thegenealogygirl


12 Comments

Memorial Day 2017

IMG_7690

Memorial Day 2017 with my family was really wonderful.

 

Part One:

 

While driving north to begin our adventures, we talked about the origins of Memorial Day, our cousin James Boles and his life and sacrifice, and where we were headed.

Part Two:

 

A picnic lunch with my 4th great grandmother, Maria Amanda Dolby Skeen at Lehi Pioneer Cemetery.  This sweet little cemetery is just a grassy park surrounded by trees and a flowing irrigation ditch.  There is only one marker sharing the history of the cemetery.  We know that Maria is buried there.  She was the mother of 9 children, 4 who pre-deceased her.  She died in 1854 at the age of 36, leaving her husband with 5 young children.  Maria and her family were Mormon Pioneers who experienced extreme persecution and were driven from one place to the next, finally traveling with the saints to what is now known as Utah.  A few short years after their arrival, Maria passed away.

IMG_7692

IMG_7694

Part Three:

 

A few hours in the American Fork Cemetery.  We had a list of ten of my husband’s ancestors to look for, and 16 little star shaped flags to post on any veteran’s graves that had no decorations.  This year I couldn’t find actual flags so I had to make do with my Dollar Store find.

IMG_7696

This little darlin’ was so fascinated by everything about the cemetery.  He wanted to know all about every headstone he came upon.  He was searching for “soldier headstones” and “B-E-C-K”.

IMG_3363

He was so happy when he found his first “B-E-C-K” headstone.  Of course I missed his huge smile and caught his explanation instead.  😉

IMG_3366

Jacob S and Elizabeth H Beck, my husband’s 2nd great grandparents

IMG_3408

With my camera in hand, I obviously had to photograph any headstone that caught my eye.  I have a bundle to add to findagrave.

IMG_3431

It was a lovely cemetery visit, to a beautiful cemetery, in a fantastic setting, on a perfect day.

Part Four:

 

We made some new family memories exploring the beautiful Cascade Springs.

IMG_3459

IMG_3475

IMG_3615

IMG_3544

IMG_3545

IMG_3483

IMG_3514

IMG_3568

IMG_3569

IMG_3618

IMG_3624

IMG_3608

IMG_3631

Even the drive home was picturesque.  The summit took us to an elevation of 8060!

It was a Memorial Day to remember.

 

Happy Wednesday!  I hope you preserve a special memory today.

 

 

ps – Why do 15/almost 16 year olds insist on being ridiculous in photos?  Sigh.  My 19 year old recently told me I need to lecture his teenage brother and tell him to just smile for photos.  Haha, he was the scowler/face maker not so long ago.  A normal phase I suppose…

 


24 Comments

About an Eagle Scout Project

My oldest - a self portraite on the day we photographed the cemetery.  Would someone take that boy in for a haircut already?  ;)

My oldest – a self portrait on the day we photographed the cemetery. Would someone take that boy in for a haircut already? 😉

In October, my oldest son started his Eagle Scout Project.  Guess what?!  He chose to photograph a local cemetery and upload the photos to findagrave.  Does that just make your genealogy-loving-heart swoon or what?

We chose a very close cemetery.  His plan was pretty simple.  Hold two separate events – one to photograph the cemetery and a second to work on uploading the photos to findagrave.  We knew there would be more photos left over so we made plans for those as well.

It was GREAT!

The day we started our project, the stats for the cemetery on findagrave were 10,568 memorials, 74% photographed.

The day we compiled our data, we could report:

We were able to take 6,173 photos.  We were able to go through 3,832 photos.
Of those photos:
1,090 were added to existing memorial pages.
175 new memorial pages were created and photos added.
132 duplicate photos were added because the photo on the page was hard to read and ours was better.
5 photos were needed but couldn’t be added because there were already five photos on that memorial page.
2,430 photos were not needed.

167.25 total hours

After we turned in his completed paperwork, many individual volunteers have continued to go through the photos.  Many more photos have been added and memorials created.  We still have a few hundred photos to go, but those are being cared for by volunteers.

The day his project was approved, the cemetery stats on findagrave were 10,755 interments, 81% photographed.  We are so happy to have helped bump up both of those numbers.

