Now that we are officially in Summer. I find myself wanting to be outside on nice, warm, sunny days. I also find myself on rare non-planned out days, wanting to research my family history. A couple of years ago, I came up with the perfect way to combine the two with Cemetery Hopping! What is Cemetery Hopping? Well, while a majority of us are more familiar with Bar / Club Hopping, I will say that it involves a lot less alcohol and there is no expensive cover charge! 🙂
Basically, you plan your day out going from Cemetery to Cemetery collecting and documenting graves for your family research. I usually try to plan out which cemeteries I intend to document that day and try to make sure both are fairly close to each other. I will usually start at the furthest out Cemetery in the morning then grab a nice lunch before heading to the second cemetery.
In addition, to planning out where you are going to go, it is equally important to pack your Cemetery kit as well. Now mine, I have created on my own through trial and error. What goes in a Cemetery kit, you ask? I have listed the items below that I have found essential. Feel free to mix and match and come up with one for your own. I usually keep mine in a storage container with a lid.
- garden knee cushion / garden gloves
- small shovel
- medium paint brush
- bottled water
- A couple of rags
- A straw
- A pruner (for trimming bushes)
- plastic bags for trash, cleared debris
There are many other things you can put in a Cemetery kit but these are the few things I make sure I always have. You should also plan ahead, be sure to wear pants and comfortable tennis shoes. I also have my phone charger with me and check that my cell phone is fully charged. I will also include a first aid kit, and baby wipes. If I know that I will need any additional tools I will pack them as well. Extra tools are typically utilized for clearing bushes and for cleaning up engravings.
Once I arrive on site, I locate the grave markers / family plots, I wish to document. I then notate the location by documenting with photographs. Usually, starting with the Entrance / sign, I then proceed to take pictures from a distance including the surrounding Grave markers and proceed to take close up photos of the grave marker on all sides. I will make additional notes of any damage as well.
After documenting the scene, I will then proceed to assist in the care of the site. I will remove any debris. If flowers are planted, I will make sure they are watered and any additional landscaping is cleaned up. I will remove any plants that are encroaching on the grave, (taking care not to damage the marker in any way). If there is lichen, I will make a note and often reach out to others in the field and research the best way to remove it in the future.
Finally, I will upload my photos to findagrave.com and billiongraves.com for future documentation purposes by others. Once completed, I will then proceed to the next location and so on.
I find spending time amongst the stones of my Ancestors very enjoyable and believe it is a nice way to spend the day by honoring people of my past and a good way to get out into some nature.
© Melissa Woodard, 2017