Friday, September 9, 2011

Guest Post: Finding Family at Find-a-Grave

Our next guest blogger is Connie from Hartwood Roses.
Connie lives in Virginia and has an amazing home, with a a small rose nursery that specializes in antique roses. Connie is a Certified Rosarian, a Master Gardener, a carpenter, a remodeler, and a dreamer. (As she states it... We love that!)

Okay, Connie, take the wheel, your in the drivers seat today!

Finding Family at Find-a-Grave

I’m thrilled that Vicki and Barb has invited me to guest post over here on her blog today.  She told me that I could talk about anything I want, so I’ll tell you about one of my favorite web sites.

I love spending time in cemeteries.  There is something peaceful and relaxing about wandering through the carved stones, reading facts and figures about families who once lived nearby.  It is especially rewarding to search for and find the grave of an ancestor ... standing in the same spot where their family stood while saying their final goodbyes.  (Many of the roses in my garden came from cuttings I snipped during some of my visits to cemeteries ... but this is a subject for another day.)

I began researching my family's history when I was 16 years old.  What was once a very challenging undertaking, involving interviews with family members, trips away from home to courthouses and dusty library basements and cemeteries, is now so much easier with all of the resources available online.  Most of us have heard of ... but have you ever visited

With Find-A-Grave, it is possible to look up your ancestors, or just about anyone, find where they are buried, and possibly see photos of where they are buried.  Content comes from user submissions, and new graves are being added all the time.

The caption on this photo on the Find-A-Grave web site says, "This is an abandoned cemetery that is in disrepair. The only portion of the headstones that are visible are the stone base and one portion of a headstone. The Genealogical Society of Central Missouri by Evans and Thompson ©1933 documents that Micha Toalson is buried at this location."


The photo above is the Toalson Family Cemetery in Boone County, outside of Columbia, Missouri.  Resting in this spot are my great-great-great Grandfather William Toalson (1781 - 1841), his second wife Micha Brown Toalson (1798 - 1874), and William's son James (1817 - 1875). 


The grave of my great-Grandfather, in New Providence Cemetery,
Columbia, Boone County, Missouri.
(photo by Neil Wilcox)

I have never visited Missouri, though my father's family has been there since the early 19th Century.  Photos of my ancestors' graves were taken by Find-A-Grave volunteers, in response to photo requests from me.  Volunteers sign up to take photos when asked, posting them to the web site for all to see. 

The grave of William West, one of my great-great Grandfathers, in New Providence Cemetery, Columbia, Boone County, Missouri. (Photo by Neil Wilcox)


I am a Find-A-Grave photo volunteer for my area.  Whenever someone requests a photo from a cemetery nearby, I receive an email with details so I can visit the cemetery and take the requested photos. 

Photo taken by me at the Oakland Baptist Church Cemetery, Culpeper County, Virginia.

I have also uploaded photos of the graves of my own ancestors to the Find-A-Grave database, to help other folks who are researching the same families that I am.

The grave of Mary Surratt, Lincoln assassination conspirator, 
in Mount Olivet Cemetery, Washington, DC.

I recently spent one morning taking photos at two nearby cemeteries for a Find-A-Grave member who lives in Mississippi.  Her family has a rich history where I live in Stafford County, and it took a couple of hours for me to find everyone she wanted photos of.

Here is an interesting little fact ... I have found that most graves face east, toward the rising sun. (there's probably a reason for this, but I don't know what it is), so I find that it's best to take my photos in the morning, when the sun is shining on the face of the tombstones.  Afternoon photos would be back-lit, with the sun shining directly on my camera, which makes the inscriptions in the photos hard to read.

While I'm wandering through cemeteries, you KNOW that I also have to take 
photos of the roses I find there.

Safrano, growing beside the gate to the Andrews plot, Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond, Virginia.

If you have some time to kill, surf around at Find-A-Grave and see what you can find.  If you like history, cemeteries, and photography, considering becoming a volunteer.

Thanks Connie! We definitely learned something new today!
I never knew that service existed.

Have a great weekend everyone!
Vicki and Barb

No comments:

Post a Comment

How about some comment love! i read them all, Barb