When researching your ancestor, it is best to start with the most recent event and work back from there. The burial is most likely to be the last documented event. When you are able to locate the cemetery, a lot more clues come your way.
This may not seem so obvious if you have migrated far from where your roots began: At one time your ancestors may have been buried on their own property or on the same property where they attended church.
Perhaps there are still family members living who remember the names of the churches your family used to attend, or maybe they actually attended themselves. You should pay a visit on a day someone is available to answer your questions, or better yet, when an activity or church social is taking place.
Ask for permission to walk the grounds or ask someone to give a tour. If there is no cemetery on site, ask about the names and locations of cemeteries previously used. Ask about the church’s history to see if there may have been any other churches that existed at the same time. Sometimes ancestors attended different churches and were buried on the property that particular church owned. To learn more, see "Locating Church Records."
Ask to know the names of the funeral homes used in the family. Contact them to see if they have records or if they can give a list of cemeteries where people were interred during your ancestor’s lifetime. Check the burial records at these cemeteries for your family members.
What if you cannot locate the funeral home? Contact the local library for suggestions. Study the ads in historic newspapers, and check old city directories for clues. Ask the sextons of local historic cemeteries in the area to see what they know about other cemeteries.
"The best place to find these records, not surprisingly, is at the sexton's office in the cemetery, but some older records and records from cemeteries that are no longer "active" (a cemetery where burials are no longer taking place) may have been handed over to local genealogical or historical societies." See "Sexton Records."
Fortunately, most death certificates give the name and location of the cemetery where your ancestor was buried. You should also find the name of the funeral home and the address. Perhaps the informant may be able to still provide information about a cemetery.
Sometimes you may not be able to find the cemetery if it has been abandoned or no longer exists. Go back to the previous sources for help in this case. Ask someone from the church, funeral home or library to see if they can help you locate the cemetery.
Sometimes the name of the cemetery is not legible. Trace other siblings or relatives to see if the same cemetery is mentioned on their death certificates.