Archive for the ‘Tombstone Tuesday’ Category

Tombstone Tuesday: Charles Jessop

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010


Charles Jessop was born 06 Nov 1759 and died 02 Apr 1828. He’s buried in the Jessop Family Cemetery near Phoenix, Baltimore County, MD. The image shown above is from Find A Grave Memorial# 29445078, added by James on August 31st, 2008. The Find A Grave entry gives the tombstone inscription as follows:

Sacred memory of Charles Jessop aged 68 died April 2 1828


The image above is a close-up of the marker that has been placed on his grave by the Fairfax County Chapter of the NSDAR.

Tombstone Tuesday and The Power of Genealogical Crowdsourcing

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010


Once in a while a blog post shows up in my feed reader or my Twitter-stream that is so well-crafted and uplifting that I feel compelled to share it. Michael Cassara’s “Easter, 2010” post is a perfect example.

A Paean to Find A Grave

Michael starts out by exploring the delights of Find A Grave. I’ve praised their site myself in previous posts, but Michael manages to craft a highly-nuanced view of what makes the site so cool. Here’s how he explains what I like to call “The Power of Genealogical Crowdsourcing”:

There’s a wonderful website called “Find A Grave”, which… is one of the most interesting and powerful concepts among digital genealogical repositories. The idea is, quite simply, to record information for all of the world’s cemeteries. It is a constantly-growing, user-driven compilation of information. One of the most useful features of Find A Grave, is that it lets the general public collaborate to build the largest shared database of burial information in the world…With this website, members of the community-at-large can pool their resources and knowledge for the better good – creating a stronger, searchable resource for everyone.

An Aside: How Else Could This Power Be Used?

What would happen if someone built something similar to Find A Grave, only for wills? Or vital records? Could a business be built around it, or would any serious attempt at monetization kill the volunteer / karma / pay-it-forward vibe that Michael describes so well? How would it (whether free, freemium or otherwise) affect existing subscription sites, assuming it grew to have traffic comparable to theirs?

Michael’s Take on Genealogical Serendipity

Even if he’d stopped with the quote above, this post would have been an automatic reblog / retweet. But it gets better! Michael describes his efforts to fulfill two cemetery photo requests from Find A Grave for Calvary Cemetery in Woodside, Queens. One he’s unable to track down, the other he’s successful on. As he turns to head home, he suddenly finds himself face to face with his great-grandfather’s grave:

Of my eight great grandparents, he’s the only one for whom I was never able to find a cemetery location. As a matter of fact, before I left the house today, I even searched through Find A Grave. I took a look for other Cassara listings – and I searched Calvary Cemetery, just to see if there were any occurrences of Cassara burials among the over 7,000 they have listed. None came up. I thought nothing of it, and moved on.

But here I was – shaking and awestruck – face to face with the headstone of my great-grandfather. Without his courage, our family would not be residing on this continent, let alone even be in existence. He led a hard life, with the hope that mine wouldn’t be as hard. And here he was, where he’s been for the last 60 years: 9 blocks from my apartment.

…there he was. There he is. Less than a minute’s walk from the headstone that I volunteered to photograph for a stranger from the internet.

It Could Happen to You

Many of us have had experiences similar to the one Michael so lovingly depicts here. Yet each such encounter represents something unique and important. Call it serendipity, call it “turning the hearts of the fathers”, call it karma, call it mere coincidence… whatever you’re comfortable with. My point is, this is why we do what we do. Why we spend untold (and told!) hours in front of microfilm readers, at county courthouses, and yes, walking amidst rows of tombstones. Because when we do, it somehow seems to matter to someone besides just us.

Tombstone Tuesday: Emily Lucretia Todd Fisk

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010


Emily Lucretia Todd Fisk was born 08 May 1783 and died 26 Mar 1815. She’s buried in the Gate Cemetery, Chesterfield, Hampshire County, Massachusetts. She and her husband Moses Fisk were parents of Moses Fisk, Jr., my third-great-grandfather.

