Researching Your Ancestors at West Laurel Hill Cemetery

West Laurel Hill Cemetery in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania makes locating a plot within its expansive grounds about at easy as possible.

First, you’ll want to search the cemetery’s online records for your ancestor. The simple search only allows for first and last name, but once you view the results page you can select “view entire lot” (see an example here) to get a list of everyone in the same plot.

While the records are often missing birth or death dates—often its just names—you can often narrow down your search by seeing who else is interred in the same lot.  Women are often listed with their maiden name, such as Mary Jones Hamilton, which is also helpful.

Once you’ve found your ancestor, take a look at findagrave.com to see if a memorial already exists and whether or not there is already a photo. If not, request one and make sure you put the section and lot number in the notes of your request so a volunteer can try and fulfill your request.

If you’ll be visiting the cemetery in person, download the West Laurel Hill Cemetery app from iTunes or Google Play. The app will allow you to search for a burial and pinpoint the lot within the cemetery, which is quite helpful due to both the size of the cemetery and the fact that most sections don’t seem to have the lots numbered side by side. Lot 120 might be on the extreme opposite side of a section from Lots 119 and 121. If you make sure to turn on location services for the app, you’ll be able to pinpoint not just the lot, but yourself (two different color dots). The app will get you very close to the person you’re seeking, at least within 15-20 feet as some lots are quite large. It’s also helpful to arm yourself with the last of names of others in the lot, just in case there’s a large noticeable stone with only one surname or, unfortunately, the person you’re seeking isn’t listed on a stone but others are.

Happy hunting!