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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Thrifty Thursday - Grave Hunting From Home

Thrifty Thursday is a blogging prompt through Geneabloggers. Do you have some neat ways of saving money when it comes to genealogy? Have you located a bargain on some research resource or office supply? Post about it during Thrifty Thursday! This series has been suggested by Judy Webster of Queensland Genealogy. My submission:

I love cemetery hunting. My husband and I like to take a good picnic, camera, GPS and go cemetery hunting on pretty days. I don't know that we will stop doing this completely because we enjoy it. And it gives us an excuse to ride out in the country and see where our ancestors lived. But, due to the cost of gas, we've cut it way back in the last year or two.

Now I use my computer and Internet. First I do a Google search on the cemetery name. For instance, when I did a Google search on "Oak Grove Cemetery, Marion, NC". I found this website http://www.histopolis.com/Place/US/NC/McDowell_County/Oak_Grove_Cemetery

Then I decided to see if there was a street view on this cemetery. So I used Google Maps. Once I got to Google Maps I did a search for "Oak Grove Cemetery, Marion, NC". It came up. I pointed my cursor at the entrance and right clicked. I left clicked on "Whats Here?". Up come the GPS coordinates in the Google search box. But, also, on the left, you will see a photo of the street view of these coordinates. If there are camera views from the road, you can virtually tour the area with a street view. If there isn't a street view, there will be no photo on the left. In this case there was, so I left click on the photo and, VOILA!, you are able to virtually tour and see the sites from your computer. Check it out

To drive down the road, point and you will see a circle on the road. Move it and double click and you drive down the road. If you want to stay stationary and look to the right, left or behind, you can move that circle and single click and get a 360 degree view. Looks like there is a seafood restaurant across the street from the cemetery. It won't go off the road so it's only good for a roadside view.

You can do this with houses too if you know the address. For instance, I could get an address off a death certificate or obituary and look it up on Google Maps. Then see if there is a street view. If you want to see a workplace or church, do a Google search and see if you can find an address. Then put the street address into Google Maps and do a search and see if there is a street view.

In doing a Google search, you could be lucky and find a cemetery survey online. USGenWeb state by state. Check out the USGenWeb site for Madison County, NC.

Another wonderful online resource is FindAGrave.com. If you are lucky, your ancestor's gravestone may have already been transcribed on FindAGrave. Most of them have photos of the gravestone and cemetery. If you get involved with FindAGrave, you could volunteer by going to nearby cemeteries and taking photos of gravestones. Then enter your information in FindAGrave to help other genealogists. They could be your own ancestors or just local cemeteries. Or maybe there is a church down the street from you and it's no skin off your nose to take photos and input them in FindAGrave. (Be sure to check and see if it's already been done before you waste your time.) If you find a photo of your ancestor's gravestone, place your cursor over it and right click on the image. Select "Save Image As" and save it to your computer. Be sure to save it in a folder where you can find the photo later. For instance, if I'm researching my Reese line, I have a folder in the My Pictures folder called Reese Genealogy Photos. Then if I find a photo of a Reese ancestor's gravestone, I would save it to that Reese Genealogy Photos folder.

My last tip is to always do a Google search on your ancestor's name. You may be pleasantly surprised to find them in a cemetery survey, FindAGrave, Google books, newspaper article, obituary (if not too old) or in another person's online family tree. If it's someone else's family tree, ALWAYS take it with a grain of salt until you can prove it with sources. It could give you erroneous information. Typos, confusion, human mistakes can happen. But one time I did a Google search and found an old newspaper article from the 19th century about this ancestor being involved in an ax murder where he was convicted and he died in prison. I kept looking through the Google search and even found newspaper transcripts of the trial. I didn't have to leave my home in order to find this. So I found a thrilling story on an ancestor and it didn't cost me anything.


the honeymoontrail.blogspot.com said...

This is a great article. I need to come back, reread it, and follow your instructions on google maps. Thanks for posting this. I love findagrave.com as well and use it often. Merry Christmas.

Queen Bee said...

Sharon, you've provided great tips on how to use Google maps in genealogy research. I'm going to include your post on my Friday Favorites. Thanks for following my blog. I'm following your blog now as well.

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