TSGS Cruiser Blog

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Cemetery Geek

Cemetery Geek by John G. West

What is a “Cemetery Geek?”  In the last year or two I had to research this term, since theEvansville Courier & Press my city’s newspaper labeled me a Cemetery Geek on the front page of the Sunday edition.  I remember some years back that being any kind of geek was considered not the best label.  I had noticed that the stigma was becoming less significant in recent years.  I believe that this change was due to the popularity of computer geek’s who could save the day for you when something went wrong with your computer.  But, do people think positively about a cemetery geek?  Too many people still look at cemeteries as a negative place to visit or even talk about.
This is probably a good time to define what a “geek” actually is all about.  A geek is somewhat obsessive about their generally single subject like computers, science or even movie series like Star Trek or Dr. Who.  Most geeks are sociable and outgoing (these parts I seem to possess a large dose).  Geeks are generally of average intelligence, but become very knowledgeable within their geekdom.  I suppose that one reason I was concerned about being labeled as a geek was because a few people thought of me as a “nerd” in my youth.  A nerd really got a bad rap over the years.  Nerds are smart people who lack much of a social life. They often have very few friends. Nerds don't talk much, and don't expect others to talk much to them. They are usually nice people, but don't have the social skills to go out and meet new friends.  Actually, nerds are very smart, intelligent people.  This was probably why the other kids around me thought I was a nerd… I was just too darn smart!  I generally have never been accused of not talking!  In fact, I have always been accused of talking too much!  Tell me how can anyone talk too much?

So, I guess I could be a smart geek, but a cemetery geek?  I know I am obsessed with genealogy.  I have researched my family history for over 55 years.  I talk about genealogy, I present workshops about genealogy, I have worked with people to help them learn to document their history.  I spent many years working with the 4-H genealogy project in Indiana.  Call me a Genealogy Geek.

Of course while researching my family history, I have visited quite a few cemeteries.  I was talking about how many cemeteries have I actually walked around to study and photograph tombstones or searched for relatives, etc.  I was able to name 78 cemeteries without notes or thinking about it much (almost all had family buried there or I had other special connections).  I suspect several were forgotten at the time, I have thought about two others since that day.  I feel like I could say that I have been in at least 80-100 cemeteries.  To me, cemeteries are places of serenity and a place to think about life.  Each grave marker is a monument to the person it records.  Often a little history can become known by the marker or a group of markers.  There are many, many different types & shapes of these grave stones.  The statues,  carvings and ornate sculpturing are so beautiful like an outdoor art gallery.  OK, I am a “Cemetery Geek” – I admit it.  I cannot help it!

I am also a geek of many other pursuits, as well.  Are you a cemetery geek?  If you are, let’s talk about our passion.

I am also known as Indiana Bones, a cemetery geek!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Indiana Stone Carver Lewis Baker

This is a really cool grave marker and so is the "Ballad of Lewis Baker."

This coming Friday I will be taking the 7th grade students of the Lawrence County, Indiana Shawswick School through the Green Hill Cemetery. It is an annual field trip event. Their favorite grave marker is always that of stone carver Lewis Baker.This link is to the "Ballad" written in his honor: Take a minute to listen to it http://www.soundclick.com/bands/page_songInfo.cfm?bandID=395734&songID=3139373

This coming Friday I will be taking the 7th grade students of the Lawrence County, Indiana Shawswick School through the Green Hil; Cemetery. It is an annual field trip event. Their favorite grave marker is always that of stone carver Lewis Baker.This link is to the "Ballad" written in his honor: http://www.soundclick.com/bands/page_songInfo.cfm?bandID=395734&songID=3139373

Ballad of Lewis Baker 

Lyrics: Tim Brown. Music: Graham Snow 
Vocal, guitars and programming: Graham Snow 

In the early nineteen hundreds down Lawrence County way 
Working in the quarries was how you earned your pay 
Lewis Baker was a carver and a good one so it’s told 
The stress of carving took him when he was twenty one years old 

Bedford, Indiana was the place that he called home 
And Lewis earned his living making carvings out of stone 
It was limestone work that killed him, and limestone gave him fame 
For the monument in Bedford, that bears young Baker’s name 

