CYNDI BEANE HENRY
Greenbrier Valley Graveyards
What sparked your interest in cemeteries?
I first became interested in cemeteries when I was about 8 or 10 years old. As far back as I can remember, my Mother used to visit them. Some of my earliest recollections are of walking the cemeteries and holding onto her hand. However, it wasn’t until I was at that age when I finally asked “Why do we have to come here?” [in a pre-teen’s whiny voice] that she also sparked my interest! “We come here to learn about our past,” is what she told me. I didn’t understand at first. But then she explained it was our ancestors that lay in the graves. And that each and every grave, be it one of our ancestors or not, told a story. The story of the life behind the stone. And that’s what became my passion. The story behind the stone.
Do you have a favorite cemetery or headstone and why is it your favorite.
My favorite cemetery is probably The Bean Family Cemetery near Waiteville in Monroe County. It is where my great-great-grandparents are buried. Most of the graves were marked with limestone markers [which have disintegrated] or with unmarked rocks. We know there are over 30 graves there, but not a single one can tell us who lays where. A few years back, we put up a granite stone commemorating my great-grandparents burial there. We had to place it in the middle of all the graves, as no one knows where they are actually buried. The cemetery itself, once lying on the edge of a field, is now in the forest, with trees actually growing through the graves. It’s a sad, neglected place. And yet, I feel it holds so many answers to the mysteries of our family, that I can’t seem to unlock!
How does your family feel about your interest in cemeteries?
Most of my family understands my interest in cemeteries. And some even share it! Especially my hubby! He’s the one who gets dragged along when I go “rabbitting” and snapping up photos of the stones! Some of my children [who are all grown] think I’m a bit odd because I do this, but then, I’ve been doing it their whole lives!
Why did you become a GYR?
I chose to become a Graveyard Rabbit because I have so enjoyed reading other GYR blogs over the past couple of years! It’s almost as good as being there! Feeling the soft loam beneath your shoes, and the scent of a spring rain, is all that is lacking!
For all the would be rabbits - how about some words of encouragement to become a rabbit.
I think the best advice I could give someone who would like to become a GYR is just to get out there! Start walking those cemeteries. And to go prepared. I take along a notebook and pen, my camera with extra SDI cards and batteries, a cell phone, bottled water and a power bar, and wear good sturdy walking shoes. In summer, be sure to wear sun-screen and take along a hat or umbrella. You can print off free cemetery logs from the internet, and these will help you to understand what information you need to record to be able to find the same stone again at a later visit. Be sure to transcribe the stone while you are in front of it! Don’t count on being able to read it from your photographs! And last, be ready to share!!! The genealogy community at large will be so thankful that you did!