Overkill for FindAGrave

alisandeJuly 1, 2013

I made the trip to have Scruffy spayed this morning, and had 2.5 hours to kill in an unfamiliar area. I was happy to run across an old cemetery, and spent about 45 minutes taking pictures of gravestones.

When I got home, I discovered the cemetery is 98% photographed. In all the pics I've taken for FindAGrave (1500+) this has never happened before. I'm glad they're doing so well! I don't feel that I wasted my time because I enjoyed doing it and didn't have anything else to do for those 45 minutes.

Afterward, I visited the local library and a farmer's market. The spaying went well.

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I just read that some cemetaries have apps to make it easier to locate graves. How is Scruffy??

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 7:24PM
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That's wild Susan- so far I haven't found any tombstones for my relatives at Find A Grave. I've decided that they were probably too poor to buy them.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 7:33PM
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Maire, my cousin Rod in England wants to buy photographs of the graves of two of our ancestors. The cemetery will sell them, but we have to get the currency issue straightened out.

Lisa, I think she's fine, thanks. We have her set up in a dog crate (thanks to my wonderful DIL, who put it together before I got home) in the barn, and I'm going to offer her some food now. She was alert when I picked her up after being spayed, and rubbed her face on my finger.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 7:48PM
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I love what you do. Maybe you ended up taking pictures of the other 2%. You may have completed it!

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 11:23PM
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Don't give up on finding photos of your ancestor's grave stones. Just becasue those are not on Find-a-grave doesn't mean they do not exist. It merely means that if the stones do exist, they have not been posted yet. Remenber, all the grave site posted on Find-a-grave were put there by volunteers. So far as I know, there is no organized search and documentation of cemeteries, say for a given county.

There are several reasons why they could be in unmarked graves. As you said, one reason might have been they were too poor to buy a stone. That did happen more often than we'd like to think. In the case of an elderly couple, one may have died and the surviving spouse was too feeble to be up to the task, or passed on before he/she could perform the task.

In old cemeteries with burials older than 200 years, the stones may have deterioated and are unreadable. I found one of my Civil War relatives in an abandoned cemetery that was overgrown with mature trees and matted vines. Several of our family researchers had gone over this cemetery and missed his stone. I found it because I dropped my lens cap! When I bent down to pick up the cap, I looked up or rather gazed toward the horizon, my eye being only a foot or a bit more above the ground. I spied the outline of a stone hidden in a very thick bush. I parted the bush and there was the stone we had been looking for.

In a different cemetery, the cemetery record did show where my g-g-grandfather was buried but there was very little trace of his grave. One of my distant cousins found his stone leaning against the trunk of spruce tree and it was hidden by the spruce branches that touched the ground. It was found because there were a pile of stones, some broken, that had been collected and tossed against the base of the tree.

In the not too distant past, Missouri and Arkansas was the frontier and burials may have been marked by a wooden cross or a fieldstone. After 200 years, a simple wood structure dissappears. I found one of my relatives literally under a rock. He died as a child and the father found a rock with a flat face upon which the child's first name was scratched with what may have been a large nail or spike.

Cremation was not popular 200 years ago, but creamations have been done with increasing frequency since then. Often, there is no grave marker; the same is true for burial at sea.

So, if you do know where some of your ancestors are buried, do yourself (and others) a favor: Go photograph those and post them. Who knows. a particular stone can be standing one year and gone the next. Gounds keeping accidents and storms do happen. A tree fall can wipe out a stone or two. Cemetery records held in private hands also are in danger of going away.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2013 at 12:12AM
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Susan, just because you took photos of headstones that were already photographed and uploaded to Find A Grave doesn't mean that your photos aren't needed. I know it would take time, but you should compare your photos to the existing uploaded photos. I'd be willing to bet that some of the photos you took show more detail and are a better quality than some of the existing photos. In those cases, upload your photos, too.

