A Little Note on Headstones
One of my favorite sources in family history research is findagrave.com. Find a grave is service based.
It's a site that contains tons of virtual profiles for those who have passed
away. They have a list of cemeteries and therein are lists of people buried
there. Most lists are incomplete. The members and volunteers help contribute to
these memorials and create new ones if there are some missing. Volunteers will
go to cemeteries and take pictures of requested headstones and then post them to
the appropriate memorial. The memorials may also contain photographs of the
deceased, links to other family members, and sometimes even internment records
I've taken a few pictures myself to be added to the site,
and I've been very grateful for the pictures that are there and for the
volunteers who so willingly go take pictures of headstones for me. My sister
once asked why I collected pictures of headstones or took a few pictures for
other people. Why was the headstone so important?
Yesterday, my sister
and I were walking through a cemetery she'd wanted to show me. As we were
walking down the paths and reading some of the names, this question came back to
me. Why are headstones so important? I'd given her an answer at the time she
first asked it, but I thought of a few other things too as we were in the
cemetery. Here are a few reasons why a simple photo of a headstone can mean so
much to me and my family history research.
1. A headstone is a physical
piece of evidence that they really lived.
2. They provide birth and death
3. They can be a means of discovering other family members. I've
found many spouses of ancestors by finding a headstone.
4. On occasion,
their epitaphs reveal a little bit about them, whether it's an occupation or how
they died, etc.
Researching family history is more than just compiling a
bunch of names. Every piece of information you gain about a new ancestor makes
them more real to you. These people really lived. Part of the joy (and at times
frustration) of family history is discovering the stories of the people who have
come before all leading up to you. Ideally, we'd all love to have actual
portraits of our ancestors, but having a photo of the headstone is better than
nothing, and it can be the perfect stepping stone to lead to further information
and branches of your family tree.
Do not take headstones for granted. It
may be just the clue you need when you've run into the brick wall in your
reasearch. I encourage you to take a look at findagrave and even contribute
where you can. It's a free service, so no need to worry about cost.
wish you all the best of luck in your own family history research.