Thursday, April 30, 2009

New Article Available in the GYR Online Journal


She wears the widow's weeds,
She gives the widow's mite.
At home a while, she in the autumn finds
The sea an object for reflecting minds,
And change for tender spirits; there she reads,
And weeps in comfort in her graceful weeds.

They were called Widow's Weeds, the dress of the recently widowed. Many have, incorrectly, ascribed the name to the fact that no bright colors were worn and the dark hues were closer to the weed than the flower.

You'll find the rest of this article from the History Hare in
the Graveyard Rabbit Online Journal.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Meet: Ruth Stephens, "The Graveyard Rabbit of Cowtown"

The twenty second in a series
featuring a member of
The Graveyard Rabbit Association


“Mom, you’re going to a cemetery? No, I don’t even want to go with you!”

That was my daughter Sarah’s reaction as I prepared for my first cemetery research trip! That was 6 years ago…
I got my first real computer (remember Tandy computers?) in October, 2002. As I knew just about nothing about computers or the Internet, my oldest daughter Sarah helped me get it set up and running. I knew even less about anything “online”. She showed me how to get around a bit and find a few things, how to set-up an email account, contact my Dad online, that sort of thing. Well, it wasn’t long before I was sitting up half the night, surfing the ‘net! Actually a good thing, because that’s really how I learned to find things online, to search. That’s also how I learned to handle my computer. Strictly trial and error. Fortunately for me, Sarah also set up the anti-virus software, so I didn’t catch any “social diseases” while I experimented.
This endless surfing and learning went on for several more months, until one day… I decided to look for information online about my Dad’s “Cherokee Grammaw”. I don’t remember why I decided to go looking on that beautiful morning in May, 2003. Maybe I saw something advertised online or on the TV. Who knows? I searched a bit and didn’t find anything. That evening, my daughter Sarah again came to my rescue:
“Here Mom, get out of my way! I’ll show you…”
To make a long story short, Sarah found a listing for my step-grandmother Agnes Amanda (Schadd) Hall on, in one of the free family tree databases.
Well, let me tell you, that really lit me on fire! I immediately signed up for Ancestry’s free trial, and downloaded the free Ancestry Family Tree program. And I started adding names. No sources or documentation, but lots and lots of names. I started calling family members and began picking their brains.
I remembered that my Aunt Kathy had researched our Turner line back in the 1980s and had given us all a copy of her findings. At the time she gave everyone a copy, I couldn’t have cared less about genealogy, so those papers went into File 13. But I got another copy from my Aunt Jan and started adding those names into my database. Still no documentation or sources. But was I having blast! I was hooked, but good!
I continued searching online and pestering my relatives. My aunts both had lots of old photos and documents, and I dutifully photographed them with my newly-purchased digital camera. (I bought the camera to document my granddaughter Stacie’s Adventures in T-Ball. Really.)
Several of my more recently-deceased ancestors are buried at Greenwood Cemetery in Fort Worth, only a few miles from my house. And the staff at Greenwood is wonderful and very helpful. I got lots of photos and information from Greenwood. It’s a very nice cemetery.
I had learned from my Aunt Kathy that many of our Turner ancestors are buried at a tiny cemetery in Hill County, Texas, about 60 miles away. So I got directions and off to Hill County I went.
As I’m not terribly talented at following said directions, I took me a while to find said cemetery. Eventually I found myself driving down a dusty country road in my once-bright-red-Honda-now-covered-with-red-dust, and there on the left was finally my cemetery. Chatt-Jessie Cemetery near Hillsboro, Texas. What an absolutely enchanting place!
Wait a minute… Am I talking about a cemetery?
Oh, yes, I certainly am! As I pulled my car over to the side of that dusty dirt road and glanced about the cemetery, I was transfixed. It was quiet, peaceful, serene, lovely. I walked about those old headstones, many from the late 1800’s, and suddenly went back in time, wondering…who were these people? What were their lives like? I saw many headstones for children. How terrible it must have been, losing a child. The inscriptions were so heartfelt, so touching.
I also saw a couple of stones for Civil War veterans. Below my feet were the men who were actually involved in that great conflict. And I was so close…
I suddenly realized what a wonderful place a graveyard is! Sorrow, yes. Loss and sadness, true.
But so much more! So much history. All around I saw not chipped and aged pieces of granite and marble, surrounded by weeds and the occasional unexpected movement as a rabbit bounced past me.
I saw a kind of living history. The names, dates and places noted on the headstones around me were the names, dates and places of people. My people. My people and my past.
I have always been fascinated by history. I can’t explain it, but it is such an overwhelming feeling of… “I JUST LOVE IT!”
And here in this tiny rural cemetery, down a dusty back road, covered with weeds and inhabited by little more than rabbits and birds…HERE IS HISTORY. And I am right in the middle of it!
I made a vow right then and there that I would come back to this Chatt-Jessie Cemetery and take photographs and write notes and tell these people’s stories. Their lives were important and they were important and they must not be forgotten.
And I have done just that. And I continue to do it, as I study my ancestors and visit the graveyards where they rest for all eternity.

