Preserving Maple Hill Cemetery’s Heritage with Simple Cemetery Software

simple cemetery software | maple hill cemetery | chronicle

Scandinavian Haven – Preserving Maple Hill Cemetery’s Heritage with simple cemetery software

Size of Cemetery: Small

Map and records search: Maple Hill Cemetery Online Digital Map

  • Digitalised cemetery records
  • Physical survey of the cemetery grounds
  • Interactive online cemetery map
  • 24/7 online access to plot/cemetery information
  • Customised database management solutions delivered at a highly affordable price

Located in Minnesota, USA, about 5 miles away from Grand Marais, one will find the sanctuary that is Maple Hill Cemetery. Closer to the Canadian border than it is to the nearest large American city, Duluth, Maple Hill Cemetery overlooks the spectacular, sparkling next to the cemetery’s picturesque, white church.

The former Lutheran Church, now a historic building is the cemetery’s landmark, and the two were established around the same time as each other near the turn of the twentieth century. 

While it is the largest local cemetery, Maple Hill Cemetery can be categorised as a small cemetery, relatively. Its history is tied to the family of the institution’s current chairman, Howard. 

It was Howard’s grandparents who donated land with the intention of establishing both the cemetery and its spiritual centre, the church. As is fitting, Howard’s late grandparents rest in the founders’ plot of Maple Hill Cemetery. Today, Maple Hill Cemetery is run by volunteers as a non-profit organisation, is open to all denominations, and does both burials and cremations.

As can be seen from the aesthetic of the church, Maple Hill Cemetery exhibits a distinctly Scandinavian heritage. Immigrants from Sweden, in particular, are honoured at Maple Hill Cemetery. On the headstones of those interred on the grounds are names that boast this Swedish heritage – Ericsson, Haglund, Ellquist, Berglund, Bjornlund, and Hedlund are but a few. The region’s Native American history is also revered here, with those from the land’s original inhabitants also interred at Maple Hill cemetery.

As winter gives way to spring, the pinks and violets of phlox petals adorn the cemetery grounds, accenting the green tones of the grass and foliage.

Gaps in Time – Inaccuracies in Maple Hill Cemetery’s Records

The earliest interment record for Maple Hill Cemetery is dated December, 1898, making this cemetery well over a century old. A cemetery that has been around for over 120 years brings with it numerous paper records and ledgers that are ageing and need to be handled with care. Chairman of Maple Hill Cemetery, Howard, confirms that the age of the records are not the only issue that has created problems for the cemetery’s records management. Over the years, negligence has added to the cemetery’s woes in keeping accurate cemetery records.

For Howard, inaccurate cemetery records can be attributed to two contextual causes – concerns regarding funding for upkeep (due to the cemetery being small in both size and number of burials a year) and the cemetery’s operation reliant on volunteers. In terms of volunteer operation, this brings a unique set of issues.

Maintaining records, laying out graves and markers, and general upkeep present challenges. The volunteer demographic is an ageing one – finding new volunteers with the time to help with cemetery’s management work is difficult, and is exacerbated by the fact that it takes time to train new people on how to keep the books and how the layout of burial lots works. This had left Maple Hill Cemetery with numerous mistakes and gaps in their paper records that created further problems when Howard and the other volunteers sought to sell plots to clients with accurate information that he could rely on.

cemetery database software | maple hill cemetery | chronicle

They realised that a solution was required, sooner rather than later! It was imperative that he found simple cemetery software that could assist Maple Hill Cemetery in maintaining accurate records – both to gain new clients and to dutifully honour and preserve the memory of the region’s rich history. While great cemetery database software helps with the day-to-day operations of an institution like Maple Hill Cemetery, it was also a lifeline for the community’s heritage and legacy, saving it from being lost to time and consequence.

Together with the Chronicle team, Howard embarked on a journey of digitising the cemetery’s records – paper, ledgers, and Excel spreadsheets. It was a difficult start for Chronicle, as the years of record keeping that relied on various volunteers resulted in inconsistencies. These inconsistencies included misalignment between the spreadsheet data and the scanned map plans. It proved complex, but we worked with Howard to clarify which individual was interred in a particular plot by separating plot IDs (ID, section, and block) from the personal details of the interred individual so as to rectify these misalignments.