Shortly before Christmas, my son went before the Eagle Scout Board and his project and application to be an Eagle Scout were approved.  So exciting!

It was a great project and one very close to my own heart.

———————————————————————————————————————————–

 

For those who may come across this and want more details to help other future Eagle Scouters, I will elaborate on each phase of the project and share a few tips.

Planning

  • We selected our cemetery by proximity, it was the closest to our home.  We could see that much of it was photographed but we chose it anyway knowing that adding more photos and memorial pages would still be valuable and that a cemetery close by would be easier for us to manage.
  • We chose a “photograph everything possible” approach for the photographing day as there is no simple way to determine what needs to be photographed.  I would definitely do it this way again.
  • My son wrote his project proposal and it was approved.  He didn’t specify any numbers except for a total number of hours.  Unfortunately, he typo-ed or something and the number that was approved was 150 hours!  Holy cow.  Somehow I missed that until we were about to type up the final project workbook.  Thankfully we were almost there anyway and got some volunteers to do some more uploading to push us over the 150 mark.  My advice here?  Don’t commit to a number of hours, photos, or uploads because they hold you to what you propose.  Do commit to a number of events – i.e. one session of photographing, one session of uploading or something like that.
  • My son drove through the cemetery and familiarized himself with the different sections, roughly how many rows per section and headstones per row.  He noticed which sections had mostly flat stones etc.
  • We planned one day for photographing and a second day for uploading.
  • We made a flyer for our photographing day.
  • We scheduled our church building for our uploading day and arranged for adult volunteer helpers who could bring laptops.
  • We tried MANY times to contact the sexton of the cemetery to ask permission to complete our project.  We were unsuccessful.  It wasn’t a problem for us, but each area is different so be sure to get approval if you can.  The sexton was actually working in the cemetery that day and asked us how it was going and was delighted we were working on it.

Photographing Day

  • This day was announced in church, with my son’s scout group, and at the local family history center.  We had volunteers from each of these efforts.
  • We planned for a 3 hour window and explained on the flyer that volunteers could arrive anytime during that window.  The back of the flyer had a map of the cemetery.  The front explained the project, the date and time and included this information:
    • Arrive anytime during those hours and help out for any length of time that works for your schedule.
      Find (my kiddo’s name here) in the center of the cemetery (see map on back) to sign in and receive instructions.
      Please bring something to take pictures with.
      If you bring a camera with an SD card, we will download the photos to our computer before you leave the cemetery.
      If you bring another type of device to take pictures, it needs to have the ability to email the photos to (my kiddo’s name here) at (my son’s just-for-this-project email address).
      If you would like to help but don’t have a camera or device that will work, let (my kiddo’s name here) know ahead of time and he will have a device for you to use that day.
      All helpers welcome & appreciated!
  • My son and I arrived 40 minutes early.  We drove the cemetery and looked for signs of a funeral and saw none.  We set up a table in the center of the cemetery with four chairs.  We had a clipboard for volunteers to sign-in, sign-out, record their total time spent, number of photos taken, email address and camera type.  We had pens, extra maps, water bottles, snacks, and a first aid kit.  My son selected the first four sections of the cemetery we would photograph and placed sprinkler flags at the end of each row in those sections.  The flags were laying on their side to be posted when the row was photographed.  This turned out to be such a great help throughout the day.  It made communication and completion a snap.  We bought 100 flags from a local sprinkler company for about $11 – worth every penny.
  • When volunteers arrived, my son had them sign in and gave the following instructions:
    • He thanked them for supporting his project.  He directed them to the area of the cemetery in which we were currently working.  He asked them to photograph all sides of every memorial.  He explained that photos should be close up with minimal white space.  He asked that volunteers be respectful of any items placed on or near headstones.  If they needed to be moved to take the photo to be sure to then put them back just as they were.  He explained that gently brushing off grass clippings or other yard waste was fine, but please use your hands.  Volunteers were asked to start at the south end of a row that hadn’t yet been photographed, photograph everything in that row including any headstones in between rows (better twice than not at all) and then when they reached the north end of the row they would post the sprinkler flag that was laying there.  The flags indicated to volunteers that the row was completely photographed.  He also explained that when an entire section was complete, a boy scout would remove the flags from the ends of the rows and post a group of three flags in the northwest corner indicating the entire section was complete.  His last request was that the volunteer return and sign out when they were finished.
  • I was tech support that day.  I had my laptop and downloaded photos from SD cards and idevices before volunteers left the cemetery.  We had a scout leader donate 7 iphone 5s for use that day.  He is the VP at a local company and had access to the phones because the company had just replaced them for iphone 6s with a handful of employees.  The phones were charged and empty.  We checked them out to volunteers who didn’t have a device or camera.  If I were to repeat this project in the future, I would do this again and try to round up even more devices.  This made downloading so much easier as I was able to take them home and do it later that day.  We had three volunteers who chose to share their photos after the event; three volunteers who used devices I could not download from and we had to work that out later; the remaining volunteers were easy to work with and we got the photos that day before they left.  The best photos came from actual digital cameras but they were often too big and had to be cropped during the uploading portion of our project.  The idevice photos would often turn the wrong direction and had to be manipulated before uploading so neither was perfect.
  • My son had one additional job that morning that he shared with his younger boy scout brother.  They used their long-boards to travel the cemetery quickly to check on volunteers, track progress, and move flags from a completed section to the next section we would be photographing.  I was not at all comfortable with their idea of traveling this way as I felt it wasn’t very respectful.  But we talked through their idea and I reminded them to ride very respectfully – straight line, no wild tricks or antics, no loudness, this was all about quick travel, not fun.  I’m so glad I supported their idea, it made the day much better that they could travel around so quickly.  They were able to get back to the center and communicate, check on volunteers, get answers to questions, provide needed supplies, all in a very timely manner.  It made the day better for everyone.
  • We had a nice stream of volunteers throughout our 3 hour window.  I would definitely recommend this method.  Some volunteers had only 40 minutes to give, others had up to 3 hours.  In all he had 51.3 hours and 29 volunteers arriving and leaving at times that worked for them and 6,173 photos taken.
  • My son and I took turns being at the table.  One of us was there at all times while the other was photographing a row within sight of the table, moving flags, helping volunteers and so on.

