CEMETERIES CAN BE FUN
I realize that the title of this tip sounds
rather strange..however, please
bear with me and read on.
<p>Through researching I have reconnected with some family members that I had
over the years lost touch with or for various reasons of our daily lives,
I never really knew that well. These were happily also members who were doing
genealogy also. One thing led to another and the offer was made that since I
had expressed interested in the final resting place of some of my ancestors
and as I lived in Indiana, a great number of my ancestors were buried in that
wonderful place known as "no-mans land"...that I would get together with my
relative and he would do the driving and take me to these places that were
located "over the hill..around the bend...and across those double railroad
tracks". In other words, in places that I could wander for days and never
<p>I was really excited and yet a bit apprehensive as even though I did spend
time outdoors, I also had an aversion to snakes,bees,etc. But of course, I gathered
my "cemetery tour" kit, and off we went. The trip ended up including myself and my
2 great uncles (one in his 70's and the other in his 80's). I can honestly say that
I would not have missed that day for ANYTHING in this world.I got to know and see both
of them as individual persons and not as just names in the family. I also gained a great
deal of respect for both of them for the knowledge that they possessed. Both of these men
had grown up in this rural area and could relate to me things such as who had owned this or
that land in the earlier days, along with tidbits of local lore and of course family gossip.
I was able to learn things about my ancestors that were buried in the various cemeteries that
I would not have learned otherwise, as these two men had known quite a few of them. These ancestors
ceased that day to be just names in a book or on a stone..my uncles were able to put some meat on
their bones and bring them back to life momentarily. We traveled over the span of 2 different
counties and visited 11 different cemeteries. I gathered much data that would have been impossible
without their presence. I also learned that even though my uncles were well respected and learned men
in their chosen careers..they could still climb the hills and fences that I at times had trouble with!
I will never again view either of them in my memory as the intimidating or distant men of my childhood,
I will always remember them as the men who "opened the curtains on a window to the past".That trip is
reffered to by us as the "cemetery tour" and another is planned for the near future. I think they enjoyed
it as much as I did in remembering old acquaintances and family members.
There has been much said regarding cemetery etiquette, procedures, and photo taking. I would like to provide
a few tips here that I have found most useful in my "tours"
Put together a "cemetery tour" kit, that can be picked up with ease.
video camera and film
still camera and lots of film
paper/tablet and pens
take something to snack on if you will be in a remote area.
an area map
Take a long sleeve shirt in case you need to go through thick heavy growth areas.
Take something to drink for a long day
Take an older relative or acquaintance who can elaborate some on the people or area.
Although many persons have had the problem, I myself have never had a problem with
photography at the cemeteries,whether the day is cloudy or sunny.
Never be afraid or reluctant to "go the extra mile" if you want that
photo. By this I mean: don't just stand there and take a photo if it is not a good one..lean down,
sit down, whatever is necessary to put yourself in the best position for the photo.
Although still photos are nice, the best is with the video camera because
in that way you can view who is next to them and just how the rows are set. Better still, later on you
can view this information as slowly as needed, you can replay it as much as needed to get the info.
Take notice of the surrounding area of the cemetery if your ancestors lived in the area.
Try to go in the early fall, as the foliage is down and the danger of snakes is less. Also the
temperatures are not so hot.
Please note, NO mention is made of taking chalk or any other items to "enhance"
the writing on the stones.However, I do always carry lots of blank paper and just one crayon, JUST IN CASE,
in that way, I can place the paper on the stone and gently trace the lettering.I then write on this paper what
the engraving said so that later I can reference it.
Actually "look" at the area of the graves of your ancestors. Touch the ground of the area next to them
if there is an open space..Could this be an unmarked grave??
Take a secondary map and attempt to mark it with the cemeteries as you come to them so finding them later
will be simpler.
Make notes of the location in the cemetery of the grave (row,etc).
Always obtain permission to gain access to cemeteries on private land. Most people are happy to allow access,
but they are not as happy with trespassers.
Lastly, enjoy your outing...view it with the same attitude as when visiting relatives, as that is what you are doing.