STILLWATER, Okla. – Thanks to months of mapping, tracking and locating, individuals looking for the hundreds of small, out-of-the-way cemeteries in Oklahoma now have a resource for help.
Members of the Oklahoma Home and Community Education organization have spent months painstakingly mapping all of the cemeteries in the state. Their efforts have been combined into a set of 77 books, one for each county in the state. There are 4,236 cemeteries listed on the master list.
“The project started several years ago as a tombstone transcribing project but became too labor intensive. We learned there was a need for a cemetery index and in 2003 OHCE adopted this as our centennial project,” said Freda Cunningham, OHCE cemetery index coordinator.
OHCE members across the state located the cemeteries in their counties. Methods of locating the cemeteries varied from working with genealogical societies, county clerk’s office and funeral homes to grave diggers, retired sheriffs, libraries and the Internet.
Information found in the books includes an alphabetical listing of the cemeteries, a picture of the cemetery gate, current driving directions and, if possible, a brief history. Cemetery indexes are also available in CD or DVD format.
“This project is important because cemeteries are being lost to the ravages of time. Many people who have an interest in genealogy often find valuable information in these old cemeteries,” Cunningham said.
“A number of old cemeteries have been discovered throughout this project and county residents have taken it upon themselves to clean them up in an effort to honor those who have passed on.”
Even locations of cemeteries that people know existed but have been destroyed by land developers or farmed over are included in the books.
Orders must be pre-paid and are published on an as needed basis. The cost is determined by page count which is on the order form. Order forms and a sample of the county’s book are available at the local County Extension Office or by contacting Cunningham at 405-722-0719 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
OHCE is a program of continuing education in all aspects of home and community life. OHCE is a statewide and county based organization. County Extension educators, family and consumer sciences, serve as advisers to county OHCE organizations. District and state Cooperative Extension specialists and supervisors work with county Extension educators and the OHCE program.