Remarkable Records: Cemeteries

By Michelle Johnson

three cartoon candy corn

Managing local government cemetery records can be a spooky business. Texas legislative code is positively haunted with regulations for cemetery operations! We often hear from municipality and county records managers asking, “Am I the custodian of this cemetery record?”

Although cemetery record series all have permanent retention periods, it is important to know when they apply to your records. This guide explains each series so that you can stop thinking about cremation and get back to candy corn.

FAQs

For cemetery-specific record series, we need to look to Local Government Retention Schedules CC: Records of County Clerks and PW: Records of Public Works and Other Government Services. Before we dive into individual series, let’s answer some commonly asked questions.

Should I use Schedule CC or PW?

Our Recommended Local Retention Schedules list might be your first clue. We only recommend counties, county and district clerks, and county surveyors adopt Schedule CC. If your government doesn’t fall under that group, CC series almost certainly do not apply to you, so you can skip directly to PW.

What if my records fall under Schedule CC, but I don’t work for a county?

In these cases, it is very likely that yours is a convenience copy. For instance, a city that owns a cemetery might keep a convenience copy of the cemetery deed maintained by the county for reference. The city is not required to maintain this record permanently because the county is the custodian, not the city. Double check with the county if you aren’t sure that yours is a convenience copy.

All cemetery series have permanent retention… why not just keep everything forever and not worry about it?

The permanent retention period is exactly why it is important to properly identify these records! When you keep records forever, they can add up quickly, making them expensive to maintain and difficult to manage. It is best practice to reduce your records burden by avoiding unnecessary over-retention.

Now, let’s take a look at each series. We have grouped them by the types of records they describe. The savvy records manager will notice that one series is included in more than one category.

Maps and Plats

Here we see a series for county maps and plats related to the plot of land the cemetery is on as a whole (CC1275-07) and one for maps and plats related to the location of different grave plots and sites within the cemetery (PW5675-04).

Many counties do not differentiate cemetery maps and plats from general plat records described under CC1275-17, which is fine because they have the same retention requirements. The Cemetery Records series includes plats to help those counties that do maintain them separately.

Record NumberRecord TitleDefinitionUsed By
CC1275-07CEMETERY RECORDSDeeds, plats, and all other records relating to cemeteries situated in county, including any lists of persons buried.County where the cemetery is located.
PW5675-04CEMETERY MAPS AND PLATSMaps, plats, or similar records showing the location of all graves and gravesites in the cemetery.Government that owns the cemetery.

Instruments of Ownership

This group is similar to maps and plats. CC1275-07 is for ownership deeds to the entire cemetery as a whole. PW5675-05 and PW5675-06 are for deeds, transfer documents, and ledgers showing past and current rights to specific plots within the cemetery.

Record NumberRecord TitleDefinitionUsed By
CC1275-07CEMETERY RECORDSDeeds, plats, and all other records relating to cemeteries situated in county, including any lists of persons buried.County where the cemetery is located.
PW5675-06DEEDS (CEMETERY)Deed books or copies of deeds or comparable instruments of ownership of lots and gravesites, including similar records relating to deed transfers.Government that owns the cemetery.
PW5675-05CEMETERY REGISTERSLedgers, registers, or similar records showing all cemetery lots by plat number with the name of the purchaser, purchase price, and date of purchase.Government that owns the cemetery.

Human Remains

Most of these series are straightforward, but look closely at CC1275-07 and PW5675-02. One describes lists of persons buried, while the other includes records detailing interment. Pretty similar! Counties are not required to maintain lists of persons buried, but many do by local custom. These would not be considered convenience copies of interment records because they serve their own function at the county level and are not just used for reference.

Record NumberRecord TitleDefinitionUsed By
CC1275-07CEMETERY RECORDSDeeds, plats, and all other records relating to cemeteries situated in county, including any lists of persons buried.County where the cemetery is located.
PW5675-01CREMATION RECORDSRecords relating to the cremation of human remains in a cemetery crematorium showing name and age of deceased (if known), date of cremation, and disposition of cremated remains.Government that owns the cemetery.
PW5675-02INTERMENT RECORDSRecords showing name and age of deceased (if known), date of interment, and type and location of interment.Government that owns the cemetery.
PW5675-03DISINTERMENT RECORDSCourt or health department exhumation orders, copies of disinterment permits, reports concerning the disinterment and subsequent disposition of the exhumed remains, and similar records relating to the disinterment or exhumation of human remains.Government that owns the cemetery.

Final Thoughts

smiling cartoon jack-o-lantern wearing a cowboy hat

As you can see, series CC1275-07 does a lot of heavy lifting for counties. Just bear in mind that this series deals with records at the county level, while the records in Schedule PW deal with more granular cemetery-level records. Remember, you can only use series within schedules that your government has adopted. You’ll want to get into compliance first before destroying any records. Don’t forget that disposition log when it’s time for destruction!

Have you come across remarkable records in your government? We would love to hear your records ghost stories in the comments below. They might even make it into a future Remarkable Records post!

Disclaimer: As always, be sure to consult your legal counsel for more information about how cemetery laws apply to your government.

Reference

2 thoughts on “Remarkable Records: Cemeteries

  1. This story reminded me of the Arlington National Cemetery mismanagement controversy of a few years ago. They were using 5X7 cards and hand scribbling records.

  2. That’s a great observation! A great example of how permanent records can get out of hand quickly if not managed properly from the start.

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