Genealogy Karma

The internet really has provided me a place to research and carry out this hobby without having to leave my home very much.  This is not because of magic.  I know the internet seems like magic sometimes, but this information got onto the internet somehow.  I wish I could personally thank  every person who has ever posted a picture of an ancestor that I have yanked and added to my personal collection. Sometimes I do.  Sometimes I can’t!  So I pay it forward and also try to give credit when I “borrow”.  I do a little work hoping that some person some day might be able to use the little thing that I’ve done.  Genealogy karma. Maybe you’re not supposed to do things hoping that it will come back to you, as that’s not very altruistic.  What are the karma rules?

Find-a-grave

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I am the first to admit, the concept of this website is a little morbid and I think it freaks people out a little bit (especially when they find out I have the App on my phone).

Even though it’s not the prettiest website in the world, findagrave.com is one of the most useful websites for genealogical research, at least in the United States.  I think about how many brick walls have been cracked with the assistance of this amazing tool.  As we all know, finding a death date is one of the more important things when looking to find records.  But what if a great great grandfather died in Scranton, Pennsylvania and I live in Indianapolis (this is all a true story so far) and I don’t have a death date but I know who his wife is and when she died.  WHAT DO I DO!?!?!?!?  Well, hop on Find-a-Grave, and do a search to see if someone has already posted his information.  If someone has posted information but you’d like to see what else is on the headstone you can request a photo and a volunteer could potentially go out and photograph it for you!  Is that not amazing?  21st Century Magic.

So what do I do?  There is a cemetery by my house called Concordia Cemetery.  It’s the closest one to me and I’ve spent a lot of time walking the rows of headstones attempting to catalog those that have not yet been cataloged.  Sometimes I’ll drive over to the Catholic Cemetery.  I have a little corner I’ve been working on over there, but the cemetery is so large it feels a little futile.  Concordia can be defeated!

Concordia Cemetery is very German. Check out Johann and Margaret Behrmann. Headstone actually written in German.

Concordia Cemetery is very German. Check out Johann and Margaret Behrmann. Headstone actually written in German.

Also while I’m out and about on little trips I’ll look to see if any nearby cemeteries have photo requests and I’ll go about and try to fulfill them.  Because you know what?  People do it for me.  Karma.

Besides the good feelings and potential volunteer work I will receive in response, why else do I do this?  Well, I love cemeteries.  It’s my version of adult coloring books, I guess.  I also find out some amazing history of the place where I live.  For instance, one day when I was rolling through Holy Cross Cemetery by my house I realized that the Chevrolet family is buried a mile from me.  Like…as in the cars.  Like the actual Chevrolet family.  Here!  Here they are.  Check it out here!  They didn’t even live here (we are obviously not Detroit), but they were buried here because of their pride in their cars in the Indy 500.  Gotta love the history.

Thanks for sharing, Girl Scouts!

Early on in the history of this blog I wrote a post about how the Girl Scouts devoured a cemetery that I REALLY wanted to go to.  I had a sneaking suspicion that within this cemetery lay quite a few of Andrew’s old family, including great great great great grandparents.  I finally got the guts to confront this nasty Girl Scout camp, “Camp Dellwood” (I am using finger quotes…as I am typing this…as difficult as that sounds).  I had the help of my trusty cemetery-stomper friend, Jumwaltie (the spelling has been altered protect the innocent).  Jumwaltie has been a trusty friend in cemetery-stomping for years, and as far as I am concerned…things better stay that way.  We call it “cemetery-stomping” but we don’t actually stomp on them.  It just a crass/shortened way to describe driving around and visiting graveyards.  We don’t jump on headstones or anything weird like that.  Anyway…I digress.

Jumwaltie joined me on our trip.  She played navigator to my driver.  Thank heavens she did, because even as I was driving my car sickness was making we woozy.  Uncool.  Road trips are my favorite thing in the world and this situation seems to be getting worse.  Navigating (reading anything) makes it all ten times worse.  Anyway, Jumwaltie got us to Camp Dellwood.  We drove in the front entrance and the “park ranger” was washing his car in his driveway.  I met him and said that I heard there was a cemetery back in the camp that I was eager to visit.  He seemed nice enough, possibly annoyed, but definitely nice.  The gatekeeper allowed us through.

Old Union Cemetery on the west wide of Indianapolis, Raceway Road, located inside Camp Dellwood.

About 500 yards into the camp the cemetery was on the left.  It seemed pretty well maintained, especially considering the age of many of the headstones.  What I found out was pretty awesome.  Andrew’s great great great great grandfather was buried there.  His name was John Hornaday.  His family relocated from Chatham County, North Carolina and ended up in western Marion County and Eastern Hendricks County.  In fact, Hornaday Road runs just north and south just 2 miles west of the Old Union Cemetery.  This is the cool part..

Andrew’s grandmother, Dorothy Boyce Nelson, was John’s great great grand-daughter.  She was also a girl scout troop leader.  According to her she used to spend many a nights camping at Dellwood with her troops.  I haven’t talked to her about it, but chances are she had no idea she was camping directly next to where her great great grandparents had been for 100 years already.

Headstone of John Hornaday at Old Union Cemetery

Just goes to show that the girl scouts are good for way more than just Samoas (although they are kind of the best).  Thanks, girl scouts, for sharing in my family history.

It was a good start to an all day trip.  More to come.  Learn how Jumwaltie is convinced that my Andrew and her man-friend are somehow related.