BEING AN EXTENSIVE BIO SLASH SORT OF A JOURNAL OF SOME, NOT ALL, OF MY FIND A GRAVE THOUGHTS AND ACTIVITIES. THIS BIO IS WAY LONG AND DETAILED, YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED...
(Profile updated February 14, 2020)
I've been involved since my teenage years with historical and genealogical research, so it just seems natural I would get involved with Find A Grave.
If you want me to transfer management of your relative's grave, just ask. I am only trying to document a few graves, but if you are kin to the person and want a transfer, obviously that's no problem. Feel free to use my photos in other contexts like family histories, but if it's an original photo *please* credit the photo to: Johnny History On Find A Grave Dot Com.
Most of my photos, however, are NOT originals but Commonwealth War Graves documents. Those should be credited to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. And, it should be noted , the Commonwealth War Graves Commission has oodles of documents on their site.
(Addendum May 1, 2021) I WILL make transfers outside of guidelines, both giving and receiving, under the "families should stay together" credo which some Find-A-Grave members have adopted. Also my own credo of, "Hey, you're doing some important work with a particular type of grave, and you asked nicely, so here you go."
(Addendum March 1, 2021: I manage a lot of graves that were created by the US Department of Veterans Affairs, but they were not actively managing...if you're wondering how it is I have administrative control of so many of those graves. Also, I control a fair number of British war graves by the same process. Again, always happy to transfer control to a relative)
(Addendum May 26, 2021: Please tour and enjoy my virtual cemeteries, and make suggestions for additions. I have a virtual cemetery of people who appear in the Bible, one for canonized saints and those who are "Blessed" and might be canonized, a cemetery of interesting stories, and more. Leave virtual flowers, candles, flag, etc, if you feel so inclined)
I am particularly interested in documenting cemeteries in foreign nations. I think I have added more cemeteries in Afghanistan than any other Find A Grave member and I am currently working on Czechoslovakia. There is a lot of work to be done, in this regard, on Find A Grave. Also, I think if unknown graves are known to exist in a particular cemetery, those graves need to be added as unknowns.
I hope one day, there are no more unknowns...or at least many, many less than there are today. I hope DNA testing will link the vast numbers of unknown graves to living relatives, and most graves will become marked, known, and cared for...not neglected or paved over to become a bus station or something. (London...I'm looking right at you)
I guess as I find new areas of endeavor, new accomplishments on Find A Grave, I will add more below and date the entries. Let's see when I run out of room for text!
(February 15, 2020) Added Central Yambol Cemetery, in Yambol, Bulgaria.
Added مقبرة وا in Mosul, Iraq.
Added Гробище in Vratsa, Bulgaria.
Found the latitude and longitude coordinates for a cemetery in Kuwait, and provided that information in the "Cemetery Corrections" forum.
Added the abandoned Jewish cemetery in Vidin, Bulgaria, and seeking a photo permission from an online author to illustrate it.
Added the lone grave site of "Fancy" in Ada, Oklahoma, but Find A Grave tells me to use a better photo to illustrate it...OK, I'll take a better photo.
(February 16, 2020)
Documented and added this cemetery:
Municipal Cemetery Of Shipochene
Shipochane, Obshtina Samokov, Sofiyska, Bulgaria
And this one:
Abandoned Jewish Cemetery
ul. "Baba Vida" 29, 3703 g.k. Georgi Benkovski, Vidin, Bulgaria
Vidin, Obshtina Vidin, Vidin, Bulgaria
(February 17, 2020)
(15 minutes after midnight) Added a cemetery in Khost, Afghanistan. Added my first cemetery in Albania. That nation is poorly documented. I think I might spend a good while in Albania.
(7:30 PM) I was able to take a photo of the "Grave Site Of Fancy" in Ada, Oklahoma, and get that added.
I managed to add 23 cemeteries in Thailand, a country that is very badly documented on Find A Grave. Updated about half a dozen places in Google at the same time, including a crematorium.
Also, as a result of all the graves I documented in Bulgaria, I now manage the grave of a well-known Jewish scholar.
