James M. Beidler writes about Francis W. Ditzler Jr and his efforts to get a tombstone for an ancestor in the Lebanon Daily News (PA). He had located the tombstone years ago, but didn’t write it down at the time, and when he went back, he could no longer find it. He mentions the burial registry that the Zoar Lutheran Church had, and the kind of entries it contains (a treasure trove for genealogists):
â€œMelchior Ditzler, born 1726 in the month of September, baptized in the Palatinate. Came into this land in his youthful years. Confirmed. Married first to Magdalena, nee Schafer, in this marriage they had 2 sons and 1 daughter, who are still living; second he married widow Eva, Nee Darber, in 1763, they had together 5 sons and 6 daughters, of whom 2 sons are dead. Sickness: chill and fever. 70 years, 5 months and 8 days old. Text Psalm 90:9,10. Buried March 8, 1797.â€
Genealogy would be a lot easier if all burial registries were that comprehensive. Beidler highlights the serious problems we face when it comes to small cemeteries (such as ones on the grounds of small churches) – the care and maintenance isn’t always available. There’s been a lot of stories about people interested in genealogy going out and cleaning up and documenting cemeteries, so who knows, maybe within 5-10 years, a lot more work will be done to restore preserve these smaller treasures.