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Genealogy And Graveyards: Many Look To Old City Burial Ground For Answers

(The gravestone of Daniel Harrison is just one of many at Christ Church in Old City that people look at in search of clues to their genealogy. Credit: John McDevitt)

(The gravestone of Daniel Harrison is just one of many at Christ Church in Old City that people look at in search of clues to their genealogy. Credit: John McDevitt)

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Many attempting to trace their ancestry are including church graveyards in their search, including locally at Christ Church Burial Ground in Old City.

Pittsburgh natives Ben Hunter and his wife Wendy were in town looking for ancestors.

“I’m looking for a Benjamin Shoemaker. He was a relative. The death date I have is 1811,” Ben said.

Ben did not make an immediate connection but found some stones with ‘Hunter’ inscribed and he says he is taking information back home to see if there is any link to his family.

Theresa Thompson, from Oregon, is working on a family tree and looked for clues to determine if a grave site was that of a family member.

“We are standing in front of a marker for Daniel Harrison who died October 2nd, 1768 in the 74th year of his age,” Thompson said. When asked if he was a relative, Harrison said, “An ancestor on mine on my mother’s side where they are direct descendants of the Harrison family.”

She took pictures and exchanged information with John Hopkins, the burial ground coordinator. He helps find possible ancestors with a grave inscription book completed by a warden of the church Edward Clark in 1864.

Hopkins says it is not always easy, for time has taken its toll on the markers.

“It’s kind of like detective work if I’m looking for a specific grave I have the map that Clark made  and I have to look at one that is still visible, still legible and then count over and try to figure it out,” Hopkins said.

Hopkins says he also looks at church records to help make a possible connection.

Reported by John McDevitt, KYW Newsradio

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