(February 18, 2020)
Added this cemetery: Ban Cha Wai Muslim Cemetery in Ang Thong, Thailand.
(February 19, 2020)
Added the following cemeteries in Buriram, Thailand:
Ban Phru Catholic Cemetery, Non Din Daeng Cemetery, Sawang Chanya Tham Cemetery Foundation.
Added the following in Chachoengsao, Thailand:
Maeng Lim Tua Sawang Paisan Thammasathan Cemetery, Thaksin Khiri Anusorn Cemetery.
I have 15 more I can document, that I need to add in Chachoengsao, though of course check them well and verify them...so it could end up being less than 15.
Added a mass graves of plague victims in France that I could document very well and distinctly from anything else already on Find A Grave.
(February 20, 2020)
Added a total of 12 cemeteries to Chachoengsao, where no cemetery had ever been listed before on Find A Grave. Moving on to the next down in alphabetical order in Thailand.
Added 2 cemeteries in Chainat, Thailand, where none had been listed before.
Added 2 cemeteries in Chaiyaphum, none listed before.
Added this cemetery in Madagascar:
Cimetières des Indiens Marodoka
Antsiranana, Diana, Madagascar
Found a description, in French, on a government tourism website and submitted that via the forums (after I ran it through Google translate) to give the cemetery a better description. I wish that I had the power to edit a cemetery that I have the power to add in the first place but...well, nothing's perfect.
I found some historical documents online in re: a soldier who accidentally drowned and was buried in Maputo, Mozambique, the only WW II casualty listed on the war memorial of the village of Aston in Hertfordshire, and the only WW 2 burial at Maputo cemetery in Mozambique...quite a fascinating outlier, and I was happy to add that documentation to his grave.
Added this cemetery after I read stories about the Minnesota Department of Transportation accidentally disturbing the cemetery, and then having to make everything better:
Native American Graves Near Mission Creek
St. Louis County, Minnesota, USA
Also, got an email back from Find A Grave...they will tell their location team to add the island nation of Nauru. Once that nation is added, I know of at least one cemetery but I bet I can find a few more, too.
Addendum to previous: I was able to add the very first cemetery (actually individual burial site in somebody's front yard) and the very first grave documented on Find A Grave for the small island nation of Nauru.
Grave At The House Of Young Boy Drowning Victim
Anabar, Anabar, Nauru
In Nauru, land is at a premium so people often get permission to bury their dead on their lawns.
I am seeking a photo permission for that grave now. Hope I hear back.
Tell you what...my hobby on Wheres George Dot Com has lost a lost of interest for me, when I contrast it against what I'm doing, accomplishing, learning and experiencing on Find A Grave.
So...end of day addendum...still wresting with getting place names added so I can document cemeteries on Nauru, which is a fascinating situation. Officially, there are 5 designated places for burial...unofficially, people are being buried all over, including yards.
Also, I was given manager control of a grave that I was documenting. The guy who created the grave was just, like, you want to manage it? And I was, like, sure...and that's how I got management of this fascinating British Able Seaman, who drowned in Mozambique.
Also learned the sad story of this young Iranian, deported from Australia to a detention facility on the island nation of Nauru, who took his own life.
Wish I could spend more time on Find A Grave, but I can't do this all day...I have to do some legal case research in the matter of a 1959 Ford Galaxie Skyliner convertible.
Meh. I could have to deal with WORSE subject matter.
(February 22, 2020)
I found a very nice description for Queen Cemetery, Eddy County, New Mexico which had no description at all. I found something that had been on the internet in 1993, such as it was back then, and was archived. Very useful...even had driving directions. I submitted the info through the forum.
Found a cemetery that had not been documented before in the Seychelles Islands and added it.
That particular place, I could find just one cemetery but the next place I need to finish in Thailand, there are many. So I knocked out just one in the Seychelles before hitting the sack. This is so much like coin or stamp collecting though, in many ways, a lot more fun and meaningful.
Trying to add a couple cemeteries in La Digue, Seychelles Islands...not having much luck, so sent a message to the admins.
