Waking with the Dead

Coffee in hand, I head to my desk and start typing. Last name. First name. Date of birth. Date of death. Cemetery section. Photo number. Rinse and repeat. A second cup of coffee. More names. More dates. Lives begun. Lives ended. People buried alone. Families reunited for all eternity. Infants and centenarians laid to rest side…

Stories under the Stones

Albert W. Schroeder and his wife Julia are buried in Chicago’s Mount Olive Cemetery. Their headstones were among 600+ photos I took for Find A Grave in that cemetery in April. The emblem on Albert’s headstone intrigued me. If the dates on his headstone are correct, Albert was only 19 years old when the Spanish-American…

A Respectful Distance

Much of this summer has been spent meandering in cemeteries near and far. When the weather is conducive to headstone photography, I enjoy walking along the rows of granite and stone to preserve what I can. It may sound strange, but I often think of the names on each marker as part of a community. I get absorbed by…

Siblings Share a Headstone

Auntie died on this day in 1973. Six months later, her younger brother passed away. Auntie and Unkie lived together nearly all of their lives. It was fitting that these siblings should remain together even after death. Their headstone comes to mind every time another Find A Grave contributor asks me to link people as spouses. We can not assume…

Give of Your Local Cemetery

Graveyards of Chicago; the People, History, Art, and Lore of Cook County Cemeteries is a wonderful resource for genealogists, local historians, and lovers of the arts and social sciences. I carried the first edition with me in April during my Thousand Mile Journey, referring to it before and after every cemetery visit. As soon as I returned home, I…

The Train Engineer

Legend has it that Gale Cramer gave his life to save the lives of the passengers on his train. His sacrifice was memorialized in Chicago’s Oak Woods Cemetery: You can read a little of his story here. But why isn’t there a news story about this crash online?

Peter Swanson 1848-1937

From the July 1, 1937 edition of the St. Charles (Illinois) Chronicle; “PETER SWANSON The passing of Peter Swanson of 1042 4th street south Friday, after an illness of several weeks, removes an olden time and respected resident who has lived in this vicinity for nearly 70 years. Mr. Swanson was born in Sweden 88…

I’m Not Likin’ Lichen!

According to Wikipedia, lichens “are among the first living things to grow on fresh rock…”. I’m accustomed to seeing headstones affected by lichen. But unruly amounts of lichen tend to be found only on older headstones. Or so I thought until I visited the Mauston City Cemetery operated by the Mauston Cemetery Association in Mauston Wisconsin. Mauston…

Who Was Miriam?

She lived just seventeen years. Miriam was laid to rest in the Mauston [Wisconsin] Cemetery. The monument marking her grave bears the sentiment of someone who must have loved her very much. Yet with no surname on her headstone, Miriam’s story feels incomplete. A guess has been made. But we should know, shouldn’t we? Who…