TSGS Cruiser Blog

Monday, January 26, 2009

“Find A Grave.com”

Genealogists are actually strange people, but loving caring people. We go out of our way to help total strangers learn something new about their family history. We will listen patiently while someone tells us all about their family that we do not know... just to hear of their “great find.” We will go to the library or online to find that little piece of information that someone needs. We will even go to a cemetery to take a picture for them and send it to them. My mother (who encouraged me a lot to learn about my family) often would say that I cared more for “dead people” than I did for the living. I deny that charge! However, it is not good for my case when I can remember the birthdays of all of my deceased family, but can not remember most of the ones who are still celebrating birthdays. I have to look up my sister or brother's addresses, but I know where all of my ancestors lived. Alright, maybe I do think about those who have come and gone before me a little more than those still around. I did say that genealogists were strange.

This blog has a story about us genealogists and our running around the countryside finding tombstones of our ancestors... “The Big Doggie” story about my son when he was little, he thought we went into any and all cemeteries looking for relatives. He probably thought “relatives” meant people buried in cemeteries. When he was young, we, as a family, traveled around in Kentucky finding cemeteries and graves of our ancestors. We took photos of the grave markers, because it was easier than copying them with pen and paper. Later, people went around and made tombstone transcriptions of what was on these markers for entire cemeteries and publishing them in books for us to look them up in the index instead of walking the entire cemetery looking for them. Then we would go and take a picture of it, anyway! Later, the Internet gave us people who started up an online group called “Acts of Kindness” with volunteers who would look things up for you where they lived that was a distance away for you... this included taking tombstone photos for you. Now, we have a newer version of helping strangers find out about their ancestors and families through “Find A Grave.com” - an online grave memorial & photo database with contributions from volunteers. Many will post their own family's information, but will take photos for others, too. Some will create a “virtual cemetery” for different subjects of interests to them. An example may be the graves of all the soldiers for Company K of the 11th. Calvary of Kentucky with anyone finding one of them submitting the data & photo to that virtual cemetery in order for them to all be listed together with their individual cemetery locations provided. Another one may have everyone that was born in your hometown... these are listed no matter where in the world they were buried. This project has been going on for a number of years with some having nearly a million memorials online with thousands of tombstone photos. I volunteered just this month and I already have almost 50 memorials and over 100 photos – oh, I forgot, not all of the photos are of grave markers... there are also photos of the person included!

My family has always had a very important tradition of honoring our dead with flowers on their graves for Memorial Day (Decoration Day). Mom did this every year. I would take her to all of the graves in Evansville and sometimes in Kentucky. So, now, I do it, mostly, just in Evansville. There are about 60 graves my wife & I decorate each year. We will continue this tradition, and on Find A Grave, we can also, now, leave “virtual flowers” (photos or graphics of flowers or other items) on the memorial page for any and all of our family that is online. If they are not yet online, we can start our own memorial for them. You can search for who you want to find and if they are online, you will see what cemetery that they are buried and hopefully their marker with dates of birth & death along with a possible biography or obituary. Perhaps the best part of this is that you (or someone else) can post a memorial of a family member or friend and ask for a photo of them to be posted by someone else. Check it out at: Find A Grave.com .
- JGWest

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