Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Tombstone Tuesday ~ What I learned @ a Cemetery Restoration Workshop

Recently, I have had the privilege of attending a Cemetery Restoration Workshop hosted by the Clay County Genealogical Society (Indiana). It was held at a local church, where we were able to immediately apply our new-found knowledge directly to their cemetery outside.

After signing in, receiving our goodie 
bag of restoration supplies and eating a delicious breakfast, we settled in to learn a few things.

  1. First speaker of the day:

Jeannie Regan-Dinius 
I apologize for the low quality of this photo. It puts the speaker in the shadows to the left. But I still wanted to include it to give kudos to her. Her name is Jeannie Regan-Dinius and she is with the
Division of Historic Preservation & Archeology within the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

She was a great speaker, and filled us in on the laws regarding cemeteries in Indiana and the SHAARD database. SHAARD stands for State Historic Architecture and Archeology Research Database. It allows users to search for information regarding cemeteries and burial grounds, as well as historic buildings, sites and structures. Just go to SHAARD Database to learn more.

   2. Second speakers of the day (Unable to take photos)

Wayne Langman and Jeff Dickerson were our next speakers.  They provided us with instructions on cleaning and repairing cemetery stones. In their materials, they provided a Suggested Cemetery Restoration Plan.

Suggested Cemetery Restoration Plan

  1. Documentation
  2. Find the owner and research the number of burials.
  3. Get permission to work in the cemetery.
  4. Apply for a probing permit from the DNR.
  5. Take photographs of conditions before work begins.
  6. Start map of site showing landmarks, boundaries, GPS or map coordinates of corners, directions, alignments and locations of known burials. Repeat this after each step in the restoration process.
  7. Clear brush and debris.
  8. Search the site.
  9. Restore the markers. First rule is to do no harm.
  10. Try to identify the responsible party for future care of the site.
After another delicious meal, we took our cleaning materials to the historical section of the church cemetery to gain experience in cleaning and repairing the stones.

A few photos of participants putting our new-found knowledge to work.

And last, but not least, a list of Cemetery Cleaning Tools is provided to help you get started on a cemetery restoration kit of your own.

Cemetery Restoration items we were
given in our "goodie bag".

Cemetery Cleaning Tools

  • A scrub brush with medium to stiff plastic bristles. No wire brushes.
  • Pistol-style spray bottle or 1-gallon pump-style sprayer.
  • Household ammonia diluted with water 1:4.
  • Tarp/large trash bags on which to lay broken/displaced stones.
  • A wooden scraper, paint stir stick, or plastic putty knife scraper for heavy moss and vine roots. No metal scrapers.
  • Jugs of water.

Now, to take the knowledge and skills that I've gained, and put them to good use! I plan on hosting a workshop at my library workplace for local historians. And, hopefully, we will get started taking care of our local cemeteries soon!

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Sunday's Obituary Prompt ~ Mary Warner Severance

(Sunday’s Obituary is a daily genealogy prompt that can include an obituary and other information about a person, developed by Leslie Ann at Ancestors Live Here)

Have you ever had a brick wall  that you thought you would never break? The ancestor just seemed to appear out of nowhere, and start a direct line to your family?! 🔍🔍🔍

Mary Warner Severance was one of my biggest brick walls. In all my research on her, I had found maiden names of Warren, Warner and all kinds of variations. New York was always listed as the place of birth, but I could never find a town listed anywhere. And, last but not least, I had never heard of any children other than my great-grandmother, Frances.

Thanks to my genealogy angel and newly-discovered third cousin, Stephanie...I now have an obituary for my 2x-great grandmother, Mary Warner Severance! 

It was taken from the Aurora Daily News (June 14, 1907, p. 15), and gives much of the information that I was missing. I also discovered four more children that I didn't know existed. The only drawback that I noticed in a 1907 obituary is the daughters lack their own names. Instead, you will notice they are all Mrs. (insert husband's name).

