Local man seeks familial connections in Newcastle Cemetery
October 31, 2013
By Christina Corrales-Toy
There is no denying the feeling that one gets upon setting foot in the historic Newcastle Cemetery.
All at once, there’s a sense of peace, reverence and historical significance emanating from the quiet hillside location.
Each detailed headstone represents a significant piece of Newcastle’s history, and now, a local man is hoping to put faces and families to those buried in the cemetery.
Dave Abernathy, a Newcastle Historical Society member, is creating a record of the families in the cemetery, working to compile genealogic trees of each person who calls it his or her final resting place.
“I’m really making it easier for people to connect with their heritage,” he said.
Abernathy, a self-professed genealogy nut, scours birth, death and marriage records to paint a picture of the families that inhabited the area. He’s also done research about families buried in Renton and Issaquah cemeteries.
He’s found that the Newcastle Cemetery includes people of a variety of heritages, some he has little experience researching, which makes it difficult as he attempts to work on the project.
“This is my first experience with the Italian, Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish families,” Abernathy said. “The methods of naming new members of the family for the groups are all new to me.”
Italians, for example, have native spellings of their names, different from the American spelling, he said.
His database of Newcastle Cemetery families includes more than 850 entries. That number doesn’t represent everyone that is buried there; rather, it is a compilation of the deceased and their descendants.
Much of Abernathy’s work is based on accurate record-keeping and obituaries, a tough task considering he’s searching for documents that likely originated in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
“There was no government at that time, per se, so family records were often kept in family Bibles,” he said.
Abernathy is asking for help from anyone that has family buried in the Newcastle Cemetery. He’s looking for personal letters, stories, obituaries, anything that will tell him about the people buried in the cemetery, and their families.
He’s hopeful the project will eventually help identify the deceased in the cemetery’s several unmarked graves, or alert the Newcastle Historical Society to graves it never even knew existed.
“If we can find some obituaries that say this individual is buried here, but we have no record of it, we’ll be able to add them to the list, and hopefully someday be able to locate that particular grave,” he said.
Abernathy has been interested in genealogy since he was a teen, he said. He can trace his family back all the way to the 1200s.
“I’m hoping that what I do, it would help somebody else, and expand their family tree,” he said.
On the web
View Dave Abernathy’s database of Newcastle Cemetery families at http://bit.ly/1isavT5.
If you have any information about family buried in the cemetery, email Abernathy at DaveA1944@live.com.