Friday, September 28, 2007
Tracking down lost cemeteries
Over the course of the past few weeks Debby and I have been visiting old cemeteries and photographing headstones for Debby's genealogy project. Some of the cemeteries we have been looking for are old and long-forgotten. The locations are either not on the county maps or are put in the wrong position. Quite a few of the cemeteries end up being located in the Hoosier National Forest or in wooded areas on private property.
Locating these became quite an issue as you can probably imagine. Debby did find a website that had some of the cemeteries in question listed along with latitude and longitude. This proved to be a blessing in locating them. I downloaded a copy of Google Earth and went to work. I found that some of the Coordinates were slightly off but they got me to the area in question. It amazed me at how the headstones popped right out at me in the pictures. I had to maintain a pretty high altitude to keep the picture in focus, but it was impressive at how the cemetery showed up on the aerial map.
The next thing I did was convert the coordinates to GPS format and make way points for each location on my GPS. The GPS basically took us right to the location of each cemetery. Once we got to each cemetery I rechecked the Latitude and Longitude of it and made notes so that I could come home and remark them on Google Earth. Modern technology is a wonderful thing. While I was doing that, Debby would be searching for the stones and photographing them.
A lot of people will do a rubbing on the headstone if it is worn to make out names, dates, and etc. but Debby has a little trick that she uses that has made photographing worn stones possible. The process is relatively simple, takes little time, and does not harm the stone in any way other than possibly removing the lichen that so often builds up on our native limestone headstones. The trick involves shaving cream, a 4 inch drywall knife (putty knife), and a towel. You spray some shaving cream onto the monument and then take the putty knife and smooth the cream into the depressions where the carving is. You will see the letters and numbers, as well as any ornate carving, pop out at you. Take the towel and gently wipe the excess shaving cream off. The end result is all of the embellishments on the stone stand right out at you and make a highly photograph-able monument. One thing to remember is to take either some water and an extra towel along or some baby wipes for your hands because this can get a bit messy. You do not have to do anything else after photographing the stone since the shaving cream will just fade away.
Anyway, Today's topic was going to announce the publishing of the fruits of Debby's labors on the Family Tree Maker website but we ran into a glitch with their server and could not get it uploaded. Hence, today's blog comes quite late. A soon as we get it up, running, and accessible I will post the address on here. Debby and I have spent several quality hours together discovering old cemeteries in Lawrence, Jackson, Monroe, Daviess, and Brown counties. We have driven several miles and hiked quite a few in the woods as well. It has been fun discovering family history and documenting the locations of our predecessors.