Thursday, February 24, 2011

Meet Michelle Warren Grismer, Author of "Buried In A New World"

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


What Graveyard Rabbit site(s) do you run?

I run the blog “ Texas Immigrants.”  I chose the title and the headline “Buried in a new world”  because that is truly what immigration to Texas was.

“Texas Immigrants” will tell the stories of those brave enough to leave everything  they knew to find a new way of life for themselves and their families.

I will share the culture’s that have meshed together to build the communities and lives that created one of the most colorful states in the United States of America.

The blog will show the richness of language and traditions. In the end we must build from the knowledge of the  beginning .

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

Yes, I have always been fascinated with cemeteries and old pictures, and an affinity for the stories of old-timers.

I remember being in a cemetery with my mother at a very young age and looking at all the headstones and wondering what the people laying beneath were like?

My genealogy work just makes me more curious about the cultures that make the state of Texas so strong and interesting.

What first interested you in joining the Graveyard Rabbit Association?

I found the website through a blog I stumbled upon while researching genealogy.

I feel that as a writer I am more productive when I network with those that share my interest. I found each of the blogs in the association polished and thought provoking and motivated me to move forward and create my own.

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

My family is very supportive of my obsession with genealogy. They are grateful that I am sharing  my knowledge of our ancestry with them to take into their future to share with their  children.

If you could spend two days in Vegas or two days researching cemeteries with a genealogy expert which would you choose.

I would choose two days researching cemeteries with a genealogy expert.  There are many cemeteries in Texas that are in danger of disappearing altogether due to age, time and neglect.

 Many of those are full of some of the great pioneers and trailblazers whose dreams became the foundation for every courthouse and church in every tiny little town and every City in Texas.

What advice do you have for anyone considering joining the Graveyard Rabbit Association?

I would say joining your blog with GYR can really boost your readership and  the support is wonderful.

What advice would you have for would be cemetery rabbits?

I would say take it in small steps to be the most productive  in your research.

I like to sketch out my genealogy research so to speak.  By breaking it down in pieces, start with what you know of the person you are researching. Their careers, ethnicity, children, religion will guide you to the answers but try to work one subject at a time.

I do not waste time while researching online.  If I find a website that does not suit my needs, however they have referenced several books on the subject I  try to get my hands on the books, or their websites. Some great sources of information in smaller communities where you have a large ethnic population would be your funeral directors.

Librarians at the local library usually are the local historian or they know one.  Sometimes you can even get lucky and the library will have a historian on staff.

Churches can be a great source of information , many church records in Texas date back as far back as the late 1700s. Also in Texas there are many ranch churches where the ranch owner would build a church for the Hispanic Catholic ranch hands and housekeepers who were employed on the ranch.

Look for more blog posts about the lives of the people that came to Texas to live a dream and build a country.

New Post on the GYRabbit Online Journal

Calling ALL Bloggers!  (or want to be Bloggers!) It's time to check out the Graveyard Rabbit Online Journal for our latest issue!  Denise Olson shares with us Blog Bytes, an article all about ways to spice up your blog!!! 

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Meet Joy Neighbors, Author of "A Grave Interest"

The seventy seventh is a series
featuring a member of
The Graveyard Rabbit Association


What Graveyard Rabbit site(s) do you run?

A Grave InterestI post on Tuesdays and Fridays each week.  I sat down last weekend and made out my blog topic schedule for the next year and I’m excited about the subjects I’m going to cover.  They range from graveyard humor and epitaphs, to historical events and people, to specific cemetery customs, records and symbols.  My blog encompasses cemeteries, history and genealogy, all subjects I love!

Why did you start A Grave Interest?
I was in the broadcast media industry for 20 years where I did a lot of writing, reporting and announcing.  When my husband and I started a winery ten years ago, I did the marketing and worked with the media there. Several papers and wine publications asked me to write articles for them, and I did a lot of public speaking.  Then, last year, I had an epiphany birthday and thought, “What would I absolutely love to be doing from now on?  What would I look forward to being a part of each day?”  And that answer was to write and speak about my favorite subjects and to share and discuss them with others. Hence, A Grave Interest, a blog about cemeteries, genealogy and history.  It’s all my favorites, rolled into one arena.  (And, of course, I would love to speak on cemeteries.  According to my husband, I’ve never met a stage or a microphone that I didn’t like! ; )

What first interested you in joining the GYR Association?
I’m big on research, finding the facts.  When I decided to start a cemetery blog, I did some investigation into what groups really took the subject and blogging seriously.  The Association of Graveyard Rabbits was at the top of the list.

Did you always have a fascination with cemeteries? Or did this develop out of your genealogy work
Both.  I started my genealogy in 2004 and my first hurdle was trying to locate the cemetery where my Great-Grandmother was buried.  I was a child when she died and I remembered the long drive out in the country to the cemetery, and the name Beatle, but I didn’t remember anything else.  It took some digging but I finally found the cemetery (Beadle) in a different county.
But I have always been enamored with cemeteries.  To me, they are the outside museums of art and history.

