Friday, June 21, 2013

Cemeteries on private property

Bill asks:
”Can I go on private property to photograph a cemetery?  I know of a old family cemetery that is out in the woods but the place is marked with no trespassing signs.  I don’t know how to find out who the owner is and I don’t know if I even need his permission.  I live in Georgia.”

I guess this is the time of year for Georgians to go tombstone hunting because a member of the Columbia County Genealogical Society (CCGS) asked a similar question at the last meeting.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources Historic Preservation Division has an excellent web page about Georgia law and Georgia case law and how it applies to cemeteries.  You will find the answer to your question HERE.

As far as how to figure out who the owner of the property is, many Georgia counties tax assessors have their tax records online.  It is fairly easy to figure out who owns vacant land by using the map feature.  Find a mailbox nearby with an address and plug it in.  You can then move from that location to the one you are looking for.  You might have to change addresses to get the map to move far enough.  Use a property owner you see on the map and then start the process over with his address.  That will move your map over some.  If the records are not online, just measure how far the property is from the nearest cross street and visit the tax assessor’s office.  They will help you figure it out.

For those of you in other states it would be a good idea to find out what the laws are before you go traipsing in the woods looking for tombstones.  Nothing is more embarrassing than being dragged off in handcuffs (though future genealogists will enjoy reading about it when they do a newspaper search).


Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis

1 comment:

  1. The process of knowing who the owner of a piece of property is can be done through a public records search. Of course this process is usually lengthy and can take some time to complete when doing so on your own. The best option is to use Property Ownership Record which can carry out the required actions for you.

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