Cenotaphs Revisited November 14, 2019

I ran across a weird situation on Find-A-Grave involving two (2) memorials – a memorial marked as a cenotaph even though the person is buried in the cemetery in an unmarked grave and the other memorial in a different cemetery where the Bio clearly indicates he is buried in the first cemetery. Yet, the second memorial is NOT marked as a cenotaph. I am not sure why the first was designated as a cenotaph as it’s clearly not a cenotaph.

From my earlier post Cenotaph Memorial Headstones:

Before joining Find-A-Grave, I was not familiar with the term “cenotaph” until I read its definition. Not exactly the best definition – https://www.dictionary.com/browse/cenotaph

a sepulchral monument erected in memory of a deceased person whose body is buried elsewhere.

An easier definition of cenotaph is a headstone or monument for someone who isn’t buried (including inurnment, scattering of ashes, entombment, etc.) next to the headstone or monument. Often, they are not in the same cemetery.

Find-A-Grave has some quirky and semi-frequent changes to determining if a memorial is a cenotaph and if it can be added to a cemetery. For starters, if a person has two headstones in the same cemetery, the only time you can add the second one as a memorial is if the person has been buried/inurned in both places, usually a case where someone was cremated and the ashes placed in both spots. Otherwise, you can’t add a second memorial and have it designated as a cenotaph. This can cause issues if the person was married multiple times and you were unaware of the marriage which places the person next to a different spouse.

If a person has other cenotaphs headstone in different cemeteries, each one can be added and requested to be designated as a cenotaph providing it doesn’t violate the Rule/FAQ above.

A rare issue would be when a person has a body part, usually leg or arm, buried in a separate grave. I ran across cemetery records in Maple Grove Cemetery where a man lost a body part, arm or leg, and it was buried in the cemetery next to his future grave. He died several years later, but wasn’t buried in the same space as his appendage.

Normally, if the person has an actual grave where they are buried/inurned/entombed, that’s the memorial that should be used when linking family members to the individual. In the cases where the only other memorials for an individual are cremated, lost at sea, or a similar designation that indicates a non-cemetery type of arrangement, then a cenotaph memorial should be the only one linking family. Some contributors will note in the Bio section linking the actual and cenotaphs together. For example, John Doe has a cenotaph in Cemetery A and is buried in Cemetery B.

Additional FAQs/Rules on Find-A-Grave:

Find-A-Grave Rules/FAQs on Cenotaph Memorials

FindAGrave Cenotaph Update – one of the most confusing forums posts that should have been addressed by an admin.

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 collaborateDealspotr.com
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