One of those venues that some will overlook is a cemetery! Hard to believe, but visiting a cemetery, that you have kin folks buried in, can be a genealogist dream. Those of you who have been a genealogy junkie for a while, will know what I'm talking about. And maybe any of you who are new to the world of genealogy will have a new venue to check out now. You can find birth/death/marriage dates, full names, spouse's name, parents names, children names, etc. Not that you are going to find all of that on each/every headstone, but some have been known to have all of that on them.
Just a couple of months ago, we made a trip down to one of the cemetery's that we have family buried in & couldn't believe all the "new" information I was able to discover that day. Plus, I don't know how to say this without it coming out as I'm a morbid type of person (which I'm not, by the way....lol), but I kinda felt closer to the relatives by being there. Up to then, most of them had just been a name I had down on my family tree. Now they were more real to me by me being with them at their last resting place.
Also on that trip I learned a couple of things that I wanted to pass on so you don't make the same mistakes that I did.
1. You'll definitely want to take your camera to capture a photo of their headstone. One thing I learned is to take the biggest/highest resolution of a photo that you can with your camera. I thought I would play it smart & take a small photo so I wouldn't run out of space on my camera's memory card. Big Mistake.... As I said, take the biggest/highest resolution photo that you can. You can always re-size a photo down but you can't always re-size a photo up!
2. Take your laptop with you if you are lucky enough to have one. For two reasons this is a good idea. One is, if you "should" fill up your camera's memory card, just download your photos onto your laptop -- then delete those off of your memory card & carry on. Second reason to take your laptop is, if you should run into a situation where you need to do a look-up of a relative, you'll have your genealogy program with you.
3. Another good idea to do is to take a few tools/supplies along. By that I mean, a pair of gardening hand clippers would be good to have....in case the cemetery hasn't been taken care of & you need to clip back some of the growth/grass that might be covering up a grave marker. Also, take a soft brush (like a big paint brush) along. Many graves will have dirt & such on them & you'll want to brush it off to take your photo. A large garbage bag is good to have in the event the ground is wet & you need to get down on your hands/knees for cleaning the headstone or to take the photo. Don't forget to take a bottle of water, for drinking or to wash off a tombstone. One more thing that might come in handy is a big golfer's umbrella, if the sun is bright that day, you might need a way to block it from glaring on the tombstone. A lawn chair believe it or not. This will come in handy for taking some photos when you need to be at a certain angle. A spray bottle of water, this will be good to wet down a headstone (to bring out the engraving) if it is hard to read. A first-aid kit is always a good thing to have. You might be stung by a bee/wasp, cut yourself on one of the headstones, brush up against poison ivy.....just a lot of possibilities that might call for a first-aid kit. Roll of paper towels....they are always good to have along. FYI: Be sure & be on the look-out for Fire Ants! They are fast becoming a danger in our area (& the rest of the country) & are not to be messed with. I discovered several mounds of them up against the headstones in the cemetery I went to on my trip a while back.
4. If the cemetery is in a small town or way out in the country, think about taking a sack lunch. Believe me, you might be there longer than what you think. A trip to a cemetery is one that you don't want to rush through & take a chance of missing someone. Plus, taking a break to eat your lunch will give you time to re-evaluate your game plan & check to see who've found or haven't found yet. I wish I had done this on that trip we took. I could have sat down & took a closer look at the photos I had taken & discovered that some of them were out of focus & needed to be re-taken!!!
5. Be sure (& this is the most important hint of them all) to take someone with you! NEVER go along, sad to say nowadays it is never a good idea to go to a remote area by yourself. As well be sure to take a cell phone with you. Just as important also is to let someone know where you are going, the time frame you expect to be there AND the name/address of the cemetery. Play it safe...................
Hope any of you who have never been to a cemetery in your research, will plan a trip on some nice day in the future. I think you will be surprised in what you'll find & believe it or not, its a fun trip to take.
One Last Thing....One very important note to remember....never EVER do anything that might harm the cemetery &/or headstone(s). And please be respectful of where you are & act accordingly.