The Cemetery Crawl: Part 1

Tried and true family ancestry research in local cemeteries

This past weekend was a great time in the Portland, Oregon area walking through cemeteries with my boys and Mom.  What a great family event!  We met with my aunt on her farm and the boys stuffed themselves on raspberries and snap peas from her garden before heading to the first cemetery. 

Then on Saturday we headed south to the farther two cemeteries in Sweet Home and Lebanon, Oregon.  The historical society in Sweet Home was incredible and I really want to thank the ladies for all their help with research and the great book selection. And I got to meet a cousin who is now running the Gilliland Cemetery in Sweet Home.  What a wonderful guy and so helpful!  We made it back to Canby just in time to swing into the Depot Museum where I found a picture of my grandmother I've never seen.  Sweet!  We ended the day at yet another cemetery and pictures of the high school. 

Sunday found us at a small private cemetery in a community that is no longer, Fairfield, Oregon.  A big thanks to the neighbors who helped us with the directions to the place.  What a great little cemetery and I big thanks to the cemetery angles who are fixing it up.  They've repaired headstones and there is obvious care given to the cemetery.  My 4times great grandparents are buried there and I was able to glean new information from their headstones. Another score!

Research Tips

If you have a cemetery visit in your future here are a couple of things to keep in mind:

  1. Be kind and respectful to the people running the cemetery.  Their job is to care for the cemetery so you're interrupting their work when you ask for the location of 40 graves!  Be prepared and have your list organized so you can minimize the impacts to their schedule.
  2. If taking photos of headstones, be prepared to remove weeds and bird poop.  This could mean weeding gloves, water and paper towels.  But also be careful when cleaning the headstone because you don't want to damage it.  Remove all your trash.
  3. If taking photos using a digital camera, use a high resolution setting and capture in raw format as well as jpeg.  You'll need high resolution for printing in books and you can reduce the resolution later for uploading to websites.  Yes, that means 3 copies of the same picture but isn't that what external hard drives are for?
  4. And probably most importantly, say a little thank you to those who have departed and thank them for giving you life.  That really is the greatest gift...and you are breathing new life into them by remembering them as well.

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