The seventy ninth in a series
featuring a member of the
Graveyard Rabbit Association
I’ve always been history buff. It was my favorite subject when I was a kid in school. But it wasn’t until my dad casually mentioned that my aunt has visited their birth father’s grave that I became interested in my own history. I’ve heard this man’s name only a handful of times in my life. But who was he? What was his life like? What began as a simple curiosity has now turned into one of my greatest passions in life: genealogy.
And so I began researching my dad’s paternal side. A few months into my research, I received a picture of my grandfather’s gravestone; it is a simple flat stone on which is carved:
WILLIAM R. VAN SICKLE
WORLD WAR II
JUNE 19 1916
DEC 5 1948
I didn’t know that my grandfather had been in the Second World War. It turned out that dad was also unaware of this fact. It was in that moment that I realized there is a lot to be learned from cemetery research.
My own family research has dried up over the years, but unwilling to give up my passion, I’ve turned it into a way of helping others. I’ve seen a lot of gravestones over the years and I’ve discovered that cemeteries often provide a bit of personal information about an individual or a family that often does not exist in other genealogical records. I’ve found out information like whether or not a person was religious, had a sense of humor (I’ve seen some, dare I say, fun gravestones), if a family had experienced a great deal of loss, and the relative wealth of a person or family compared to others in the area. This kind of information helps paint a picture of a person and their family. More than just providing a name and a couple of dates, gravestones are a way of saying, “I was here and my life mattered.”
I want to take this opportunity to thank Sheri for welcoming me and kindly offering to feature my blog. I hope I do you and the other Rabbits proud.