I have had a number of folks help with my genealogical research by taking cemetery photographs, looking up my surnames in city directories at their local library and adding records to places like usgenweb, fultonhistory.com and Family Search.
Since I have gotten so much free information from these kind people I try to give back a few hours a week.
Today my (very patient) husband and I printed out some local gravestone photo requests from FindAGrave.com. The first cemetery was called the Dolloff Hill Road Cemetery and we were looking for graves with, you guessed it, the surname Dolloff. It took us awhile to find, we stopped to ask a guy working in his front yard for directions – Dolloff Hill Road is a dirt road that goes up through wooded marshland for about a mile. We finally found it! In the middle of nowhere, a cemetery surrounded by a simple white fence appeared in the woods. There were about 30 gravestones, but no Dolloff’s. [UPDATE! April 2016 – we were at the Drew Family Cemetery – which explains why the were no Dolloff’s! Thank you reader Nancy R. for the clarification]
I took a few photos and transcribed some of the other gravestones until the horseflies chased us back to the car.
The second cemetery was called “Conway Village Cemetery”. Mapquest listed it on Route 302 near Mill Street. The FindAGrave poster listed a location of “Row 1, Block 11”, so we thought this one would be easy! He listed 7 members of the Willey family all deceased in 1826. I was curious about the fate of this poor family.
We wandered around for a bit and then found a “Cemetery Quest” brochure created by the Center Conway Pine Tree Elementary School which called the cemetery “Center Conway Cemetery”. Perhaps we had the wrong place!
Anyway, the brochure was a great find. I googled it when I got home. Here’s the link: http://users.ncia.net/~pgetch/
I then googled “history of the year 1826 in Conway, NH” to see if there might have been an epidemic or a disaster. I found that 1826 was the year of the Willey slide disaster in Crawford Notch, NH. This family, who were innkeepers, left their home to avoid the danger of mud slides. In a tragic twist of fate, the slide missed their home, but the Willeys’ found themselves directly in the path of the slide, and all seven family members and two hired hands were buried alive or flung into the river and drowned. This blog post offers the details: http://www.murderati.com/blog/2010/6/26/google-and-me-and-horace-fabyan-and-the-willeys.html.
A second article that mentions the tragic mudslide also states that Conway was sometimes called Dollofftown from the name of one of the early settlers – http://conway.lib.nh.us/index.php?page=early-history-of-conway
All of these things I wouldn’t have known about the area where I live if I hadn’t decided to help others find their roots.
But I digress, today’s blog is really about giving back. Here are some ideas. Feel free to suggest others!!
1. Volunteer to index on Family Search: http://www.familysearch.org/eng/indexing/frameset_indexing.asp Their sites says:
The key life events of billions of people are being preserved and shared through the efforts of people like you. Using our online indexing system, volunteers from around the world are able to quickly and easily transcribe the records—all from the convenience of their homes. The indexes are then posted for FREE at familysearch.org.
2. Volunteer to index at Ancestry’s World Archives Project: http://landing.ancestry.com/keyingtool/notify.aspx Their sites says:
For centuries, key moments in our family stories have been captured on fragile paper. These records are often all that’s left of ancestors’ lives – the only way we can learn more about them. Sadly, many of the world’s historical records are disappearing faster than we can archive them on our own. That’s why we’re creating the World Archives Project, to let anyone help preserve the contents of these valuable documents in indexes that will remain FREE to the public. As a participant, you’ll be the first to see new collections as you enter information into our database. You’ll also get the satisfaction of helping families better understand their unique, meaningful stories.
3. Become a RAOGK volunteer (Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness) – http://www.raogk.org/
4. Volunteer for the USGenWeb project in your area – http://usgenweb.org/volunteers/newvolunteer.shtml
5. Take a look at the various message boards and see if there is anyone you can help out!! I frequently will look for a random birth or death certificate on http://pilot.familysearch.org/recordsearch/start.html#start and then see if there are trees on ancestry.com that include that person. I then post a link to the birth certificate in the comment field!
One last comment on cemetery photos, I have learned the hard way!!
1. Do take an overall photo of the plot site, the surrounding area, and the sign at the cemetery entrance.
2. Do NOT try to take photos in direct sunlight (overcast days are best!)
3. Bring a squirt bottle filled with water. A bit of water on an old gravestone makes it more readable in the photo.
4. Bring a notebook and piece of paper to record all of the information on the gravestone. I have a great camera and lens and I shoot in RAW. I thought I would be able to go home and using Photoshop easily transcribe the information on the stones. No such luck! I found myself questioning my husband, “Do you think that says 1869 or 1889?” It’s much easier to tell while you are there with your face close to the stone, versus seeing it on film!!
5. Read this great post on http://www.ancestry.com/wiki/index.php?title=Graving&diff=11173&oldid=9143
That’s all for today! Have a great evening!!