Dennis Prue

Dennis Prue

Dennis has been researching family trees for more than 30 years. His expertise has been invaluable in helping to break through brick walls.


Visiting and Searching Grave Sites

This month’s episode of This Old Tree is about how some of us are doing genealogy in the Covid-19 quarantine era.

Several times this summer, Spike Savage has asked me to go with him to either take GPS readings of a gravesite or take pictures of headstones. It was just the two of us traveling to various cemeteries. Spike had a list of names of people in various graveyards. He had a family group sheet for the people also. The names were sorted by cemetery so that when we were able to go, we knew who it was we were looking for in each graveyard. We discussed the best way to track down the headstones and get the information and/or pictures.

If the cemetery is large, see if you can get a plot map to help figure out burial sites and the best order to track down the particular grave marker you are looking for. Most of the time, we just split up at the graveyard. Each one picked a section and then started looking for the person’s name. Sometimes, we lucked out, and there were several family members all in one lot, so that cut down on the time tramping the cemetery.

Notes to oneself when if you are planning to take pictures, bring an atlas for those out of way burial grounds and tools to clean headstones safely. No bleach and only a soft brush and water. Also, don’t forget to bring some liquid for each person to drink during the hot summer months. This is a great way to get exercise and fresh air and stay at least six feet apart, except in the vehicle. This is a way of getting out of the house and doing something useful in your family research.

From now until late fall is time to take a short drive to go to cemeteries to either write down the information from each stone or take a picture for your files. One headstone Spike took a picture of was so bad you could not read what had been on the headstone. I knew that someone had taken cemetery lot pictures of that particular graveyard, so when we got back to his home, I researched to see if anyone had a copy of the headstone in question. Duke Thatcher (Find-a-Grave) had taken a picture back in 2007, and you could read the stone pretty clearly, but by 2020 you could not make out the name, just a letter here and there. Duke’s picture told us Lottie’s name, husband, and life dates.

Spike complained that the graves should be in alphabetical order so you could find the grave much more quickly and not have to walk so much. I told him that it did not work that way. But, I would prefer that the stones all face the same direction making hunting for the names much easier.

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Visiting and Searching Grave Sites by Dennis Prue is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.
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