Sunday, April 26, 2015

Jewish Genealogy: The use of Local Jewish Cemeteries

by Rick D. Cauthen

     Certainly one of the most accessible tools for genealogical research particularly to those of Jewish ancestry would be a Jewish Cemeteries. The oldest Jewish cemetery located in Hamilton County is the Chestnut Street Cemetery dating back to 1821 located at the corner of Chestnut Street and Central Avenue in the downtown region of Cincinnati. Unfortunately, it closed rapidly in 1849 as this small plot of land was consumed during the Cholera Epidemic that had wiped out so many in the Cincinnati area. It is not only the oldest Jewish cemetery in Cincinnati, but in fact, it is the oldest Jewish cemetery west of the Allegheny Mountains.

    The most basic fact that can be gleaned simply from which Jewish cemetery your ancestor is buried in is simply whether that individual was of the Orthodox, Conservative, or Reform Jewish movements. Every Jewish cemetery formed historically by a particular Jewish congregation. That congregation would have belong to one of those broad movements. Knowledge of which movement any specific Jewish cemetery belongs to just involves a bit of research about the congregation that founded it.

     Since 2004, the majority of Jewish cemeteries in Cincinnati have been managed and maintained under the non-profit organization “Jewish Cemeteries of Greater Cincinnati.” This organization has become a major tool for all Hamilton County Jewish Genealogists. Jewish Cemeteries of Greater Cincinnati can be found on the web at This site will provide a rich source of information about the history of all the Jewish cemeteries located in this Hamilton and Butler counties. Once on the main home page, you will find a header labeled “Genealogy” on the menu.
Once you click on the Genealogy menu, you will be taken to their data base whereby you can do a simply search for your ancestor and you will find a quick response listing the first & last names, the cemetery, and the date of death. Additionally, you will find an actual photograph of the head stone or marker. If you would like to make an in person visit to the actual grave, by continuing to click on the last name of your ancestor, you will find more detailed burial information showing the specific burial location such as lot number, section number, and grave number.

Of course, first-hand experience has taught me that actually using that information to find the actual grave can be much more challenging. So here is a very helpful tip! Take your cell phone with you as begin to search for the location of your Jewish ancestor. If you are particularly struggling in your search, you can phone the Jewish Cemeteries of Greater Cincinnati staff at 513-961-0178 during regular business hours, and you can explained to them who you are trying to find. They can take the name of any deceased person for which you happened to be standing by and they can direct you by telling you how many rows to walk forward or backward and so many graves to the left and the right in order to located your ancestor.

     Jewish headstones may uncover more information that just the birth date, and death date. It may uncover who they were married to if buried adjacent to their spouse. Plus, these headstones may uncover more genealogical information if you can translate the Hebrew inscription. To be continued…

My Paternal Grandparents Buried in Covedale

Rick Cauthen, leader of the Jewish Interest Group, may be reached at:

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Jewish Interest Group Now Forming

Have you ever wanted to become more involved with our very own Hamilton County Genealogical Society but felt like you may not really fit it since most of your ancestry if not 100% of your ancestors were Jewish? I most definitely have and we certainly don’t have a Jewish Genealogical Society to fold in to. So who am I you may be asking. Well that is a fair enough question.

My name is Rick Schear Cauthen and I have been working on my Family Tree since my early twenties. Unfortunately, I am now in my early fifties. However, I have never lost my passion for family history or history in general for that matter. I recently have become active in our very own local Hamilton County Genealogical Society. It is truly a wonderful way to make new friends and become more involved in the pursuit and preservation of local records.

I am currently in the process of forming a Jewish Interest Group with the Society and I really would love to meet others who would share my passion for Jewish Roots. The first project that I been instrumental in making my dream a reality is the Microfilming and Indexing of the funeral records from the local Jewish Community’s very own Weil Funeral Home. Well, I should say this project is in the pipeline and it is going to be an enormous undertaking as we have determined that in the last 100 years, Weil Funeral Home has handled more than 28,000 funerals. Weil Funeral Home is a genealogical gold mine for any researcher who has Jewish roots in the Greater Cincinnati community. 

So, if you have this same interest, won’t you come get involved? Please reach out and contact me, Rick Schear Cauthen at  Just email me your name and phone number. Also, you can friend and message me on Facebook at

I thought I would share one of my most treasured photos of my Great Grandfather and Great Grandmother Freda & Hyman Schear and their seven children. The small little boy in the front center was my Grandfather Mose Schear. Unfortunately, I never met one person in this picture so I am quite grateful to at least have this photo which would have been taken in Kursenai, Lithuania sometime in the very late 1800s. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

New Database available on our website: Hamilton County Church Deaths 1890-1899

We are pleased to announce that we have a new database on our website, Hamilton County Church Deaths 1890-1899.  This  is the latest and last installment of 19th Century church deaths, indexed by Jeffrey G. Herbert, covering the years 1890 through 1899.  The Previous years are in book format and this database will also be published in book format soon.  Included in the 1890-1899 database are 25,914 church deaths from 81 Hamilton County churches, including Roman Catholic.  Also included are 8,443 burials in three Catholic cemeteries during the 1890s. 

These are records of church services for deaths (funerals) and are typically NOT cemetery burial records, except for some cemetery burials indexed in Church Deaths 1890-1899. A typical index entry consists of Name (Last name, Given name), Church burial/funeral date, Death Date if given, Maiden name if given, and Age at Death if given, and Parents name if given (sometimes for children).  Some entries also include an indicator (asterisk or Y) that the Place of Birth (POB) is given and some include the newspaper page. Each index record includes a reference to the source microfilm or church source.

The database is in two formats, one for Members and a Public Version:

Members-Only Online Full Index: Search the complete index of entries from Church Deaths 1890 - 1899 database.  The full index entry will be given in the search results for HCGS members who have logged into this website. If you are not a member you can Join HCGS (for as little as $15/year) and have access to this database.

Public Online Abbreviated Index: Available in a searchable PDF file (1.6 MB). Each entry contains Last Name, Given Name, Year of death, Place of birth (POB) indicator.  Until this index is published in printed book form, the full index entry is only available at this time to HCGS members.

Here is a link to the database page: Hamilton County Church Deaths 1890-1899