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What do you geek?

Getting passionate about cemeteries

Sherry Turner

Sherry Turner

This week I received one of the more unusual answers to the question, “What do you geek?” Library patron Violet L. recently wrote that she “geeked” cemeteries.

I wondered if her passion was because she liked to read books with a cemetery-based plot or if it was the anticipation of what she might find in a cemetery as a researcher.

Genealogists consider cemeteries to be a gold mine as they reveal so many treasured details about family history and the general area in which they lived. Some family history enthusiasts feel they have won the lottery when they find a missing link in their quest to validate information in their family tree.

Cemeteries can connect such missing links. If paper records are available, one can see who purchased the plot. Usually a relative is commonly the one who made the purchase. Stillborn babies and small children are sometimes inadvertently omitted from the census depending on the month they were born or died and when the census was taken.

Traditionally, years ago, relatives were buried near one another as they often lived and died in a much smaller radius of one another than modern times.

Tombstones in the cemetery also shed light on the relationship between names such as in ”beloved son or wife” inscriptions. They also might actually indicate the cause of death or personality traits such as in this humorous inscription, “I told them I was sick.” Cemetery records might also indicate the origin of the remains, which would give a clue of another location where the deceased may have lived.

Tombstones can be photographed and posted online to help others who live elsewhere.

If the tombstones have eroded and are difficult to read, rubbings may help to decipher the missing letters and information. Rubbings consist of taking large white sheets of paper and then a crayon or colored chalk and rubbing over the entire surface. Just a few minutes of rubbing and you will have a beautiful replica of the stone.

Some people actually frame these rubbings, many with intricate designs. Others have taken an entrepreneurial approach and sell them as works of art.

If you enjoy a good read with a cemetery atmosphere, the Clayton County Library System has several resources including:

Fiction books

“Cemetery Girl” by David Bell

“Cemetery Road” by Gar Haywood

“Cemetery Dance” by Douglas Preston

“Prague Cemetery” by Eco Umberto

“Cemetery View” by Cynthia Riggs

Internet Sources

www.ancestry.com (Free access on Clayton County Library Computers)

www.cyndislist.com

www.findagrave.com

www.familysearch.org

www.usgenweb.org

www.Blackcemeteries.com

Local resources:

National Archives at Atlanta

5780 Jonesboro Road

Morrow, Ga. 30260

770-968-2100

Atlanta.archives@nara.gov

Jonesboro Family History Center

2100 Jodeco Road

Jonesboro, Ga. 30236

770-477-5985

Henry-Clayton County Historical Society

P.O. Box 1296

McDonough, Ga. 30253

Free genealogy program

Jonesboro Branch Library, 124 Smith St. in Jonesboro, will host genealogist Vannesa Valentine for a presentation entitled “Dig Into Your Past” Wednesday, June 19, from noon until 1 p.m.

“What do you Geek?” is a weekly column written by Sherry Turner, managing librarian at the Jonesboro Library Branch. As part of the Clayton County Library Systems’ “Get Your Geek on at the Library” campaign, patrons are being asked about their interests and specifically what it is they “geek” (defined as a personal passion). Turner writes about what library patrons “geek” about. To learn more about the geek campaign go to geekthelibrary.org and to submit a topic for this column, Email Turner at turners@claytonpl.org.