The inscription reads:

Memory of
Mrs. Lucretia
Wife of
Mr. Moses Fisk died
March 26th 1815
in the 32nd year of her

This image was found on Find A Grave where it’s memorial # 44140944. It was uploaded by P.K. MacGruder on 09 Nov 2009.

Do You Have Lookup Providers for… Yemen?

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

yemenAt genealogy conferences, when I explain to people how our site works and how our lookup providers can help them find source documents , I often get questions like “Do you have anyone in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania?” or “Do you have anyone for Poland?”

I love it when I can respond “We sure do… and they’re great!” By contrast, it’s always disappointing to have to say “Nope, not yet… but if you can tell me what you need there I’ll try to track someone down for you.” Tonight I had both kinds of experiences.

Ahh… Networking. Gotta love it.

I attended a “shindig” put on by the ExcelerateLabs startup accelerator program that will be taking place here in Chicago this summer. We’ll be submitting our application shortly, and I thought it made sense to go and do the networking thing — i.e., meet a bunch of the other applicants and introduce myself to the people running the program. I’m basically useless at this kind of thing, which is why I keep making myself do it.

Thanks to an introduction from Geoff Domoracki of midVentures, I got the chance to talk to Nick Rosa, one of the co-founders of Sandbox Industries. (Sandbox is a key investor in ExcelerateLabs.)

One Out of Two — Not Bad

Nick quickly grasped what Genlighten’s about, and he asked if we had providers in a) Sicily and b) Minsk, Belarus. I had to answer “no” for Sicily (darn, still no providers for Italy!) But I knew we had at least one provider — RusGenProject — who could do lookups for Minsk. So I was batting .500 there. Elsewhere at the same event, though, I had a similar conversation with a much different ending.

“So, What’s Your Startup About?”

At an event like this, the default opening to a conversation with a stranger is basically “So, what’s your startup about?” I met a young Chicago Booth MBA student who answered “We’re going to create a new hot drink category — something in between coffee and tea.” I was impressed… her idea sounded promising.

Then it was her turn to ask the same of me. When I gave some variation of my usual reply (“We help you find genealogy documents that connect you with your ancestors”), she responded “That’s not going to work for me.” I figured she was probably from the Mideast somewhere, and that turned out to be true: Yemen. “You’re right,” I replied, “I don’t have any lookup providers there yet.” I’m pretty sure I emphasized the yet.

“We Don’t Have Records”

“Uh, no, you don’t get it,” she continued pleasantly, “In Yemen, we don’t have records. My parents don’t even know when they were born.” I probed further: what happens at birth? Or when someone needs a passport? She explained that most births in Yemen take place at home, not in hospitals. And when someone needs a document for an official purpose, they basically have to bribe a government official to create a fictitious record. I was floored. My mind reeled at the prospect of trying to perform genealogy research in a place for which few if any records exist.

Looking on FamilySearch, I see that the FHL Catalog lists a few books related to Yemen research, but not many. I’ve obviously got lots to learn before I’m going to be able carry through on our brand promise “genealogy documented” for a lot of the world’s non-Western populations.

Tombstone Tuesday: More Traffords

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

Last week I posted photos of Abraham Trafford’s and Basilea Harmer’s tombstones from the Old Rumson Burying Ground in Monmouth County, New Jersey. As it turns out, five of their children are buried in the same cemetery. I found photos of the tombstones for four of them on the USGenWeb site for Monmouth County.


Sarah Catherine, daughter of Abraham and Basilea Trafford born September 17, 1837 died May 27, 1859


My Husband Mason N. Trafford Died April 26, 1865 Aged 22 Years 6 months

Samuel Trafford

Samuel son of Abraham and Basilea Trafford Born August 16, 1848 Died August 26, 1860

Dr. Alfred F. Trafford Jan 17, 1852 Jul 31, 1895

Dr. Alfred F. Trafford Jan 17, 1852 July 31, 1895

Abraham and Basilea evidently also had an infant daughter, Basilea, who died July 1st, 1853 at age 4 months and 7 days.