Uploading/Downloading/Preparing Photos

  • My son asked me to tackle this aspect of his project.  It was definitely the most challenging.  I downloaded everything to my computer and then backed it up on my external hard drive.  I had one main folder and then sub folders that I named based on who took the photos.  This wasn’t to give them credit but to help me and the way I think.  I also created a folder on flickr as a second back up.  Then I broke the photos into groups of 100 or 200 to be burned to CDs or DVDs for the uploading activity.  I also created about 10 digital groups of photos on a thumb drive.  That turned out to be really important as many volunteers brought smaller chromebooks that don’t take a disc.

One More Thing

  • My son does not like making announcements, speaking in front of large groups, giving directions or anything like that.  We knew it was important that he provide the instructions at our Uploading night so we created a video with all the instructions our volunteers would need.

Uploading Night

  • This was planned for the Wednesday night following our Saturday morning photographing day.  We scheduled our local church building and it was the activity for the Young Men aged 12-18 that week.  We provided pizza and skittles.  The activity started at 6:30.  Once enough boys had arrived, we served pizza and played the video.  They ate and watched.  The timing was pretty perfect.  We met in a large room very close to the restrooms so the boys could wash their hands before starting.
  • A few things to note:
    • We once again had sign-in sheets to track our volunteers and the time they spent.  This is needed for the finalized workbook.
    • We had pens and half-sheet forms for our volunteers to tally the number of photos they went through and if they were: 1- not needed, 2- added to an existing memorial page, 3- a memorial page was created and the photo was added, 4- a duplicate photo added because ours was significantly better.
    • Not all volunteers produce alike.  Some catch on quickly and get a lot done, others barely accomplish anything.  However, their hours count exactly the same and it’s a good experience for everyone.  Just don’t expect a lot and be grateful for what you get.  🙂
    • Having CDs, DVDs, and digital files on a thumb drive met every computer need we had.
    • We had a few more boys than computers and many boys handled this well and worked in teams, a few did not and were a bit of a distraction.  We had a much larger turn-out than we anticipated.  We had 30 volunteers who spent 47.6 hours going through photos.  I can’t find the tally sheets from that night but I remember thinking that I was able to go through more photos in 2 hours than all 30 volunteers combined were able to go through in 2 hours.

