FamHist Blog

Family History Research Hints and Tips

Find-a-grave and other fun

A tale … a cemetery tale…

There is a wonderful way to do cemetery research for your own family and repay others who kindly help you in that quest…

If you haven’t visited find-a-grave yet, do so. See if you can find a burial listing and maybe even a headstone photo of <your ancestors / family…. Find-a-grave has been around for about 8 years and its popularity is increasing by leaps and bounds… Contributors take photos of headstones in the cemeteries they visit and post the information on the find-a-grave website to help other researchers. They also post cemetery records even if they don’t have photos of the graves / headstones. (Free)

Why would anyone want to take the time make this effort? It all boils down to the need to share your time and efforts by helping others if you expect to get any help back …. and that help is almost always greater than your down payment….

I’ve made postings to the Find-a-grave site for over 6 years. Until recently, I had never made a request for anyone to take photos of headstones in cemeteries that I’ll probably never visit. I posted requests for 10 headstone photos in northern California a few weeks ago, and kind volunteers have taken the photos for me. They are now posted both on the Find-a-grave site and on my own website (with permission). Now anyone else can find these headstones with a simple search… The photos mean a lot to me because I’ve spent considerable time finding and documenting my family in the Calaveras area of California… The headstone photos are helping me put the final touches on their unique and interesting life histories…

If you haven’t taken your kids to a cemetery for a picnic lunch and story telling expedition while locating the graves of your family, do it. You’ll be happy you did… We have taken our children and now grandchildren to the graves of our family since they were wee tots. The outings are always enjoyable and memorable. Our children have repeatedly told us that some of their favorite memories are of eating their favorite brand of cookies (anyone remember our favorite cookies… HeyDays that you can’t buy any longer? Our kids certainly remember these ‘cemetery’ cookies..) and drinking sodas under the shade of the big tree by the graves. They loved the stories I told them …. stories of the buried Indian baby rescued by their gggreat grandfather… of his interaction with Indians whose pack saddles were full of gold as they returned from their secret mines, etc….

The tradition continues with our grandchildren…. I think your families will enjoy cemetery ‘picnics’ too…

Here is an example of a headstone photo that I just received from a Find-a-grave volunteer…. showing the headstone of a great grandaunt with whom I have a special affinity even though she died long before I was born…

Bottom line… here’s a great way to have fun with your family, do some research on your family and ‘pay forward’ the help you have received and will receive from others in your own ancestral quest…. So, remember to pack a camera, notebook and pen when you start making your own ‘memory excursions’ to cemeteries…

PS … A hint to Mothers … kids running through a cemeteries will burn more energy off than you’d imagine, so only take them when you want a little peace and quiet for an hour or two afterward….. And … Remember to leave the cemetery as clean or cleaner than you found it…


27 April 2007 - Posted by | Research Tips

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