Neglected Cemeteries

One of the surest ways to find good genealogical data is to spend some time walking around in cemeteries, taking notes. Be it a large or small cemetery, you can usually bank on family members being buried next to or near each other. Oftentimes it is just a matter of connecting the dots.


I’m fortunate to have several ancestral family cemeteries that I can gather information from, and that most of them are still well kept and maintained – sometimes by a church, sometimes by family members still living in the area, and sometimes by the current landholder.


On a recent expedition I took with my Mom and cousin we decided to try to locate some family graves in southeastern Kentucky. Although we didn’t know exactly where they were buried, we knew the counties they had lived in based on census records, and Mom had written down the names of places she’d heard her parents speak about when she was a child. Armed with that information and a Delorme Topo map, the three of us set off for a weekend of cemetery sleuthing.


Not knowing exactly where we were headed, we stopped at a local general store and spoke to some of the old-timers sitting on benches outside. In a matter of minutes we had the locations of several cemeteries on our list and had made some new acquaintances.


We hit the jackpot in terms of finding the graves of our ancestors, and I took photos of all the headstones to transcribe when I got back home. Most of the cemeteries we visited were well maintained and a joy to walk around in, but one of them was in a serious state of neglect. Rather than try to describe this cemetery, have a look instead at these:

This cemetery is attached to a small church and is located on a hillside. The lower part of the cemetery is still well kept and tended, but the older section is located up the hill and is in an alarming state. I’m guessing that the church maybe doesn’t have the manpower to care for the entire area, so it does what it can to the lower section.


Sadly, our ancestors are all up on the hillside. Five generations.


I’ve written to the pastor of the church to find out what can be done about cleaning the cemetery and resetting the toppled markers. I’d like to make sure the cemetery is still there for future generations.


Published in: on October 6, 2008 at 9:22 am  Leave a Comment  

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