While visiting a friend’s store recently I purchased a few small items in the hope of returning them to family. I see people doing this all the time on various Facebook groups and thought I’d give it a try myself. Having had ephemera and photos ‘returned’ to my by distant family members and strangers, I know just how valuable these little odds and ends can be to a family historian.
One of the items I purchased is this photo:
On the back of the photo someone wrote “Mr. Dobbin”. The only other clues are the photographers named, “W.E. Vaughn” and the location, Red Creek, NY.
My intention is to post this image multiple places. If anyone has any luck tracking down a descendent, please send them my way!
Many findagrave.com members have heard that a new version of the website was forthcoming. The beta version has arrived and members have been testing it out and sending in feedback about the site. I had taken a cursory look a few weeks ago, but I came across a recent Facebook post bemoaning the design of the new site complete with plenty of gang-on comments complaining about the design and features and I had to take a second, more in-depth look.
One of the cemeteries I visited while in Vermont this past September was Lakeside. The cemetery is situated on the downward slope of a hill that looks out over a beautiful lake. It seemed many of the oldest burials were at the top closest to the road, with newer sections laid out below.
Before I began photographing, the findagrave.com stats were:
After I finished uploading all of the photos, the stats were:
While I didn’t end up adding too many new memorials—thanks to other volunteers who had already created many of them—I’m pleased to have increased the total photographed memorials from 10% to 30%. Not bad for a few hours of work!
Earlier this year, my husband and I visited a cemetery in Northeast Philadelphia so I could fulfill some findagrave.com photo requests. It was a beautiful, mid-sized cemetery that is still in active use. The place was filled with more azaleas than I’ve ever seen in one place—it was absolutely beautiful.
As we left, we drove past the entrance to another NE Philly cemetery called Greenwood. I didn’t know much about it, so I spent some time researching and then planned a visit with a friend to check it out.
Greenwood, also known as Knights of Pythias, opened in 1869. In more recent years, the cemetery became quite overgrown—a plight many of Philadelphia’s historic cemeteries have faced. Despite this, burials were still happening and the cemetery was bought in the early 2000s by a company wishing to build a crematorium on the grounds. A Friends group of concerned citizens was formed around this time.
Fast forwarding to 2008, a majority share of the cemetery was bought by a holding company of the hospital which is situated past the back end of the property. This entity has worked to restore the cemetery—removing trash and debris, righting fallen headstones, refinishing metal markers, etc. However, they also relocated well over 2,000 burials from the back of the cemetery to the front in a mass grave. There is now a large memorial featuring granite slabs carved with the names of those moved.
Most of the names are preserved, but most of the original headstones are gone. There are some lined up behind the memorial and still others left lined up in the overgrowth at the back of the cemetery. For genealogists and others seeking information on their ancestors, the lack of stones is a detriment—gone are full birth dates, place of birth or death, and familial connections. I understand what a burden it can be to try and care for a cemetery that has been neglected, but I still fill the sting for those with family buried here.
There are still many stones covered with bamboo, small trees, and vines. Perhaps a second visit in winter is in order.
Thanks to Reclaim the Records, there’s now any easy—and free—series of indexes to NYC marriage records available! There’s a searchable index for 1950-1996 records, as well as downloads of the raw data to use online.
There’s also a variety of older records available for download. Once you find the record you’re seeking, the website includes details on how to order a copy from the archives.
I’ve talked before about how to research burials at Fernwood Cemetery in Lansdowne, Delaware County, Pennsylvania. One of the things I always stress to people researching burials there is to take the time to contact the cemetery office—via phone or mail—to inquire about burials and to hopefully receive valuable genealogical information.
The office staff is very helpful and will give you the location of a burial within the cemetery (section and plot) and will provide a cemetery and section map via mail. If you ask nicely, they will likely also send you a photocopy of the burial ledger which indicates:
- The first and last name of each individual buried in the plot, with middle initial if known
- Age at death
- Burial date
- Location of the grave within the plot
- Name of the lot owner
- And sometimes, extra details such as whether there is a stone, size or shape of the lot, etc.
The image above is a cropped version of one of these burial ledger sheets. You can often discover new ancestors—or at least new mysteries to research—by obtaining these records. Many cemeteries will provide this information, sometimes for free and sometimes for a small fee, if you’re willing to make the call or spend the spare change on a stamp.
I’ve seen these migration path charts floating around and decided to create one for myself. The idea is to trace where your ancestors were born, but realistically you could use this method in any number of ways.
My chart starts with myself as the largest block on the left and works backward through my father (top portion, all Pennsylvania) and my mother (bottom portion, multiple locations).
A blank spreadsheet ready to fill in is freely available as a Google doc.