Monday, October 21, 2013

Tuesday's Tip - Tombstones Aren't Forever

Susan Lee's death year is completely buried.  I've danced/stomped on this grave trying to uncover it.

I've blogged before about going to photograph tombstones of my ancestors and finding stones that were slowly being eaten by the earth.  I've desperately tried to push down the ground around one of these tombstones in particular to see what a death year was.  As luck would have it there's an ant mound right near the grave as well, so any lingering visit to unearth the information results in me doing a very embarrassing get-the-ants-off-me-dance.  Less than 5 years later and the dates have gone from barely visible to gone completely.  So tempted to head to the cemetery next year with a small shovel to move away the dirt and grass and finally get a look at those dates...I'll bring a can of Raid to deal with the ants.  I think I might get odd stares if I march up to a grave and start digging though.

So my point in mentioning this is that even though there's a tombstone marking ancestors' graves right now, this may not always be the case.  As genealogists we appreciate the convenience of various websites such as FindAGrave, BillionGraves, etc especially when we're researching from afar, but we love actually visiting cemeteries, seeing, and touching the graves.  Being in the place where our ancestors are eternally at rest.  Yes, we can be an odd lot, but cemeteries are some of our favorite places to visit.

Many tombstones won't always be there though.  Those websites that we adore for convenience, but sometimes scorn because "real" genealogists get their feet dirty in cemeteries may one day be our only source to view these tombstones once they are gone.  Some disappear because they are reclaimed by the earth.  Many more are vandalized.  Regardless of how it happens, tombstones are often ephemeral.

It doesn't look like it's disappearing does it?
We'll always enjoy going through cemeteries.  They aren't going away anytime soon, but that doesn't mean a tombstone here today won't be gone tomorrow.  Don't hoard your genealogical tombstone-treasures. Share them with one of these sites. Your uploaded tombstone can and will help your descendants in the future.

This is the "Barrett" tombstone from another side.  It really is sinking

Four of my ever-sinking family tombstones
Still has a ways to go before the dates are gone, but severely leaning to
the left

Mary Quirk's tombstone is actually leaning forward quite precariously

Ella's tombstone (of the four from the picture above) is fairing the
best with only a slight forward lean.