What Do You Want in Your Obituary?

Our local newspaper now charges for obituaries. Some obituaries are short and to the point, while others take up several columns. It got me thinking about what I would want in my obituary. What about you? Obituaries and tombstones are so important to genealogists. We LOVE to find connections and important facts through these important research tools.

So what would we put into our own obituary to acknowledge the needs our fellow genealogist?

Would I want a whole article written about me like a local pioneer Seibold Reents who died in 1929? He was a prominent member of the rural community and “fewer enjoyed a wider acquaintance or was more highly esteemed than he”.

Will I want my voting preferences noted? Seibold “as testifying to his popularity it need only be said that as strong democrat, he represented Rosefield, a republican township, during these many years.” And that Seibold “was a life long democrat and always took a great interest in affairs.” (d. 1929)

Will I want my obituary to read like a resume? This was written about Seibold who died in 1959: “He was a carpenter by trade and settled in this city (Peoria, IL) about 1870. In 1870 he removed to Kramm’s…purchased a farm, to which he added during his life and at the time of his death was possessed of 515 acres. He was also engaged in mining and operated a general store. … In addition to his terms as supervisor, he was for many years road commissioner of Rosefield township.”

Will I be able to note in my obituary something that tells of how important I was like Seibold who had “the outgoing morning passenger and the incoming evening passenger trains will stop at Kramm’s so that those desirous of attending the funeral from this city may do so.”

If I wanted to include as much as would be helpful to a genealogist, what would I include?
as many family members as will fit, with residences (of course!)?

  • favorite activities, pets
  • cause of death
  • church affiliations
  • volunteer organizations

Or, would you decide to write a simple obituary with a notation: please see full genealogy and give your website address! This may be the way of the future!

Kim Hanks

Kim has a passion for Genealogy. After retiring from a career as a teacher, administrator and education consultant, she spent the past several years doing extensive family research. She is a newsletter editor for the Illinois State Genealogical Society and the Peoria County Genealogy Society. Kim is also a member of the Peoria Chapter of DAR Daughter of American Revolution and a member of the General Society of Mayflower Descendants.

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