Sunday, May 31, 2009

Meet: Russ Worthington, Author of "My Tombstone Collection"

The forty second in a series

featuring a member of

The Graveyard Rabbit Association


My Tombstone Collection

Having just read the recent "Meet A Rabbit" posting (the 37th), I was inspired to reply to the questions asked by Thomas. I am not a writer, I do take pictures, and also work on Family History. I have learned lots by sharing information on my research of my family, and from others sharing information with me. So sharing of information that I might have may help others.

Last summer, I thought I would do a little research for a friend of mine. All I had was a surname and a hint about a cemetery. Since it was "right down the road", camera in hand, I took off for a couple of hours. Arriving at the cemetery, I found a small plot with the correct name. 5 or 6 headstones were in the plot. Since my wife and I will take off to walk through a cemetery, I did that, just to see what other surnames were "in the area". Low and behold there was a low, fenced in area with a monument in the center surrounded by smaller headstones. The monument had the same name as the smaller plot. Oh, this will be interesting for research, but why are the two plots separated. Well 60 or 70 pictures later, I had a great start in my research for this family along with a couple of mysteries.I have blogged about this adventure in a blog I started on how to use a Genealogy Program. I used this example of pictures to help use that program.

So, I had entered the
Genealogy Blogger network. Shortly after that, I saw where the Genea-Bloggers started a Tombstone Tuesday "meme". So, I took this adventure to this cemetery, and started to post this pictures on Tuesdays so that others can see the tombstones and the information that they provided me.

The data on these pictures gave me names, dates and relationships that give me lots of information to build my database for this family. So, I had a real head start on doing research for this family. Using the genealogy program, checking census records, and all of the other records that can be found, I found out why there were two plots with the same name. There were two families in the area, that I have yet to connect for certain. But that's another story.
With some encouragement from founding members of this wonderful group, I joined up.

As I mentioned, my wife and I will stop at cemeteries in places where there "might be" a connection to our families. We have been doing this for about 8 years. Some pictures are "ours" others are not, but it may have the right surname. Since I don't delete these digital pictures, I have kept them on CD. Some are used, many are not, or not until now.

Now to the questions that were posted with GYR #37:

What Graveyard Rabbit site(s) do you run?

What I have, to date, tried to do is to post pictures of the headstones that I have taken over the past 8 years. At a glance, I have about 1,000 of them, may be more. The trick for me, was to figure out how to make my pictures interesting to others, IF a researcher stumbled onto my Blog.

What I try to do is to just post the picture and to have text on what the headstone says. I may be able to read it better, from the picture on the computer than can be read online. Only on occasion have I added any story about the individual. From my experience that got me started, I realized how much genealogical information might be on a headstone that might help others. To me, the telling of the story for that person is not mine to tell in my blog, it's for the researcher to tell.

What I have learned through blogging is the way to "connect the dots" to enable the researcher in finding stuff. I start with a cemetery, with as much basic information that I can find, including a picture. I want to be able to look at the cemetery and to be able to get to it. GPS information, if known, contact information, addresses, phone numbers, and links to any website for the cemetery.

Using the "Label" for the cemetery, any photos from that cemetery will be seen, blog entry by blog entry. I am trying to let the reader see who else might be buried there. Since the pictures are just of those I have taken, I realized that Find-A-Grave was another resource for cemetery information. Links to that cemetery in Find-A-Grave is included in the cemetery listing.

Coming to the blog, folks may be looking for a surname. I have listed the surnames, again with the use of a "Label". So, looking for a specific surname, again limited to my pictures, the researcher can see in what other cemeteries that surname might be found.

In my example of where I started, I found the same family in another cemetery about 5 miles down the road. This second cemetery is where I found my friend's father and mother. The blog entries for this surname can be seen using the Surname Label.

What first interested you in joining the GYR Association?

Some encouragement from the founders of this association. What a great resource. Another place to do genealogy research.

Do your family members think you are a “little off center” with respect to your cemetery obsession?

I am always a "little off center", but since my wife and I have the same obsession, it has given us an excuse to get outside (no matter the weather) and get some fresh air.

Which situation evokes an immediate response of “Oh! Oh! Stop the car!”- you spy a yard sale in the distance- you notice a cemetery from 1/4 mile away- you see a sexy man on the side of the road- from afar you spy Elvis with your eye

A "Cemetery ahead" will stop the car. I don't have to do that. Only wish that my GPS would warn me "cemetery on the right in one mile". I only visit Elvis at my daughter's annual family picnic. (but that's another story).

What advice do you have for anyone considering joining GYR and creating their own GYR-affiliated blog?

