|Mary Casey and|
William D Kelly
Every time I locate an obituary that includes the name of the cemetery where the deceased was buried, I check FindAGrave. Is there a memorial established for the person? If not, I create one based on the information in the obituary. I summarize any family history information from the obituary into the biography section.
Request a Photo
Once I've created a memorial, I click on the button, Request a Photo. This step generates an automated message to all FindAGrave photo volunteers who are willing to take a photo of the gravestone. I usually include a message that indicates my relationship to the person, if any. If I think that other family members might be buried nearby, I include the information I have and request the photo volunteer to look in the immediate vicinity to see if other family member graves are present.
This technique has been quite helpful and on several occasions, the photo volunteer has set up a memorial for the additional family member and added the photo(s) taken when at the grave site.
Review Memorials Regularly
Sometimes, I have forgotten to Request a Photo. The FindAGrave community is constantly adding information and photographs to the site. Today, I received an email notification that a volunteer had fulfilled my request for a gravestone photo. I started looking through the list of memorials I had entered and noticed that the headstone icon appeared on several of my memorials. As the cemeteries are across the country, I knew that I had not added the photographs.
What did I discover? I found that a volunteer had added a photograph of the headstone of my third great grandmother, Margaret Schultz Landon, in Union Cemetery, Liberty, Tioga County, Pennsylvania. What a discovery! The gravestone provided an additional source for her dates of birth and death. I always get excited when I find information on my direct lineage. And I had not requested this photo!
So I browsed through all of my memorials and discovered that several FindAGrave photo volunteers had added photographs of gravestones of family members!
FindAGrave also allows other people to add photographs to your memorials. If I happen to have a photograph of a person who already has a memorial on the site, I add it. So do other people. You will not receive automatic notification from FindAGrave when this occurs. So make a habit of browsing through your memorials - or the memorials created by other people who you have included in your virtual cemeteries. Information is constantly being added to the site, so you never know what kind of gems you will discover.
If you have not been using the Virtual Cemetery feature on the site, you should. This is a way where you can organize memorials by family or by cemetery (or any other combination you may choose). This way, I can include memorials of my family members that have been created by other contributors. I can easily locate the memorial by going to the Virtual Cemetery based on Surnames.
Make a habit of checking in on your memorials on a regular basis. You never know what you're going to find - and it may provide the next clue that you needed for your research.
Giving Back to the Community
If you are able to take photographs of gravestones in your area, sign up to be a photo volunteer. This community spirit is what the FindAGrave site is based on. And always remember to post a thank-you message when a volunteer fulfills your photo request.