Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday: Find A Grave Request...

On Thursday January 6th I received a request for a photo of a headstone located in a cemetery near my home. The request came from the website “Find A Grave” and at first I wasn’t sure I could fulfill it. When I awoke Friday morning I check the “Find A Grave” site and no one claimed the request (so I thought.) Since I had some personal business to take care that morning I decided to claim the request.

After cooking my son his breakfast and giving him a ride to school I returned home to grab my “cemetery bag” and head out to take care of my business

It has been foggy all week and Friday was no different. It was cold and damp so I made a cup of coffee and made sure my gloves were in the bag along with my knee pads because I was sure the ground would be wet from the fog.

I must have arrived at Union Cemetery about 9:30 in the morning and after talking to one of the caretakers about what I was doing he informed me someone had just left the cemetery who had asked about the same headstone.

He searched the maps on the wall for the site and thought the area he had just left was surely where the person who came in earlier took her photos. He couldn’t locate the area on the map and the woman who usually locates the sites on the computer would not be in until ten or eleven that morning. My friend decided to try and locate the site for the name I gave him (Dawn Frazier) while I continued to look for the grave site on the wall map.

Map courtesy of Sharon GARRISON
 I was able to locate the site because of the information given in the initial request. The woman who wanted the photo mentioned Dawn and her boyfriend William “Billy KEEN had been killed in an auto accident. She also mentioned that both families laid stones at the site and she wanted to have images of both headstones.

Because I knew about the KEEN connection I looked at the map where the caretaker thought it was located and was successful in finding it! At this point the caretaker and I made our short trek over to the site and he was positive now this was the same site he directed the “claim jumper” to earlier.

Once I located the burial site and took the requested photographs I knew I wanted to continue documenting the cemetery and began to take photos of additional grave sites. This was my second claim of a photo request and when I fulfilled the first I thought it would be a nice project to document all grave sites that have not been photographed. So I just began the process and remained at the cemetery for about an hour and logged about one hundred and fifty more headstones.

Upon returning home to upload these images I received an email from of all people the "claim jumper!" She apologized for shooting the headstone without claiming it first and invited me to meet for a coffee since we deduced we live in the same community.

I assured her it was not a problem and that I was kidding when I called her a "claim jumper" (people just don't get my sense of humor, who knew?) After thinking about her offer of buying me a coffee as a peace offering I thought it would be a great idea that we worked together and photographed the headstones that were not on Find A Grave so we both contribute to this worthwhile effort.

Sharon has graciously accepted to work with me and we plan to meet tomorrow and plan the logistics!!!


  1. What a great idea to work together! I have a similar problem in my area. There is only one cemetery that gets photo requests and it's never unfulfilled for long! Maybe I'll work towards uploading photos of the cemeteries that don't get requests instead!

  2. Hi Kathleen,

    The easy part (maybe not that easy) is taking the pictures. The work comes in when you have to upload the images, crop, color correct,straighten them out, resize them for Find A Graves 350 KB restriction and then upload them with the proper I.D.

    However, all of that is worth it because someone in another part of the country may want or need that image and it is immensely gratifying the feeling you get when you help someone with really a little bit of effort.

    What additionally attracts me to the project is satisfying the fine art photographer in me. In some instances if you plan the time right for the light, and compose the image(s) properly, headstones can be an incredible form of artistic expression.