Discovering Unmarked Graves


By Vernon L. Helmke


Many times we have said, I wish my Grandmother had told me where a certain relative in the past was buried, or who is buried next to Great Grand Father, or I know she is buried in this Cemetery but where, there is not a tombstone. Does this ring a bell with you? Well there may be a way of looking back into the past and discover some of these mysteries. If a person has an open mind and the ability to concentrate and believe in “Dowsing” as a technique of locating places and things not seen or having  existed in the distant past.


About 1975 I became aware of a technique of locating buried pipes, and being an Architect, there was the need to locate pipes that were suspected but not known about on building sites where one of my Jobs was to be built. I learned that two bent coat hangers could be used as a technique of Dowsing would locate these pipes. Many times I was able to prevent a broken gas line or water line or even cutting a buried Electric Wire. This served me well in my work. Often workmen were disbelieving, but when they found the pipe, they were glad I had cautioned them. In 1998 by attending a Genealogy Seminar where the speaker was Leland K. Meitzler, Managing Editor of Heritage Quest, he stated you can find unmarked graves with two coat hangers bent to a certain shape. Wow, my ears perked up and he then described that when walking in a place where graves are to be located, the two coat hangers bent to a a 90 degree shape and held loosely pointing forward, would cross when passed over a grave. I could not wait to go out and try it. I went to a Cemetery where there were known graves and I tried it and by golly, it works. I had to do this a number of times before I came to believe in it. I have improved a bit on just the bent coat hangers by cutting a 4 “ long ½”  pvc pipe for handles in which one leg of  the Coat Hangers is in that pipe which is what is held in each hand and that  allows for a very free swinging “Rod” or “Stick” or what ever you want to call these devices.


This was a fascinating process and I gave several demonstrations to Genealogy Societies and many were disbelieving and some people thought it was interesting and that it works. One day while reading a Genealogy Magazine there was an Add for “Discover Rods” being sold by mail order for $25.00. I thought Wow, this person knows how to sell two old coat hangers for this price, he must be a real slick Business man. I had to have one so I sent off and received two very nice steel rods bent like two coat hangers maybe a little longer and the handle was made of ¼” copper tubing nicely formed and a small book describing how they worked. I already knew this, but what was added was a new theory; that by using one rod over a grave you can tell if the person buried is a female or male. This is possible if all of the Graves in the Cemetery are facing the same way. Wow, another unique piece of information so again I had to try this as soon as I could get out to a Cemetery. Did it work? Yes it does. There is another advantage by using one Rod and that it will now tell if it is a water pipe (often found in a Cemetery to water the grass) or a Grave. This is also very necessary.


So now we can walk over ground that might contain graves and by using one Rod, it will swing for a grave and if it points to the Foot, it is a male and if it points to the Head, it is a female. If it crosses a pipe or other below ground ditch or such, it will not move. If you hold the Rod over your head it will spin Counter Clockwise for a female and Clockwise for a Male. Now what is the next thing that will bewilder the ordinary person. One thing that must be remembered, the person doing this must “Believe” in Dowsing and in the use of the Rods and be able to concentrate on what you are doing at the time. If you do not believe, it will not work for you.


Now the next step in this strange behavior. I want to stress this is not Witchcraft or anti Christian. It is however not a standard science and the way it works has numerous theories but no standard science on which this is based. It is Energy that exists that is not Electricity but more related to Magnetic Energy or I tend to believe that the Energy is the Energy of “Life” or that energy that exists in living creatures, both Human and Animal. A name given to me is Ethric Energy or Radionic Energy. Beyond this I do NOT know, but all I know it works for me.


In using the Rods over ones head and if they spin leads into the next stage of the use of Dowsing and it is described in a Book by Richard Webster, “The Art of Dowsing” which is available on Amazon. Com or bookstores in the cities or on the Internet. Just Google to Richard Webster and you will get to a lot of books written by this person. Described in this book are numerous ways dowsing is used and the one that relates to locating lost graves, is the use of a plumb bob. Any small plumb bob will work and they can be made out of plastic, metal or wood or purchased. Generally you must believe that the Plumb bob will answer your Yes or No questions by spinning clockwise for Yes and counter clockwise for NO. Also the Plumb bob will spin clockwise over a Male grave or counter clockwise over a female grave, just like the Rods do. However dowsing over drawings or maps when you are not at the location can assist in finding a Cemetery where a particular person is buried. This will allow for locating the approximate place where the person is buried by doing the following: If you believe the person may be buried in a particular State in the USA go to the Atlas of that state. Write the name of the person you are seeking on a piece of paper and place so you can read it and concentrate on this name by asking and concentrating on the question “is this person buried in this state and point to it”. Hold the Plumb Bob over one corner of the map and it will swing in the direction of where that person is buried. Lay a ruler on the map under the swing and mark  a line on the map with a pencil from that corner.  Then go to another corner of the map and do the same thing by concentrating and it will swing again in the direction of where the grave is located if it is in that state. Mark a line again and it will cross the other line. Go to the third corner and repeat the procedure by marking the map. It will cross again and leave a small triangle. The grave would be some where in that triangle. Then in one hand take a pointer like a no 2 sharpened pencil and point to places within that triangle and hold the Plumb Bob in the other hand and when it spins clockwise or counter clock wise the strongest that will be the approximate place of burial. Now you must go to the actual location by use of the map and repeat the three corner plumb bob swinging from a cemetery that will probably be in that location or from opposite corners as related to the approximate spot and that will direct you to the probable location of the grave. If this is in a Cemetery,  you will find an unmarked grave or maybe even a tombstone with the name of the person. If it is in a field or pasture where a small private cemetery could be located, you will find the grave of the person you are looking for. Then when you have found the exact probable spot, hold the plumb bob over the specific place and ask the question by concentrating on it “is Jane Doe buried here” This is a yes or no question and if it swings to the clockwise it is yes and if it swings counter clockwise it is no.


Wow, you say this is in never, never land. It is if you do not believe. If you believe, you can prove this to yourself  by going to a known Cemetery with known relatives of yours and where tombstones mark the location and go through the procedures outlined above until you have gained confidence in the application. If you do not remain a skeptic, it will work for you and I know you are not a Warlock or Witch, so it must work,

Try it, you will become fascinated.


Reference books:

  1. “ The Art of Dowsing, by Richard Webster.
  2. “ Finding your Heritage with Discover Rods, by K.F. Grubb, 130 Ilehamwood Drive, DeKalb IL 6015 or

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