About the Master Burial Site Database

About the Master Burial Site Database

The project of compiling a listing of every known burial site in New Hampshire was begun over two decades ago by one of NHOGA's co-founders, the late Philip Wilcox of Durham, NH. Carleton Vance of Manchester, N.H. assumed the task after Mr. Wilcox. In 1985, Louise Tallman of Rye, NH took over the project and began the process of entering the data into a computer database. Recently, Trina Purcell has begun the process of assuming responsibility for these records, and Louise Tallman has been designated our Records Custodian Emeritus. Site information was collected town-by-town, provided by knowledgeable local individuals with an interest in their city or town's burial sites. The present database contains only the location and other basic information on the cemeteries and graveyards. NHOGA is in the process of designing a new database so that we can add the names and dates of the persons buried in each site.

How to Read the Listings

The listing are organized by town. They consist of several fields. The first field is NHOGA's internal database code. This code is made up of a three character prefix identifying the town, followed by a dash which is in turn followed by a code for the graveyard. The town prefix is a letter plus a two-digit numbers: the letter is the initial letter of the name of the town; the number places the town in alphabetical order. Thus Acworth is A01, Albany is A02, Alexandria is A03, Barnstead is B01, Barrington is B02 and Lee is L06. The graveyard code depends on the town. In some towns the local authorities have assigned codes to their graveyards. In those cases we use their codes. Barrington is one example; they have assign code 1D5 to the Cater graveyard on Green Hill Rd. In other towns there are no official codes, so either the person making the listing, or the NHOGA Archivist has assigned a number to each graveyard. Lee seems to be an example of this method. The only purpose of these codes is to give a unique identification to each graveyard; they have no other meaning.
The site code is followed by the name of the site, the location (street address or other location information), the name of the USGS map on which the site can be found, the map coordinates, any additional comments on the site and the name of the source from whom NHOGA obtained the information. If an individual is listed as the source, it is usually the person who collected the data. Frequently these are NHOGA members, in other cases they are local historians or cemetery trustees. We regret that we cannot provided more detailed contact information on these individuals due to privacy concerns. In a few cases, the individuals listed are now deceased.
Two indexes are provided: an index by town and a state-wide alphabetical index of all sites. The database code appears as part of the state-wide index. Index entries which have no code are cross-reference entries for sites that are known by more than one name.

How to Use the Listings to Locate Sites

Each burial site is keyed to one of the topographical maps produced by the U. S. Geological Survey (USGS). These maps may be ordered directly from the USGS, or may be purchased at numerous commercial dealers. See the list of maps used in plotting these sites for the USGS order number.
Each site listing contains the Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) coordinates of its location given in 10 meter units. These coordinates, also known as "eastings" and "northings", are the primary coordinate system of the USGS maps. Be sure to get recent editions of the maps. Older editions indicated UTM coordinates only with edge ticks. Later editions are more likely to display a full coordinate grid which is much easier to use. USGS has further background information on the UTM Grid. The National Park Service also provides instructions on How to Read the UTM Grid. We also show the coordinates in latitude and longitude for the convenience of those who have computer software that cannot accept coordinates in the UTM format. To locate a graveyard, simply plot the coordinates on the map and follow the map to the indicated spot.
However, be aware that the accuracy of the location coordinates varies widely from town to town and site to site. When a cemetery map symbol for the site exists on the USGS map, the coordinates are usually quite precise. If no symbol is shown by the USGS, NHOGA has plotted the location from the information given us by the person or organization that did the survey. While every effort has been made to obtain accurate information, nearly all the town surveys were made prior to the widespread availability of affordable GPS receivers, and it can be difficult to obtain precise locations for sites far from roads and other topographical landmarks. In some cases the locations were transcribed from maps that are less detailed that the USGS maps and were intended to show only approximate locations. The process of transcribing these numbers is also subject to the inevitable typographic error. In general, you should not rely on a location that has not been plotted by the USGS. Whenever possible, consult with local historical societies or other authorities to determine if more current position information is available.
Do not expect to necessarily find the symbol for a cemetery at the coordinates indicated. Only about half of the sites in the database are shown as topographic features on the USGS maps. In towns with many sites, this percentage is much lower. One of the goals of NHOGA's mapping project was to locate the numerous small sites that do not appear on any map.
The UTM coordinate system divides the globe into sixty zones. The majority of the State of New Hampshire falls within zone 19, except for the southwest portion of the state, which is in zone 18. The listings display the UTM zone for each location. The USGS maps are drawn so that they do not overlap UTM zone boundaries. Thus the UTM coordinates on any given map are for a single zone. Note however, that a town or city may extend across two zones. It is possible for two graveyards, located close together in a single town, to have very different coordinates. Reference to the maps should clear up any ambiguity.
Beginning with the July 2001 edition of these listings, they are map-enabled via links to TopoZone.com. Click on the TopoZone icon next to each site to display the USGS map for that location. You may print a copy of the map with the site marked. Be aware that the USGS maps are finely detailed and may be slow to load over a dial-up connection.


Using the Listings with a GPS Receiver

The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a system of navigational satellites maintained by the U.S. Government. Relatively inexpensive GPS receivers are now available, permitting anyone to accurately find their location nearly anywhere in the world. You do not need a GPS unit to use these listings, however, if you have one available, it provides a valuable assistance in using the maps. In general, a stand-alone, hand-held unit, designed for outdoor use such as hiking or fishing, will work better for this purpose than an in-car unit or one designed to be attached to a computer. Nearly all such units feature a display showing UTM coordinates. The important thing to remember when using a GPS unit with the USGS maps, is to be sure that the map datum setting of the unit matches the map you are using. Most USGS maps use the 1927 North American Datum (NAD 27), but are slowly being converted to NAD 83. The map legend will identify the datum used.

Respect Private Property Rights

Many of the sites listed here are on private property. If no public right-of-way exists into the site, you must obtain the property owner's permission to cross his or her land. To do otherwise is trespassing. The vast majority of individuals will be very cooperative when approached courteously. They may have specific knowledge of the site that is not available elsewhere. Who knows, you may even meet a distant cousin. But above all, respect their rights. New Hampshire law, specifically RSA 289:14, titled Right of Way to Private Burial Ground, details the legal procedures for obtaining entry to such sites. These procedures are cumbersome and time-consuming. Usually, courtesy and common sense will serve you far better.

Additions and Corrections

While every effort has been made to make this listing as accurate as possible, errors are inevitable. Also, many of the smaller sites are known by more than one name. If you find that an entry is incorrect, if you discover a burial site not listed here, or if you know of another name by which one of these sites is known, please email full details to: Trina A. Purcell, records@nhoga.org

What's Missing?

This listing contains over 5,000 sites. However, we are missing data for a few towns. If you would like to volunteer your time to collect information on any of the following towns, please contact Louise Tallman at the address shown above. We need information on Allenstown, Antrim, Bartlett, Danbury, Groton, Henniker and Sandwich. Volunteers have been recruited to prepare the list for Sanbornton, and we await the results. The list for Milton is complete as to names of sites but better locations are needed. Canaan listings were added to the July, 2001 edition.

Listings Copyright (c) 1998-2002 New Hampshire Old Graveyard Association.
All rights reserved.

Send mail to webmaster@nhoga.org with questions or comments about this web site.
Last modified: November 2, 2002