Another challenge that was to be considered was the date system. Australia employs the DD/MM/YYYY date format, while the USA uses the MM/DD/YYYY format. This had to be noted, as it could significantly impact the data in Maple Hill Cemetery’s cemetery database. Fortunately, the software allows for this variance in format and Howard has encountered no format problems when moving his records to Chronicle.

How Did Chronicle Fix Maple Hill Cemetery’s Management and Mapping Problems?

Maple Hill Cemetery’s records management problems were not unique. Many cemeteries around the globe are suffering from inaccuracies between their maps and records, caused in part by negligence over the years and a lack of training or understanding of the operations process by new volunteers. People want to help and do the best that they can, but working with disjointed and non-uniform record-keeping has created confusion and further inaccuracies with time.

Easy-to-understand, simple cemetery software was the solution to these issues. Chronicle delivered, along with an interface that promotes easy record keeping that is aligned with a visual map of the cemetery. The user experience that Maple Hill Cemetery gained from our software offers Howard and his prospective clients a beautiful map of the cemetery with easily-identifiable visuals to indicate plots that are occupied, reserved, or available.

We cleaned up the cemetery’s records, digitised them, and they’re now stored in one place – the cloud. Whether Howard makes changes to records, or volunteers do, all changes are tracked and can be easily reached from any device, whether they’re physically at the cemetery or not.

cemetery records software | maple hill | chronicle

Moving Forward with User-Friendly Cemetery Database Software

It took at least a month and half to digitise Maple Hill Cemetery’s records, working to unify data across Excel spreadsheets, ledgers, and paper documents, making efforts to fill in the gaps and inconsistencies between the scanned maps and records.

When the maps were initially drawn, it turned out that they were somewhat off-scale. It was a hiccup that Chronicle worked through, with advice from Howard and Maple Hill Cemetery, and we endeavoured to improve scaling by making the necessary adjustments.

Since our last conversation with Howard, Maple Hill Cemetery’s management is running smoothly. No major challenges have been reported, and Howard appears to be more than satisfied with the app’s performance and our after-sale assistance. For him and his volunteers, the map feature helps to easily visualise the location of the plots, enhanced by the colour-coded feature to indicate reserved, available, or occupied plots. Making edits and inputting be information is an easy, straightforward process, too. 

Howard sees that the transition to a digital platform of cemetery management is required all across the United States. Taking those first steps in digitising your cemetery records is simple – sign up and try Chronicle’s cemetery management software to see the potential to preserve the heritage of your community.

“I did a lot of research before selection Chronicle. The features, value, and the great personal
attention were what sold me. The software has taken us from poorly maintained paper records to the digital age. The best thing is the visual aspect, being able to see our cemetery, and have all the lots color coded, so that we can see at a glance what is occupied or vacant. The search featureis great, it take you right to the grave!” – Howard, Maple Hill Cemetery
 

Photo source: all credits belong to Ted Tiboni

How Macedon Transformed Its Documentation with Cemetery Software

Macedon Cemetery Case Study Header 3 | Cemetery Software | Cemetery Mapping & Management Software | Chronicle

Achieving Impeccable Data – How Macedon Transformed Its Documentation with Cemetery Mapping Software

Size of Cemetery: Small-Medium

Map and Records Search: Macedon Cemetery Online Digital Map

  • Digitalised cemetery records
  • Physical survey of the cemetery grounds
  • Interactive online cemetery map
  • 24/7 online access to plot/cemetery information
  • Customised database management solutions delivered at a highly affordable price

Macedon Cemetery holds a special place in the hearts of the residents of the Macedon Ranges in Victoria, Australia. The historical significance of its past lives on through Macedon’s monuments and headstones, creating an enduring, living history which contributes positively to the social and cultural heritage of its surroundings. The past permeates into the present at Macedon Cemetery, where stone and exquisite flora come together to bring an experience to visitors of this cemetery.

Among its many sights, the Laurence Matheson tomb brings a distinctive charm to Macedon. Laurence “Laurie” Matheson, “Australia’s James Bond”, was a self-made millionaire, known for his role in the Ivanov scandal, passed away in 1987. His tomb is ornamented with a creation from Peter Schipperheyn, at the behest of Laurence’s widow, Christina Matheson, and is just one of the sights in the tranquil visions to behold at Macedon Cemetery. It’s idyllic, but managing an institution like this traditionally comes with a host of issues that can be overcome with versatile cemetery management software.

