Tuesday, May 25, 2010


SO you find the cemetery and go there.
You have the cemetery map and the plot information.
You have all the data and facts you could find.

Your there - standing at the plot - and no Tombstone :(... Maybe nothing at all but bare dirt. What a letdown is that!

DON'T GIVE UP! Get Down - start digging!!!!

I've gone to cemeteries with all my facts and maps and ect.. Camera ready, sketch pad & pencils & chalk ( I like to use a Newsprint pad with it's brown paper and I freehand draw what I see. The layout of the plot and what the stone says. As many details and I can. ) , ready and ........... no stone. You'll find that even when you take lots of pictures, you'll get home and not be able to make out what the stone says. WaHHHH! .... but stop and think.

It doesn't take long for weeds and grass to take over anything. Leaves fall ... dirt washes over and sediment grows.
I went to one plot where I was so disappointed to find NO stones. So I sat down and thought for a minute. Many cemeteries lay their old stones flat to protect them ( outside the USA too ) , many fall down over time. The 1906 earthquake in SAn Francisco, California toppled many works of art in the cemeteries. I scrounged around and found a strong dead tree branch and started scraping & digging. Way under the leaves and some dirt I found the man's stone. So then I figured his wife who wasn't mentioned on his, must have her own. So I dug around and found hers. Then I figured some children must be nearby too. So I dug around and found them.

Nature will bury them again, as they are on a wooded hill. But I got my photos and had a great time finding this buried treasure. How more disappointing it would have been, if I hadn't just sat down to enjoy the atmosphere for a little while, and thought things out.

Now I always have a few things in my car, under that back seat. Too many times I've just happened to be in the area and popped into a cemetery, with nothing to help me. So now I keep some yard gloves, a little yard tool of somekind - maybe a hand trowel or small shovel, a rough brush of somekind - a horse's currycomb is good .. especially an old one that isn't too stiff, & an old toothbrush is always my best friend.

Many times I've had to dig or scratch away dirt at the bottom of a stone. As the buildup of soil covers the bottom lines of writing. Moss, mildew & dirt fill in images and writing. Often just some good rubbing with a cloth, wipes off stuff so I can read the stone or make out the images.
Anyway, whatever works for you.

So another day down, I don't have to report for Jury Duty Summons. My fingers are getting tired of being X'd that my juror number won't be called. Now, I'm not shirking my civic duty. I've sat on juries and it seems I get the summons every other year. But - why does it seem the county picks on me. How come none of my relatives get the call? Oh well, can't fight it - altho after so many times, I have some ideas of how to get let go. Like the much older gentleman who fell asleep in the jury box, head nodding and chin on his chest, his hearing aid whistling. Like in a movie, the entire courtroom quietly looked at him at the same time and all knew what was happening. The judge thanked & dismissed him, and called the alternate up.
Too much hassle going in & out of the courthouse now with the security checkin line. I just stay inhouse for lunch and breaks. If you really want to piss off a judge, just show up late anytime. No excuse is acceptable. Got some good books to take by Lincoln Child & Clive Cussler, and my crosswords.

Happy Trails, Katiebird


  1. Great advice! I have about 10 ancestors in a huge family plot with no visible stones. As several of them were quite well off when they passed, I've always been perplexed why no stone was there. Guess I need to look a bit closer!

  2. I just discovered your blog. I write stories about family history in New Hampshire, and there is a large number of "Scribners" here, descendants of Thomas Scriven and Margaret Corbett of Shropshire, England. Their son, John Scriven, came to Dover, New Hampshire about 1652. I'm enjoying your stories very much.

  3. HI Anonymous, Hope you get lucky. I also have plots that have several people, and have been sealed or concreted over, with the plaques on top or just the 1 family name showing. Disappointing for no tombstones but at least the cemetery office has the paper file of who was buried there. Usually names & dates, So at least I have that. :)