I am a Graveyard Rabbit.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

New Article Available in the GYR Online Journal

The newest edition of the GYR Online Journal is now available. This week's edition debuts Graveyard Guru by Stephanie Lincecum. This article discusses cemetery etiquette. There is a lot of great information to help us GY rabbits in our graveyard hopping adventures.

Next week we turn it back over to footnoteMaven and the History Hare column.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Reminder: Submissions for the Carnival Due 4/25

Don't forget, submissions are due on April 25 for the next edition of the Graveyard Rabbits Carnival.

The May 2009 edition of the GYR Carnival will focus on cemetery preservation. Articles could discuss tips and tricks used in preservation, projects in your area, tips for starting a project, what you've done to help preserve cemeteries or gravestone, what you'd like to do for an old or abandoned cemetery in your area, or anything else you can think of related to the topic of preservation.

Submissions for the May 2009 edition are due on April 25th. Please submit your article using the blog carnival submission form, and be sure to include a brief description in the remarks field.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

New Article Available in the GYR Online Journal

The newest edition of the GYR Online Journal is now available. This week's edition debuts Digging for Answers by our very own, Randy Seaver. In this article, Randy tackles a tough question about cemeteries and laws. There is some great information presented in the article, so be sure to check it out.

Next week we will debut the International Rabbits column. This multi-author column will kick off with an article by Schelly Talalay Dardashti.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Meet: Amy Crooks, author of "Untangled Family Roots"

The twenty first in a series
featuring a member of
The Graveyard Rabbit Association


So how did my interest in genealogy and cemeteries begin? That’s a complicated question and a long story. But I promise to keep it somewhat short.

Let’s start by saying I grew up with a slightly strange childhood. My parents literally belonged to a religion known as Old Fashioned Pentecostal, and that was not an understatement.

I think the picture says it all. We look like we were time warped from the 1880’s, not growing up in the 1980’s. As part of that religion we were not allowed to watch television, could not read fiction, could not go to amusement parks, and of course the other sins like no gambling, drinking, and a lot of other things I didn’t care about as a kid. As a result I became a child that went to museums, national parks, ghost towns, and cemeteries in California where I grew up instead of amusement parks. I read non-fiction books, usually based in history and biographies, of course that also served as my entertainment since I couldn’t watch television. My dad use to call me his “little bookworm” because I always had my face in a book.

Cemeteries never scared me. I never grew up watching scary movies, to even learn that. Instead they were a real fascination to me. I would visit graves and read some inscription and wonder what their lives were really like, why they died so young, how a mother could bare to loose so many children, and so many other things would go through my mind. One of my most poignant memories is on a visit to Columbia, CA. At that time it was a tourist attraction and otherwise a ghost town. Back behind the little red school house was the town cemetery. One of the headstones there, I believe near the entrance, was very large and laid flat on the ground. Part of the inscription said “stabbed to death for one gold nugget.” I never forgot it and would love to visit there again. Unfortunately I live to far away now.

The other seed that was planted was by my dad’s mother. I remember sitting with her on her front porch. She lived behind us. I was about eight. We were talking about a project in school that was about Daniel Boone, and she told me that she had once seen a book written by a family member that had us related to Daniel Boone. He wasn’t an ancestor, but she couldn’t remember how he was related. Sadly the book had been lost in a fire and she was never able to find out more. I have yet to find that connection, but I’m always looking.

Okay so my childhood was a bit strange, but finally when I was sixteen I got to step into the 20th century and be an active part of it. I will never forget what my dad did for us that day. It was in October of 1991 when he finally made the decision to quit the church. Although Mom gave him the ultimatum of the family or the church, but he couldn’t have both and continue to make us kids miserable. He chose us, and you’d have to understand that my dad was deeply involved in the church. But he loved us more. So that October for the first time since I was four (when my parents started the church) I was able to wear pants. Talk about being the talk of school that next Monday! I think everyone was in shock, especially the boy who still noticed me even in dresses.

That brings me to the next phase of my life. Fifteen years later I am still married to that boy who took notice of me when I was the strange looking girl with her face in a book. I didn’t really notice him until the next year, but he knew who I was. We finally started dating in our Junior year and were married in November of 1993 just after we graduated. We have three beautiful children, Christopher – 11, Justin – 7 and Jamie – 4.

Jamie was the one to launch me into this phase of my life. Just before she was born I made the decision to be a stay at home mom. I quit work a few weeks before she was born. I was so bored one month later that I thought I would go insane. I was doing puzzles (which I’ve always loved) and my cross stitch needle work, but I was even growing bored of that. So one day while watching one of my favorite shows even to this day, Little House on the Prairie, I began to wonder what the real Laura Ingalls was like. Now the internet today is an amazing thing. So I got online and began looking for history on her and the family. I loved some of the stories I read and the old pictures I saw. I began to wonder about some of my own ancestors when I stumbled across an ad for a two week subscription to………and as they say the rest is history. That was about four years ago and I’ve never stopped looking.