The Macedon Cemetery Challenge

Macedon Cemetery presented a host of challenges to Chronicle as they began their cemetery mapping software journey with us – one of our first clients, we might add.

In fact, Macedon Cemetery approached Matthew Borowski, soon to be Founder of Chronicle, to assist in surveying the cemetery – they were not looking for anything specific or specialised for cemetery management. Their initial requirements simply included a traditional survey with an accompanying standard map of the cemetery in PDF format. Macedon Cemetery was the catalyst that produced a shift in the cemetery industry – Matthew quickly saw the existing, intriguing problems within the industry, regarding mapping, managing data, and sharing cemetery records.

Macedon Cemetery | Cemetery Mapping Software | Chronicle
Link: Visit Macedon Cemetery in Chronicle

When looking at the traditional, or “conventional” (we prefer using the term “outdated”) methods of documentation that Macedon Cemetery was using, the issues quickly came to the surface.

Nick, Macedon Cemetery’s Secretary, relied on Excel sheets,  together with old ledgers, paper diagrams and files to organise the data of this old cemetery. This was all before Chronicle – this quiet bastion of Victoria’s heritage and history deserved better. Chronicle soon realized that we needed to combine these two conventional methods of mapping plots and organising cemetery data and transform them.

The goal? Macedon Cemetery’s records and plot mapping needed sophisticated, clutter-free cemetery mapping software using a geographic information system (GIS), while also being simple enough for anyone who uses the system.

Macedon Cemetery - Common Difficulties

Remember, while management of the system performed by cemetery administrators, the maps and tables must also be accessible and easily understood by members of the public – those who come to visit their loved ones, or passers-by who want to appreciate the legacy of the area.

With this in mind, the map and table have to be perfectly in-sync. A visitor’s experience is important, as is the user experience for cemetery administrators.

Before Chronicle, like many cemeteries, Macedon Cemetery had inaccurate documentation and a mismatch between its maps and tables. It was sometimes found that a deceased individual may have been recorded to be resting in a particular plot, but when their family visits, it was found that the person is interred elsewhere – or that a completely different person is interred in that particular grave. Distressing for the family, frustrating and embarrassing for the cemetery administrator.

Disconnected – Solving the Illusion of Accuracy in a Modern World

Old, often indecipherable, ledgers are a cause of tension headaches for cemetery management. They can be difficult to read, add clutter, and it takes the time of going through a big book to find the info that you’re looking for.

In an effort to digitise old ledgers, Nick – like many cemetery managers – had previously hired someone to sort through the information in those ledgers and port it all to an Excel spreadsheet. This sounds well and good on the surface, but we’ve often found, like Nick did, that missing names, data, addresses, and numbers get carried through to Excel and are not synonymous with accurate, synchronised cemetery mapping software. This, in conjunction with incorrect mapping in the first place, created a compounded problem for Macedon Cemetery – the illusion of accurate data can be even worse than visibly inaccurate data.

How Chronicle Fixed Macedon’s Cemetery Management and Mapping

How did Chronicle achieve the goal that we set out to achieve, transforming Macedon Cemetery’s documentation from inaccurate to impeccable?

First, we acquired an extremely detailed overview (quite literally) of the entire cemetery, using high-quality satellite imaging and later completing a drone survey. To capture every nook and cranny of Macedon Cemetery, making sure that no spot is missed.

Once a visual representation of the cemetery was complete, we need to incorporate this with Macedon Cemetery’s existing records so the full capacity of the cemetery management software could be utilised. The connection between the physical plots and data from the old ledgers and spreadsheets needed to be made more accurate and complete. Chronicle consolidated the data between the old ledgers and online records, ensuring that the locations of the plots were accurate. In time, Nick was able to find the details associated with a specific plot with a click of a button (or a tap on the screen – whichever is more convenient at any given time).