Had a nice exchange with a Find A Grave member who documents cemeteries in Australia, but sometimes South Africa and New Zealand. There was a fascinating controversy involving this grave:
Which is written about here:
Turns out me and the manager of this grave have the same passion for poorly documented overseas areas...I sent him my "magic link" to a resource I've been using that I won't share with JUST ANYONE.
Wish I could be a "graver" all day but I've been working constantly on that case with the 1959 convertible.
(April 1, 2020)
Important research into the 1918 flu pandemic (so much in the news, lately, as relevant history) was conducted at a cemetery in Brevig Mission, Canada, where flu victims were preserved in the permafrost.
This cemetery, however, had no description. I found some good information from an online article and contributed through the forums. Hopefully, my information will make the cut.
(April 7, 2020)
I was finally able to post, with appropriate credit, that picture from the island nation of Nauru, of the lone grave.
I must give thanks to my buddy, who probably prefers to remain nameless, who helped me put the image in a usable format.
As my last act for the night, I went to the forum and shared a latitude and longitude for this cemetery, full of Allied war graves, in Algeria.
May 23, 2020
Catching up on a lot of stuff I've done in the past few months. For the first time, I was able to fulfill some photo requests and as of today I'm up to a total of 9.
The first one happened kind of by accident. I had to switch laptops with somebody who was isolating at home during COVID-19, and there was a little cemetery on the way.
Small cemeteries are obviously the best for fulfilling photo requests since the geographic area to be covered is manageable. So I looked to see if there were any requests, and there were a few...so I thought, well, what the heck? I'm all alone in the cemetery and I won't catch COVID-19 here, that's for sure.
I wasn't hopeful of finding any requested graves because, well, I've tried in the past without any luck. In my prior experience, requested graves are often unmarked or worn away...that's why they're requested in the first place, because no photo exists!
But I got lucky. This cemetery was different than my previous experience. I quickly found the grave. He was a civil war veteran, and he was a volunteer at that. His wife was right there with him. I was honored to take that picture.
So I've been able to fulfill more requests at two other cemeteries nearby...though I've also looked and looked, without success, like my previous experience. But if I have four surnames, I just kind of walk around, systematically, saying the names under my breath...and then if I stumble upon one of those surnames, I double check on a little handwritten list.
This is also great exercise. A nice walk with a productive goal, instead of walking for its own sake. Along the way, I've managed to document a few more graves while trying to fulfill photo requests.
I was able to find a coat-of-arms and Wikipedia description in the public domain for this cemetery:
I submitted that info through the forum. Found there are a number of graves listed on Wikipedia...I was able to get all those listed, taking the number of graves registered on Find A Grave from one to about two dozen. Of those, I found three individuals well-known enough to have their own Wikipedia entries.
I'm hoping to return to my foreign cemetery hobby soon, but there's always other (paying) work to be done. At least I got my profile updated today, which was on my List Of Things To Do.
June 1, 2020
Yesterday, I racked up my all-time best month (in terms of total dollar value entered) on Wheres George Dot Com, which followed my best month for total bills entered, and right now I'm sitting on my best year ever. WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH FIND-A-GRAVE?
I've made a decision to spend less time with Wheres George in favor of Find A Grave, because this has more of a positive social impact. I've figured out how I will do less on Wheres George but maintain my numbers by, for example, getting lots of sequential bills in December but really slacking off the rest of the year...unless somebody hands me a stack of 100s to register. I can't ignore that kind of low-hanging fruit!
Here's an update on a whole lot of stuff I've been doing in the past few weeks...
Submitted my own original photos to these cemeteries:
I tend to take pictures of signs with administrative information about who runs the cemetery. Somebody else already took a picture of the lovely entrance but you know what? Where are you going to get the information about who runs that cemetery? And, very often, I update Google as well.
I also added an image to the grave of Georgia Tann, a rather infamous person...
The book "Before We Were Yours" is based on the crimes of Georgia Tann, so I took a picture of the book about the time I finished reading it. I feel pretty good about that literary angle.
