RICHMOND — Chris Purser hefts a bulky black binder onto her desk and begins shuffling through the yellowed pages pointing out the locations of various graves. “It’s a very primitive system,” says Purser, who is secretary of the city’s cemetery board.
A system that will be obsolete by the end of 2012, says City Councilman Jeff Young.
Young, along with local Boy Scouts and other Richmond volunteers, has spent hundreds of hours working to make all Richmond cemetery’s information available online. Young wrote in the city’s November newsletter that the project was a “massive undertaking” because there are over 7,000 plots that all had to be individually researched in the city’s archives.
“We had to take hundreds of years of records and put them into a system,” Young said.
Richmond contracted with an Orem-based company, Gateway Mapping, to create an online database that would show a map of the cemetery as well as basic information on the graves there. This information will be available on a website specifically for Richmond’s cemetery, and will also be available on Gateway Mapping’s national website. Other more specific personal information — such as causes of death — will also be more easily available to residents and those doing genealogical work. However, this information will not be available on the public website, Young said.
“Before now, there were no records you could easily access,” said Keith Hardy, who has spent six months on this undertaking for his Eagle Scout project. “Now people from Richmond or anywhere else will be able to see who is buried here.”
Young said that none of the information they have collected is currently online because they needed to double check all the information. He also said they still need to enter all the information into a computer worksheet before they submit it to Gateway Mapping. Young said because of this extensive amount of data entry, all the information will be available online simultaneously rather than being posted gradually.
This project has been paid for in part by an anonymous donation of $3,000. Young said the city advertised the funding needs of this project and soon afterward the donation was made. An additional $2,000 was contributed from the cemetery district’s general fund. All this money will be used to pay Gateway Mapping.
“There was a tremendous amount of volunteer time,” said Councilwoman Terrie Wierenga. “If we paid them you could tack on an additional $12,000.”
Richmond is not the only Cache Valley community that has utilized Gateway Mapping’s cemetery services. Smithfield and North Logan also have similar cemetery sites through them.
In related news, Richmond’s cemetery board approved a five acre expansion to the cemetery at their meeting Monday. The project will be gradual, Purser said. She said that only grass and sprinklers will be put in for the time being and that paved roads will be put in later. The expansion is occurring because space is running low in some areas of the cemetery, Young said.