Just do it. You never know what you may find for yourself and for others. The GYR Association may also have information that you are looking for. For me, the GYR association has taken me on a little different direction. At first, I thought that the GYR might take away from other types of websites, but for me, it's adding to the tools that a genealogist might already be using. Since I already have these photographs, have them in a format to "go online", I have become a contributor to Find-A-Grave. I had joined that website a number of years ago, didn't find it of much use, at the time, but had it in my list of Tools, as a researcher, so I returned to it. So, I now double post my pictures.

This created another problem for me. Who have I posted and where? I figured out how to do this and blogged about what I do in this effort. I now am in the process of cataloging all of the Headstone pictures that I have on Disk, and am using that to post on my Tombstone Tuesday Blog and Find-A-Grave. The "problem" with Find-A-Grave is that users of that website will request a picture to be taken. That's a good problem, as it give me an excuse to find a cemetery that I may not have visited before.

What advice would you have for would-be cemetery dogs?

Be respectful to the sacred ground that we are walking on.
Leave nothing behind, Take pictures.

How about photography; any advice there?

(Digital camera suggestion)Use shadows, change angles, take more than one picture from different angles, take pictures of the cemetery sign(s) so you know what cemetery the pictures were taken in. I use pictures to do the writing that I might have done in the past. Over time, I have found that pictures are more reliable then my handwriting. There have been times that the picture was clearer then I could see "up close and personal".

Anything I missed?

Learn a little about the various issues around headstones. What to do and what not to do. Take a little water and a small SOFT brush to clean off a headstone that you might take a picture of. Nothing in the water. I recently found a headstone that was created with sandstone. It is now almost un-readable. In another blog recently, the "stuff" used to clean the headstone had caused the headstone to not be readable.

Meet: JoLyn Daly, "The Mount Timpanogos Graveyard Rabbit"

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


What made you get involved with cemeteries?

As a kid, my family spent a lot of time with my grandmother visiting cemeteries in southern Idaho and northern Utah. She always told us the stories of the people who were buried there – those stories became our family traditions, just like visiting their graves. I always had a longing to know those people and walk the ground they walked.

As an adult, I got a job as a data entry clerk for a company that created geographic information systems for cemeteries. These were maps that had the data for each grave attached to the map. I took the original records from cemeteries and entered them into the database. I was hooked. It was fascinating to realize how much of a person’s story you could figure out just by reading their burial record. Sometimes I would get so caught up in the story – like the time I entered the burials for several children in one family who all died the same winter.

Since then, our family has gotten very involved in this cemetery work and we are doing many things with technology to help cemeteries preserve their records.

What was your most interesting visit to a cemetery?

It had to be when Diane, a GYR from California, visited me in Utah and I took her to the Salt Lake City Cemetery. We visited the graves of many prominent people and were having a good time. Then my car wouldn’t start – right in the middle of the cemetery. So we ordered pizza! It was a wonderful day and what a great memory!

Where is the Mount Timpanogos GYR located?

Mount Timpanogos is a beautiful mountain located in Utah about 45 minutes south of Salt Lake City. On my blog, you might find me writing about any cemetery that I can see from the top of Timp!

[Note from Sheri - JoLyn also has a great website called "Uphill Both Ways" that you really should check out]

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Meet: Brian Zalewski, "Graveyard Rabbit of Southeastern Wisconsin"

The fortieth in a series

featuring a member of

The Graveyard Rabbit Association


I usually get a lot of strange looks when doing research in local cemeteries. When I started my genealogy research in 1999, I was only19 years old. Most people didn't expect to see a young man walking around in a cemetery and probably thought I was up to no good. As I've become older, it's less noticeable, but I still assume I'm in the minority being only 29.

I became interested in genealogy research around the middle of 1999. My Grandpa, Richard Zalewski, had passed away in April of that year. It was about that time that my dad sent me an article from our local paper about a new website started by the Latter-Day Saints called (it was about how hard the site was hit on day one.) This sparked something in me. It made me realize that if I want to get the most out of my genealogy, I’d probably get a lot more information from the people that were still alive. Unfortunately, as the genealogy Gods laugh at me, one of my major brick walls is my Zalewski line, whom my Grandpa Zalewski would’ve probably been very helpful in researching.

I know that I've been interested in cemeteries and local history since I was a small boy growing up in Saukville, Wisconsin. Saukville is a small town about 25 miles north of Milwaukee in Ozaukee County. When my brothers and I were young, we used to make our way to Saukville Union Cemetery when it snowed to go sledding. Don't worry, we were never near any headstones or burials. We would sled down a clear hill at the front of the cemetery.