I was researching something else and came upon an undocumented grave, so I documented it:
I found 5 different Wiki Commons photos for graves in Venezuela, like this one:
These were prominent individuals and I was able to find good images and document some graves. How did I end up in Venezuela? Heck if I remember. The same way I ended up in France doing roughly the same thing, here's an example:
And Italy, here's one example:
And then I started my "plague pit" obsession, which involves the Black Death (1300s) and the Great Plague (1664-1666). Some of the graves are so massive it's possible that, technically, I have more graves than Find-A-Grave members who have been active 17 years, though these are invisible and inexact numbers...and not my reason for doing this.
I found it psychologically comforting, somehow, to document the graves of plague victims during this ongoing COVID-19 crisis...which has impacted me in a very odd way. Odd because I'm being SOOO careful, more careful than 99 percent of the population, I think...and I was the opposite of a germaphobe prior to that...really somebody who believed "That which does not kill me strengthens me."
Along the way, I turned up at least one Roman cemetery, so that was exciting...
Though right now I'm trying to get a geographic place name added so I can document a Chinese cemetery that's even older.
And I found a good photo, in the public domain, for this cemetery:
June 28, 2020. I've asked a very prolific Find A Grave member to give me administrative control of the grave of my maternal grandmother, so I can add relevant family history directly instead of going through a third party. Second request. Still waiting to hear back.
What prompts me to be on Find A Grave today is that my sister, Mary, is texting me grave photos from Nideros Lutheran Church Cemetery in Vining, Minnesota, and I'm telling her, please, put those photos on Find A Grave because I can't keep these people straight the way you do. She's very good with family history.
July 5, 2020, asking a Find-A-Grave member for the third time to transfer administrative control of my maternal grandmother's grave.
August 20, 2020. Some weeks ago, I was able to get that administrative control for the grave of "Grandma Marie." Many thanks to the Find A Grave member who created that entry in the first place.
September 11, 2020
For this cemetery:
Found a good description and submitted it through the forums. I might find myself in Sparta, Wisconsin in the next few months so I was just looking to see what kind of cemetery work needed doing, there.
September 12, 2020: Out of the blue, received information about this grave in Yukon Territory, Canada, by email:
I've never been to Yukon, but by finding public information online and adding it to Find A Grave, I somehow manage graves in Yukon.
November 18, 2020. About a month ago, I was at an estate auction in Coal County, Oklahoma, (Mary "Polly" Lanoy estate) and somehow I acquired a fat envelope of old newspaper obituaries. I am photographing these one by one and uploading the pics...though in one instance I had to create a memorial. Very satisfying work.
Sparta, Wisconsin trip hasn't happened because of the ongoing COVID-19 emergency.
November 19, 2020. The work of uploading obituaries continues. There are surely at least 100 packed in that envelope; a treasure of genealogical information made much, much more convenient and accessible to the world. I guess the countertop of the cafe where I am eating will get immortalized as the background in many of the obituary photos.
November 20, 2020. Last night, added a cemetery in Albania. So much work to be done there.
Today, uploaded a few obituary photos, some images of my Norwegian relatives, and asked for administrative control of a couple of graves of relatives. But my father always said the dead have to make way for the living, and so I have a bunch of other work today that involves the living...otherwise I would be happy to do this all day.
November 21, 2020. I obtained photos of some relatives, including my great-grandparents, and uploaded those. Left little Norwegian flags in lieu of flowers on the graves of some relatives. Requested admin control of the graves of some relatives.
November 27, 2020. Uploading obituaries from the "thick envelope" obtained at the Mary Lanoy estate auction.
February 21, 2021. In the past week, during the big snow emergency, I was stuck at a hotel and my place of work was shut down. So I uploaded many of those obituaries from the "thick envelope." I uploaded more than 100.
I also uploaded some family pics with help from my sister who has been using digital photo enhancement software, which produces amazing results. Created a grave for the eldest son of my great-grandparents, who is the source of my own name, kind of, sort of, it's a long story.
