I am a research volunteer. We prefer to concentrate on locating, documenting, researching where possible, and photographing the "lost, abandoned, forgotten, small, family" cemeteries; often just one or two graves.
Incredibly, I have been criticized for that statement; persons read that, then indignantly e-mail that their cemetery is not lost or abandoned. I guess some people have great difficulty understanding the English language. It’s just that we like to focus on rediscovering the myriad "forgottens" in this county (1000+ 18th & 19th century graves and still counting; some as early as the 1780s), and not as much on the knowns. It should be obvious that we do the knowns, too. A FEW PEOPLE OUT THERE CAN BE SO RUDE AND UNAPPRECIATIVE!
Fairfield County and nearby portions of contiguous counties are our "hunting" areas. Members of our team have found more than 150 tiny burial sites in this very rural, and pine forest covered, county and remain focused on finding more. It's been estimated that there may be as many as 200 of these forgotten burying places scattered out there in the boondocks just in this county alone. It's satisfying and we know it's meaningful work. It can be a little dangerous because of reptiles and other natural conditions so we do not venture into the outback singly, and never in hot weather. Rattlesnakes and rock walls go together like PB & J. It isn't unusual to be one to two miles (walking) from the nearest habitation and help - it can be a big, lonely, country out there and cell phone coverage can be spotty at best. South Carolina may be a "small" state but don't try graving alone out there in the boondocks; be smart or your bones may never be found. Our buzzards aren't choosy!
Fairfield County, South Carolina, in particular, was in the pathway westward for hundreds, if not thousands, of people from the latter 1700s to the latter 1800s approximately; a good "stopping off place" for those wanting a better, or perhaps somewhat easier, life in that era before electricity, cars, and paved roads. It was a good route southerly and westerly, bypassing the Appalachians with their horses, wagons and maybe even the family cow. They came from all points north, tired of the cold, harsh, long winters. People came and settled because the winters were milder, there was good game hunting and fishing, plenty of good water, flowing streams, and the growing season was long. They stayed for a generation or two (or three) and tried farming. They buried their many dead babies, young children, young wives from childbirth, their old folks, near where they homesteaded. Then they died out themselves or moved on and their burying places were then lost, abandoned, forgotten. To this very day much of Fairfield County is still a low population area. The primary crop is timber management for large corporations and wealthy individuals – the very same areas where the settlers had their brief stays. Now only forestry-type people, game management, hunters, loggers, surveyors, and a few old time residents, have knowledge of these little cemeteries, often just one or two graves. I have to say that it's always a thrill to find another forgotten burying site - each time that happens, it continues to drive me to keep on looking for more. This research and identification of grave sites is our contribution to the future. It isn't uncommon to get e-mails from someone who discovered our posts on Find A Grave and who are excited to find their long lost 4x-grandparents. Of course, we take pleasure in that but the real satisfaction is in finding, mapping, documenting, and photographing the hundreds of burials for posterity.
One of the things that i particularly love about this work is the many old, hand-made, hand-carved fieldstones. It gives one pause to wonder about those folks at those times. Those stones are sooo beautiful, in their own way. More beautiful than factory made stones. Please take a minute to peruse my Virtual Cemetery of unusual homemade stones.
Someone wrote that Find A Grave is not a genealogy web-site. Maybe; maybe not. It's a great resource. Should our efforts help someone, anyone, find some of their family members or ancestors, then our 'work' is well worth it.
Search memorial contributions by G Giebner