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Genealogists tend to love cemeteries.

I know I do ~ both as an information source and for their beauty, whether it's green space in the city or a little family plot on the side of the road.

So, over the fold ~ some cemeteries I've known and loved ;-)

In addition to town and church cemeteries, New England has numerous little family plots. My mother's father's family plot is in Danvers MA, just off Rte. 1, at #11 on the linked map ~ it shares an access road with the state police barracks, although it predates the barracks by a couple centuries.

Several members of the Putnam family who were involved in the Salem witch trials (which mostly involved people in Danvers, then known as Salem Village, while what is now Salem was known as Salem Town) are buried in unmarked graves in this burying ground.

Elizabeth Merriam (daughter of Silas Merriam and Lydia Peabody) married Jesse Putnam; she lived to be 102 ~ there's a picture of her here:


Joseph Putnam, a Revolutionary War veteran and another ancestor:


A wider view of the cemetery ~ some of the earlier graves (such as of the Putnams involved in the witch trials who are buried here) don't have extant markers.



Other ancestors are buried in the town cemetery in Marblehead MA ~ a cemetery with a nice view over the harbor:

Picture 028

Picture 026

Picture 027

Sometimes, a visit to a cemetery doesn't produce any results. I'd hoped a wander around the burying ground at Cavers, in the Scottish Borders, would unearth details about ancestors who were likely from the parish, but it didn't. However, the location was gorgeous, so I enjoyed the side trip ;-)

Borders 20 Oct 154

Borders 20 Oct 153

Borders 20 Oct 157

Borders 20 Oct 183

The one gravestone of an ancestor I have found in Scotland is William Little's, in the Traquair parish church graveyard.

Traquair church William Little died 1850 gravestone

Traquair church

Sometimes, there's a memorial stone ~ the great uncle listed on this plaque died on the first day of the Battle of the Somme and is actually buried in France:

So Leith Baptist Church WW memorial

In northeastern PA, a several greats grandmother is buried with her second and third husbands (I'm descended from her first husband)....

Mary Cady Weston Tracey Miles, buried in the Old Cemetery, Brooklyn, PA:

grave Mary Cady Weston Tracey Miles Old Cemetery Brooklyn PA 2

Old Cemetery Brooklyn PA

And ~ finally ~ a cemetery that I have no known family connection to.... but its name amuses me every time I drive by it ;-) Located in Arrowsic ME on Rte 127, the road to Reid State Park and Five Islands Lobster Company, it's named for a local family......

Heal cemetery 1

Heal cemetery 3

Heal cemetery 2

Has a walk in a burying ground ever broken down a brick wall for you? What pretty or unusual cemeteries have you found in the course of your genealogical wanderings?
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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (25+ / 0-)

    The worst sin - perhaps the only sin - passion can commit, is to be joyless. (Gaudy Night, Dorothy L. Sayers)

    by mayim on Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 08:59:06 AM PDT

  •  As an amateur genealogist myself, (9+ / 0-)

    I have been in many a cemetery that look much like the photos you posted. And I lived in Danvers many, many years ago. My Dad is from Berwick, PA, and my mother from far northern NY.

    Thanks for the walk through time.

    I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.

    by beemerr90s on Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 09:11:48 AM PDT

  •  gawd, I love cemeteries (11+ / 0-)

    (yet I plan to be cremated - odd, isn't it?).

    The older or more remote (creepy), the better.

    When I was little, and with money being a scarce commodity, my mom had to come up with creative forms of entertainment for the family.  One of the things we did as a family on Sundays was to go to the various cemeteries in the area and look for:

    1) the oldest
    2) the largest
    3) the most unusual
    4) the saddest
    5) the funniest (usually in the form of a funny name, like Krapfl)


    We'd take sandwiches and make a day of it.  It was a lot of fun.

    Join the Hobby Lobby Boycott on Facebook

    by edwardssl on Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 09:13:31 AM PDT

  •  Looking for Volunteers (7+ / 0-)

    Looking for volunteers to host a Friday GFHC Open Thread.

    Got a good story or history lesson involving your family (like this diary)?  Want to share it?  We'd love to hear it!