This is so much more information than I already had for Mary, so I would like to transcribe it below to make it searchable for others. 

                                Aurora Daily News (June 14, 1907, p. 15)

(Transcribed obituary of Mary Warner Severance)


   Mary Warner was born in Chittenango, Madison County, N.Y., May 2, 1816 and died June 10, 1907, at the advanced age of 91 years, one month and eight days.

   She was united in marriage to David Severance in 1835 and was a resident of Oswego for many years. For several years she has made her home with her daughter, Mrs. Orson Pearce, near Yorkville, where she received the best of care. All that loving hands could do was done for her comfort. She was a patient sufferer for months.

   She leaves to mourn her loss four daughters and one son, Mrs. Edward Walker, of Indiana, Mrs. Jos. Hinchman, Mrs. Will Smith and Mrs. Orson Pearce of Oswego and Charles Severance.

   The funeral was held at the house Tuesday afternoon and was largely attended. The floral offerings were exceedingly beautiful and profuse. The sermon was preached by Rev. G.A. Erving. The music was furnished by W.W. Church and Miss Lillian Nading. The pallbearers were the four grandsons, Gerald Pearce, Van Andrews, Clarence Smith and Loren Hinchman.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Mastering My Genealogical Skills ~ A Thorough "Reasonably Exhaustive" Search

Whether you plan on becoming a professional genealogist or would like to ensure thoroughness in your own family history search...it pays to master the skills needed for the job.

I have been researching my family for close to 40 years now. Starting when I was 11 years old, I have built up quite a repertoire of skills and resources that I consistently use while researching.

Even though I plan on eventually becoming a certified genealogist, I am not quite ready to fully commit myself  to a study program at this time.  

However, I am still committed to learning everything I can. According to the Board of Certified Genealogists website, "The first step to becoming certified is to acquire the skills and knowledge expressed in Genealogy Standards." 

Mastering Genealogical Proof

Using the interlibrary loan system at my library, I checked out a copy of Mastering Genealogical Proof by Thomas W. Jones. 

As I was perusing the table of contents, I found the answer to one of the biggest questions I have always asked myself: When is the information I have enough? 

Element 1 of the Genealogical Proof Standard is "Thorough ("reasonably exhaustive") searches in sources that might help answer a research question."

Chapter 3 answers the question of what "reasonably exhaustive" means to the researcher. Six criteria should be used as a guide in the search:
  1. At least two independently-created evidence items in agreement.
  2. All sources competent genealogists would examine
  3. Some primary information.
  4. Some original records
  5. Relevant authored works, derivative records, and secondary information replaced by findable corresponding originals and primary information.
  6. All findable sources that relevant sources and indexes suggest.

By using these criteria, I can feel more certain in my research to say "enough is enough".

Amy Johnson Crow

As I took in this new information, I came across a wonderful article written by Amy Johnson Crow on her blog. It complemented what I had just read in Jones' book. 

To ensure that you are getting the most out of your sources, there are things you should do with each one. You can read more about this topic at amyjohnsoncrow.com "4 Things You Should Do With Every Genealogy Source"

Professional Genealogy

Sometimes, luck can even have a hand in your education! I work at a library, and sometimes other libraries will offer discarded books on an email listserv. A short time ago, I was the lucky recipient of 2001 edition of Professional Genealogy, edited by Elizabeth Shown Mills. 

What have you been reading, watching or listening to lately to help build your genealogical skills? Every book, blog, podcast or video is just as valuable as the conferences you attend!

  • Jones, Thomas W. Mastering Genealogical Proof. National Genealogical Society, 2013.
  • Crow, Amy Johnson. “4 Things You Should Do With Every Genealogy Source.” Amy Johnson Crow, 15 Aug. 2019, www.amyjohnsoncrow.com/4-things-every-genealogy-source/.
  • Mills, Elizabeth Shown. Professional Genealogy.: a Manual for Researchers-Writers-Editors-Lecturers and Librarians. Genealogical Publishing Company, 2001.