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:


  1. jcemcin's website and service is wonderful. I am appreciative of all the benefits they have provide for my research. I do, however, have one complaint: some the photos are so small that the Hebrew inscriptions are very difficult - if not impossible - to read. And really, Jewish genealogists want to see these inscriptions because so many include the Hebrew name of the deceased's father.

    It would be nice if a large, higher resolution, image could be accessed by clicking on the image.

    1. Emily,
      Would you be interested in working with Rick Cauthen in forming a Jewish Interest group?
      Kathy Reed


Comments on this blog are deeply appreciated and encouraged.