Do your family and friends think you are a “little off center” with respect to your cemetery obsession?
Thankfully, my husband, Brian shares this obsession with me.  We’ve always been ‘that strange couple’ that will take a picnic basket to whatever cemetery we’re near, even when we’re traveling, and spend the afternoon wandering the grounds and taking pictures.  I love being outside and I’m fascinated with the sculpture, the symbols, the mausoleums, and the romantic sentiment of a cemetery. 

What advice do you have for anyone considering joining GYR and creating their own GYR-affiliated blog?
If you want it and can commit to a blog, then definitely go for it!   I love all aspects of creating this blog, going out to the cemeteries, doing the research, the writing, the photography, and meeting new people.  This is definitely my dream ‘career!’

What advice would you have for would-be cemetery rabbits?
Discover what you really love to write about and go with that.  If you’re really interested in burial customs, blog it!  If you’re more into shooting the stones, do it!  Just don’t do something because you think it’s the next big thing everyone will be interested in.  I’ve always believed that you have to love what you do, because people can tell.  If you’re going to blog, blog authentically.  Be you, share and have fun!  That’s what it’s all about.

How about photography; any advice there?
Now, with digital cameras, there’s absolutely no excuse not to take a camera to the cemetery.  You never know when the perfect – or ironic – or unbelievable picture will present itself to you.  And always take extra batteries.  I very seldom make it through a cemetery without my batteries going dead, even if I’ve started with fresh ones.  But that’s another story……

What’s the strangest thing that’s happened to you in a cemetery?
Like most tombstone tourists, I have several stories to tell. But the strangest one that’s happened recently involved, yes, batteries, and a tree.  Not just any tree.  One of those “tree of the dead” look-alikes.  Just think of the tree in Sleepy Hollow.  That’s the one!  Brian and I stopped to have lunch at this cemetery last December. Afterwards, we each grabbed our cameras and headed out to shoot.  I didn’t even notice the tree until suddenly it was there, in front of me.  It looked exactly like a Halloween cemetery tree should, complete with a headstone lodged in its roots.  I grabbed my camera, aimed and…it shut down. Completely!  No battery warning light, nothing.  Just dead.  I started to the car to get fresh batteries and accidentally hit the switch.  The camera came on.  No battery warning light.  It seemed fine.  I took a few shots on my way back to ‘the tree.’  When I aimed my camera – it went dead again.  I did this same routine two more times with the same results.  When Brian heard me telling this tree exactly what I thought of this performance, he came over and offered me his camera.  I was able to get three shots before it went dead too.  But at least I was able to get pictures of it.  I would love to know the story of who’s buried there and what they were like. It was definitely eerie!

Anything new planned for A Grave Interest in the coming months?
Yes!  I will be launching a podcast in the near future with interview segments and a chance to listen to the blog.  And I’m trying to get over 25 followers on A Grave Interest’s Facebook page so that I can start a webpage there.
Be sure to stay tuned, you never know where we’ll go next!
And, please keep the comments coming!  I love hearing from readers who share this wonderful pursuit of cemeteries because it has become A Grave Interest.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

New Article Available in the GYRabbit Online Journal

 Don't miss this week's installment of the GYRabbit Online Journal!  Kim Zunino, of the Lowell Historic Board, shares with us an intriguing story that crosses cultures and oceans as it relates to a literary giant. Check it out!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Meet Jennifer Bawden, Author of "Dancing in the Gardens of Those Gone Before"

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


I'm so honored to be asked by Sheri Fenley to have my blog featured here.

My interest in cemeteries began very young.  My parents and I would go for drives on Sunday in the nearby Land Between the Lakes.  What cemeteries hadn't been moved with the building of the dams on the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers remained a remind of life during a long forgotten time.  We'd pack a lunch and visit these old cemeteries as well as the abandoned homesites in the area.  My interest was further sparked when visiting old family cemeteries in Iowa and Illinois.

I started working on my adoptive family's genealogy in 1990. This seed was planted by the family story that one branch was descended from John Howland on the Mayflower.  That wasn't true, it was his brother, but I digress.... Two years later, I was reunited with my birth family.  When I drove to East Kentucky to meet them, it was like "coming home".  I'd had a pull to the Appalachian Mountains all my life and suddenly, it all made sense.  As I worked on my birth family's genealogy, I found even more reasons why it made sense.  My family was woven in and out of the counties there since before Kentucky even was a state.  They'd come in from Virginia, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

I was on the bandwagon in the early days of KYGenWeb.  I originally hosted several counties, eventually settling down on a few.  Offline issues had to take me away from hosting them, but genealogy and cemeteries always held my heart.  I am now working with the Estill County Genealogical and Historical Society on their website. I'm also working on my own, which is a constant pain as I keep changing how I want to do things!

