Virtual cemetery shares tombstone images online
Genealogists can now share images of the most permanent records available — tombstones — without traveling.
Virtual Cemetery (www.genealogy.com/vcem_welcome.html) is the first online tombstone archive that shares tombstone images of ancestors. Enthusiasts may post and browse tombstone images worldwide in this easy-to-search, free archive. Cemetery inscriptions are key to the genealogy research puzzle as the most permanent, inclusive, and accessible records available. Birth and death information is literally chiseled in stone.
Virtual Cemetery contains continuously updated, user-generated content that is unique and difficult to duplicate. Images are filed geographically, and include text transcribed from the tombstone. You can locate tombstone images by geographic location or by content.
Virtual Cemetery users may also use this service as an online memorial to loved ones.
Cemetery markers for veterans
Most veterans discharged under honorable conditions are eligible for a free marker. You’ll need proof of military service; the soldier’s name on a muster roll, a pension record, or extracts from state files. Federal or Confederate military service and pension records are in the national or state archives where the soldier enlisted. Confederate pension records are found in the state archives where a veteran applied for pension.
With proof of military service, you can ask Uncle Sam for one type of marker; (1) a monument for a soldier’s grave, (2) a memorial for a soldier whose remains aren’t recoverable, (3) a plaque for a soldier’s crypt. To order a plaque, an upright or flat monument, complete VA Form 40-1330: Application for Standard Government Monument, from Monument Services (42), Dept. of Veterans Affairs, 810 Vermont Ave NW, Washington DC 20420.
Markers weigh about 230 lbs and are shipped free of charge but do not include installation costs. All markers remain federal property. Anyone with knowledge of a deceased veteran may apply for a monument. Only next-of-kin may apply for a memorial. Applicants must certify there’s no privately placed marker already in place.
Cemetery central to reunion
Without plans for internment, Carolyn Sigler Schellang’s only sister Billie Linda Sigler Taylor died in 1995. Carolyn wanted to bury her sister in the Sigler Cemetery in Shelby County, Tennessee, on land donated in February 1870 by Littleton Smith Sigler and deeded to Sigler heirs.
Carolyn, of Pensacola, Florida, discovered that few family members even knew about the cemetery. She was dismayed by the overgrown weeds and broken headstones. Maintenance had become too much for family members who were trying to take care of it. She has since found and notified family about the cemetery and has resurrected a family reunion at the site. With money donated by “found” kin they’ve built a fence, a new concrete drive and installed a wrought iron half moon over the entrance with the Sigler name in it. She credits her cousin, Ray Sigler, and uncle, Joe Sigler, for their hard work and letting kin know their donations were spent only for cemetery care.
In honor of memories
by Virginia Coty/Jeffords
In 2000 my family rekindled an old tradition of family outings, something we had not done for quite some time. I remember when our immediate family, plus grandma, aunts, uncles and cousins got together at least every couple of months for a party, picnic or birthday. But as years have gone by, get-togethers have gotten further and further apart.
We faced a death in the family that in itself was not pleasant, but did provide a pleasurable outcome by bringing a large part of the family together. First for the funeral and then again for a special trip to a remote lake to spread the ashes. It was a memorable time spent fishing, talking, playing games and telling stories. Some memories weren’t warm and fuzzy, but were definitely scrapbook material. Mosquitoes swarmed us nearly the whole time. Our four-wheelers were stuck in muddy bogs for hours and we bounced up and down on hard trails reminiscent of buckboards and the old west. This trip is a memory we will hold dear in our hearts as we do the memory of our brother Walter.
About the author
Virginia Coty/Jeffords is a forty year resident of Fairbanks, Alaska. She’s a wife of 22 years and mother of three. She “loves the Lord, my family, friends, writing, computers and my digital camera.”
Chippiannock Cemetery: epitaphs brought to life
A special historical tour at Chippiannock Cemetery in Rock Island, Illinois, will be offered September 8, 2001. The tour, sponsored by the Rock Island Preservation Commission and Chippiannock Cemetery Heritage Foundation, features 14 historical Rock Island characters speaking lyrical vignettes, portraying interesting people buried at the cemetery. The tour highlights unique landscape and funerary art of the 146 year-old cemetery which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Thespians tell stories of Rock Island’s famous sons and daughters in glowing detail complete with costumes and an occasional prop. Past epitaphs have featured merchants, bankers, inventors, African American Civil War heroes, exemplary women, early race car drivers, winning boxers, pioneers, famous brewers and lumber barons and even a mass murderer. Contact Jill Doak, 309-732-2900 or the Quad Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau, 800-747-7800; www.visitquadcities.com.
Musings from “cemetery crawlers”
Flora/Tommi O’Hagan, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, commented on an earlier Reunions magazine feature about cemeteries. “We just returned from a wonderful visit to Cornwall, where we spent a morning in the churchyard of the parish our great-grandmother came from. Notepads in hand, Bob and I worked one side and my brother and his wife the other, focusing on names which appear in our family tree. As is often the case in old burial grounds, we were frustrated by not being able to read everything clearly. We have encountered similar problems in many cemeteries at home and abroad. A number of things seem to account for the problem, from the type of stone on which the inscription was etched, to lichen growing on the stones. I am curious about what one can do to clean markers to make them more readable – without destroying anything.”
This query inspires lots of answers and opinions, sometimes contradictory! Because gravestones are a non-renewable resource already subject to nature’s stresses, perhaps the best approach is the most conservative.
Of course, before trying any method of cleaning a headstone, check with the cemetery sexton.
O’Hagan reminds us, “Monuments add much to the portfolio of a family researcher, but should not be accepted as the most accurate source of information. For instance, the date of death on the stone should be compared with records that give the date of burial. Date of birth should be compared with christening records.”
Fran Carlson, Lafayette Hill, Pennsylvania, reported, “I went to Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn this past weekend to photograph some graves and verify relationships. The heavens opened and we were caught in a flash flood. I was amazed at the amount of water that can accumulate in a short time. The interesting thing is that each time I found a gravesite, my scream of joy to my husband was drowned out by a lightning bolt. The lightning came closer each time until — when I finally found my “special” grave — we got a double blast of jagged lightning immediately overhead. If I saw it in a movie I wouldn’t believe it. I think someone’s talking to me! Well, I’m listening.”