    Current Schedule

    Jul 18 -  mayim
    Jul 25 -  Land of Enchantment
    Aug 1 -  Land of Enchantment
    Aug 8 -  mayim
    Aug 15 - Fenway49
    Aug 22 - open for adoption
    Aug 29 - open for adoption

    Can we get some volunteers?

    The worst sin - perhaps the only sin - passion can commit, is to be joyless. (Gaudy Night, Dorothy L. Sayers)

    by mayim on Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 09:26:00 AM PDT

  •  Laughing out loud. (9+ / 0-)

    Cemeteries?  I used to live in the St. Louis area, and I had a friend from school who wanted to visit me at our family's weekend place out in the country.  Of course, I thought I should show him around.  And one of the places I thought I'd show him was a rural cemetery of a one-time Bohemian community about a mile as-the-crow-flies from our place.

    The humor of the situation began when he showed up in his new acquisition, which was a gas-eating used hearse.  It was stock except for the fact that there was no expanding carrier for transporting caskets in the back any longer.  And, oh, did I mention that he'd added a skull-and-crossbones front license plate?  

    We went for gas at a local station, and this was back in the days when there were still station attendants to pump it for you and wash your windshield.  He must have assumed we were legitimate funeral home personnel, because I recall the look on his face when he saw the license plate.  "Is this still in service?" he meekly asked.

    Then we took my tour, finally ending up at the cemetery which abutted the farm of Mr. Wing (pronounced "wink"), a Bohemian descendant.  He came out to investigate when he saw the hearse, but I guess he was a sharper judge of the situation than the gas station attendant.  Once he figured out that we weren't the real thing, but had stopped by out of real interest, he spent some time with us to act as a kind of docent for the neighboring property.

    And I learned a lot that day about the culture of this group of immigrants.

    This had seemed to be a neat little rural cemetery, as it had a lot of elaborately decorated iron crosses and such, and very well-kept.  What I hadn't initially noticed much was another cemetery across the road that was overgrown with grass and had many tumbled-over headstones.

    Mr. Wing informed us that they were both a part of the SAME cemetery.  How could that be??  The short answer was that those buried in the neat section had remained Catholic, while those on the other side had become Protestants.  LOL, indeed!

    "There is no way to give to honest toil its just reward--its full share of all wealth produced--but by the full application of the single tax. And righteousness and justice require it to be done." --A. Moll, 1897

    by Zwenkau on Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 09:27:09 AM PDT

  •  I love cemeteries too. (8+ / 0-)

    Here's my 5th-great-grandfather's stone in an old cemetery in Kirtland, Ohio. He died in the 1840s.

    There are, in every age, new errors to be rectified, and new prejudices to be opposed. ~Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

    by slksfca on Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 09:48:42 AM PDT

  •  My Dad and Mom both died in 2008 (10+ / 0-)

    (January and July, respectively), and we buried their ashes in an old family cemetery in south-east Minnesota - the Norwegian Methodist Episcopal Cemetery. No one had been buried there since the 1930s. We quite literally dug a hole and dumped the ashes in. Dad was buried on Father's Day (too hard to dig the hole in January in Minnesota). We placed Mom's ashes in the same hole about a month later.

    Among the 51 people buried there are a great-great uncle Hans Henry, a civil war vet who lost a leg in the battle of Nashville, and my great-great grandmother Wilhelmina, who was one of 98 people who drowned on July 13, 1890 when the Sea Wing went down during a storm on Lake Pepin. Her daughter, my great-grandmother, was about 12 when her mother died - the two of them had recently come over from Norway to join my great-grandfather. He left my great-grandmother with an aunt and took off down the river, never to return.

    For most of my life we have been going out to this cemetery on Memorial Day weekend to mow the grass and place flowers (always red geraniums) and flags on the graves. Here's a funny pic. from @1962 with sibs and cousins and great-gramma and my silly dad:
    cemetery photo

    And yes - that's where my ashes will go.

