Tips for MakingIt Easier to
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From: "Tara D. Fields" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 26 Oct 2002, 11:35:25 AM
Subject: Re: [GA-CEM] How to Survey a Cemetery
Hi there. I wanted to pass on some times I've learnedover the years. I have been surveying cemeteries in 3 counties forabout 7 years or so. I've marked down at least 10,000 graves so far. I would very much like to share what I have learned.
I use "S.A." for Still Alive. That way visitorsknow that there is a stone out there, but the owner isn't dead yet (mostcommon when only one spouse is dead).Miscellaneous Tips
USA = United States Army
KIA = Killed In Action
USMC = United States Marine Corps
USCG = United States Coast Guard
USN = United States Navy
USAF = United States Air Force
m1, m2, etc = First Marriage, Second Marriage, etc.
- With multiple markers, family, military, etc., sometimesthe dates differ, so be extra careful and note any differences.
- If you find that the information on the stone differs fromwhat may be remembered by family or by what is recorded, make a notation,write it in a different color, etc. This information can be addedto web pages, databases, etc. in a separate column so that researchersget both sets of information.
- KEEP ALL ORIGINAL SURVEYS! This can be helpful if someoneasks to prove you surveyed a cemetery and didn't just copy someone else'swork.
- If a stone is hard to read or if there is only a funeralhome marker, note its location in relationship to other graves around it--tothe left of Joe Smith, behind John Doe, etc. When the marker is gone,you will be able to pinpoint the grave AND prove that it is there.
- When photographing stones, often there will be mold, etc.,growing on the stone's surface making it almost illegible. To makethe words stand out, use the flat side of a piece of chalk or dust it withflour to whiten the surface, leaving the dirt, mold etc., inside the lettersfor a good and very legible contrast. In a pinch, cornstarch workswell in place of flour or chalk. I have always used flour.
Surveying Bag Contents
My only "surveying" bag contains the following (I keepthis stuff in my trunk at all times in a good backpack):
01. Bag of flour.In addition, my sturdy belt carries the following (my husbandcalls it my "Batman Utility Belt"):
02. Baby wipes (for cleaning up your hands!)
03. Toilet paper for obvious reasons.
04. Plenty of extra drinking water (bottleor canteen with a strap so I can carry it out of the way).
05. Comfortable clothes with plenty of pockets.It's a pain to run back and forth to the car.
06. Bug spray.
07. Clipboard (if someone else has alreadydone a survey, you can print it out, carry it along, and make correctionsand additions to the original. Done this way, you will make lessof your own mistakes). My clipboard is the commercial type that opensup to hold extra paper, pens, etc.
08. Hat (I am in southeast Georgia, afterall!) or ski cap for cold.
09. First aid products such as band aids,small bottle of hydrogen peroxide, antibiotic ointment, chapstick, stingrelief in case of bee or wasp stings, etc.--think through what you mightneed and add it to your kit.
10. Poncho for drizzly or rainy weather.
11. Cough drops/throat lozenges.
12. Lunch kit--nutrition bars, trail mix,dried fruit, etc.--generally things that will keep.
1. Cell phone for emergencies.Seems like a lot, but it really doesn't add much weight. A good fanny pack can carry a lot of this stuff.
2. Digital camera and extra batteries.
3. Machete if working in the woods.
4. GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) tool.
5. Tape recorder and extra batteries/tapes.
6. Small towel to wipe off sweat in hotweather!
7. Gloves in the winter. If my hands arecold I can hardly read my own writing!
8. Pepper spray in case of dog, bad guys,etc.
9. Extra car key (lock yourself out onceand you'll never forget this one again!).
- Surveys really are best if completed the same day. Largecemeteries, of course, generally can't follow that advice. If you muststop, mark your leaving off place VERY clearly. Graves can be missedif you don't remember exactly where you left off.
- If you bring a sack lunch instead of using your dried foods,keep the lunch in the car--if stray animals do come around, they may goafter you for your sandwich. I sometimes bring dog biscuits withme just in case. A dog treat can make a friend out of a hungry dogand maybe save you from aggression. Sometimes it won't work--youhave to make your own choice on this one. I don't handle stray dogs--ifthey want a treat, I toss it at them to keep the distance between us. Don't turn your back on them or run from them--their natural instinct isto chase. With a firm voice, tell them "No!" if they come too close. Pound your feet if need be. If you act fearful, they will pick upon that. If the dog doesn't leave, walk calmly to your car (keepinghim in visual contact). Save the survey for another day andcall animal control to pick the animal up.
- When I surveyed the largest local cemetery (about 2500 graves),I printed out the last survey the local historical society conducted. It was about 50 years old. I printed it in alphabetical order bylast name then first name. As this document was about 30-40 pageslong, it would be awkward to look for a name, even alphabetically. So I added tabs down the sides of the document listing "A" "B", etc. Thisway when I'm looking for John Smith, I don't have to thumb through thedocument--I just find that tab.
- I have a column to check off the name, note location, additionalinformation, etc. This cemetery took me two weeks to finish. At night I would update my database and print out only those graves I hadyet to survey. This would reduce my paper work by several pages aday. By the end of the survey I was working with only 3-4 pages leftfrom the original survey. This greatly increased my speed!
- For location, since there were no regular rows or plat information,I broke up the cemetery into four parts: North West (NW), South West (SW),North East (NE), South East (SE). If people used my survey, theycould at least narrow their search to a corner. I used natural landmarks to break up the cemetery--old section, new section, black, white,dirt roads, etc.
I STRONGLY urge the use of a database to keep track of information. I use Microsoft Access. If anyone wants a blank copy of this database(columns created, no data entered), I'd be happy to make it available.
- It is soooooo much easier to customize this data when ina database. You can print it out by name, by date, by location--prettymuch any way you can think of. This is nice if you are going to sharethe data. If someone only wants the SMITHS, you just print those.
- In my database, I have numbered the cemeteries 1 through(whatever). I don't waste room adding in a long cemetery name. OakGrove is #112. I have a separate table listing the cemeteries and theirnumber (as well as location, date surveyed, etc.) This will makethe database file-size smaller and allows me to put ALL of the surveyedinformation into one table, instead of one table per cemetery. Ican run a query that will allow me to see the result from only one cemetery,five of them, or all of them. This also made it easier when I putmy database on-line.
Sorry for running my mouth (fingers). If some of this isn'tclear, feel free to ask me about it via the list or personally.
- You can search my database, from my web site, by severaldifferent criteria. The information is not static like many surveys areonce they are on the web. If I make additions to my database, I don'tchange the web pages at all. I simply upload the new database tomy web site. The pages are made "on the fly"--this saves me a lot of time. (The program I used for that is Cold Fusion--you don't have to have itto see the data on my web site.)
Free Genealogy and History of Camden and Charlton Counties,GA