Buried Here But Not; How I Played Hide and Seek on Find A Grave

This year I took over 100 headstone photos in a cemetery where they weren’t.

Confused? So was I!

I drove through the gates of Memory Gardens Cemetery in the wee hours of May 24th. It was misting and I was rushed knowing the sky would soon give in to the threatening rain. A short distance in I could see beautiful old headstones on my right, so I got out of the car and quickly took 132 pictures. I left when the rain came.


Months later when I was able to add my pictures to Find A Grave, I was disappointed to learn the Memory Gardens memorials did not already exist. So I added my list of names and dates, and scheduled time to edit and upload my photos. During a subsequent global search, I found duplicates of my memorials. Or rather my duplicates of another contributor’s memorials. How could this be?

Remember how I had turned to the right after driving through the gate? The cemetery section I photographed is highlighted in green on the map below. Notice those diagonal lines? They show a section that doesn’t belong to Memory Gardens. The section in which I took pictures.

Map of Memory Gardens Cemetery

Ugh. I had entered the cemetery from the east. Had I come from the west, I might have seen the sign below.

St Peter Lutheran Cemetery, Arlington Hts IL by Shelly Tindal

All 132 of my entries had to be deleted from Memory Gardens.

No worries, another Find A Grave contributor had already added all those memorials to St. Peter. Where they belonged.

In a similar episode of the same sit-com, I took 92 pictures in the Garden of Everlasting Life Cemetery on October fourth. This cemetery doesn’t yet exist on Find A Grave. That’s sort of understandable when you see the signs at the entrance:


I can also understand how a first time visitor might get confused about which cemetery they are in. Thank goodness I always take pictures of the signs on the sections I photograph:


Turns out the headstones I photographed were already on Find A Grave, just in the wrong cemetery.

Tuesday’s Tip? Accept that some cemetery visits will be just that.

Not all the headstone pictures I take can be added to Find A Grave.

But every cemetery is worth visiting. Especially old cemeteries that may be deteriorating before our eyes.

Spontaneous stops don’t always result in finding headstones that were previously hidden.

Sometimes those stops serve as a reminder of how many Find A Grave volunteers there are.

Or how many more we need.

But nearly every cemetery stop touches my heart.

4 thoughts on “Buried Here But Not; How I Played Hide and Seek on Find A Grave

  1. I take a lot of cemetery photos in the nice weather, and then post them to Find a Grave over the wintertime when the graves are snow covered. Several years ago on Memorial Day I photographed 600+ graves in the small Jewish Cemetery adjacent to (but not part of) Oakwoods Cemetery in Chicago. The cemetery was overgrown and neglected and I found when I got home that I had picked up quite a few ticks along the way. The following winter when I settled down to post the photos I found that another Find a Grave volunteer had taken photos the very same day I was there, but posted theirs right away. All that trouble and all I got were ticks!


    • Hi Jim, thanks for sharing your story. I laughed out loud when I read it (not because of the ticks – that sounds terrible and I’m sorry that happened to you!) but because I had a similar thing happen at Bluff City Cemetery in Elgin in October of this year. Like your experience, the other volunteer and I were there on the same day. When I went to add my photos I learned she had uploaded hers the day before. One day! Too funny.

      I wrote a post some time ago about the Jewish cemetery by Oakwoods. It’s appalling how neglected it is. It’s nice to hear of others trying to virtually salvage the stories there.


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