    “…The day shit is worth money, poor people will be born without an asshole.” – Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez, The Autumn of the Patriarch

    by mikidee on Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 09:55:19 AM PDT

  •  Then there's another reaction... (7+ / 0-)

    When my eldest child was only two, I took a road trip to central Virginia with my mother and a great-aunt.  I felt a bit guilty going away for a week and leaving my wife with all the burdens of the household, but I knew I wasn't going to get another chance to meet distant relatives and view the place where a quarter of my ancestry "originated."

    By then I was already an active genealogist, and I felt the need to document everything I could about the families I encountered, both ancestral and living relative categories.  In my quest for some understanding of my maternal grandfather's CAVE family, I started asking where I could find the site of their burials.  Some of the newer ones were easy, but I quickly discovered that the older graves I'd expected to see where nowhere to be found.

    So I started asking about them.  And what happened was puzzling.  Each person I asked directed me to another who was said to be more knowledgeable.  And soon I was driving further and further away from where I'd started as I began to follow these leads.

    After about four referrals I found myself out in the far countryside knocking on the door of an elderly gentleman whom I could not picture being a part of the family, however distantly extended.  But he was very cordial, and I soon learned that he knew the area -- and the answer.

    "Get into my truck," he offered, "and I'll take you there."  We drove about a mile until we found ourselves on a deserted country road of red clay, running between two large fields.  As the road began to drop down towards a stream, we pulled over just at the edge of a wood-line that stretched out perpendicular to the road.  Then we walked along that line about thirty yards or so before turning into the woods.

    All of the tall trees were deciduous, but just inside the wood-line was a clump of medium-size red cedars.  Maybe about twenty of them.  No fence.  And no headstones.  But as I looked about, each cedar had a small chunk of sandstone situated at its base.  "There are your CAVE family's graves," he said.

    I was stunned.  But quickly I observed how peaceful it was to find myself amongst this small stand of cedars.  And my mood changed.  Now I understood.

    Fast forward several years to when I attended the NGS Conference in the States at Nashville.  One of the prominent sons of this CAVE family had been a Disciples of Christ minister in Nashville for many years, and I didn't know much about his family.  Naturally, I used the opportunity to do some research.

    When I learned the location of the cemetery they'd used, I set out for a side trip.  The cemetery was on the outskirts of town, but was rather large.  I went immediately to the cemetery office with my list of family members, thinking this would be a quick stopover.

    The man looked at me a bit quizzically -- which I didn't quite understand.  Then he began digging through his files and making notes on cemetery maps.  There was no family plot;  all had been buried separately.  Each of fourteen interments was noted as being in a certain section, and the man helpfully had noted the closest large marker that I should spot as I sought each target gravesite.

    Now imagine my surprise when I discovered why the man had given me that initial look.  He was too professional to tell me straight-away, or to make any comment, but…  NONE of those fourteen individuals had been buried with a headstone!  And this was a family that had had money.

    Still, as I visited each gravesite, I felt the same calm I'd experienced back in those woods in Virginia.

    "There is no way to give to honest toil its just reward--its full share of all wealth produced--but by the full application of the single tax. And righteousness and justice require it to be done." --A. Moll, 1897

    by Zwenkau on Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 10:07:57 AM PDT

  •  A shocking amount of info available online (5+ / 0-)

    about who is buried where.

    Not long ago, I thought for the first time in 30+ years about the school librarian where I went to middle school. Middle school! And I'm well past 40! I was curious what had become of this person, so I did a search online, and found, not an FB page, but the name of the cemetery where they are buried! Found out they were buried in a different state from where I went to middle school, and they had died rather young.

    Supple and turbulent, a ring of men/ Shall chant in orgy on a summer morn...

    by karmsy on Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 10:10:32 AM PDT

  •  cemetery fun (6+ / 0-)

    In exactly 2 weeks, I'll be driving across Kansas to visit my great-grandfather's grave (died 1907). Hopefully the gravestone that my cousin just recently ordered will be in place. But even if it isn't, thanks to my cousin finding it this Spring, I'll know exactly where to go.

    I'm still deliberating on whether or not to drive on to Sugar City, CO that day (adding another 6 hours of driving to the 7 that I'll already spend getting to g-grandpa's grave). It's there that my grandmother's little brother was buried in 1906 - shortly after their immigration (and a year before their father died in Kansas).

