Cemetery Hopping; A Perfect way to spend the day.

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! 🙂

Sunshine through the trees.

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




Genealogy Guardian Angels; They Do Exist.

Family Grave MarkerDuring my research adventures, I have met many awesome people like Nick who are always there to help us on our journey.   They seem to appear out of nowhere to nudge us on like our own personal Guardian Angels.  So here is how I met, my Moment in time Guardian Angel, Nick.

Earlier this week, I went to a local cemetery to track down a family members grave marker.  Now, I have been working on tracking down this particular headstone for a while and after three trips, I am happy to report it has been located.

It was during this latest attempt, that I encountered a nice man paying his respects to his parents (Nick).  He apparently had been observing me for a few minutes walking down the rows methodically.  Okay…okay maybe a little erratically.  🙂

Either way, he could tell I was in distress, so he approached and introduced himself.  I explained to him my dilemma and he offered up some assistance.  I gladly accepted his help and gave him the little bit of information I had.   He started in one direction and I the other.  After about 30 minutes, I decided I was not going to be successful today and I was about to throw in the towel.

But then, I looked up to find my new acquaintance and wouldn’t you know directly in front me was the head stone I was looking for!  I did a little happy dance and ran up to inform my new acquaintance of our success.

He shared in my joy at locating the correct grave.  From there we discussed the importance of paying our respects and maintaining our ancestors grave markers.  We continued to chit-chat and he stated he would be sure to greet my Ancestors the next time he visits the cemetery to pay his respects. I informed him, I would do the same.  I thanked him for his assistance and wished him well before parting ways.

You see if it wasn’t for Nick, I probably would have gotten increasingly frustrated and given up for the day.  It is out of respect for his offer of help, that I kept searching as long as I did.  If he wasn’t going to give up then neither should I.

I believe it is important to remain open to those who can help us along on our journey of discovery.  My question to you is, has this ever happened to you?  How did your Genealogical Guardian Angel help you?

© Melissa Woodard, 2017