Sunday, August 4, 2013

Stone Binge

Recently, I passed my 8th anniversary as a member of  After creating the memorial pages for many of my family members, I went on a stone binge and visited their graves.  Cemeteries are quiet...peaceful...spiritual...emotional.  The place where a person's time on earth is duly noted.  Like the quote, "Some would say that a tombstone is just a rock.  I like to think of them as life's participation trophy."  If I have memories of the person whose name is carved in stone, it's not easy being there.  I miss them.  If I never knew the person, I guess you would say I'm filled with a sense of wonder.  I may know what they looked like from photos, but I wonder what they were like.  Different circumstances took everyone to their grave, and I think of their family as they stood there at the funeral.  Maybe they were shocked by a sudden death, or relieved at the ending of their loved ones suffering.  There is something about being right there that you feel in your heart and soul.  It's a matter of respect.  I can't explain it to anyone who doesn't have an interest in their family history.

1884 - My Great-Great Grandfather, David A. Roscoe died, making his the earliest death of my ancestors in Nebraska. I went to the Oak Grove Cemetery in DeWitt, Nebraska in 1996 and found the ROSCOE family graves.  There were 4 - David and his wife Mary shared one, and their sons Cecil and Ervin, who for some reason had 2.

I've been to 35 of my direct line ancestors graves in cemeteries in Nebraska, Kentucky and Illinois.  Even more family members in Texas and Kansas.  Someday I'd like to get to my Great Aunt Laura Kyle's grave in Carman, Manitoba, Canada.  My photo request there has never been taken.  Since I was going to cemeteries anyway, I signed up as a volunteer at to fulfill photo requests for others.   That has become a way of taking road trips around the state. Whenever I'm going out of town (or even out of state), I take along a photo request list for that area in case I have time.  Sometimes the cemetery photo requests are the purpose for my road trip and determine the destination.  People are happy to get a photo of a grave they can't travel to, and I just enjoy the drive!  Just did that this weekend with my sister.  We went to Carhenge and went on a 4 cemetery stone binge. 

Haven't we all found tombstones with a wrong date or name?  In the movie "The Shootist", John Wayne's character J B Books ordered his own tombstone, unheard of in 1901.  It was simple - just his name and birth date.  I'm sure those dates were correct since they came "straight from the horses mouth".  I know of a couple of my relatives tombstones that have incorrect dates or no death date.  That's the nice thing about preordering tombstones today.  It should help future family history researchers, especially when much more information is there than just a name and dates.

When a rural cemetery isn't mowed, I won't walk around in tall grass.  I have yet to run into a snake, but I know that day will come.  It's nearly impossible to walk around a cemetery looking for a name and not occasionally step in a hole.  I've stepped in several and been lucky that I haven't sprained an ankle.   One day I fell into one up to my knee, grateful I didn't get hurt.  Later that same day, I saw a skunk about 10 feet in front of me.  I slowly walked in the opposite direction keeping my eye on the skunk and I watched him go down in to a hole.  The thought had never occurred to me before what might be IN a hole!  All the more reason to watch out!!


  1. You weren't kidding! Really odd, it must have been vandalism, like you say. Thumbs up to you for taking the requests too.

  2. Hi Laura! I stopped by to check out your blog after you visited mine and left a comment. This is not a mere quid pro quo, I want to note that I genuinely enjoyed this post -- especially the intro. Well written and evocative of similar feelings I have about cemeteries.

  3. Thank you so much, John! You and I appear to have similar feelings about cemeteries, family heirlooms and family history in general. I'll be checking in on your blog often. Again, thank you for reading.