Thursday, February 14, 2008

If You're Going to Die, Do It Out West


My genealogy time this week has mostly been spent organizing my records at Any way and anywhere I can build my family tree online, I'm all for it - plus Findagrave is unique, in that you can add, edit, upload pictures, "leave flowers," find other family members, organize people into "virtual cemeteries," and more, SO easily. It's about the easiest and funnest way to preserve family history records online that I've seen (aside from Ancestry "The Brat" .com's famous people family tree feature).

Adding your people to's records necessitates knowing what happened to their bodies. Were they cremated? If so, what happened to the ashes? Were they buried? In what cemetery? If you don't know, has a spot for that too - but since I know most of my ancestors were buried, and I don't feel like putting "unknown" on all their records, I've been calling around to cemeteries, city hall offices, funeral homes, you name it, this week. If nothing else, I work hard at living up to my blog's name.

Mom's family is mostly in Walla Walla - at the same cemetery, bless them - but Dad's is scattered between Montana, Wyoming, Washington, Oregon, and Kentucky - and I've had more luck with the Western states. Small-town Kentucky has sweet adorable people, like in every other state, but the older records there don't seem to be in very great shape, availability-wise. Part of the problem is the age of my family's graves - they're all older, because most of my family emigrated West before 1900. Back in the time I'm looking in, my family members were probably born at home, died at home, and buried at home or in the churchyard. Elkton only has one city cemetery and if your ancestor's not buried there, the city office can't help you. You'd be better off heading to Kentucky and spending a week cemetery-ing.

This is true of a lot of places, even some out West, but I find that since Western states are slightly newer, records are much more accessible (and in my case, better organized), the cemeteries are kept up by city programs, and the poor city employees don't have to don a dust mask before finding your ancestor's burial record.

Lady in Elkton, my apologies.

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