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Don Toms (#47529406)
 member for 3 years, 3 months, 14 days
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Bio and Links
Bio Photo As a lifelong resident of Lead and an avid genealogist, I have been interested in cemeteries, especially the local Black Hills area cemeteries, for a long time. My current major interest is the historic South Lead Cemetery here in Lead, Lawrence County, South Dakota and the approximate 3650 individuals interred there. This work was especially important since records at Lead City Hall only date from about 1914, while the cemetery itself dates back to about 1878. The missing interments, marked and unmarked, were pieced together from headstone inscriptions, mortuary records and newspaper obituaries.
Along with Darlene Burns of Lead, I was an organizer of the Friends of South Lead Cemetery group several years ago, which volunteered many hundreds of hours in the cemetery and which raised over $120,000 in grant money for restoration work there.
I have also always been interested in history in general, and for 19 years I was the director of the Black Hills Mining Museum here in Lead. I also have served on numerous boards on the local and state level including the Lawrence County Historical Society, Historic South Dakota Foundation, Association of South Dakota Museums, Lead Cemetery Board, Lead-Deadwood Chamber of Commerce, the Lead City Fine Arts Association, and the Hearst Library Board. I have also actively been doing genealogical research for over 35 years.
To me Find A Grave is one of the most extraordinary genealogy sites on the web. However, it is not without problems. Anyone wishing to contribute information might consider that the project is not a race to see who can get the most notches in their belt for adding memorials, especially if the quality of the memorials suffers because of it.
It is also frustrating to see the poor quality of some of the photos being taken - poor lighting, odd or bizarre angles, weird portions of headstones with missing parts, etc. I have also seen cases where the individual stood ten or fifteen feet from the headstone and took a photo! Is there a weed or some grass sticking up in front of the headstone? Reach down and remove it and then take the photo. Quality really does matter. Also, the inscription on the monument is certainly of great importance, but please don't just take a photo of the inscription. Family members would like to see what the entire monument looks like as well.
Is the photo that you took a little crooked or dark? Most computers these days come with simple and quick photo editing software which allows you to straighten and lighten or darken or crop photos etc. before posting them. All that is required is a little time and effort. It's fast and easy.
In conclusion, racing through cemeteries wildly taking photos does not benefit the site in my opinion. If someone is going to create a memorial, he should take as much time and effort as possible to provide correct and adequate information and quality photos that a family member of the deceased would be pleased to see!
I hope that all contributors are also willing to transfer management of memorials they have created if asked by family members of the deceased if they are not a relative of the deceased themselves.
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Contributions to
Find A Grave
 • 4,022 Memorials Added
 • 3,960 Memorials Managed
 • 23 Memorials/week
 • 6,709 Photos
 • 1 Photo Request
 • 41 Volunteer Photos Taken
 • 5,783 Virtual Flowers
 • 3 Sponsorships
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First NameLast Name

Messages left for Don Toms (109)[Leave Message]
Mary Fowler Leek
RE: Joseph Clinton Simpson
Mr. Toms,

It is kind of you to offer to transfer Joseph's memorial to me. I would be honored to take over maintenance but would not ask. Joseph is my husband's gg uncle, so I don't believe the relationship falls within the Find A Grave guidelines. I leave it up as to you what you wish to do.

I would very much like to have his memorial linked to his parents. I thank you so much for taking the photo of his headstone and for creating his memorial.

with warm regards,

Mary Fowler Leek - Find A Grave Contributor(#47354030)
Added by Mary Fowler Leek on Aug 24, 2014 10:55 AM
Kelly Thiel
Alfred Isaac Doten
Thank you so much for the pictures and detail you posted in 2011 on my Great Grandfather, Alfred Doten. I am doing research on my family and have begun to gather the documents on him from Deadwood Library. Your posting and information is a huge help in giving me the complete picture. I live in South Texas but one day I hope to visit the area and will definitely visit the grave of my Grandfather.

Much Appreciation to you, Don!
Added by Kelly Thiel on Aug 08, 2014 8:26 AM
Charles Mitchell
Thank you so much for the information for his memorial; it has been added. Also, I deleted my pic as yours is better. Thank you again.
Added by Misty on Jul 26, 2014 5:48 PM
Monica Christiansen
RE: Brown Memorials, South Lead Cemetery
Thank YOU for the beautiful photos. They are beautifully done and much appreciated. :)

Hester's obituary is in "The News Letter" from New Castle, Wyoming on Thursday, November 6, 1924. I have a copy and I will try to add it to the website.

If you ever run across Brown or Rogers family information in the paper, please let me know.

:) Monica
Added by Monica Christiansen on Jun 08, 2014 12:40 PM
Adrienne Summers
RE: John R. Carroll Jr. Memorial
I am so sorry it took me so long. I haven't been on in a long time! I made the transfer! So glad he found his family!
Added by Adrienne Summers on Jun 01, 2014 9:35 PM
Kada Bush
Transfer of John H. Rule

Many thanks for transferring my great-uncle's memorial to me. I will try to be as diligent and caring as you are! What you added helped so much in my adventure. I hope to add a little more information to this search and mystery of our pasts!
Added by Kada Bush on May 25, 2014 11:12 AM
RE: Kelley family links
Hi Don,

William Jacob Kelley is my grandmother's brother. I would be happy to take over management of his memorial.

Added by DLA on Apr 13, 2014 10:11 AM
Terri Burris
Isabelle & Cleon Cox
Thank you so much Don for the transfer of the wonderful memorials you created. I am so thankful to you. You did an incredible job with your photography and researching the newspaper articles. They mean so much to me and to many others that are also related to Isabelle and Cleon. I want to also thank you for your incredible amount of contributions you have made to the Find a Grave Community! I hope this new month of March is a Fun and Happy one for you.
Added by Terri Burris on Mar 02, 2014 8:22 PM
Doris Wyss
RE: Wm & Doris Bentley-Eva & Jacob Aultman
Don, Thank you so much for your willingness to share...really appreciate it. Doris
Added by Doris Wyss on Feb 25, 2014 11:17 AM
Doris Wyss
Wm & Doris Bentley-Eva & Jacob Aultman
Tom, First let me thank you for all your contributions to Find A Grave. Volunteers like yourself have certainly make the Find A Grave a huge resource. I would like to ask your permission to post the photos for the Bentleys and Aultmans on I would of course credit the photos to yourself. Please let me know if this would be okay with you. Thanks again, Doris
Added by Doris Wyss on Feb 23, 2014 9:02 PM
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