I didn't spend a lot of time at the cemetery back then, except to sled. As it was with every other child, we assumed there were ghosts there, so I stayed away. I didn't get to spend a lot of time in cemeteries until my genealogy research brought me there. I became very interested in the local history and all of the people that have come and gone and visiting cemeteries became one of the things I looked forward to. Now I enjoy visiting the ghosts.

I now live only a few miles from where I grew up. I'm very lucky that almost all of my ancestors settled in this area for the last few generations. This area has some of the most beautiful cemeteries that are nestled within huge, towering oak trees and rolling hills. I hope to preserve some of the history and stories behind these cemeteries with the help of this site and other sites such as Find-a-Grave. I enjoy reading all of the other Graveyard Rabbit blogs. Thanks for volunteering your time and thanks for welcoming me.

Graveyards of Southeastern Wisconsin -

Zalewski Family Genealogy -

Friday, May 29, 2009

Meet: Robin Inge, "Graveyard Rabbit of Wichita County, Texas"

The thirty ninth in a series
featuring a member of
The Graveyard Rabbit Association


My name is Robin and I was born April 27, 1969 in Denison, TX at Perrin Field Air Force Base to Donnie Ray and Kathy Jean Faleris Cordell. I am the oldest of three girls. At the age of 4 my parent’s divorced and my mother moved back to her home in St. Ignace, Michigan with her family and I stayed in Texas with my father. My father was a fireman at the time and since his work schedule consisted of 24 hr shifts we moved in with my great-grandparents Clarence and Alma Evans of Bell’s, TX.

As a little girl on a farm, life was always full of excitement for me. My great-grandmother taught me how to cook and she always kept me out of trouble. Which happened to be a full time chore. My grandfather worked a full time job at the lumber yard along with maintaining the farm. Every morning I would help my grandfather feed the livestock before going to school and then again repeat the chore in the evening when he came in from work. Chores that I tended to with my grandmother was also fun. We had a large garden on the side of the house full of wonderful goodies. So for our daily meals we would go out and pick corn, green beans, tomatos, potatos, squash or whatever she had planned for the meal that day.

Clarence and Alma(Clark) Evans, Bells, TX 1945

Because I grew up around a mainly “older” generation, my curiosity about family and “Where I Came From” just grew as I got older. Once I had my first son I began wondering about where my mom was. I had dabbled in searching but never got really involved. After my great-grandmother died and I got a little older, I realized the importance of knowing who and where and what. Therefore, I began asking questions and hunting for answers. I was fortunate enough to obtain photos from my grandfather before he passed away. Then after my own divorce I went back to college. One of my law classes was a Research Class and my instructor combines it and our Family Law Class into a project of creating a family tree for that semester. That was my first actual time to ever get involved in family searching. I was able to locate some information and managed to obtain a little bit and piece as time went by.

After 33 yrs apart

I moved to Wichita Falls in February 2007 and two weeks after I had moved I received a phone call during my lunch break from my grandmother. She had told me that my father had received a letter from a cousin searching for my sister and I. The cousin happened to be the daughter of my Mother’s sister. I was in total shock. For the first month after receiving the letter I stewed and wrote her a letter. I never sent it for fear of having to see my mom. However, I decided to finally sit down and write and let her know it was ok for her to call and write and to also let my mom know she had found us. In April of 2007 I received my first phone call from my cousin. The following night I received a call from my mom. During the conversations that follow my cousin and I talked every night and all my childhood memories became reality. During this time Rene and I began putting my family tree in order and all the puzzle pieces began falling into place. It was not until Christmas of 2008 that I began searching graveyards for information. I was working on a tree for a friend of mine and had discovered that some of the family was buried at a near by cemetery in Ringgold, TX. So we decided to make a trip that day and see what information we could find. That evening I spent putting all the pieces together and logging my information and ran across Find A Grave. While researching other family members discovered a bunch of missing pieces I had been searching for. While searching for other information decided to research the town that my grandmother had been buried in and had ran across a Genealogy Blog. WOW! I was totally amazed at the information I was running across. So I decided to explore more and while creating my own blog and researching other blog information I discovered “Graveyard Rabbit”. I became involved in volunteering for Find A Grave and one night while logging my findings decided I wanted to create my own Graveyard Rabbit. That night “ Graveyard Rabbit of Wichita County, Texas” was born.

This is the Marker that started my existence and curiosity in graveyard researching

It’s funny that I have become a graveyard hunter, because as a child I was terrified of dead people or graveyards. Since my first time grave hunting I have found sort of a peaceful experience about it. My youngest son and my daughter have even gotten involved and it has become something that we can spend time together doing. They are actually turning into be pretty good hunter’s.