My favorite place in the world is the Hoover Cemetery, located on Barnes Mountain in Estill County, Kentucky.  This old family cemetery has at least 200 graves, quite a few of them unmarked.  Located on a ridge behind the old family home place, it holds the remains of 5 generations of my family as well as their friends.  Sitting under one of the few trees on a warm summer's day, it doesn't take much imagination to hear the ancestors speaking to you.

I've had several occurrences of "genealogy serendipity" in that area and can't help but wonder if the Old Ones are helping me with my journey.

Come visit my blog and learn more about the cemeteries in that part of the country.

Graveyard Rabbit Carnival - February 2011


I'd like to thank everyone for being so patient in waiting for the Carnival to post. As many of you know, I have recently had a death in the family that has occupied a great deal of my time. Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers. You are a wonderful group of people. -fM

The topic for the February 2011 edition of the Graveyard Rabbits Carnival is: The Oldest Stone. This topic was submitted by the Association. So sit back, let's see what the Rabbits have chosen!

Gale Wall presents Oldest Tombstone posted at Digital Cemetery Walk, saying, "I finally had the opportunity to visit a few cemeteries in the Northeast last summer and see some of the old tombstones. Here are three old ones from my cemetery walk at the Old Dutch Burying Ground of Sleepy Hollow. A must see for your bucket list!"

Henk van Kampen presents How long have they been there posted at The graveyard rabbit of Utrecht and Het Gooi, saying, "The oldest tomb with a known occupant that I have encountered during my rabbit travels is almost 700 years old: The tomb of Guy of Avesnes, who died in 1317."

Tammi Thiele presents How long have they been there? - Graveyard Rabbit Carnival Submission posted at Escape to the Silent Cities, saying, "A few of the oldest stones I have photographed."

Julie Goucher presents Isle of Bute, Scotland posted at Grave Encounters, saying, "Hogs back tombstone, is actually a Viking Settler tombstone on the isle of Bute Scotland.Dates from the 10th Century."
Carol Stevens, The Oldest Stone posted at Reflections From The Fence, saying, "This cemetery was originally in Swansea, Massachusetts and now is in Warren, Rhode Island."

That concludes this edition! Thank you to all the contributors. And while you're here, take a look at past carnivals, there's so much interesting information to be found when you explore cemeteries with a Graveyard Rabbit:

Thursday, February 10, 2011

New Photo Monument Article Available In The GYRabbit Online Journal

This week in the Photo Monument column Gale Wall defines a Photo Essay. Do you know what one is?

Hop on over to the GYR Online Journal and learn something new?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Welcome New Rabbit Wrangler

Please welcome Robin Simonton as the new Managing Editor of the Graveyard Rabbit Online Journal. Robin is going to be a fantastic addition to the GYRabbit family.


She’s hit the ground running and is a joy to work with, as I’m sure you’ll soon find out for yourself.

You can reach Robin at the following email and enjoy her writing on the GYRabbbit of the Triangle N.C.

Robin Simonton is a cemetery enthusiast who lives in Durham, NC. A native of a Chicago suburb, she’s been exploring cemeteries since she was a kid. Robin has a BA in History from the University of Hawaii and an MA in Historical Administration from Eastern Illinois University. A wide array of cemetery experiences , Robin was a researcher on the book Oahu Cemetery: Burial Ground & Historic Site and also studied funeral and burial customs in the Illinois Amish Community. Currently, she’s on the management team of a local youth nonprofit and in her free time she serves as a docent at Oakwood Cemetery in Raleigh.

Welcome Robin on behalf of The Association Of Graveyard Rabbits!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

WANTED - Rabbit Wrangler!

Yes, The Graveyard Rabbits are looking for a new Editor for the Graveyard Rabbit Online Journal.

And, you're in luck! Gale Wall, the retiring editor, has left the journal in excellent order. Assignments for 2011 have been made through the entire year absent one week in December.

The Editor makes the assignments, pokes the author when articles are due, compiles the articles and posts to the Journal once a week. It is a great opportunity to meet and interact with the rabbits one on one and to give back to the community we all love.

Do you think you can wrangle rabbits? Contact the footnotemaven at And don't let the graphic fool you, we'd love to see the men of our Association volunteer.

Saying Good-bye!

The Association has just received the resignation of our Graveyard Rabbit Journal Editor Gale Wall. Gale has done a superb job of wrangling rabbit authors and publishing the online journal. We Rabbits can not thank her enough!

In her resignation Gale cites the many activities and hobbies, including being the online editor for the GYR Association, that are capturing so much of her time and for her need to pare down some of those activities. She says, "Life and health demands change, even when we don't want it or like it. A good change I'm looking forward to is my son returning home from Afghanistan, hopefully in April."

Gale will continue as the author of the Photo Monument column in the Journal and her Graveyard Rabbit Blog, Digital Cemetery Walk. Thank you Gale, for all your hard work. Enjoy the time with your son, family and health are the most important things.

I'm sure all the Rabbits join me in thanking Gale for a job well done.