A few years ago I had put in a photo request for my great-grandparents' headstones in Minnesota (I'm in California). Although I didn't receive a "request completed" notification, I did notice one day that someone had uploaded a photo of the headstone. (One headstone has the names/dates of my great-grandfather, great-grandmother, and a grand-uncle.) However, it wasn't the best photo. There's a big shadow on the stone and you can't easily make out what it says. Well, lo and behold, not too long ago I received a "request completed" message, and when I checked Find A Grave, I saw that someone had taken and uploaded a much, much better photo. It made me very happy.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2013 at 1:34AM
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Jemdandy- i know my family bought plots in a cemetery that I plan on visiting in a few months. I have the cemetery records which list when they were purchased and for how much and even a plot diagram. so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I fi8nd something - which of course I'll post on Find a Grave.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2013 at 7:44AM
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LOL Natesgram--I like your attitude! And yes, I figured I'd go through my photos and maybe find one or two that wasn't a duplicate.

But Lindsey, you make a good point, one I hadn't thought of. You're right--some of the FindAGrave photos are pretty bad. It's frustrating to see them.

In fact, the other day I was contacted by a woman who said one of the memorials I put up was in error based on information given to her by the deceased's grandson. She said she had put up a memorial herself with the correct data. I checked it out, and her picture was not the best. Part of it wasn't her fault....the lighting was poor, but the photo was taken five years after mine, during which time mosses, etc., had grown over the stone, making it difficult to read. So I uploaded my photo to her memorial.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2013 at 8:09AM
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Well, I'm going through my photos, checking them against existing photos, and I have to say the person who took all the ones I've seen so far did a good job. All I'm doing with mine is delete, delete, delete.

But I wanted to show you this one. The stone is huge--certainly the longest one I've seen so far.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2013 at 1:10PM
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I'm not following. So whose father and mother are they?

Do they each have one child and they married each other, which enabled them to have both sets of parents in one place?

Or are they parents and grand parents in one family?

I'm really dense today!

    Bookmark   July 2, 2013 at 1:16PM
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LOL It's not you, Rob. I think only their family (families?) know for sure.

Hey, one of my photos is actually needed! I'm creating a new memorial for it right now.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2013 at 1:29PM
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I found a couple more existing photos that were illegible. The photographer must have guessed at one person's birth and death dates, because it was clear from my photo that they were wrong. Thanks for giving me the idea to do this, Lindsey!

    Bookmark   July 2, 2013 at 1:54PM
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Wow, I just searched on Find A Grave and found my paternal grandparents. I never knew where they were buried. Maybe I will drive up there on Thursday to "visit" if I can. They are planted in Pottsville, PA.

I can never decide where to have myself buried. There is a family plot in the little town where my parents came from, but I do not feel any connection there. I figured I'd have myself cremated and scattered somewhere (I always say to scatter my ashes in a bakery), but I really like the idea of a headstone.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2013 at 2:03PM
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and your search, led me to do a city search and found quite interesting info on how the town was founded...now i'd love to know just where my ggrands were born...somehow I thought they were locals...maybe that explains the private cemetery in IL (I think)

    Bookmark   July 2, 2013 at 2:11PM
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Yep, familes can be quite interesting.


Glad you're filling in the gaps. Now I really want you to be the 2%. It'd be so cool if you could say you were the reason the cemetary got all online. Unless that's common?

    Bookmark   July 2, 2013 at 2:42PM
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I don't have a clue, Rob. I'm not used to populated areas!

I won't be the 2%, though. I've gone through all my pics from yesterday. The woman who had the illegible photos was grateful for my uploads; that was nice.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2013 at 2:53PM
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I have read many posts about finding grave stones, many for distant relatives, it seems very important to folks but I am lost about why this is such a big deal for folks. PLEASE no disrespect intended. I would like to understand what it is about a grave site or stone that makes you need to find it. Why do people look for relations long ago dead. I heard once that after three connections ie a third Fourth cousin or gggrandchild has no more genetic connection to the person then a stranger, and if you never actually new the person what do you get from seeing a stone with their name on it?

    Bookmark   July 2, 2013 at 9:10PM
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You have 2 questions: 1) What's the big deal about finding a 4th or Nth cousin, and 2) what do you get by finding a name on a gravestone?

1. To me, I do not concentrate on the side branches of my main tree. I do collect that data when it is readily available and add it to my tree if there is spare time. Sometimes, these side data points to new information. Lately, I have kept an eye out for genetic disorders or interesting features that I may have inheirted. My focus is on my main line. I have started with my g-g-g grandparents ( two sets, both in my father's line). My mother's line has been fairly well researched by members of her family and I have a copy. My mother's line was greatly affected by the Civil War.

