A new project – getting started

It’s interesting to examine something I’ve done for so long (e.g. genealogy) and see how I do things. I guess it could be interesting for others as well.

For my latest project, I’ve been given my client’s maternal grandparents’ full names, birth dates (all since 1900), and where they were born (all New Zealand), and the same with her paternal grandparents.

The first thing I do is add the information I know into Ancestry.com, setting it up as a new family tree.  To do this, I need to connect the four names, by adding in my client’s parents’ names.

I’ve also been told that my client’s maternal grandfather is deceased.

It makes it a little easier as the client is a friend of mine, and I know that her grandfather lived locally.

Cemetery Records and Headstones

I then searched the local cemetery records for information about the maternal grandfather’s passing (in this case, the Napier City Council Cemetery Database – http://www.napier.govt.nz/services/napier-cemeteries/cemetery-database/) and found the following new information (e.g. not provided to me before the search):

  • Last Known Address
  • Occupation
  • Date of Interment – compared to Date of Death
  • Funeral Director
  • A picture of the headstone, complete with a digital copy of the inscription.

With this information, I added the Last Known Address, Occupation and Date of Interment to the Ancestry tree.

With the Funeral Director information, I could email the Funeral Director to see if they will provide any further information on the deceased – e.g. if I didn’t know the next of kin etc.  Not required with this person.

With the headstone information, I now know the first names of two other children of the maternal grandfather (e.g. my client’s uncle and aunty).  I added these into the family tree.  I also saved a copy of the headstone image into the family tree as well.

I also use cemetery records and headstone images as confirmation of spelling of names, and for confirming birth and death dates.  However, these are not always correct.

I’ve seen middle names spelt incorrectly on headstones – in my own family research.

I would complete this same process for other deceased family members.  However, this only works when you know where the person lived, and if the cemetery records for that area are online.

Births, Deaths and Marriages

The next thing I look at is whether the maternal grandfather’s records are available online.  Because this person was born and died in New Zealand, my first point of call is https://bdmhistoricalrecords.dia.govt.nz/search/.

In this case, his birth was in 1929 – e.g. 86 years ago, so his birth record isn’t online.

Because of this, the earliest he would have been married would be 1948 – e.g. 67 years ago, so his marriage record isn’t online.

However, as his birth was more than 80 years ago, his death record is listed online.

When looking at the listing, the only thing new is the registration number for the record – in case I need to purchase the record.  I note it in the family tree (you never know!).

I can find the other records at my local library – using microfiche.

The other grandparents are all born after 1915, so all their birth and marriage record listings could be found at the library too.


  1. Set up family tree on Ancestry
  2. Checked cemetery records online
  3. Checked Birth Deaths and Marriages online

What I could do next:

  1. Email Funeral Director
  2. Check BDM record listings on microfiche at local library
  3. Purchase any BDM records (if required)

Part 3 of my search for Barb, Ron and Don

Author: Rachel Bell

I really didn’t consider the future when coming up with this blog title.  I plan on contributing to Find A Grave for a while, so when we get up to “Part 59…”  I’m going to look a little silly!

Somehow yesterday I coerced my husband into a “quick” trip to the Hastings Cemetery to take a couple more photos.  As usual, I chose the hottest part of the day (supposedly we hit 35ºC yesterday).

Even though I’d searched for Barb (Barbara Dryden) in my two previous visits, I took advantage of the second set of eyes, and we looked again.  No luck this time either, definitely going to assume that her plaque in the rose garden is either one of the unreadable plaques, or missing altogether.

We both then went in search of Juanita Dorothy Wini King – but again, no luck.  This should have been easier – as the date of death for Juanita was September 2002 – thus the plaque should have been readable, but nothing.

By this stage, my husband is getting a little frustrated.  “You’ve got me looking in this heat for nothing?”

One more I promised…

Just down from where Juanita was meant to be, we went searching for Phyllis Agnes Walker and Victory Peace Walker (surprisingly born in 1919 – with a name like that, I expected him to be a child of the 60s/70s).

Victory Peace Walker and Phyllis Agnes Walker

Bingo, I found one (or two – depends how you want to count this)!

I also decided to return to the place where Donald Raymond Roe‘s headstone should be (I found the empty plot last time) – to take a photo of the empty plot for his relatives.

Donald Raymond Roe

I find an empty plot like this a little depressing.  Did Donald never have a headstone?  Was it damaged?  Was it stolen?

I’m not sure my husband will ever help me again – but we worked out why I was so nauseous after my last visit to the Cemetery.  I get motion sick really easily, and of course I was walking through the rows of headstones, and the rose garden looking from left to right at each name of the plaques.  Needless to say, the heat was probably a factor as well, but I was more motion sick than sick from heatstroke.

My Find A Grave contributions are now up to 6 – and there are no more new requests for the Hastings or Havelock North Cemeteries.  Does anybody have any New Zealand relatives they need help with?  They don’t have to be from Hawke’s Bay…

Today’s search for Barb, Ron and Don

Recently I signed up to contribute to Find A Grave – as a way to give back to other genealogists. I don’t know if many people are doing this in New Zealand – it would be interesting to know…
As the sun was out (it’s been a while), I thought I’d stop quickly at the Hastings Cemetery on the way home to take a couple of the photos that people had requested from that cemetery. I had maps of the cemetery, and all the information about a Mrs Barbara Dryden, a Ronald James Haywood, and a Donald Raymond Roe.
What I envisaged being a quick task (I had maps and they seemed easy enough to use) was half an hour of me walking in circles and not finding Barb, Ron or Don! Frustrating!
Guess it’s back to the drawing board! Maybe I had the blocks and plots wrong, or maybe I just missed them. Either way, sounds like it will take me an entire weekend to search for the 8 headstones I need to find 🙂
I guess it’s lucky that I don’t mind hanging out in cemeteries…