Find My Ancestor Blog
6Apr/103

Graveyard Preparedness – Part 2

This is part of a series on being prepared when visiting cemeteries in your genealogy research.

In my previous post I shared with you my unpreparedness on visiting a local cemetery recently and how foolish I felt after getting to the cemetery and finding the grave covered with mud and my camera battery dead. I hope this series will help others out there to learn from my mistakes and be prepared to visit cemeteries with a great outcome.
 
The first thing we need to do in order to find our ancestor's graves is know where they are buried. There are some really great websites out there that can help us with our search. My personal favorite is Find A Grave located at www.findagrave.com. Find A Grave has over 44 million grave records, all of which have been added by volunteers. Some have made only a few contributions, while there are volunteers like T.V.F.T.H. who has contributed more than 474,000 memorials! Not all memorials on Find A Grave have the exact location of the grave in the cemetery, but many of them do.

Another great website that I came across a while ago is Names In Stone located at www.namesinstone.com. Names In Stone is still fairly new and does not have as many names and cemeteries as Find A Grave. By clicking on Cemetery List on the homepage you can see the states that currently have databases on the site. Names In Stone has a couple of really great features that I really like and find very handy! The GPS locations are given for the cemeteries, which you can then put into your GPS when finding the cemetery, or input those coordinates into Google Earth and view the cemetery at an aerial view. The other great feature I really like about Names In Stone is that they have maps for the cemeteries with the names of the internments. This is very helpful when you are looking for the grave and you can see who is around the person you are looking for.
Remember that on both of these websites it is all volunteers who have entered in the information. Some people on Find A Grave enter thousands of names a year into the database even if they are not related to the people. If you come across someone that has entered information about your ancestor and they are not related, you can always ask to have that memorial transferred into your possession so you can be the manager. Most people, especially those who are not related to the person will be more than willing to transfer it to you. Anyway, I am getting off on a tangent.  

Many cemeteries, counties, or cities have online databases where you can search for people by name, birth, and death dates. Some are definitely better than others. You can usually do a Google search on the city or town name with cemetery in the search box. I also go to state government websites like Utah.gov or Idaho.gov to find databases and cemetery lists.

One great place to search for cemeteries is Cyndi's List. There you can find many resources on cemeteries, volunteers who take photos, mailing lists, societies, and much more.



Graveyard Preparedness Checklist
  • Charge camera battery
  • Make sure there is enough room on the camera's memory card
  • Research location of grave

5Apr/102

Graveyard Preparedness

This is part of a series on being prepared when visiting cemeteries in your genealogy research.

Do you frequently visit cemeteries to take pictures of your ancestor's graves or of other graves you are volunteering to take?

The other day I went to a local cemetery to take some pictures and I was not prepared. Its good that it wasn't really important to get the photos that very day, because it didn't happen.

When I got there and found the grave, it just so happens that that particular grave had dried mud that was covering almost the entire thing. I don't know how many of you have tried to get dried mud out of the engravings on a headstone, but I can tell you that it isn't easy! The only thing I had that was small enough to get into the groves was a mechanical pencil in my pocket, so I pulled it out and tried to dig out the engraved letters. Needless to say, that didn't work too well and my pencil was then ruined. I had a bottle of water in my car so I got that and poured it over the grave hoping to wash away the remainder mud off the headstone. Again, that didn't work too well because I didn't have enough water. I just made it a bigger mess.

I got it cleaned off enough that I thought it would look okay on the camera. I always keep my camera in my backpack with my laptop just in case if I needed it, but sometimes I go weeks without ever using my camera. Since I hadn't used it recently, I pulled it out of my backpack and turned it on, but as soon as I did it flashed the low battery sign at me a few times and then died. I admit, I was pretty frustrated at this point. I figured I would just come back the next day to get the pictures and bring with me some better "tools".

That night I charged my camera battery so that was all ready to go. I then searched around my house looking for things that would help me clean up the headstone a little better. I thought to myself, I bet I am not the only one out there that has had an experience like this. I have come up with a little Graveyard Preparedness Kit of things to do and have with you when you visit cemeteries. Over the next little while I will be doing a series of "Graveyard Preparedness". Stayed tuned!

Graveyard Preparedness Checklist
  • Charge camera battery
  • Make sure there is enough room on the camera's memory card