The Remaining Photos

  • The remaining photos have been worked on by myself and several other genealogist volunteers from our local family history center.  We are still working through the last few hundred photos.  My son was still demonstrating leadership in this part of the project because he included his instructional video on each disc, communicated with these volunteers and delivered/picked up the discs.

A Few Last Thoughts

  • Project approval in each phase went well.  I have heard that where we live, any project that supports Family History or Genealogy seems to be pretty easily approved.
  • The trickiest part of planning was figuring out who to have sign as the beneficiary.  The true beneficiary is whomever comes across the photos and needs them in their genealogical research.  We tried to get the signature of the sexton of the cemetery but couldn’t ever track him down.  We settled on getting the signature of a local LDS Bishop as the project benefits genealogy researchers and the LDS church encourages it’s members to learn about their ancestors and work on their family history.  This worked for us.
  • We didn’t have volunteers sign any kind of release to use their photos.  This should probably be done but since we were very clear on our intent to post all needed photos to findagrave we didn’t worry about having a release form.  You may want to consider using one.
  • If one of my younger sons were to choose this project in the future, I would make one big change.  I would seek out a local historical society or family history center that was willing to deal with going through the photos and uploading them.  I would have my son plan to photograph the cemetery and organize the photos afterward onto whatever media item the next group of volunteers preferred and then call it good.  The scouts helped on the uploading night.  We got through some photos.  They had a good experience.  I think any time spent on Family History is great for our youth.  However, it was a lot of continuing work to keep getting photos to volunteers and track their work.  Far beyond what is required for an Eagle Project.  Plus, it’s a bit outside of the skill set of most young men of this age and more of the end parts fell to me to support more heavily than I would have liked.  The photographing portion is very boy scout friendly.  They can understand, explain, direct, and help with every part of that.  The photo organization and tracking of which photos are complete, who has discs, what is left and so on, is a bit beyond most boys scouts way of thinking.


18 Comments

On Finding Graves

My marvelous middle child, Memorial Day 2014

My marvelous middle child, Memorial Day 2014

Memorial Day started early for a day off.  My twelve year old boy scout reported to our neighborhood church at 7 to collect the flags he was responsible to post.  When he and my husband, Jason, returned home we all headed to a cemetery about 30 minutes away.  We chose the cemetery that Jason’s great grandparents are buried in.  We had three objectives for our Memorial Day Cemetery adventure.

  • Find Stephen Feramorz Beck & Maggie Elizabeth Orr Beck’s headstone.
  • Help our children find graves of veterans so they could post small flags next to their headstones.
  • Take some photos for findagrave.

Objective 1 went well.  Jason had tried in the past to find his great grandparent’s headstone without success.  This time – we got it.

Jason proud to have finally found his great grandparents!

Jason proud to have finally found his great grandparents!

Objective 2 also went well.  I had purchased packages of small flags and gave each of my big boys their own flags.  My instructions were simple – find graves for veterans and post a flag next to their headstone.  This was the perfect task for a 16 and 12 year old.  It kept them busy while we were in the cemetery.  I was pleasantly surprised that during their task they started to pay more attention to the headstones in general.  They were noticing things and pointing them out to each other and to me.  After their flag supply was exhausted I would hear them say things like, ‘Oh, here’s another veteran.  I’m out of flags.’  I have to say, it warmed this mother’s heart to see her own boys show love and appreciation for veterans they did not know and for others whose stories they were trying to piece together and imagine based on the minimal information found on a headstone.  My 12 year old even came up with his own challenge – he wanted to find someone who shared his birthday.  Finally as we were driving out of the cemetery he said, ‘Stop!  I found one.  Mom, will you take my picture by it?’  So sweet.

My amazing oldest son.

My amazing oldest son honoring a WWII veteran.

