Skip navigation

Monthly Archives: May 2011

It has always been our hope to obtain enough information about each deceased person recovered at Avondale Burial Place to allow “the bones to talk again”.  Without the historic name of the cemetery or a single grave marker as a starting point, Julie Coco at New South Associates has spent several months researching property, census, county directories, and death records, in order to collect the names of persons living in the vicinity from 1870 through 1930. 


During this process, we have learned a thing or two about vital records, so I thought I would pass it along.  The state vital records office maintains birth and death records filed from 1919 to the present.  Some counties may have older birth, death, or other records in their files.  Some of these older records have been digitized and stored on genealogy related websites, but some of them are handwritten on fading, crumbling paper and stored in the county offices.  


As you may have guessed, death records dating from 1919 forward would not necessarily include any of the deceased recovered at the Avondale Burial Place, so Julie contacted Bibb County to see if they maintained older records.  We had hoped to search for the surnames that Julie had identified during her research, and attempt to match those individuals with people recovered at Avondale with similar physical attributes.  Since the cemetery was unmarked and was not identified on any county map, we also hoped to discover the historic name for the Avondale Burial Place within these records. 


We found that Bibb County does maintain older records, but were discouraged to discover that the records were organized by the date of death—not particularly useful when one does not know the exact date of death and only has a surname.  The records also appeared to consistently capture mostly deaths that occurred in the City of Macon, and only rarely rural locations such as Rutland.  The other missing information was the burial place. In spite of these challenges, Julie and I were able to browse some of the records and record some names that could be a “match.”  


Although we did not get the information we wanted, these old records might be a good source for a researcher with the approximate death date of an individual.  Once identified, it might be possible to determine the last address, cause of death, marital status, and occupation of the deceased. 


By the way, the Georgia Division of Archives and History maintains a large public collection of historical records plus a library of genealogical histories.