Monday, October 17, 2011

Debbie DOES Dig Dead People!

Pierce Hallow Cemetery, New Haven, Connecticut

Before I began this "adventure in genealogy" a graveyard was not my favorite place to visit. In fact I would avoid them at all costs. Only after the funeral of a close friend or family member would I venture onto hallowed grounds.

Then the genealogy bug bit! My husband and I headed out every Saturday to visit family cemeteries. Several graveyards were more than two hours away. Fortunately this did not deter my husband, so off we ventured.

Pretty quickly I became quite comfortable rambling among the headstones. In fact these trips were much-anticipated throughout the week. So much so that co-workers joked I needed a tee-shirt that stated "Debbie Digs Dead People".

In the midst of spending so much time with long gone ancestors I have started feeling very much at home. Some would scoff when I share feeling a connection which leads me on the right path. There have been many incidents of finding family gravestones as if by unseen hands.

With all this in mind the past week should not come as a complete surprise.

Tuesday started with a visit to New Cathedral Cemetery in Baltimore with friends. There I was fortunate enough to find every headstone on my list. With this information I was able to connect several family members and solve various mysteries.

Saturday I attended the 2011 Baltimore Family History Workshop. My favorite session being Using Cemeteries to Do Family History Research.

Our presenters, Jack and Sylvia Hott Sonneborn, explained what tombstones can reveal, shared websites to further research and discussed the Tombstone Transcription Project. Also, they shared a glossary of Victorian cemetery symbolism.

Sunday I listened to Bring Out Your Dead! Cemeteries and Genealogy on GeneaBloggers Radio. The guests for the evening were Brett Atlas, co-founder of and Lisa Swanson Ellam of The Faces of My Family blog.

RestingSpot allows family members to "mark" their ancestors grave sites using GPS. From the website they state being a "unique combination of mobile and web technologies" which "preserves the legacy of loved ones for generations to come."

Lisa Swanson Ellam shares her wealth of knowledge with cemetery restoration. Her blog is a must read for anyone sharing her passion to preserve family history.

During the show Lisa discussed an amazing occurrence while visiting a cemetery. In Tombstone Tuesday - Genealogy Serendipity Strikes Again you will discover the story all genealogists dream of occurring while researching.

The information gained this week from either visiting cemeteries or discussing them has been exceptional. Debbie really DOES Dig Dead People! What about you?


  1. Are you preparing yourself for Halloween or El Dia de los Muertos! Either way, what a great seasonal track. I'm fascinated with the Victorian cemetery symbols.

    Thanks for the links. I'm more likely to immerse myself in language study than cemeteries, but someone has to "dig dead people," or crave cemeteries! Love it!

  2. Deb - I'm with you! I feel right at home in a cemetery. Going to follow up on the links you posted. Appreciate the info!
    Thanks! Cindy (Genealogy Circle)

  3. I didn't like going to cemeteries either until last year when I was bored and decided to try to fulfill a Find-A-Grave request. After that I was hooked!

    Sorry I didn't get a chance to go the Baltimore workshop. I had hopes to BUT....

  4. Thanks all for your kind comments. So nice to find kindred spirits!