    I've called the town clerk to see if they have any cemetery records on the burial. There is not a gravestone and I'm not even 100% certain that he was buried in the cemetery. But there's something in me saying "screw it, just go anyway!" I probably will - just to visit the cemetery and the land that they initially migrated to (though they were there and left for Idaho before the dust bowl). I'll be bringing a LOT of music with me for the drive.

    •  The Colorado plains are amazing, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jim H, mayim

      especially the SE part of the state, which is largely depopulated now. There's these largely abandoned cemeteries scattered about, along with the WPA schoolhouses. It's not easy to imagine life there; the highest population concentration didn't last for long, only a few decades.

      Mark Twain: It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.

      by Land of Enchantment on Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 07:32:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I've been told it's all dead (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Land of Enchantment, mayim

        I imagine after the dust bowl. I'm in the middle of reading The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan, so the timing of this trip is perfect!

        •  That book is perfect (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Jim H, mayim

          ... accompaniment for a trip to the area. May I also recommend this website for its section on historic structures in eastern Colorado. There's a slide show of pix, but you can also click "all photos" to browse. (There used to be more in depth info.)

          I'm hoping you fall in love with that largely forgotten area on your visit. I've been drawn back to visit the area several times.

          Mark Twain: It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.

          by Land of Enchantment on Sat Jul 19, 2014 at 07:48:26 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I recommend getting (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Jim H, mayim

          ... a detailed map book, like DeLorme or some such. Easy to find online for purchase. Cemeteries are marked, IIRC. Me, I drive around looking for schools, checking out culverts, trying to get close to the Dry Cimmaron, and so on. The cemeteries just turn up in the process. But those detailed atlases are a big help.

          Mark Twain: It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.

          by Land of Enchantment on Sat Jul 19, 2014 at 07:51:33 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Thanks for the tips! (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            I don't know how much time I'm going to have to enjoy any sights but if I make the trek out there I will try to make the most of it.

            I'll have to run down to Powells before I leave to look for a good map book.

  •  while i think the heal cenmetery is a good name (5+ / 0-)

    i prefer my family cemetery- the Lively Cemetery. i have never been there- but i hear it is sorta nice, not great , but sorta nice.

    i like cemeteries too. went to a burial service in NM. the cemetery was long forgotten and in the middle of nowhere. hot as hell. no trees for miles.  this place was a deserted coal mining town.i felt sure before we all left there would be some nut who stepped on a rattlesnake. holes all over the place. or maybe the abandoned mines under neath us would give way. it was awful

    odd that even in old cemeteries you would have thought were long forgotten you can find a fairly recent grave. some last surviving family member still wants to be there.

  •  Some Alabama cemeteries (6+ / 0-)

    I love cemeteries as well.  One of my favorites is in Morgan County, Alabama, on Brindley Mountain. It's the burial spot of two of my great-great-grandparents, two great-grandparents, and numerous relations.  Including one grave marked "Leg of John Moses Curry." He married a great-great-aunt of mine and sometime in the 1890s he had to have a leg amputated, no one now knows why.  It was buried in the cemetery and years later the rest of him was put in a grave beside it.   It's a beautiful spot deep in the woods, well maintained by descendants, who regularly visit and have decoration days.

    Then in Randolph County, Alabama there's a family cemetery where my Stewart great-great-great-grandparents are buried with some of their children and grandchildren.  It's high on top of a hill and very remote, but I always enjoy seeing it.  The graves are unmarked, but they all have rock and shale boxes built over them, similar to some I've seen in other old cemeteries in the South and in England and Scotland.  About 15 years ago some of the descendants put up a large marker to commemorate those buried there.  My great-great-great-grandfather Stewart died in 1863 and his was the first grave there according to family legend.

    There is not one human problem which could not be solved if people would simply do as I advise. - Gore Vidal

    by southdem on Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 10:38:12 AM PDT

  •  I have my own cemetery sleuthing crew (9+ / 0-)

    They're on the prowl.

