Hello again! I’ve come out of hibernation only to discover that I’ve slept through the warm part of winter… Oh well, time to get crackalackin’!
So, one of my many dorkalicious hobbies is…genealogy research! Yes!! I can’t get enough of it! …actually I can get too much of it and have to take a break before I end up driving myself completely insane.
If you’ve ever done any sort of genealogy research, you know half of the fun of it is traipsing around in old cemeteries, trying to find the headstones of your loved ones. Here’s some friendly advice.
Things You Need Before Going Cemetery Stomping
- Bug Spray…and lots of it. Most cemeteries are kept up by volunteers. Let’s just say that some cemeteries have great volunteers and others…not so great. Like “pulling up weeds just to read tombstones” not so great.
- Shaving Cream and Spray Bottle – By using shaving cream, you can see all of the fine details that time has stripped away on a headstone. All you have to do is wipe shaving cream on the stone and scrape it away. You will be amazed by what is left in the crevices. Amazed! Some stones look like nothing is written. Then miracle of miracles, words and symbols appear from nothing. Magical!
- Camera – Do I really need to explain this? You don’t have to have a high dollar camera, but having a camera is important. Headstones won’t last forever:(
And there you have it. Bug Spray, Shaving Cream and Camera. Viola!
One of my favorite tools to put in my travel bag is the book Stories In Stone by Douglas Keister. Why you ask? Headstones are full of symbols. Symbols that I know nothing about. Sometimes the symbols may be a group of letters, other times a few shapes or pictures, hands pointing up, fingers pointing down. It was all kind of confusing. Could I look them up on my smart phone in the middle of Nowhereville USA…maybe, but most times there is absolutely no signal to do so. For that reason, I have a copy of the book. Anyway…Symbols… I was left saying, “What in tarnation?!”.
One time in particular, I was looking at a headstone of a female relative and she had an anchor on the top of her stone. I had no records of her being in the Navy and she lived nowhere near the ocean. Clueless! Then, I decided to look up what the symbol meant. Apparently, having an anchor on a headstone can mean several different things. After finding multiple possibilities, I’ve decided the most logical definition was that she was the anchor of her family since she was a mother and ran her household. We will never know for sure.
What to do now? Get to diggin’! You really never know what you will find until history is staring you in the face:)
That Book Mama