The other carvers liked him, and mourned that he was gone 
They took the block of limestone that he’d been working on 
They carved a fitting tribute, so we’d remember him 
A copy of his workbench, just the way that it had been 

His blueprints and carving tools the way he’d left them there 
Even little mounds of dust, reproduced with loving care 
From far and wide, people come, to see this work of art 
And remember Lewis Baker, a man of noble heart 

Bedford, Indiana was the place that he called home 
And Lewis earned his living making carvings out of stone 
It was limestone work that killed him, and limestone gave him fame 
For the monumental tombstone, that bears young Baker’s name 

At night in Greenhill Cemetary, when a chill is in the air 
You might see a ghostly figure, standing near his workbench there 
Lewis Baker was a carver and a good one so it’s told 
The stress of carving took him when he was twenty one years old 

Bedford, Indiana was the place that he called home 
And Lewis earned his living making carvings out of stone 
It was limestone work that killed him, and limestone gave him fame 
For the monumental tombstone, that bears young Baker’s name 
For the monument in Bedford, that bears young Baker’s name

Sunday, February 16, 2014

65th. Wedding Anniversary

Congrats to TSGS Members...
        Jim & Mary Lou Bevers!!!

[Evansville Courier & Press 02/16/2014, Page D06]

Jim & Mary Lou
are Charter Members
of the Tri-State Genealogical Society

Mary Lou has served in many different offices and committees including the Annual TSGS Seminars Chairperson.  She has served on the society's Board of Directors for many years.  Mary Lou has presented numerous programs and workshops... always emphasizing the importance of citing sources for your family history.  She has contributed significant articles to the Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter and she has been very active for many years with the Indiana Historical & Genealogical Society.

Jim has always helped with the TSGS events with May Lou helping everyone become a better family historian.  Over my 35 years involvement with TSGS, I believe that Mary Lou has helped me the most of any other TSGS member!  For several years Mary Lou helped judge the Vanderburgh County 4-H Fair notebook exhibits.

Anyone making it to their 50th. wedding anniversary has a lot to celebrate, but this couple has reached 65 years of marriage... that is a major achievement!  TSGS is very happy for the two of you and we wish you a very special anniversary celebration!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Unmarked Graves at the Evansville State Hospital

Unmarked cemetery found at State Hospital larger than originally thought

Posted: Oct 08, 2013 4:32 PM CDTUpdated: Oct 08, 2013 4:33 PM CDT
An unmarked cemetery was discovered at the Old State Hospital grounds in Evansville last January.
As it turns out, it's a bigger find than originally thought. 
The cemetery was found somewhere on the State Hospital grounds near Vann Avenue, just as preliminary research was being done on a project to build a pedestrian bridge across the Lloyd Expressway. 
Evansville City Engineer Patrick Keepes tells 14 News that, at first, the city thought there were 10 to 15 unmarked graves, but with more research, archeologists discovered there are closer to 70 graves. 
The Board of Public Works recently approved a plan to move the remains to a final resting place at Oak Hill Cemetery. We're told that plan should be finalized some time before the end of this year. 
So far, archeologists don't know much about the people who were buried there. What they do know is that the bodies date back to the early 1900's and were most likely people who once lived in the Old State Hospital. 
Keepes says it will be a very interesting process to relocate those individuals. 
"They will take them back to their laboratory, their facilities and they will do their research to see if they can put any names to these individuals. They'll prepare them and give them individual resting places," Keepes says. 
The total cost to relocate the remains is $270,000. INDOT will pay 80 percent of that.
Keepes tells 14 News that this will not delay the start of the pedestrian bridge project which is still set to begin in 2015.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Oak Hill Cemetery Tour (Today 25 Aug 2013)

The Vanderburgh County Historical Society is sponsoring...

an Oak Hill Cemetery tour "Captains of Industry."

Sorry for the late posting, but if you can make it - the effort will be worth your time.  It begins at 2 PM.  Hope to see you there!

- Indiana Bones

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Some Genealogy Humor

The 12-Step Program for Recovering Genealogists is strict; and, it will be hard for me to overcome my addiction to the overpowering, all consuming desire to look for dead people!!!