Nick got the hang of this simple cemetery software quickly and was soon confident to publish records and update data on the platform himself. For him and the Macedon Cemetery Trustees, Chronicle’s cemetery management software allows for a journey of continuous improvement. This is an institution which needs to manage thousands of records, spanning more than a century of human efforts to accurately (or, often hastily) record interment details.

macedon cemetery | cemetery mapping & management software | Chronicle

Nick, and visitors alike, can now easily access the data that they’re looking for. There’s no longer a need to cross-reference three different spreadsheets, look through paper ledgers, and peruse PDFs – all while surveying the cemetery’s map. For Macedon Cemetery, it’s important to recognise that with Chronicle, they have begun an optimistic journey of steady and continual iteration towards impeccable records.

A New Age for Macedon with Cemetery Management Software

Once the work was done on our side, Nick’s job became a lot easier. Chronicle put in the intense work, going back and forth over several months to ensure that the data was compiled and consolidated accurately, synced with the physical plot locations.

Now, for visitors to Macedon Cemetery, finding the headstone of their loved ones is just that much easier. Chronicle’s process of digitising the cemetery’s old records means that at Macedon Cemetery, 98% of data and records are processed and available to access at any time. Chronicle’s interface is integrated with Macedon Cemetery’s website, allowing online visitors to directly view records of anyone interred at the cemetery.

macedoncentercemetery 1 | Cemetery Mapping Software | Cemetery Management Modern | Chronicle.rip
macedoncentercemetery 2 | Cemetery Mapping Software | Cemetery Management | Chronicle.rip

On the visual side, Chronicle used GIS to provide data-driven, beautiful visuals to Macedon Cemetery. It makes the experience of finding plots simpler and more intuitive – for both Macedon Cemetery’s administrators and visitors. Easily and accurately locating burial plots is combined with the software’s ability to seamlessly display information, stories, and headstone photos for each burial plot.

We’re proud about being able to help Nick solve his frustrations that came with conventional methods of sorting data and plot details with Chronicle. To experience it for yourself, sign up and try Chronicle’s cemetery management software now!

I’m increasingly using Chronicle to follow up and find the place I’m looking for. It’s really working well. I’m pleased with it. When there’s a question from people I just ask them to open the Chronicle website and they can get the information that they need.” – Nick, Secretary, Macedon Cemetery

Cemetery Mapping Problems and How to Organize it

Cemetery Mapping Problems | Blog Post | Best Cemetery Mapping Software | Chronicle

6 Cemetery Mapping Problems:

    1. Cemetery Maps So Inconsistent
    2. Paper Records Add to Cemetery Mapping Problems
    3. The Tragedy of Compounding Errors
    4. Eclipse Excel with Great Cemetery Management Software
    5. Share Memories Instantly
    6. Affordable Cemetery Mapping Software

Cemeteries mean different things for different people. For many, they’re sombre resting places which we don’t like to think about. For others, they’re contemplative spaces that hold the memories of their loved ones. There are also those who are fascinated with cemeteries, their atmosphere and lore. However, there are those for whom cemeteries are their everyday life – cemetery administrators and staff. For them, cemeteries mapping problems can be an everyday challenge. The truth is, it can become frustrating and painful to deal with a very unique set of problems for a work environment that most other people have no idea about!

For cemetery administrators, your “workplace” can be a century old, or more, and this comes with a set of problems that you may know too well – cemetery mapping challenges. Often, you just can’t get your head around the records that exist, and at other times, you just try your best to work with what you have. Let’s take a look at some of these issues that cemetery staff are familiar with (and possibly not even realise it).

Why Are Cemetery Maps So Inconsistent?

Quite simply, here’s the reason: most cemetery mapping problems stem from the existing diagrams and records being so old! Look, age isn’t a bad thing. It’s just that as the years have passed, different cemetery administrators and record-keepers just did things their way. Often, they just winged it.

This led to inaccuracies in the diagrams which exist today, some that are even outright incorrect! We’re sure that you’re familiar with it. You’re looking for a specific plot and logic dictates that it should be in a particular spot. You’re frustrated when you learn it’s not where the diagram says it should be, and that’s because some plots have been numbered sequentially by location and others by the time order of their purchase. 

For cemetery admin, your local cemetery association, and visitors alike, these old, inaccurate diagrams need accuracy and consistency. This is why accurate cemetery surveying is vital – it creates consistency, making your job simple and efficient. Grave plots are mapped accurately so your cemetery map shows you exactly where to find them.