Graveyard Rabbit in Training
Dustin Inge
“helping clear away weeks and debris”

Graveyard Rabbit in Training
Jami Inge
“Trying to rub a headstone that is almost unreadable”

At first they both thought I was crazy, but after spending the day at “Beaver Creek Cemetery” near Electra, Texas on Sunday they both have discovered why it is so important to preserve the history of these cemeteries and the information that we transcribe.

I am hoping by sharing the experience with my children and explaining to them the importance of what we do that they will help preserve a piece of history and help pass on the stories that we uncover. For now we will continue our hunt and hopefully save a piece of history for future generations to come.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Meet: Dorene Paul, "The Graveyard Rabbit of Sandusky Bay"

The thirty eighth in a series
featuring a member of
The Graveyard Rabbit Association


The Graveyard Rabbit of Sandusky Bay

Through my twenty four years as a Reference Assistant at the Sandusky Library, I have become very interested in genealogy and the local history of Sandusky and Erie County.
When I visit a cemetery, I am fascinated by the various family plots, the style of the tombstones, the tragic deaths of persons whose life was cut short, and I enjoy trying to find the “story” associated with the persons whose lives those tombstones represent. I am on the team that writes for the Sandusky History blog at Whenever my oldest grandson sees any cemetery, he says “My Gram Gram took me there.”

My husband, children, and two grandchildren are pictured here with me in Castalia, Ohio on the occasion of an extended family photo shoot that was a special project to honor my mother. I have six siblings and many nieces and nephews, and great nieces and nephews. Ever since I was a very young child, I have been interested in family history. My mother inherited two books of clippings from her grandmother, Mrs. Ada Steen Parker, and through the years we have both spent hours and hours looking through them, reading the obituaries, articles about church events, wedding showers, and learning more about our heritage.
Stop by the Graveyard Rabbit of Sandusky Bay at
to read about my family heritage, and to learn more about the residents of Sandusky and Erie County.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Meet: Johan Mathiesen, Author of "Blogging a Dead Horse"

The thirty seventh in a series
featuring a member of
The Graveyard Rabbit Association


I like to think of my cemetery work as a preemptive strike. I’m going to be planted at Lone Fir here in Stumptown; so, when you come on through, look for the “Mission Accomplished” epitaph, and you’ll find me. Okay, so maybe I won’t use that epitaph. The humor might be lost in a generation or two. Or in a year or two.

That aside, I should first thank Sheri for asking me to self-profile in public. What greater humiliation hath one person wrought? Here, people, excoriate me as you will.

Lacking access to a professional interviewer, I figured, heck, any question good enough for Sheri is good enough for me. I thought I’d just take the questions her interviewer asked her and run with them.

Without further ado, Thomas’s now-purloined questions:

What Graveyard Rabbit site(s) do you run?

Just good, ol’ Blogging a Dead Horse (BDH). And that’s a stretch. I’m not much of a single-tasker, much less a mutli-tasker. BDH grew as extension to my Flickr site, Dead Man Talking, which has 10,000 photos of 600+ cemeteries, mostly in Oregon and SW Washington. I had/have fantasies about compiling a guide book to local cemeteries, which was the original impetus for the photo-gathering. I’ve pretty much accomplished that on-line at Flickr.

But it’s hard to communicate words to anyone on Flickr, it’s really a photo-sharing site, so I began the blog as an outlet for the conceptual side of cemeteries, if you will. After 600 cemeteries and 10,000 photos, I’ve come to some conclusions about how they fit into the culture of the Oregon Territory, which my ego demands I share along with the pictures.

Also, I’m a perpetual student at Two-Lane University and my interest in cemeteries is an outgrowth of my wife’s and my penchant for cruising the roads on which one is least likely to run across another car. Oregon’s a good state for that.

I just got carried away.

What first interested you in joining the GYR Association?

I was asked by a Flickr friend. When asked, I had no idea who they (the GYR folk) were, and probably still don’t. More than anything, I liked the feel of the term “Graveyard Rabbit,” though, truth to tell, I’ve always referred to myself—and continue to do so—as a cemetery dog.

Did you always have a fascination with cemeteries? Or did this develop out of your genealogy work?

Well, Tom, I’m glad you asked me that, because—again, truth to tell (what kind of interrogation is this, anyway?)—I don’t do genealogy work. I like a good story as well as the next person; and I appreciate the desire to know where all ones relative are, alive or dead; but I don’t have a lot of interest in where your Aunt Lucy is buried. No offense, you understand. (Even though I do think Lucy was a bit snitty.)