Tombstone Tuesday: Abraham Trafford and Basilea Harmer

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010



Abraham Trafford was born 31 December 1804 in New Jersey and died 27 August 1871, also in New Jersey. He married Basilea Harmer. She was born 28 October 1814 in New York and died 13 September 1894. They’re buried in the Rumson Burying Ground in Rumson, Monmouth County, New Jersey. Also buried in the family plot are five of their children.

Both photos are from the Monmouth County New Jersey GenWeb site, and are credited there to Lisa Caruso.

Tombstone Tuesday: Nathan Gulick

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

nathan_gulick_from_find_a_graveNathan Gulick was born 10 April 1777 and died 02 October 1826. He married Elizabeth Erb on or about 24 May 1800.

The stone shown here is in the Pioneer Graveyard in Maysville, Kentucky.

My great-grandmother Louise Grant Smith transcribed the inscription on her great-grandfather’s tombstone as follows:

To  the memory of
who departed this life
October 2nd, 1826
aged 49 years, 5 months
and 22 days.

His languishing head is at rest,
Its thinking and aching are o’er.
His quiet and immovable breast
is heaved by affliction no more.
His heart is no longer the seat
of trouble and torturing pain.
It ceases to flutter and beat,
It never shall flutter again.

The image shown here was posted to Find A Grave by user Debbie J on October 29, 2009. It’s listed there as memorial #43690720.

Tombstone Tuesday: D’Linton Greenfield

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

D’Linton Greenfield, a Rome, Oneida, New York book seller and stationer, was the son of Joseph and Cynthia M. Hubbard Greenfield. According to his obituary (found in a scrapbook at the Rome Historical Society and likely clipped from the Rome Sentinel), he was born in Trenton, Oneida, New York on 25 Jun 1846. D’Linton married Georgianna Schryver in Rhinebeck, Dutchess, New York on 2 April 1885 (again, from a newspaper clipping found in a scrapbook at the Rome Historical Society) and they had one daughter. D’Linton died in 1919 and is buried in Rome Cemetery.

D’Linton is a fascinating name and it doesn’t appear to Google. If you’ve heard it before or know where it might have originated, please let me know.

Tombstone Tuesday: Walter F. Knapp and Rosamond F. Guilford

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010


Walter Ferdinand Knapp was born on 16 October 1872 in Easton, Aroostook County, Maine. He was the son of Hiram Loring Preston Knapp and Mary E. Gilbert.

Walter married Rosamond Fannie Guilford on 24 April 1897 in Worcester, Worcester County, Massachusetts.

Rosamond was born in June of 1874 in Williamsburg, Hampshire County, Massachusetts to Andrew Guilford and Harriet Amanda Fisk(e).

Walter died of typhoid fever on 4 December 1906 in Worcester, Worcester County, Massachusetts. Rosamond died in 1942 in Westfield, Union County, New Jersey. They are both buried in the Spring Grove Cemetery in Florence, Hampshire County, Massachusetts.

The image shown here was added to Find A Grave by P.K. Magruder on 21 January 2010. It is listed there under Memorial #46943655.

Tombstone Tuesday: Richard and Jane Owens

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

Richard and Jane Owens
In 1841, Richard Owens, a weaver, and his wife Jane, a yarn spinner, lived in Newtown, Montgomery, Wales but sometime between the birth of my 2nd great grandfather, John B. Owens in March 1846 in Wales and the birth of his sister, Susan M. Owens in December 1849 in the United States, the family settled in Oriskany, Oneida, New York.

The 1850 census shows John as a factory watch who could neither read nor write. Three years later he died leaving Jane with four children under the age of 15 and in the 1855 Whitestown, Oneida, New York census Jane has taken in a boarder and is supporting her family as a washwoman.

A letter I found some years ago in a file at the Oneida County Surrogate’s Court led me to believe Richard was killed in a railroad-related accident and that Jane may have received money from a railroad company related to Richard’s death but I haven’t investigated it further.

The Owens stone is large, clearly not something the family could have purchased at the time of Richard’s death. Perhaps their children placed it in the cemetery after their mother died.