February 22, 2021. Yesterday, I created a grave for my great-great grandfather, whose name came down to me (kind of, sort of, it's a long story) and today for my great-great-grandmother, whose gravesite is currently unknown.
I found a way to take over management of a number of graves that, in summary, nobody else wants to manage. My number of managed graves has gone from about 250 to, this morning, 300 exactly. I have to think about how many graves, exactly, can I reasonably manage? Of course, the demands on a manager are fairly small...be nice to people, transfer the grave to a relative if they ask, approve bona fide edits.
Yeah, I can handle that for a pretty fair number of graves.
March 1, 2021: My number of manage graves has doubled, then tripled in a period of a few weeks, from 200 to 400 and now over 600.
March 5, 2021: Managed memorials, 902 by lunch. By 5 PM, 1054. I have taken over the management of a bunch of graves in an obscure British war cemetery in India. I read about the cemetery in The Search For The Pink Headed Duck by Rory Nugent.
March 6, 2021. One of the graves I took over at the aforementioned British War Cemetery has an inappropriate photo of a raised middle finger. Not sure why on earth anybody contributed that particular photo.
Anyway, I did everything I could to try removing the photo as the (newly appointed) grave manager, but I had no luck, so I just fired off an email to support.
Also, I was excited when two suggested edits arrived for a grave where I just took over the management. Being able to look that stuff over, judge it, and (usually) hit APPROVE is the whole point of managing memorials. I do not know the maximum number I can commit to managing, but at the current rate of approvals being submitted the answer is a whole lot more.
8PM approximately; I just broke 1200.
March 7, 2021. I found relatives to take control of two graves. I had admin control of those graves for maybe an hour. Here was one of those.
New grave management total for this morning: 1461.
March 13, 2021. New total is 2,197. Working on an interesting correction for one of the graves... seems to be a doppelganger name AND title for a picture of George Potter. One was killed in Bangladesh and the other near Libya.
March 14, 2021. Turns out there is a doppelganger but all the current memorial information is correct for the George Potter who died in (what is now) Bangladesh.
I am in contact with a relative of Sister Betty Kitt and was able to correct an erroneous birth date in her bio, and also add the maiden name of Sister Kitt's mother. I am hoping to obtain an image of the brave sister who died in Bangladesh.
March 20, 2021. Total graves managed, 2978. I am making an effort to submit 5 cemetery descriptions a day, using non-copyrighted government sources. It is like taking little trips around the world, since I am concentrating on the very neglected subject of foreign cemeteries in non-English speaking countries.
After a couple weeks, I am finished with Sai Wan cemetery in Hong Kong. I have moved on to Regina Trench Cemetery in France. Total memorials managed is now over 4,000.
Each day, for a couple weeks, now, I have been adding 5 cemetery updates in the forums. It looks like I will be bogged down in British War Cemeteries in India for quite a while. Along the way, I've helped with corrections, edits (a whole bunch of middle initials in Sai Wan!) and transferred a few graves to grateful relatives. One nice lady was particularly grateful, and that was gratifying.
April 15, 2021. Such an exciting day on Find A Grave, which is my "workplace safe" distraction when the phone isn't ringing off the hook so I can book people for vaccine appointments.
Today, I added old, non-copyrighted images for Mordecai, the brother of Esther, from the Bible. I discovered a duplicate memorial entry for Queen Esther (from the BIBLE, mind you!) and submitted a request to merge. I uploaded images for Ezra and Ezekiel and submitted a non-copyrighted description of the Tomb of Esther and Mordecai.
I know I'm just contributing stuff to a site on the internet but it's THE site, THE premier grave site on the internet, and I can't help but feel like I somehow TOUCHED those great personages.
In terms of cemetery descriptions, after a long week I have found my way out of India, briefly went through Iran, and now I'm in Iraq...just concentrating on Commonwealth War Grave cemeteries, mind you, not all regions and provinces. I am also muddling my way through Regina Trench Cemetery. I swear...