    "Never wrestle with a pig: you get dirty and the pig enjoys it"

    by GrumpyOldGeek on Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 10:58:15 AM PDT

  •  In some cemeteries, it's hard to read the markers (6+ / 0-)

    Fieldstones make lousy cemetery markers. If that's the only material that's available (or affordable), that's what got used. Some of these simple markers were just plain stones placed on a grave, but the ones pictured here probably have some kind of markings on them. These might have been carefully shaped and marked but the soft, porous material eroded so badly that they are difficult or impossible to read.

    I don't recall where I took this picture. Pelham, MA and  Rochester, NH come to mind. Both towns have cemetery sections of fieldstone markers.

    Nevertheless, I'm getting better at deciphering markings that don't seem to be there at all. There are several advanced digital techniques developed by NSF, NASA, et al, that seem to have possibilities. So the old geek in me has been working on ways to apply these techniques. And I've deciphered a few markers that didn't look like they had any markings at all. Even markers like these.

    I've gotten into the habit of taking several pictures of unreadable markers that happen to be near other readable markers of interest.

    I've discovered that some markers have hand-drawn or scratched guide marks with duplicate information on the foundation or elsewhere. One marker in my paternal family lot is a simple stock marker that says "Baby" on the top. But the name and date had been sketched on the front, perhaps as a guide, but the letters were never fully carved on the stone. The marker was about 100 years old but the vague shadows of the lettering guide could still be seen with a bit of digital brightness and contrast manipulation.  

    "Never wrestle with a pig: you get dirty and the pig enjoys it"

    by GrumpyOldGeek on Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 12:03:16 PM PDT

  •  How to become a cemetery addict (5+ / 0-)

    Discover an old cemetery on a perfect autumn day in Vermont.

    "Never wrestle with a pig: you get dirty and the pig enjoys it"

    by GrumpyOldGeek on Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 12:33:32 PM PDT

  •  How to become addicted to cemtery tromping (5+ / 0-)

    Discover an old cemetery on a perfect autumn day somewhere in Vermont.

    "Never wrestle with a pig: you get dirty and the pig enjoys it"

    by GrumpyOldGeek on Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 12:37:18 PM PDT

  •  aww, I,m so late on a day with a topic (4+ / 0-)

    I just love.

    Am without access to my pics at the moment, so I can't post my favorites until tomorrow ... but I have been to that one  Edinburg, which is right up there in coolness. One in Europe that really sticks in my mind was in Innsbruck ... right at the base of the Olympic ski jump. Now I am hopeless on skis anyway, but I simply cannot imagine what is like for athletes to come off the jump, with the tombstones literally in your face!

    "If you are sure you understand everything that is going on around you, you are hopelessly confused." Walter Mondale

    by klompendanser on Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 04:59:34 PM PDT

    •  Pere Lachaise in Paris (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      klompendanser, Jim H, mayim, edwardssl

      ... is awesome. I happened to spend a week in an apartment near the entrance, and walked around in it a few times. It's not just the people buried there, although there are some awesome monuments. It's the whole place, so much history, and it's also downright beautiful.

      Mark Twain: It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.

      by Land of Enchantment on Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 07:27:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I tend to photograph extensively (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jim H, mayim, edwardssl

    ... whenever I visit a cemetery. So often, it turns out that I find connections to my tree at a later time. And, too, it can be helpful to others without the means to visit there themselves.

    One of the most helpful things at a cemetery is being able to see who is buried together in the same plot.

    Mark Twain: It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.

    by Land of Enchantment on Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 06:54:49 PM PDT

  •  I forgot to mention (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jim H, mayim, edwardssl

    I've visited numerous early colonial cemeteries, mostly in CT, but also in MA. It is my experience that there are very few burial stones surviving from before 1700. Those were mostly field stones, just a rock with initials on them. Generally, it's exceedingly difficult to tell who's buried under the surviving stones. Many more are missing entirely.

    There was some work on cemeteries done during the New Deal, such that you can find repaired stones, sometimes set in concrete. Some family & historical societies place replacement markers, but they aren't large in number. The DAR has had a major focus, at least in the past, in maintaining and caring for cemeteries.

    But there's a lot of information getting lost, too. It's too bad.

    Mark Twain: It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.

    by Land of Enchantment on Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 07:19:56 PM PDT

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