I did go though my own personal phase of tracking down my genealogy, but that was a long time ago. The best I got out of it was a rough ability to read Norwegian so that I could translate a 72 page memoir that my great-grandfather had written covering seafaring from 1840 to 1910 or so. I read that with an eye towards finding out more family history. That didn’t pan out, but the reading was amazing otherwise. And now I can say things like “Tusen tak,” (thanks a bundle) and “Ha det bra” (have a nice day).

As it is, I’m a fish out of water in GYR, but I’ve run across some fun blogs in there and some interesting people. Genealogists and I worry the same turf and I can only hope that my approach to cemeteries might give some of them another way to look at the sod they’re treading upon.

Boxers or briefs?

I’ll be brief; I won’t fight.

Do your family members think you are a “little off center” with respect to your cemetery obsession?

It bothers our kids some, but my wife participates along with me, so there’s no flack there.

Friends are generally open to my predilection, if they don’t embrace it fully. I think I’ve gotten some of them to be more inclined to visit cemeteries, when they get the chance. They go out of their way to get cemetery shots for me, now.

I did expect a more positive response from the lay population, so to speak, but it’s not the first time that I’ve misjudged the popular sentiment; nor is it the first time of being ahead of the curve. I’m a touch older than the Boomers, but they’re coming up behind fast. Maybe there’ll be a market for a cemetery guide someday after all.

I’m pretty convinced that the golden days of cemeteries are yet to come. In fact, we’re entering them now. There will be all sorts of new technologies and new visions, but I expect nothing will fully replace stone for an everlasting (in a manner of speaking) memorial. Let New Orleans lead the way.

Make sure there’s a band at my funeral, and let no ones feet touch the ground. It’s going to be a happy day when they finally get me out of the way. Time to, by God, celebrate!

Which situation evokes an immediate response of “Oh! Oh! Stop the car!”
- you spy a yard sale in the distance
- you notice a cemetery from 1⁄4 mile away
- you see a sexy man on the side of the road
- from afar you spy Elvis with your eye

- I try and not be overly acquisitive, so garage sales don’t often catch my eye. Although, on occasion…

- Oh, sure. Any old cemetery is fine with me. And any old distance.

- He’s got to be really sexy. And it’s best if he’s dead.

- What else would I spy him with?

Paper or plastic?

You know, I’m in a quandary about that. Paper is easily recyclable, but it uses up precious growing space; whereas I’m not too concerned about running out of oil. It was a temporary solution, anyway. Oil, that is.

What advice do you have for anyone considering joining GYR and creating their own GYR-affiliated blog?

None whatsoever. There’s no point in having a blog, unless you have something to say. If you have something to say, the blog will figure itself out. What do you say and to whom do you say it? If you’ve got those things figured out, you’re halfway home. The rest is just technical stuff. If you’re having trouble with that, that’s what kids are for.

There are good reasons why genealogists want to communicate with others of their kind, which point them in the direction of joining something like the GYR, but that’s beyond my ken. You’ll have to ask the others.

And now, as Paul Harvey would say, for the rest of the story: Questions Thomas would have asked had he known it was me and not Sheri he was interviewing.

What advice would you have for would-be cemetery dogs?

Not much of that either, because, if you’re already a cemetery fan, you’ve already figured out how they interest you; and, if you’re not already a cemetery fan, I have no idea why you’re reading this.

On the other hand, if you’re a genealogy rabbit who’s become interested in cemeteries in the grander scheme of things, the only real advice I have is go visit a lot of them. I certainly changed my interests after I started thoroughly searching out all the cemeteries I could find. For one thing, my main interest switched from old stuff to new. We don’t have very much old stuff out here, and what we do have is pretty cookie-cutter. The early settlers in Oregon weren’t particularly eschatologically sophisticated. Things picked up considerably by time the 1990s rolled around.

It doesn’t take long to figure out to avoid lawn cemeteries. What were they thinking?

The one solid piece of advice I have is to walk around the outside of the cemetery first; that’s where the new stuff is.

How about photography; any advice there?

I’m an entirely uneducated photographer who hasn’t spent much time thinking about photography as an art, though I appreciate a good picture as much as the next person. I’ve never taken a course in photography nor spent much time reading books or magazine devoted to the subject, so most of what I’ve learned has come from taking a lot of pictures and looking at the results. I think I’ve gotten marginally better through the years. I have spent a lot of time looking at architecture and design magazines, which has provided me with a foundation of what looks good and what doesn’t. Achieving the same has been another matter.

