Thursday, May 03, 2012

Geocaching and Gravespotting

One of Ryan's interests is Geocaching; he looks for them every where we go, but he also keeps up with the many of them placed locally. This afternoon he wanted to walk over to the church and check the geocache there and asked if I wanted to walk with him.

I would have anyway, however it was also an opportunity to indulge in one of my interests, Gravespotting, and I'd been intending to go for some time anyway.

As some of you may know, I used to be a devoted Genealogist. I spent countless hours in libraries and courthouses looking for records, and a lot of time dragging my family around to cemeteries, photographing and recording all the names, dates, and any other information I could get from the gravestones.

At some point I eventually burned out and lost most of my interest in family history research. I still dabble (but not as much as people wish I would).
In the meanwhile, I discovered an awesome website called Find-A-Grave.

Find-A-Grave is a "virtual cemetery experience". Or, basically, a database of cemeteries and graves.
It was created by a guy originally as a place to be able to "visit" the graves of famous people.
It quickly caught on with Preservationists and Genealogists, though.

For instance, I live in northwest Georgia, but my Dad was born and raised in the mountains of northeast Georgia, and his family was from southwest NC and up into Virginia.  I've visited some cemeteries, the ones I knew of, in the area around northeast GA and southwest NC, but not even a fraction of all of them.
Thanks to Find-A-Grave, I can sit here at my computer and "visit" cemeteries in north GA, all over NC, Virginia, and anywhere else in the world that there is someone contributing information.

On the flip side, there are people out there in the world who trace their family roots back to this area, and would like to but probably are unable to make the trek here to look for their ancestors' grave site(s). So, I signed up as a Volunteer Contributor for my area.
I take specific requests from persons looking for a particular cemetery/grave in my area, or we'll just trek to a nearby cemetery and start taking photos and recording information that I can add to the Find-A-Grave database.

As it happens, I live across-one-road-over from an historical church, Van Wert Methodist.

The community of Van Wert was settled in 1838 by Welsh miners who came to work the slate and rock quarries.
The Van Wert Missionary Baptist Church was established in 1846, and due to an explosive falling out between two members of the church, one of them left the church and began the Van Wert Methodist Church in 1847. The Methodists shared the Baptists Church building until 1857, when the Van Wert Methodist Church was built by Rev. William Wesley Simpson.

At some point in history the church was abandoned, left to rot down, and the cemetery went to weed and ruin.  It wasn't until 2005 the Euharlee Valley Historical Society took on the preservation of the church and cemetery.

Since we hadn't planned on going ahead of time, I just took a bunch of photos of graves and scenery that looked interesting.  I live practically across the street, so going back over for more pics or info is easy.
As it turned out I was able to fulfill a photo request with ones I had taken, and I was able to add pictures to several grave records, plus add some graves that hadn't yet been recorded.
And I didn't even take pictures of half of it, so I'll be going back for some more!

This shot is from near the church building looking towards the back of the cemetery. It's huge!

Here I was able to peek into one of the windows. It's not me - the church is leaning to one side.

Some graves are still lost to the overgrowth.

This is from the back of the cemetery looking towards the church. The big, dark green trees to the right of the church steeple is my front yard.

Ryan finding the Geocache.

These lovely pink miniature roses (possibly Jeanne Lajoie?) were so pretty growing all over some the old still hidden graves. Ryan clipped me off three stems to see if I can cultivate some bushes at home.

What's going on here? When I was a kid, my Grannie could break off a flower and stick it in a glass of water and it'd grow roots and be a whole new plant. I tried that with some miniature roses last year and they didn't make it, but I'm trying one like that again, mainly just because I'm stubborn and I want to be able to grow like Grannie did.
Otherwise, I read on the internet that everyone else's Grandma cultivated flowers by sticking them in the ground and putting a Mason jar over them.  I assume it's for a greenhouse effect, but as hot as it is, it seems like it would just bake the plant. So, I tried one with a Mason jar on it, and one without.
Maybe one of these methods will work.


Trina said...

I love visiting cemeteries, if you can say that. I am glad I am not the only one! I am going to set this aside for the summer.

Melissa said...

Yeah I'm not very good about going and "visiting" my late family members in the cemetery.

I guess to me cemeteries are like census records and courthouse records, I go for the info. I love names and dates and making family connections.

I plan to make an effort to visit some more local cemeteries this summer.
Maybe with all my kids graduated, I'll get back more interested in my family researching again.

The Smoke Eater's Wife said...

I love visiting old graves! I live in a very rural area of GA, but I'm just outside of Savannah. Just walking past the centuries old cemeteries down town gives me goose bumps! I love it!

And as far as your rose experiment, please post how it goes! I have some roses I've been encouraging to spread outward, but no luck yet.

Melissa said...

Oh yeah, I bet there are some really pretty old cemeteries around Savannah. I hear the whole city is lovely.

We always intend to visit Savannah/the Islands one of these days.
Maybe soon!

I will let you know if my roses do anything. But I pretty much have a "black thumb" so my plant experiments often don't.
I don't have my Grannie's or my Mom's "magic touch" :(

The Smoke Eater's Wife said...

It really is a beautiful city, and you'd love Bonaventure!

Lol, I know how that black thumb feels! This is the first year I've kept anything alive! I'm so very inept at gardening, I'm still waiting for all of it to shrivel up and die!

Melissa said...

Oh wow, the pictures are amazing! I seriously need to go see that in person.

Yeah I understand the feeling perfectly. I killed both a cactus and an air plant. You gotta be a special kind of skilled to kill those, especially an air plant, lol.

kjwx said...

Love the term "black thumb" ... How odd that so many of us cemetery buffs should have one, though?
Apparently, you can buy a small jar of rooting compound or hormone to boost your chances of success when taking cuttings. You dip the end of the stem in the powder before planting and it magically grows roots.

Melissa said...

Hi kjwx, thanks for visiting/commenting. I em'd a link to your site to my son.

That is odd, I didn't think about a correlation between black thumbs and cemetery buffs. Hmm.

You know what, I actually have a can of that rooting compound and forgot about it!
Jeez, it's a wonder my kids survived being raised by me, haha!

Thanks for the reminder. Hopefully I'll remember it if I have to try again!

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