Civil War Blog

A project of PA Historian

Finding Cemeteries in the Lykens Valley Area

Posted By on March 2, 2011

In yesterday’s post, examples were given on how to use the Find A Grave web site to locate individual graves of Civil War soldiers.  In the post today, examples will be given on how to locate cemeteries in the area covered by this Civil War Research Project.  The Find A Grave site is an excellent resource for locating cemeteries and for “virtually touring” those cemeteries to see what Civil War veterans are buried there.  At this time, no single site on the web provides a complete list of all the cemeteries within a particular county and a complete listing of all graves that are found there.  Find A Grave is attempting to do that, but is a long way from completing its goal.  Nevertheless, the major cemeteries in each county are included as well as some of the grave information in each.  A few cemeteries are “complete” in their listings on Find A Grave, but few if any are complete in the grave marker pictures to complement the listings.

One of the first difficulties in compiling a list of all the known cemeteries in our project’s area of study is that the study includes only parts of three counties:  Dauphin County, Northumberland County, and Schuylkill County.  The search function on Find A Grave will produce a complete county list rather easily.  To identify the ones in the county that are within the geographic area of this Civil War Research Project, you then have to go through the list and identify which ones should be included and which ones should be eliminated.

Start with the search page for individuals (see yesterday’s post) and in the left hand column of choices, click on “Cemetery Search.”  A screen will appear as shown below:

To get a list of all the Find A Grave cemeteries in Dauphin County, select “Pennsylvania” in the “US State List” and a pull-down list of the counties in Pennsylvania will appear.  Select “Dauphin County” and click “Search.”  The search produces 212 cemeteries but the cemeteries are listed at 20 per page.  One of the 212 results is pictured below:

The list indicates the name of the cemetery (in this case, the cemetery is known by two names), the location (address), whether there is a map locating the cemetery (“map” icon), and whether there is a picture of the cemetery (“camera” icon).  The numbers to the right indicate there are three pending requests for grave marker photos and 191 graves recorded in the Find A Grave data base for this cemetery.

To produce a listing of all the cemeteries in Dauphin County that should be included in this research project, you have to copy and paste the data from the list (20 cemeteries at a time) into a word processor program – and then go through the list of 212 cemeteries and delete those that are outside of the geographic area of study (e.g., delete Harrisburg, Middletown, Hershey, etc.).   Since cemeteries are often known by more than one name, as is the cemetery in the example above, the cemetery could be listed more than once in the data base.  Many of the cemeteries will not have maps or pictures.  Also, in most cases, Find A Grave gives the post office address for the cemetery which in some instances doesn’t help in its location.  In the example above, the post office address of “Lykens” is not the same as the physical address of the cemetery.  For those who are familiar with the Lykens Valley, Lykens Borough and Lykens Township are two different entities and are separated by a mountain.  Coleman’s Cemetery is actually located in Lykens Township.  Fortunately, in this case, the correct location of Coleman’s Cemetery is shown on the map that is provided – and the correct GPS coordinates are given.  Without this map, someone looking for the cemetery could search forever in Lykens Borough and wonder why the cemetery could not be located.

Click to enlarge map. The location of Coleman’s Cemetery is shown by “?” and the location of “Lykens Borough” shown by the word “Lykens” south of the state game lands and along Route 209.

Another caveat is that not all cemeteries are listed.  For example, the Boyer Cemetery, located in Washington Township, Dauphin County, and the subject of a previous post is not listed.  Some cemeteries are only listed under one name.  An example of this is the Old Stone Church Cemetery, which was also the subject of a previous post.  The multiple names by which this cemetery was previously known are not found in the Find A Grave data base – and finding this cemetery within the Borough of Elizabethville would be quite a task without a map (no map is provided on Find A Grave, but a map was provided on the blog post).  All this should not detract from the value of having a place where most of the Dauphin County cemeteries are listed along with an attempt to have a registry of all the graves  within those cemeteries.

Similar lists can be obtained for Northumberland County and for Schuylkill County.

By clicking on the cemetery lists, a search can be conducted within that cemetery for any individual – or the cemetery can be browsed with a stone by stone, alphabetical “walk though.”  The cemetery listings are not complete and viewers are invited to submit additions to the Find A Grave Database.

In the examples given yesterday for two Civil War soldiers, Cyrene Bowman and John C. Saltzer, it was found that both were buried in the cemetery in Gratz.  The current, official name of the cemetery is Gratz Union Cemetery as is shown on the sign, although the locals still refer to it as “Simeon’s”, named after the man who donated the land – Simon Gratz, the founder of Gratz, Pennsylvania.   The primary listing in the Find A Grave database is under the name “Simeon United Lutheran Church Cemetery,” although by searching for “Gratz” the desired result is obtained.  The cemetery has a sign which indicates the name of the church followed by the name of the cemetery.

The cemetery sign, part of the church sign, helps to create confusion as to the actual name of the cemetery.

For those who wish to have photos of the grave markers in any cemetery in or around Gratz or Lykens Township, high resolution digital photos are available at the Civil War Research Project for all the grave markers from Gratz Union Cemetery and for many other cemeteries in the area.

Screen captures of portions of web pages from Find A Grave are provided here for the purpose of critical review and are within the “Fair Use” guidelines of copyrighted material.

The post tomorrow will focus on the “Fair Use” of material found on the Find A Grave site.


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