My goal as a photographer has been to show the memorial in the best possible light, so to speak, so that one pays attention to the object being photographed and not the photograph itself. I think of myself as taking pictures for an art history book, where the successful photographer disappears. If I’m successful, you’ll hardly register that you’re looking at a photograph.

I’ve learned to keep my reflection out of the picture, to eschew the full-on frontal, if necessary.

Get as close to your subject as possible. Closer. Shoot both full-on and detail shots of good markers.

The best piece of advice that I’ve read is to not have the horizon in the middle of the frame.

Either get down on the ground or raise your camera high above your head for better angles.

Take lots of pictures.

Anything I missed?

Four kids, five grandkids, one wife, one ex, and one student marriage.

One garden. One banjo.

I believe in Mother Nature, curiosity, and the power of love.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Meet: Jennifer Dyer, Author of "Cities of the Dead"

The thirty sixth in a series
featuring a member of
The Graveyard Rabbit Association


Cities of the Dead

I am a native New Orleanian who now resides in Hammond, Louisiana because Hurricane Katrina forced me to rethink about the safety of my family in New Orleans. I have been a student of history most of my life. I received my Bachelor's degree in Liberal Arts from Loyola University New Orleans with a focus on history and political science. I am currently pursuing my Master's degree in Public History at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond.

My website, New Orleans Ancestry, has a page dedicated to the cemeteries of New Orleans and a brief explanation of what you can do to help preserve them. This is a subject near and dear to my heart. Many of my ancestors are buried in the cemeteries. It can be heartbreaking to see these tombs crumbling. The historic cemeteries of New Orleans are taken for granted by tourists and locals. People do not realize how unique they really are. The above ground tombs are a testament to Creole culture that has built and rebuilt New Orleans many times. I am just getting started in my quest of preservation, but the more I learn and the more resources I find, the more I can do. I will continue to progress both on my website and on my blogs.

The history of this region, especially the New Orleans area, is a true love of mine both as a native and a student. It is a rich and captivating pursuit. In addition to my studies of colonial Louisiana, I have developed an avid interest in genealogy, anthropology, preservation, and archives. Over the years I have honed my skills as a researcher in all of the above subjects. I would love to share my experience with those who may not have the time or inclination to gather the information. I am a member of The Louisiana Historical Society, The Louisiana Genealogical and Historical Society and Save Our Cemeteries. I have attended countless lectures at the Historic New Orleans Collection as well as historical exhibits, shows and festivals in the region. I regularly use the majority of area libraries, museums and archives in pursuit of information. I use all of these resources to my benefit in order that I may increase my knowledge on all resources available and how to access and use them. As a student of history, I am always hungry for new information and eager to pour over previously found information. It is a never ending job and one which I love.
Please feel free to contact me at any time with any questions, concerns or comments.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Spread The Word – Part 2: Social Bookmarking Sites

Part 2 of the Spread the Word series will focus on social bookmarking sites.  We will focus on the four most popular sites and how you can add your blogs for greater exposure.

People are using social bookmarking sites for a variety of reasons.  Some simply like to share the things the find across the Web.  Others like to keep track of all of their bookmarks online for greater accessibility.  Others want to find new things, whether “stumbling upon” a random site or finding sites with a specific tag.

Because they are “social,” this means that the bookmarks are a collective from people around the world.  Search engines are great, but they don’t always pick up everything.  For us  genealogists and cemetery enthusiasts, search engines can be out friend, or our enemy.  We may find that very thing we are looking for, but many times, the things we need are buried among the search results.  Social bookmarking sites may help us (and others) to pick up those obscure sources we may not find via a search engine.

GYR are urged to take advantage of these tools by creating an account for each of these site and listing your GYR blog(s).  Help others find you!

This article will provide instructions to guide you through adding your blogs to these bookmarking sites.  The instructions are for manual entry, as not everyone wants to download and use the toolbars.


According to their website, Diigo is two services in one -- it is a research and collaborative research tool on the one hand, and a knowledge-sharing community and social content site on the other.”  This is a great tool to not only share your GYR blogs, but to use in genealogy and/or cemetery research.

Adding Your Blog to Diigo

When logged on, from your Dashboard, navigate to My Bookmarks.


On the right side of the screen, enter the URL in the Add a Bookmark box.


On the Add New Bookmark page, you can add a description and tags (i.e., categories/topics).  You can also add it to any lists you’ve created and share it with any groups you belong to.


There are many more features to Diigo, but this article is only covering how to add a bookmark.  For more information, please refer to Denise Olson’s articles GYR Group at Diigo: Building an Online Resource Directory and Group Support.