There is lots of genealogical humor on the Internet... this site has lots of humor!  Twisted Twigs and Snarled Branches!  https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.278071112258211.62427.269836083081714&type=3  I especially like the 12-Step Program for Recovering Genealogists.  https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=520634304668556&set=a.278071112258211.62427.269836083081714&type=3&theater

Here are a few of the steps: # 9.  Family picnics will no longer be held in cemeteries! # 10.  My family will no longer be referred to as the "live ones!"  # 5.  I promise to no longer refer to "dead people" with my few remaining friends... # 6. I promise to take photos of other things than just tombstones!

To help me, I will spend time in quite places like libraries, cemeteries, courthouses.

BTW, if you happen to know anything about the West, Woodis, Flatt, Phipps, Long, Wood, Wheatley, Mays, Martin, Williams, Buckner, Haynes, Lewis, Huff lines please email me!

- Compiled by Indiana Bones

Friday, July 26, 2013

I Have Found 2 Super Great Resources!

Genealogists everywhere need to know about these new genealogical resources... I was shocked at how much I was able to find about my family lines that I have been researching for years.

The first source, although not very well organized, had file folders that were in alphabetical order... at least for the most part.  Some of the information I was well aware of, but a lot seemed to be all new!!!

The second source, was extremely haphazard with all kinds of other non-genealogical material mixed in with it.  This source would be the last place I would send any of our bloggers, but when I sorted through the stacks of hundreds of pages of paper - I found so much great material on many of my lines.  Just a gold mine of information: U.S. census images, deeds, wills, family stories, family photos, old correspondence.  Although some seemed to be known to me, most every page seemed to be totally new material!

Back to the first source - one that was widely used by genealogists prior to the explosion of computerized databases. It was something I used to the best of my ability.  It was not always easy to retrieve or locate information, but if you kept at it, you usually could find what you wanted.  The bad part of this system was when something got into the wrong folder.  Computer databases could have the same problem with an item being placed in the wrong place, as well... with the exception of being able to use a search engine to find it.  This source has been around for a very long time... I used to say that I decided to do some "original research" in my file cabinet drawers!  I said this because over the years, I would forget what was in many of the file folders.  This is similar to loose-leaf notebooks sitting on shelves or worse under the bed or in a box hidden from view. One big bonus of checking this source is that something you kept that its connection to your family had been dubious, may now be the missing link to prove your latest findings.  The longer you have been researching the more "forgotten" information are in those old filing cabinets or notebooks... go through what you have accumulated over the years to find some new gems of information that could be just the "treasure" you have been looking for!

Now for that second "gold mine," it is the curse of the Internet of a busy genealogist, especially one that tends to procrastinate a little too often.  I am speaking of when you print out great info from all types of sources from your computer.  You find some census images of many in your family and you print out these to review later.  You get great emails from another researcher or distant cousin that you print out... because you do not want to "lose it" among all of those less relevant messages.  However, you tend to print out that great joke and the cool information on how to make something cool out of paper clips and old floppy disks that end up mixed between you genealogy data in the tray.  Then, when your tray gets too full, you take the pages out and set them aside to be sorted out at a later time as you dutifully print out more volumes of all kinds of cool things and genealogy items.  What a disorganized mess it will soon become.  It amazes me that three or four months can quickly pass by before I even think about sorting out my "great new genealogical finds" from all of the other things.  I guess I should confess and admit sometimes these stacks do not get sorted for a year or longer before I take the time to go through them.  I generally will not let anymore time go past then when the stacks of printouts are as tall as my computer desk... I do have standards!

The last week or two, I have been going through these unsorted stacks of printouts finding all kinds of great stuff that I do not even remember ever finding.  Then I look into the filing cabinet to file it safely away and find some other material neatly hidden in my filing cabinet folders!!!

I hate to admit my haphazard genealogical habits, but when you have so much to do and so many things to distract you, it can become easy to "print & file" or "print & stack!"  I am currently working on a major project to put all of my papers into file folders and then go through these files gleaning new information into my computer database (and then to back it up on a flash drive).

Does anyone else find these two resources being overlooked in their own homes?  If you do, have you found any significant revelations for your family history? Like the TV commercial states: "Don't have stacks of printouts and buried info in filing cabinets! Get rid of cable TV!"  Or as I suggest, don't let your genealogy stack up or get buried in files! 

Hey, let me tell you about the greatest find in over 50 years of my researching... well, maybe in another blog, someday.

- Compiled by JGWest