Couple Digs Cemetery History

In the Fond Du Lac Reporter (Wisconsin), Patty Brandl writes about a couple of genealogists who documented a local cemetery (in Ripon):

A Ripon husband-and-wife team with a keen interest in genealogy recently completed a monumental task — photographing and documenting the tombstones in Hillside Cemetery.

Amateur cemetery detectives Diane and Clarence Bemis invested more than two years into the project, said Mary Brandt, Ripon Historical Society director and board member.

“It helps us to identify where Ripon people are buried,” Brandt said. “Although there are records, some of the tombstones are missing or broken or half buried in the ground. They did a great deal of cross-referencing to validate these graves.”

There have a lot of stories about people documenting cemeteries over the past few years – I don’t know if it’s because of more and more people becoming interested in genealogy, or if it’s just easier to track and cross-reference (with computers) these days, or what, but it sure seems like a lot more cemeteries are being properly documented. I regret having visited several cemeteries over the years and not having documented them as fully as I should have – I was after specific information and had restricted my time because I wanted to get the maximum amount of research I could get done in the time I had available to me.

Of course I didn’t have a digital camera back then, which nowadays, somebody with a digital camera and a few flash memory cards could walk a decent sized cemetery in a day and get photos of all of the tombstones, stopping to occasionally jot down plot information.

Digital cameras have become one of the biggest unsung tools of many genealogists these days.

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