I have been blogging on my Untangle Family Roots blog now for about three years or so. I volunteered to host the Kootenai County, ID site for Genealogy Trails since I live here, but had to give that up when I had to go back to work about a year and a half ago. It’s been a rough two years for my husband with jobs. But finally we are getting back on our feet and I can pick up some of my old projects. I may host that site again, but really my passion was taking me in the direction of preserving the history of old cemeteries. My biggest project is that of Kootenai County Cemetery aka Old Paupers Cemetery here near my home. I started to write some of the history on my blog and began to write about those buried there when Grave Yard Rabbits found me. It was a perfect fit for my research and I joined in a heartbeat.

I was a volunteering for RAOGK and Find-A-Grave until it got to be too much with work and now not having a second vehicle. Fortunately I have the privilege of working with my parents, so they pick me up and the missing vehicle isn’t a real hardship. One person at work reminded me how lucky I was to spend so much time with my parents, especially since I have a real passion for preserving our family history. She told me she’d give anything to be able to sit with her parents on her lunch at work and hear more stories from them. And from time to time I do get that privilege when we get off on an old family story or try to remember something we all did together. I try to record as much of that as I can.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

New Article Available in the GYR Online Journal

The newest edition of the GYR Online Journal is now available. This week's edition debuts The Educated Rabbit by our very own educated genealogist, Sheri Fenley. This article reviews the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training website. There is a lot of valuable information for us GY rabbits provided in this website, so be sure to read Sheri's article to learn more.

Next week we will debut the Digging for Answers column, written by Randy Seaver. Randy will be answering questions submitted by GY rabbits. If you have a question that you would like answered, please send it to Julie.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Call for Submissions - GYR Carnival May 2009 Edition

We're gonna do things a little differently with this carnival. With spring in the air, many of us are getting out our cameras and visiting cemeteries. Fellow rabbit, Midge, and I were on the same page and thought it might be nice to know what carnival topics were coming up so we could prepare accordingly, especially while out photographing this season.

Each month, after the carnival roundup is posted, I will have another post (like this, but with out the blah, blah, blah at the beginning *wink*). That post will have the current topic with the description and badge, as well as a list of the topics scheduled for the remainder of the year.

So, here we go!

The May 2009 edition of the GYR Carnival will focus on cemetery preservation. Articles could discuss tips and tricks used in preservation, projects in your area, tips for starting a project, what you've done to help preserve cemeteries or gravestone, what you'd like to do for an old or abandoned cemetery in your area, or anything else you can think of related to the topic of preservation.

Submissions for the May 2009 edition are due on April 25th. Please submit your article using the blog carnival submission form, and be sure to include a brief description in the remarks field.

Upcoming Topics

  • June - Veterans' Memorials
  • July - Obituaries
  • August - Favorite Photo
  • September - Carousel
  • October - Funeral Cards
  • November - Write Your Own Epitaph
  • December - In the News

Graveyard Rabbits Carnival - April 2009

Welcome to the April 2009 edition of Graveyard Rabbits Carnival. The topic for this edition is burial customs. There are seven wonderful articles to explore, so grab your favorite beverage, sit back, and enjoy.

Linda Hughes Hiser presents Graveyard Rabbits Carnival--THE PARTING SHOT posted at Flipside. Linda shares "a brief tale of a funereal procession to a watery grave on the links."

footnoteMaven presents Superstitions and Portents of Death posted at The History Hare. footnoteMaven explores an array of superstitions and omens related to death.

Midge Frazel presents Laid to Rest posted at Granite in My Blood. Midge shares an obituary for Eliza Fish Denison, who was laid out for viewing at her son's home. She says, "'That's an obituary!' said my mother-in-law when it was read to her. She missed the good old days of bodies on display at home!"

Jennifer Dyer presents two articles, one related to burial customs in New Orleans, and one discussing funerals. New Orleans’ Cemetery and Burial Customs: How and Why the Dead are Buried in “Cities” is posted at her webstie New Orleans Ancestry. The 'Fun' in Funeral is posted at her blog Cities of the Dead.

Jonathan Smith presents Theory: Upland South Folk Cemetery posted at Cemetery Space. Jonathan says, "in this post I give a short description of the Upland South Folk Cemetery complex. This collection of burial customs characterizes cemeteries throughout the southeastern United States and serves as a tool to date cemeteries and find out more about the community that used and created them."

Julie Cahill Tarr presents Burial/Funeral Custom Tidbits posted at The Chicagoland Graveyard Rabbit. Julie discusses a handful of interesting tidbits related to burials and funerals.

That concludes this edition. Past editions can be found on our blog carnival index page. Be sure to join us for our next edition, where the topic will be cemetery preservation.