THE SIDNEY ST. JAMES SHOW
EPISODE 20 – WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE A CEMETERY ENTHUSIAST or A TOMBSTONE TOURIST – A True Family History Story
As one who has studied genealogy for decades, I suppose you can also call me a cemetery enthusiast. I’ve learned the many ways people around the world honor their dead to put the pieces together across the “pond.” Take the moss-covered mausoleums of Edinburgh to the candle-lit cemeteries around the lands in Italy. In my studies of overseas family members, particularly those living in Rastede and Oldenburg, Germany, and in Jerusalem, I learned of the small stones placed on Jewish graves in Jerusalem and even the walls of urns located in Japan. There’s so much that can be learned from wandering through cemeteries with shady paths that continue to invite us, addicted genealogists, to meander and read the epitaphs to those gone before us.
Tombstones often include data in addition to birth and death dates. For example, some memorials contain relationships with parents, spouses, and children. Sometimes the headstones have decorations that include symbols or words about occupations, possibly the cause of death, membership in religious organizations, or even their general philosophies of life, providing essential details into the lives. These are so important because I never settle for a born and death date. That really doesn’t tell me about the person.
For many women and children who died before 1850 and children born and died between census enumerations or before vital records were kept, a cemetery may provide the only description of their life.
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