Saturday, July 30, 2011

Team Digitizes Centuries Old Funeral Home Records, From One of the Two Undertaking Establishments in Cherry Hill

Two Historical Society of Cecil County volunteers, Billie Todd and Evelyn Wekke, are pouring over aging business ledgers from the Grant Funeral Home of Cherry Hill. Scanning the old, yellowing pages they meticulously extract information on deaths from the undertaker’s account books, cataloging information about the people whom W. J. Grant buried, including names, family ties and key biographical data.

Evelyn reads the fading handwriting penned in these volumes by the mortician from the late 1880s until the 1920s, as the Society’s resident genealogist, Billie, inputs the data into a spreadsheet. Once they finish this task, one that requires painstaking care, and attention to detail, they will digitize the images of these century old pages that document the services Grant provided for the burials and their work will be made available on the Society’s website. This efficient team has done other demonstration projects of this nature, linking web based data with the high quality images. Their effort makes valuable family history research materials accessible to patrons of the Historical Society.

Cherry Hill had two funeral homes. William J Grant operated one business, which his son, Joseph R., moved the North East in 1922. Alfred T. Abernathy, the other undertaker, died in 1934. His wife continued the business, according to newspaper accounts.

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