I'm not exactly sure what it is about these records that fascinates me ? they're simple typed cards with info about death ? but the new California Mortuary and Cemetery Records (1801-1932) do just that.
I don't have any relatives in there, at least not that I know of. But I still wound up spending more time than I care to admit looking at these brief moments in history.
Maybe it's that the first record I found was of a woman who died in the 1870s of exhaustion acute melancholia.
Or the next one I viewed, for a doctor whose grave is now marked with a pine.
But more likely it's the following two that reeled me in:
Each Halloween, my family and I go to the creepiest cemetery in town, where actors portray the dead, telling their stories and offering details about the events that ultimately took them out. Since it's an old mining town, we hear tales of gun play, brothels, scuffles with the law, mining accidents, cold winters, bar fights and plenty of long-gone diseases.
For me, the California Mortuary and Cemetery Records are almost as great as being at these cemeteries, too ? focused on Northern California, casualties of mining days are included as are other hazards faced by the eclectic mix of people California has always attracted. While no actors play the roles on these cards, the details tell the story. See for yourself ? even if your family didn't head west http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx'dbid=2054.