Saturday, March 7, 2009

Stories Buried Under Stones

Chesterfield Cemetery, Centreville, Queen Annes County, Maryland

I have a hobby that feeds my long-time love of cemeteries. Cemeteries are peaceful and serene places which hide underground the thousands of wonderful stories, some never to be told.

My hobby is taking photographs for the web site Find A Grave as a volunteer for our local cemeteries. Each grave that I seek, is a story which needs to be told!

And I finally found a place on the web to put all my photographs of family gravestones! The site lets you add the grave photo along with information about the person, the obituary, photos of the person. You can also add virtual flowers or tributes to the grave.

It is fun for families, historians and genealogists. Anyone can search the site free and anyone can become an area volunteer by taking photos of graves in your area. Some volunteers have added thousands of graves!!

My sister-in-law (now deceased) took pictures of my husband's family graves in Maryland and Delaware when she moved to Maryland. She sent me copies many years ago (long before digital photography), but what was I supposed to do with photos of all those graves? Now they have a home for them and they can be shared with other family members.

I've also found photos and information about family members which I didn't have. This is a guiltless hobby which helps others who might be looking for names, dates, gravestones.

Cemeteries are a never ending source of genealogical information.


Becky Jamison said...

Tears filled my eyes when my first request for a gravestone photo was fulfilled by a wonderful Find A Grave volunteer. I've taken many photos for the site, have put up lots of memorials and have reaped a tremendous reward with photos and information on my ancestors. I'm glad you gave the site this wonderful publicity.

TravelinOma said...

I love the idea of photo-sharing these meaningful family memorials.

It reminds me that it's important to include information others might need on a gravestone or obituary. "Beloved Wife" doesn't help much. "Alice Jones Anderson, beloved wife of Peter Anderson," shouts out, "Hey, great-granddaughter! Here I am!"

Even better would be, "Born in Manchester, England April 10, 1863 to Julia Smith Jones and John Jones. Died Salt Lake City, April 15, 1940." Great Granddaughter now has the skeleton story of a life.

It's frustrating to find an obituary or grave, and not get anything that ties the person to anyone else. On my parent's headstone I insisted we list their wedding date, and kid's names, too. It cost more but will become a family history memorial, where my parents act as a link to connect their descendants to their ancestors.