According to their website, “StumbleUpon helps you discover and share great websites.”  So take advantage and “share” your blogs!

Adding Your Blog to Stumble

When logged on, head to your Stumble home page.


Click on Site.

Enter the URL for your blog, then click the Post New Blog button.

You are then directed to a new page that lets you enter a review of the site and add tags (i.e., categories/topics).


For the review section, you can add a short description of your blog.  And be sure to add tags so others can find your blog in the Stumble search.


According to their website, “Digg is a place for people to discover and share content from anywhere on the web. From the biggest online destinations to the most obscure blog, Digg surfaces the best stuff as voted on by our users.”  Another great place to share your blogs!

Adding Your Blog to Digg

When you are logged in, choose the Submit New button in the top menu bar.


Enter the URL of your blog and choose “News Article.”  Then click Continue.


In Step 2 of the submission process, enter a title and description.  Then choose an icon (or select No Icon) and pick a category.  Once you have reviewed your submission, enter the CAPTCHA code to continue.


It will likely suggest possible duplicates.  Review the list, and if no one else has submitted it, then click on the button at the bottom of the list to continue.  Your blog is now submitted (a.k.a. dugg).

When you are perusing Digg or other GYR blogs, be sure to dig them too!


According to their website, “Delicious is a social bookmarking service that allows users to tag, save, manage and share web pages from a centralized source. With emphasis on the power of the community, Delicious greatly improves how people discover, remember and share on the Internet.”  It is very similar to Diigo, mentioned above.

Adding Your Blog to Delicious

When logged on, click on the Save a new bookmark button in the upper right side on the screen.


Enter the URL.


Enter any notes (perhaps a description of your blog) and tags (i.e., categories/topics).  Then save it.



So head on over to these sites and Spread the Word of your GYR blog through social bookmarking.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Meet: Jennifer J. Regan, "The Graveyard Rabbit of Contra Costa County"

The thirty fifth in a series
featuring a member of
The Graveyard Rabbit Association


Born in California, I am happy to be covering the county of Contra Costa for Graveyard Rabbits. Anything to expose the world to a different sort of old cemetery-those with thrilling bay views or buried in the sides of undulating, brown-grassed landscapes with cows grazing nearby!

The county I am covering is a broad and expansive one, once covering the entirety of Contra Costa proper, as well as the area of Alameda county. Primarily an agricultural, fishing and mining area for most of its history, Contra Costa historically boasted a diverse and eclectic population from all over the world. Welsh miners, Italian fishermen, homesteaders and dreamers from all over the globe settled in this area, which found economic stimulation from its shipping ports, natural resources, arable land and proximity to the metropolis of San Francisco, located about 35 miles SW.

I look forward to sharing a taste of our Western pioneer cemeteries with you. Posting may be irregular as I balance fun in the graveyard with the raising of my young son, but another visit to a cemetery is always on the calendar, so stay tuned and enjoy a glimpse into life after death, Cali style.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Meet: Greta Koehl, Author of 2 Graveyard Rabbit Blogs

The thirty fourth in a series

featuring a member of

The Graveyard Rabbit Association


I should have recognized all the signs and clues that genealogy and graveyard roaming were in my destiny. The fascination with family stories. The curiosity inspired by the names on a small family tree. The attraction my husband and I have to the peace, beauty, and stories to be found in graveyards. The love of solving puzzles, figuring out mysteries, and playing detective. Even the thrill I experience when deciphering a document in a foreign language with faint, nearly illegible handwriting should have given me a clue. But for so many years I was too thick-headed to realize what all of this meant. On top of that, as an adolescent and young adult I was probably “too full of myself”: the life experience and the perspective it brings were just not there.

The process of gaining this experience and perspective was finally put into motion by having children and the nonstop roller coaster of highs and lows, exhaustion, frustration, and hopeless love that children inspire. This prepared the ground, and when the seeds of a few chance ancestor discoveries were sown, I got totally and absolutely hooked on genealogy.

This brought me back to graveyards, and the realization hit me that these places I loved to visit “just because” now had an added attraction: They are great research resources, and the stories they have to tell are a piece of the larger puzzle of the lives of the people buried in them. I remembered the thrill I felt many years ago when visiting Tikhvin Cemetery in St. Petersburg (then Leningrad), where Dostoevsky, Tchaikovsky, Borodin, and Rimsky-Korsakov are buried, and Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow, where Chekhov, Bulgakov, Eisenstein, Gogol, Prokofiev, and Shostakovich are buried. Now the “celebrities” whose graves I wanted to visit were my ancestors. But I still have a full-time “day job” and children at home, and most of the ancestors’ graves I am aware of are more than a day trip away. Discovering Find-a-grave and then the genea-blogging world, including the Graveyard Rabbit Association, however, showed me that I could do locally what others do for the distant graveyards in which my ancestors are buried: research, photograph, catalog, and write about cemeteries (and most of all, have a good excuse to visit them). So when Terry Thornton asked me if I wanted to be a Graveyard Rabbit, the answer was an enthusiastic “Yes”.