Paper Records Add to Cemetery Mapping Problems

A major reason that those old cemetery records and diagrams are such a mess is because they’re all on paper. Making sense of scribbles and scratchy shapes on old paper records and diagrams is a nightmare. Administrators over the years have made annotations on top of the edits made by the previous administrator. You see the problem here, right?

As if bad handwriting isn’t enough of an obstacle to quickly identify who’s buried in the grave you’re looking at, you’ve got to deal with old, delicate paper that requires a very light touch. We’re in the digital age for a reason. There’s no need for paper when you can make clean edits and find the plot you’re looking for without learning how to decipher cuneiform first.

The issue of consistency and longevity is something we’ve solved, too. With seamless cemetery management software, every administrator works with the same mapping and record system. Everyone’s on the same page. Oh, and less paper is more sustainable!

The Tragedy of Compounding Errors

This is no comedy of errors, especially when you consider that inconsistent cemetery mapping records are made more confusing by hoping you’ve deciphered the scribbles correctly. Incorrectly identifying a grave leads to a new burial being mapped incorrectly, too. No one wants a cluster headache in the future when you find out later that a row of new burials are all referenced incorrectly.

Easily identifiable markers definitely make life simpler – using tailored cemetery management software enables you to receive instant visual indications of the plots you’ve selected.

Eclipse Excel with Great Cemetery Management Software

Spreadsheets are not made to solve cemetery mapping problems. Using Excel is great for crunching numbers and statistics, but it’s just not built to solve the issues that you’re facing when you need to know how to make a cemetery plot map accurately.

Excel is a challenge, especially when you’re trying to figure out how to organise data like headstone text and photos, correct interment details, and, of course, physical plot location. There’s no easy way to map your plots in both the real world and in real-time, as well as to get a visual representation of your cemetery’s monuments in the program. It’s inaccurate, and because it appears organised at first, we tend to feel that it really is.

Using Excel, you could fall into a false sense of security, so looking out for a more reliable solution would be a wiser move, especially when you’re made aware of mistakes as soon as they happen. What’s more, unlike Excel, by choosing to use an interactive map of your cemetery, specialised cemetery mapping software allows for team collaboration and provides a safe platform to secure your data on its cloud-based cemetery records software.

Share Memories Instantly

With the prevalence of social media, sharing our lives and memories is part and parcel of our lives today. Yet, how do we share the information on where our relatives are buried so others can identify their headstones and visit their graves? Sharing a PDF is not going to cut it when sharing information is made so easy these days – especially in cases where a family member enquires about which plot is available for purchase at your local cemetery.

This is solved with an online cemetery portal offering public access. It’s easier to share the legacy of your community over a digital platform where you can get instant access to detailed information on who is buried where, and which plots are vacant in your town’s cemetery.

Affordable Cemetery Mapping Software

These solutions sound costly and you’re probably thinking that it’s inaccessible to solve those problems with your budget. Most dedicated software solutions for cemetery mapping problems cost thousands per year. Your cemetery is already spending money to maintain the grounds, so how can you possibly hire a surveyor to walk between the plots and draw a static diagram? 

Look for cemetery mapping software that matches your budget and fulfils your community cemetery’s requirements. Transparent pricing lets you know exactly where you stand. It’s what we pride ourselves on – scalable license fees and cost for us to draw your cemetery, as well as clean and analyse the records of your cemetery of 500 to 10,000 plots.

Cemetery Mapping Problems | Infographic Cemetery Mapping Software | Chronicle.rip

How to Map a Cemetery Easily? Try It For Yourself

As a cemetery administrator, you need to know how to map a cemetery and keep up with the times. To make your job simpler and revive the legacy of your community, there’s no better time than now. You, probably better than anyone, know how fleeting life can be.

Create your cemetery, digitally, with Chronicle’s free cemetery software and see just how easily all these problems can be solved.

Chronicle in Action

Transform your cemetery into something truly Beautiful Quickly searchable database

 

Chronicle in action – Our simple cemetery software, your data effortlessly organised together in a quickly searchable database with headstone photos and paper records linked.


 

Beautiful Interactive Maps

Chronicle is not only helping you to organize your database, but also gives you a simple way to have digital cemetery mapping with various beautiful themes. Enjoy the freedom of exploring your cemetery with our beautiful interactive maps.