Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Visiting Older Cemeteries

Since my recent genealogy research trip took me to some older cemeteries, I thought I would share with you some things I learned.

First of all, be prepared to spend a LOT of time (read that as hours) at EACH cemetery. Older cemeteries do not have offices you can visit to ask questions, therefore cannot provide maps of the lot or grave layouts.

Second, the stones are not laid out in even rows and all stones do not face the same direction. This makes it very difficult to walk the rows to read stones.

Third, many of the older stones have deteriorated a great deal and are unreadable, are broken and incomplete, or they are just plain missing.

For one of the cemeteries I was visiting I had found a listing on-line at the County page. It gave the row or section of the cemetery where my ancestors were buried. However, when I got there I discovered the problems listed above, plus there was no way to distinguish the sections. So my daughter and I had to walk the whole cemetery to try and find my ancestors. We found some, but not all that were supposed to be there.

The second cemetery we visited was pretty much the same experience, except I did not have a listing that showed rows or sections, only names. This time I played it smarter and only headed toward the older looking stones. It still involved a great deal of walking and looking. I was about ready to give up finding anything when I practically fell over what I was looking for.

We had planned on visiting 4 cemeteries that day - only made it to 2 of them. We also had planned on spending 3 days visiting 7 to 8 cemeteries, never made it past the first day. The weather was horrible - severe wind and rain kept us in the hotel the other 2 days. Not a completely wasted trip but disappointing just the same.

So Number Four on the list would be to check the weather for the area you are going to before you finalize your plans. If the weatherman say storms are heading that way in a few days, stay home. We had beautiful sunny days driving out to the cemeteries and again driving home. Sometimes you just can't count on the weather staying nice!

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