My Graveyard Rabbit blogs are
The Graveyard Rabbit of Northern Virginia and The Graveyard Rabbit Afield, which is for graveyards I visit and photograph while traveling. Bad weather and an extremely busy work and family schedule have conspired to keep me from my weekend graveyard visits for the last month or so, but I am planning an outing this weekend (weather permitting) to the historic graveyard of the church for which my corner of Northern Virginia is named: the Falls Church. My genealogy blog, Greta’s Genealogy Blog, also occasionally strays into graveyard territory; a recent article on the Tinner Hill community in Falls Church touched on two of the local graveyards I am particularly interested in, which are associated with the Second Baptist Church of Falls Church and Galloway United Methodist Church.

A bit about my background: I was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in California and Texas, and went to college in Washington, D.C. and Boston, Massachusetts, where I majored in Russian and Slavic Studies. Languages are my other passion besides graveyards and genealogy. I have been married for 27 years to my husband, whose main interest is in history (another great side benefit of genealogy has been to draw our areas of interest even closer together) and is a great resource for me in my research, not to mention a frequent companion on my visits to graveyards. We have two daughters, neither of whom have I been able to get hooked on genealogy, yet, though they might have the beginnings of an interest in graveyards. We also have three cats who don’t care about genealogy or graveyards at all but provide us with endless hours of entertainment.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

New Article Available in the GYR Online Journal

Illinois War Memorials at Oak Ridge Cemetery

With Memorial Day (U.S.) right around the corner, I thought I’d highlight the Illinois war memorials located at Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Meet: Dave Weller, author of "Standing Stones"

The thirty third in a series

featuring a member of

The Graveyard Rabbit Association


I've been studying and documenting my family history for over ten years. My dad first got me interested. He had been corresponding with a cousin about our Voiland family. You see, our family name use to be "Voiland". The Voiland family emigrated from Essert, France and arrived at Castle Garden in 1857. They eventually made their way to Wisconsin and settled in Waupaca County. As the story goes, the family name changed to "Weller" when their children started school. Their German schoolteacher couldn't pronounce the French name "Voiland", and so it was changed to reflect the German pronunciation "Weller".

My dad was receiving a lot of information and really had no way of organizing it. I was interested in what he was doing and was given a copy of Family Tree Maker from my father-in-law, who was researching his family. This certainly made documenting a lot easier, and I was on my way!

I never visited cemeteries when I was younger. My grandparents all lived into their 80's and 90's, and we didn't live close to Wisconsin. In 2001, I was able to visit the Sacred Heart Cemetery in Manawa, WI. There, I saw the graves of my 2nd great grandparents, Joseph Voiland and his wife, Felicitée Marie (Sadie) Romond. They were the young newly married couple that had come from France in 1857. I think that's when it really hit me. I felt connected to them and began to realize that genealogy was much more than just collecting names and dates. The more I learned about their lives, and those of my other ancestors, the more I wanted to know.

Things have progressed a lot over the last year. I was laid off from my job in July of 2008. I've wondered if my passion for genealogy could eventually turn into a career. I also decided to join Facebook. The first thing I did was become "friends" with people also interested in genealogy. It's been fun following their genealogy-related activities and reading blogs about their ancestry.

I had been writing a non-genealogy blog and thought that blogging would be another great way to share my family history with others. So, this has led to my creation of two blogs, one of which is devoted to graveyards and tombstones related to my family. I'm currently trying to locate and photograph the graves of my direct ancestors, going back as far as possible. I feel it's very important to know were they all are. I've become involved with RAOGK and Find A Grave. I've greatly appreciated the help that many people, whom I've never met, have given me. It also feels wonderful to help others in their searches.

My wife and I live in Troy, Michigan with our three children. Our oldest daughter is will be a senior in college this fall. Our second daughter will be a college freshman, and our son is finishing up his freshman year in high school. I think what I enjoy the most about researching my ancestry is never knowing what surprises tomorrow will bring!

My family website:

StandingStones - my Graveyard Rabbit blog:

Tree Rings - my genealogy blog:

My Twitter name is "philbrick"