Those chilling graves detail documents. You can almost feel the death, you can almost smell the horror of the World War One trenches while looking at those old, yellowed graves detail documents with century old typing and the hand-inked corrections.
It really makes you believe in the value of DOG TAGS. You can see one soldier, and he has a name because he had an "identity disk" or some letters on him...and around him are a dozen soldiers with no identity disc or letters, all unidentified.
I was already in the habit of never taking off my dog tags, ever, unless the chain breaks. This only reinforces that habit.
April 24, 2021: I received word that my suggestion to merge duplicate graves for Queen Esther, from The Bible, was officially approved. What a thrill.
I had a great conversation by email with a brand new Find A Grave member who is thinking of doing some work on a small cemetery up in Canada, where about a couple years ago I added some memorials from a PDF history. Our conversation started with my long-ago photo request for a grave known simply as "A.B."
I have worked my way to Italy, alphabetically, adding descriptions and latitude, longitude of certain documented war graves. Italy was supposedly the "soft underbelly of Europe" but I am finding it not much easier than the Allies did, ha ha.
April 29, 2021. Still fighting my way through Italy. My total managed graves are now over 5,000. Had a nice conversation with a lady in regard to the ancestry of a Robert Barclay, buried in Regina Trench Cemetery. (The horror of that place!) I am hopeful that I can link Robert Barclay with his parents and that whole lineage of well-researched history.
Also, today I went over 1,000 photos. Of course, many of those are duplicates; for example, one image of a graves roster from a small World War One cemetery that applies to 25 different graves. Al the same, it was a thrill to see that number roll up above 999.
May 1, 2021, I adopted the "familes should stay together" credo when it comes to transfers outside guidelines, both in terms of giving and recieving. Somebody I was transferring a grave to said it, and I replied, oh, I like that. I'm going to wear that out.
Then I saw it in somebody else's profile just today. It's important enough that I added an addendum, near the top of this screed.
This morning I saw that a new Find-A-Grave member I had encouraged was adding memorials, and that felt good. But today will be full of other work...maybe before midnight I will manage to add 5 cemetery corrections. Tonight I think I will successfully "fight my way out of Italy."
May 3, 2021. It took until Monday morning, but I have finished documenting Commonwealth cemetery descriptions in Italy, and I'm working on Jamaica.
May 7, 2021. I now manage more than 6,000 memorials. I have finished with Jamaica, and the one Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery in Jordan, and I am now working on submitting cemetery descriptions for Commonwealth War cemeteries in Kenya.
May 13, 2021. I have finished with the Commonwealth Cemeteries of Kenya, and I am also done with Lebanon and Latvia. I'm now working my way through Liberia.
Something pretty interesting happened with Latvia. I was in contact with a Find A Grave member in Latvia who reached out, and who pointed me to an online Latvian resource. By pushing a little British flag button I was able to change portions of the site--certainly not ALL the site, but PORTIONS of the site--to English.
So, with a little helpful English, and an educated guess that a particular Latvian word repeated 4 times might mean "no name" or "unidentified," I managed to obtain images of all 4 graves of unidentified Commonwealth casualties in Latvia...3 soldiers and 1 sailor. So it was I found usable public images for ONE HUNDRED PERCENT of the unidentified Commonwealth War dead in one nation.
Not a bad day's work, and I also did a fair amount of work at a cemetery in Latvia where there are 11 Commonwealth War dead.
As always, I'm getting my 5 cemetery updates submitted daily, and filling in any cemeteries that fall through the cracks...like a Jewish cemetery in Lebanon with a single Commonwealth war grave.
May 15, 2021: I have finished uploading descriptions and coordinates for cemeteries in Lithuania and Madagascar, and now I am working on the nation of Malawi. My total managed grave number is now 7,100.
May 15, 2021: I have finished working on the nation of Malawi, and have taken on Malaysia...which promises to bog me down for a while. Found 6 German graves that need to be documented in Koronga War Cemetery in Malawi. As a relative of mine would phrase it so well: Some mother's son.
