live in Wichita, Kansas now. I suffer Bipolar I, ultra-ultra rapid cycling, mixed episodes. Blog on a variety of topics - genealogy, DNA, mental health, among others. Let's
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2 Responses to Pet Peeve Rant Warning – Find-A-Grave Plopping and Burial Unknowns/Cremated August 1, 2019

  1. Pingback: Other Things To Be Leery About with Regards to Obituaries and Death Certificates August 2, 2019 | Ups and Downs of Family History V2.0

  2. Pingback: How’s Find A Grave Encourages Bad Actors and Bad Data – Medium/OneZero – Tombstones Tuesdays August 6, 2019 | Ups and Downs of Family History V2.0

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