Grab a stack of family group sheets. If you need to download one, here’s my half sheet Group Sheet in Word and my full sheet Group Sheet in Excel.

How many group sheets can you fill just by connecting surnames in the same cemetery on

Sometimes I prefer scribbling the info on paper versions as I have time and sometimes, I prefer to get the information directly into digital format from the start. It depends on where I’ll be while working on this “project”. If it’s something I might like to work on while riding in the car or waiting at the airport and I’ll be looking at Find-a-grave on my iPad, then I’m paper and pencil all the way. If I have access to my digital files on the computer, I prefer to keep it that way from the start because that’s where it will eventually end up anyway.

Now go to and find one of your ancestors. I’m assuming you already have a group sheet for them. What about group sheets for their children? If you click on a name, do you see names of THEIR children? The maiden name of a wife? HER parents’ names? Begin filling out the group sheets knowing that there’s a decent chance that sooner or later, you will begin to make some FAN connections.

Find-a-grave recently experienced a “face lift”. Some love it and others…not so much. I’m including screen shots in case you haven’t been on the site in awhile.

From your Ancestor’s page, scroll down and look at the section titled “See more surname memorials in:”.
Notice that the options start specific and move out from there.

  • This cemetery
  • This town
  • This county
  • This state
  • This country
  • Entire Find-a-grave site

Assuming the project is not overwhelming, begin filling in group sheets as you have time. Can you include every person with your surname in that cemetery in your group sheets? If the cemetery is small, or your surname is unique, you might want to move “out” and collect all of your surname in the town or county.

Finding connections with the same surname – that will be the low hanging fruit. But the potential of making a connection through in-laws…that could be a tool to help you break down a brick wall you’ve been working on for a long time.

And don’t forget that somewhere on the group sheet, you will want to make a note that all of the information included has been collected from Find-a-grave.