Objective 3 was interesting.  I had mentioned here that I wanted to get involved in submitting photos to findagrave.  I knew the cemetery we were visiting only had one photo request that had already been claimed.  I thought I might just look for memorials that did not yet have photos.  The trouble was, findagrave was WAY too slow for my fast moving pack of boys.  At first I was trying to check memorials through the app but I was getting left in the dust by my family.  So I just started taking photos of any headstone that had good light based on the way it was facing and the position of the sun.  I took photos as we walked looking for Jason’s great grandparents and then on the way back to the car.  I took about 20-25 photos.  I was hopeful that a few of them were not yet on findagrave.

One of my random clicks.  A headstone for Pearl Hapdman who did not yet have a memorial on findagrave.

One of my random clicks. A headstone for Pearl Hapdman who did not yet have a memorial on findagrave.

We went on to visit a second cemetery close by.  My husband thought one of his relatives was buried there but we didn’t find him.  Next year he wants to plan ahead a bit.

Our visit to the cemeteries was lovely.  In the first cemetery there was a traditional Scottish bagpiper playing in the shade of a tree in the center of the cemetery.  There were plenty of visitors paying their respects.  The flowers were lovely.  The flag was everywhere.  Pinwheels were spinning.  It was such a wonderful morning.

One of the more unique headstones.

One of the more unique headstones.

 

photo 5

The pinwheels were a draw for our two year old.

 

photo 2

The Alpine Cemetery had a lovely display of small white crosses honoring deceased veterans from Alpine.  Display is to the left of the pergola.

Afterward we took our hungry fellas out for lunch.  They chose a pizza buffet.  A great reward for their support, show of respect, and good attitudes.

Oreo dessert pizza was a big hit for this little first timer to a pizza buffet.  Thankfully big brother loves to share.

Oreo dessert pizza was a big hit for this little first timer to a pizza buffet. Thankfully big brother loves to share.

Later in the day when everyone was having some down time I went through the photos I had taken.  Of the 20-25 shots, 19 were not yet in findagrave.  Of those 19 photos I found 13 graves that weren’t yet listed in the cemeteries.  I created memorials for those and added all of the photos.  While the random snapping approach wasn’t what I had in mind, it worked well for my family.  We enjoyed our time together and I was able to focus on them instead of being sucked into the app trying to take photos for specific graves that didn’t yet have a photo.  Instead, I clicked when it worked and still helped the findagrave website grow.

We rounded out our day with some homemade hamburgers, fresh corn on the cob, potato chips and nectarines.  Then we curled up and watched a movie.  All in all it was a wonderful day.  A balance of paying our respects and enjoying time together.  A day of remembering and creating moments to remember.  Truly, a day worthy of the name Memorial Day.


7 Comments

Oh Happy Email!

PAQUETTE, Isidore A, & Leonide M April headstone

Several months ago I made a photo request on findagrave.  Saturday evening I received an email from the findagrave system notifying me that my photo request had been fulfilled!  As a bonus, the headstone is lovely, legible, and contains information for two additional family members.  Score!

Recently the findagrave mobile app was made available for free.  I downloaded it to my iphone.  It seems like taking a photo and uploading it to the site will be super easy now.  I haven’t tried it yet.  Having a kind stranger take a photo for me has inspired thoughts of doing that myself.  I think it’s time.  Maybe an evening walk with my family through the local cemetery is in order.  Just think how many people we can make smile when they get a happy email from findagrave.

Have you fulfilled any photo requests for findagrave?


Leave a comment

findagrave.com

Screen shot 2013-12-30 at 4.51.26 PM

It isn’t very pretty.

But it is very helpful.  And very FREE.

Findagrave.com is a volunteer based website.  Volunteers add new cemeteries and listings, upload photographs of headstones, personalize and manage memorials, respond to photo requests and questions.  It is a community effort to create free access to cemeteries around the world.

Some findagrave entries are very detailed like this one for my fourth great grandfather, Joseph Skeen.

Other entries are more basic like this one for my second great grandmother, Alice Hyde Duval.

Try it out today.  Search for some family members.  No account necessary.  Or go a step further, create your free account and become a volunteer.  See how this great website can help you grow your tree.