Wednesday, May 20, 2020

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks (2020) – Week 21: Finding Tombstones

This is my third year working on this year-long prompt, hosted by Amy Johnson Crow. I will write each week in one of my two blogs, either Mam-ma’s Southern Family or at My Trails Into the Past. I have enjoyed writing about my children’s ancestors in new and exciting ways.

In the spring of 2015, my husband and I made our first trip to Arkansas to visit his cousin’s husband, who lived in Hot Springs. Since Hot Springs was so close to Conway in Faulkner County, I planned a three day trip to Conway and Little Rock where I would conduct research in the local museum, courthouse, recorder’s office, university library, and the state archives.

The highlight of the trip was visiting the eight cemeteries located in Conway and the outskirts. I thank my husband for being so patient, first for trying to find the very small, old cemeteries on narrow country roads, and second for helping me find the various tombstones to photograph. We had no maps and only names and dates to search for.

Faulkner County, Arkansas - Showing locations of cemeteries we visited

At Springhill Cemetery, we had help. A man driving by saw us and stopped. Turned out he had helped a genealogist do a cemetery census and had the book at home, which he retrieved so we could more easily find the stones. This was one of the larger cemeteries we visited. We also had help at the Oak Grove Cemetery in Conway, where we had a tour guide pointing out the stones I was interested in.  The other cemeteries were very small and it didn’t take long to find most of the tombstones.

Lessons Learned
What I truly regret about the trip was not taking careful photos of the entrance to the cemeteries. I was usually so anxious to look for the various tombstones on my list. These were the same stones that were already on Findagrave, but I wanted my own photos to use in future publications or blog posts. We accomplished our task, checking off the tombstones we found from our list. Some were hard to find because the older cemeteries were a little overgrown. However, I did find my great-great-grandmother, Eliza Ann (Rodgers) Loveless.

So what I would do next time is:
  • Take photos of the entrance (Do this first!)
  • Take photos showing adjacent stones to the one I’m shooting
  • Take photos of the overall cemetery
Having a soft brush, water squirt bottle, trowel to clear weeds, and perhaps a portable shade would have been helpful, too. But when you’re traveling, it’s harder to have extra supplies with you.

Copyright © 2020 by Lisa S. Gorrell, My Trails into the Past. All Rights Reserved.

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