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Monday, April 5, 2010

Gravely Disappointing

It's spring and a genealogist's thoughts turn to...cemeteries, of course!

On a recent warm and sunny day Husband and I trekked to a graveyard to take photos of headstones for Find A Grave.

This particular cemetery requires all headstones to be flat for easier "perpetual care". And while the grass was cut and the pathways were clear; some of the headstones, like this one, left me deeply saddened. Have you ever been told there is no headstone on your ancestor's grave? In a few more years the headstone pictured here could be completely covered.

How can we take a headstone photo for a family member if it looks like this? We simply cannot. We've prepared a cemetery kit for our personal use when we are out ancestor hunting which is helpful during these volunteer expeditions as well.

For starters, when visiting a cemetery, one must dress appropriately. Let's just say goose droppings can be plentiful. Choosing shoes that cover one's feet and prevent a wayward snake from slithering over one's toes is a good idea. Long pants and bug repellant will come in handy for fighting off ticks with nothing better to do than go than home with you. Sunscreen and a big hat are also wardrobe necessities. In our carry-along tool box we have:

  • a first aid kit
  • garden pads (for comfortable kneeling to take pictures)
  • gardening gloves
  • a sharp knife (to cut away overgrown grass)
  • a handheld garden hoe
  • a soft whisk broom
  • trash bags
  • a small mirror (to reflect the light for better photos)
  • moist towelettes (it's hard to stay clean)
  • extra batteries (cameras die at the silliest moments)
This is not an exhaustive list, but it's a good start. And like us, you'll probably tweak your cemetery tool kit every time you use it. But please do use it. It doesn't take much time to clear the area around a headstone. As long as you are taking care of great-grandmother's grave, take a moment to whisk away the debris on her neighbor's memorial too. Perhaps someday another researcher will do the same for you.


Cheryl Fleming Palmer said...

Laura, this picture has me thinking now about my ggrandparents grave sites that I discovered last year, thank you for this! I may do my own post.

hummer said...

So identify with the need for a kit.
I love reading your posts.
I have given you the Ancestor Approved Award. If you will stop by my blog Branching Out through the Years you can pick up your badge and the rules.
Thanks again for sharing.

Leah said...

I'm a fan of your blog and would like to pass on the Ancestor Approved award to you. You can pick it up on my blog here:

Taylorstales-Genealogy said...

Greetings Laura, thank you for a really great blog post! Many times I have screeched to a halt to stop at a cemetery, for "just a moment" to look around. Having a "cemetery tool kit" will certainly come in very handy. I might include a roll of tin foil for those headstones that are so worn down, it seems to help if you wrap it in foil for the picture! Thanks for sharing!

Lisa Swanson Ellam said...

Laura - you have been awarded the Ancestor Approved award for your great work on your genealogy blog...please stop by my blog and pick up the award and then post the below information using the format I used when receiving it.

The Ancestor Approved Award asks that the recipient list ten things you have learned about any of your ancestors that has surprised, humbled, or enlightened you and pass the award along to ten other bloggers who you feel are doing their ancestors proud. Here are the 10 things I have learned from my ancestors.

Kathy said...

I don't have a kit yet but I think that I really should make it a priority! Thanks for some ideas of what to include. Findagrave is a wonderful site!

Gini said...

Thank you Laura, some very good tips I hadn't thought of. I will be more prepared on my next cemetery visit.

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