New York State Funeral Directors Association

A long-neglected burial site has found friends – and family – brought together after a fortunate set of circumstances.

Finding out you are a descendant of an important local figure is remarkable.

Learning their burial site is neglected and all-but forgotten, is another.

The case of the Slingerland Family Vault is a great opportunity to detail some search options that might help others find their long, lost relatives too.

The Albany Times Union newspaper reports a woman discovered, thanks to a DNA test, that John I. Slingerland is her third great-grandfather.

Slingerland was a New York State Assemblyman and served as a member of the U.S. Congress in the 1800s. He is remembered as a proponent of the rights of tenants, and other accomplishments.

He and other Slingerland family members were buried in a family vault on a property in Slingerlands, in the town of Bethlehem, Albany County.

That burial vault was nearly forgotten. But now, an effort is underway to restore it, with help from residents and family, according to the newspaper.


The American population has dispersed throughout the country over the past 200 years – making it easy to lose track of who we are and where we come from.

There are a few DNA testing options for folks looking to discover their roots. In the case of the Slingerlands, this is how the woman found out she is his descendant.

There is a recent article detailing the pros and cons of the different DNA testing programs which outlines the options well.

CLICK HERE to review the article which pinpoints five different DNA tests people can choose from.

My personal experience is only with Ancestry DNA. I visit the page every so often, and it shares new ancestor discoveries based on my DNA:

View of shows possible new relatives based on DNA for Ed Munger

My DNA results say me and roughly 529,000 members of this particular DNA program are linked to the migration of some of the first settlers in the U.S.

Difficult farming terrain led folks to the timber trade, fishing and other pursuits. After the Revolutionary War, many moved west to places like Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan. By the mid-1950s, these early settlers were dispersed throughout the U.S.

That migration means people interested in their ancestors have to search throughout the country if they want to make sure they aren’t forgetting any ancestors – and that their ancestors aren’t buried in some forgotten, neglected family cemetery.


There are several cemetery search web sites, and people searching for relatives outside of their own neighborhood would likely find some with a simple search.

Be careful when researching, though. If you’re like me, you’ll end up clicking on every clue and hint and new ancestor you’ve never heard of and you can wind up with several e-books.

I end up with a long list of items I want to follow up on and – thanks to requesting the FREE e-books – I’ll be getting a jillion e-mails from genealogy sites, too.

FIND-A-GRAVE There are millions of burial site records – many with photos of the sites themselves – available from Find a Grave. That long-lost and neglected Slingerland Family Burial Vault is among the burial sites on this website.

BILLION GRAVES The Billion Graves website as well contains millions of records one can search. Don’t forget to search both your mother’s maiden name and your father’s last name.

Both of these websites offer something even more than information: They allow people to help out. You can visit cemeteries and take photos of grave sites and upload them to these systems.

This is how folks on one side of the country can actually see burial sites of their relatives on the other side of the country.

INTERMENT.NET Although it’s got fewer frills, The site provides good information and records from several countries. In some cases, the entire list of those buried in a single cemetery are included.

FAMILY SEARCH.ORG – This website contains a grave site index and genealogy resources.

DEATH INDEXES.COM – This site features links to search sites for military burials, a Veterans Affairs burial search and other useful resources.

It’s easy to get lost in these sites – but to me, it’s a good lost.

Searching for ancestors and relatives and their burial sites is a great way to reclaim one’s own personal heritage.

It also helps to engender pride in one’s family and appreciate all your relatives have gone through to get you where you are today.


EdsPhotoEdward Munger Jr.
Communications & Social Media Specialist
NYS Funeral Directors Association