In Durham County, N.C., a few clicks will tell you if any colonial families were buried near your house.

Back in those days, families had to bury relatives on their property. Centuries later, the cemeteries remain, but to locate them residents had to do a lot of digging -- they would scour several sources for information, some of which they could only get from the planning office.

"You'll see small cemeteries all over the place," said T.E. Austin, a planning supervisor with the Durham City-County Planning Department. "They're in all kinds of subdivisions. You just don't know about it."

Now residents can simply log on to the county's new mapping website designed to help residents and developers find ownership and location data for nearly every cemetery, billboard and cell tower in the county. Launched by the research section of the Durham City-County Planning Department and the city's Geographic Information Systems (GIS) division of the city's Technology Solutions Department, the new platform makes it easier for citizens to search for these records by type or street address.

"People can pull it up at home," Austin said. "They don't have to come downtown or call us from 8 to 5."

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Russell Nichols  |  Staff Writer