I am learning about early American History as I go. I have discovered that my ancestors were connected to the history of this country that was surprising. My one g-g-grandfather served under Andrew Jackson in the War of the Floridas, and then later in Illinios, he was a
Captain in the Black Hawk War when Jackson was President. The family in TN lived near where Jackson raised and raced horses. Andrew Jackson introduced the Order of Masons to Tennessee and a member of my family was the first Grand Mason in TN. The original family was raised on a 420 acre plantation in Virginia when it was a colony. Five brothers were all in the Revolutionary War.

If you trace you ancestors back far enough, you may find your connection to history as well.

2. Interest in headstones

Sometimes, a headstone is the only written record one can find about a particular person. After searching for awhile, one begins to realize that family oral traditions are important, but subject to error. As a tale gets retold, embelishments get added and old memories can fade. My own mother had a habit of filling in gaps with assumed data and not differentiating between the factual and supposed. Finding something written in the past can be a thrill, but even with headstones, mistakes can be present. However, when a headstone is all you got, it is the best data available.

In both cases above, it takes good detective work to ferret out a family history. The hunt and discovery is the name of the game!

    Bookmark   July 2, 2013 at 11:10PM
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Frogged, I have the feeling a person either gets it or they don't. We're all different. Those who are fascinated with genealogy get a lot out of it, but many people will never be drawn to it at all.

I got started photographing gravestones as a volunteer after seeing photos online of my great-great-grandparents' gravestones in England. I certainly had never met them, and I couldn't even read the stones, except for their names, because the writing was in Hebrew. But the sight of those stones moved me to tears.

I was grateful to the stranger who had taken the time to photograph them, and decided I would do what I could to provide an opportunity for others to have a similar experience.

As for the distant cousins, I'm an only child who lost my mother early in life. I think I will always seek community. All my cousins, distant or not, are important to me, and being in contact with them reinforces the feeling that I am connected. It's a good feeling.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2013 at 12:01AM
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Frogged: I love genealogy because it makes me feel like I belong. It's hard to describe the feeling of connection.

FYI: I attended 13 different schools before I graduated from high school. Needless to say, we moved a lot and I was always the new girl - I didn't share any history with my classmates. I felt rootless.

When I research my family tree and find my ancestors, learning their names and where they lived, I feel like I really AM somebody. I have people and some of them did important things. At least one branch was in the U.S. before the Revolutionary War. I'm not alone.

My DH doesn't understand this - he has always lived within 12 miles of where he was born.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2013 at 12:02AM
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Littlebug, we posted at the same time and both used the word "connection." That's the key, I think.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2013 at 12:06AM
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Another 'only' here. I was vehemently disinterested for years! My paternal grandfather was a pretty useless guy who clung to some (imagined) reflected light of his worthy ancestors.

After my father died I read some of the notes my grandfather had left, and I began to do a little digging --without filling out any formal Family Tree. Some of this was 'research', and some required talking to distant family members.

These are all really life stories -- mysteries to be pieced together.They do make history 'personal', but also add dimensions to family members you only *thought* you knew! I enjoy reading novels and mysteries; this isn't terribly different.

I doubt my mother knew her Mackeys were involved in the early skirmishes in the Revolutionary War, although my father's family lauded their Rev. and Indian War 'hero'. Researching my maternal grandmother's life has let me understand WHY she was a wary, suspicious person, always expecting the worst. Her life had contained plenty of tragedy, in Scotland and after she came to NYC (pre-Ellis Island).

    Bookmark   July 3, 2013 at 6:24PM
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I enjoy reading novels and mysteries; this isn't terribly different.

A good way to put it!

    Bookmark   July 3, 2013 at 6:56PM
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Hi thanks for your thoughts, I guess I get how clearing up confusion and finding your history especially if its lacking can give you a sense of yourself. For myself though I know some of my Mom's background but not my Dad's his family left Europe when he was very young and now has no connection to any relations from there. What I do know is that it was mostly a farming background. My parents raised us very differently from the way they were raised my Dad gave us a completely opposite childhood then he had. Whether they meant to or not they made a break from the past so Im thinking this had something to do with my lack of desire to know more. They focused on us and the future so I do too. But that is what makes the world great there is room for all views. :)

    Bookmark   July 3, 2013 at 8:25PM
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