Showing posts with label FindaGrave. Show all posts
Showing posts with label FindaGrave. Show all posts

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Momento Mori

© 2003 by the American Antiquarian Society
David Rumsey map collection
Even before I got into genealogy, I was fascinated by old graveyards. At first it was the Victorian
era graves with their weeping angels and cherubs. Then I discovered the really old stones in my
native New England. I was hooked. I love the angel of death images, the weeping willows and all
the symbology that goes with these very old stones. Luckily, I'm not the only one.  The Rumsey
map collection has a lovely archive of black and white photos of these old stones which were mostly
taken by David Farber and his wife Jesse. You can browse these images here.  If these images
seem macabre you may want to read about the meanings associated with them in this excellent
pdf written by Jesse Lie Farber.

Of course, I had to start combing the various photo collections looking for family members. The photo above is the stone for Benjamin Shed, my 7th great grandfather. He lived to a ripe old age in Billerica,
Massachusetts. The winged face was a symbol or resurrection and life everlasting.

© 2003 by the American Antiquarian Society
David Rumsey map collection
Here's another ancestor and a similar stone for Joanna Woodbury Herrick, my eighth great grandmother. This stone is a bit more elaborate with lovely vines and flowers around the edge.
© 2003 by the American Antiquarian Society
David Rumsey map collection
This image isn't the stone for a relative, but I love the relief carving of the skull and crossbones.

Of course then there's the whole topic of humorous epitaphs. So far I haven't located any clever
ancestors, but with any luck you might on this site or over at FindaGrave.  There are a number
of epitaphs still up at AVery Grave Matter, but the wonderful bank of photos isn't there and the
site seems not to be kept up. 

Just one more place to find a little glimpse of one of your ancestors. Happy hunting!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Pruning and Maintaining my Tree

I hate loose ends. When I look at my online tree at Ancestry, nothing makes me crazier than seeing this
No birth or death date.
I was amazed at how often just entering a guess for the birth date will help. Start with a date the same year as the spouse's birth. Very often the hints on Ancestry just pop up.
And there we are! I never did find a sure death date for her, but I found a death date under Minnie Tapply. I used a resource I found looking for Dora North and Frank Summerfield Tapply.
So these entries for the reading of wills very often name the spouse as beneficiary (so you can be sure you have the right person with the myriad Tapplys and Tapleys) and give the place of residence. By entering this place in Dora North's  file, I found her death entry and I used the same method for Minnie.
I've been going through the tree trying this methods with people on both sides of the Atlantic, and I've at least got either a birth or death date for the older parts of the tree. Amazing how entering a date and possible location unlocks those doors.

The next problem I tackled was this:

I've been round and round on this portion of the Smith family. Marion L. Smith had four children. Two were named Dietche and two were named Otto. I felt sure that there had been two marriages, but I couldn't find any record anywhere for the two children or for her. And her second husband was Otto Dietche. Was this a record mistake? I didn't think so. Her marriage record and the census name her as a widow. So I went back to the son and tried again on Family Search.
And lo and behold this showed up:
There it is. Allan G Otto in Fitchburg, Massachusetts who seemed to have died just after the birth of the two children. So plugging THAT into the tree for father and Robert Allan Otto for the son, the hints just fell into place. I found a directory entry for Allan and Marian living in Fitchburg just a year before his death.  I also  found exact birth, marriage and death dates for the children and neatly tied up another loose end.

It doesn't work every time. Older records are difficult. Families with many people of the same name are almost impossible. But using FindaGrave, Family Search and Ancestry I've made good progress. I found a few duplicates, loose ends, branches that needed pruning altogether and satisfied my own urge to tidy up the tree.  It may only be January, but it's time to try a little spring cleaning.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

FINDAGRAVE

Early in my research I read that graveyards can be a fine source of information for your family tree.
Because I knew so little about my father's family, I went back to the one document I had that might
be of some use. It was an old envelope that once held a deed to a cemetery plot at Holy Cross Cemetery in Malden, Massachusetts and on the front was the address of the plot. Most cemeteries are very cooperative, and for a small fee will send you particulars about a cemetery plot. What I got back from Holy Cross was a list of the Cook relatives buried there and the ages at death and internment dates. This gave me some great clues to go on to solve the mystery of Mary Feely, my great grandmother who seemed to vanish after the 1930 census. Eventually, when the 1940 census was released I found her in a rest home in Roxbury. From there it was a matter of sending for a death certificate and THAT gave me the names of two great-great grandparents in Ireland.

After I'd been doing this a while, I discovered FindaGrave. This is an effort to catalog online all the cemeteries and the folks buried there. If you have a city or better yet the name of a graveyard, a volunteer may have made an entry for your family member or may have taken a photograph of a gravestone. I found LOTS of my Rogers relatives this way. I joined and made a few entries of my own. Through the kindness of a member of the local historical society, I now have this photo for my Civil War ancestor, Winslow Brainard Rogers.


This is the memorial stone put up for him by the Civil War Veterans society. Another kind person went to the town hall and added a photo of the inscription there which includes his name.

You can also put in a photo request. The chances of getting to Malden anytime soon are slim so when I got to the Fitzgerald side of the tree I turned to this service. I knew my grandmother, grandfather and probably my great grandparents were also in Holy Cross. I put in a photo request and crossed my fingers... I had to go back and give the volunteer a little more information, but an 800 number call to Holy Cross gave up the Avenue and Plot. And now I have this memorial at FindaGrave.
Turns out that family finances were tight in 1896/97, so the grandparents and great grandparents are apparently under one stone. 

The blue links are a way to link one family member to another. So once you find one relation, you can often get information for an entire family. Be careful however, I have frequently found that these entries have differences in dates and other information from the official records. The cemetery often got information from family members and the FindaGrave entries are done by volunteers or family members as well. The happy news is  finding an entry with lots of biographical information: what he did for a living, who he married and in what order, military service, etc.

There is another somewhat newer site called BillionGraves. I haven't explored their site extensively, but it seems to work in very much the same way. Both places rely on volunteers to put up memorials and take photographs that have been requested. The polite thing to do would be to fill a request with a trip to the local cemetery. When it gets a little cooler, I'll go over to Hollywood Cemetery and see what I can do to pay it forward.