Prepared by Elisabeth Lindsay.
A sexton is a cemetery caretaker, responsible for cemetery maintenance and managing burials. The sexton is also responsible for recording burials and maintaining the record. The sexton often maintains an office on the premises, especially at larger cemeteries, and is the on-site person who can provide information on the location of a particular grave. The sexton maintains a record not only of who is buried in the cemetery and where but may also have information on who owns the cemetery plot or who contracted for the burial. For this reason, sexton records can be quite useful to family historians. Privacy restrictions, no doubt apply in some cases, particularly in private cemeteries.
Some sexton records are available through the Internet, and many may be available through local libraries, archives, genealogy societies, genealogy libraries, and Family History Centers. Some sexton records indicate the cause of death and, depending on the area, the time period, and the particular sexton, may contain other valuable information. Many cemetery records are derived from transcripts or copies of sexton records and some are derived from tombstone inscriptions. Sexton records may be especially useful to those who supect an ancestor is buried in a particular place but no headstone exists.