May 18, 2021. I have finished with Malawi, and Malaysia, and Mali. In Mali, I literally did some work in Timbuktu. My parents used to use the expression "out in Timbuktu" to mean a place that was far away, at the ends of the earth.
I am now working on Malta. I can't believe how many memorials are on Malta, considering what a small place it is.
May 19, 2021. I continue to work on Malta, and now I've learned why there are so many memorials on Malta...because death rained down upon Malta in World War 2 but that island held and held...also because massive numbers of casualties were treated there.
Today I was able to add an image in public domain to the memorial of Simon The Zealot, one of the Apostles who is buried at St. Peter's Basilica. I also added an "eternal flame" flower. Any time I touch the graves of Bible figures it gives me chills of reverence. I resolve to do that more often.
Also, I am creating a virtual cemetery of rare X surnames...which was how I found St. Peter's Basilica, because some of the Popes are X, the 10th.
May 20, 2021. It was thrilling to perform some work in St. Peter's Basilica, like the Michelangelo of Find A Grave! I went through all the graves and found out the "male/female" gender designation had often been skipped, so--are all the popes male? Yes, they are. I made sure of THAT, though I also found one female supporter of the papacy that I was able to designate female.
I was able to successfully submit edits to put the title "Pope" in front of at least two ancient popes...and I think I tried to "saint" somebody, as well, but not sure if the edit came back approved quite yet. The most thrilling work all day was to submit for approval edits to the memorial of the Apostle Paul...who was, of course, born Saul of Tarsus. I also submitted images, in the public domain, for the Apostle Paul.
Amazingly, Find A Grave lacks a description for St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, so it was my honor to submit one by taking Wikipedia and chopping it down to manageable length and concentrating upon the "St Peter's as cemetery" aspect of Vatican City.
Also learned a lot about a place called the Catacombs of Callixtus, and I'm submitting a description for that using the same process. I really can't get enough of these ancient Christian graves, and work on these feels fulfilling like prayer. I feel like I want to drop the work on Commonwealth War Graves and concentrate on Rome for a while, but once I start at "A" I only feel right if I can work my way to "Z," so back to Malta I go.
I will take Malta as far as I can today and see if I can get to the next "Letter M" country.
Oh, I should add...one of the funny things that happened today was I submitted a website for the Vatican to be added to the St. Peter's Basilica entry...well, when I was on the Vatican website trying to click on some entry about tombs the workplace server stopped me. The site was "forbidden."
I just think it would be pretty funny for somebody in admin to check what kind of "forbidden" site I was on, and then see it was the Pope's website in Rome! I hasten to add that I am on duty right now, doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing: waiting for the phone to ring so I can book people for vaccine. I am not goofing off but doing my duty. There is just a lot of dead time.
GET IT? Dead time? Like all the time I work on Find A Grave is "dead time?"
OK, back to Malta.
(9:36 AM: I was able to count up yesterday's totals because the edit approvals came to my phone automatically, and I kept score as I deleted those: I submitted 98 male gender identifiers for popes, saints, and others buried in Rome. I also submitted 2 female gender identifiers.
I also designated Charlie Chaplain's dog "Mut" as male, which is what history says the dog was, male. The cemeteries of Hollywood catch my interest, but I feel like there is more worthwhile work to be done in war cemeteries and the graves of ancient Christians.
May 21, 2021. First, to cover the stuff I did yesterday. I found more ancient, famous and even Biblical figures who did not have gender designators, and submitted those for change, as follows: Phillip The Apostle, Germanicus, Tiberius Claudius Nero, Augustus Caesar, and Boudica.
Yes, I know Boudica is female. So is St. Vibiana, and I got that corrected, too.
Found duplicate graves for the Apostle Paul, which I had to submit by email since it's not so easy to merge famous graves. Also a duplicate for St. Urban I and Saint Anterus.
I found images in the public domain for Emperor Tiberius, Joseph of Arimathea.
My searching led me to discover dozens of graves with erroneous date designators, like somebody who died in the year 1946 but somebody just transcribed "46" and guess what? It appears they died in the year 46 AD, and that's how it comes up in searches. So I submitted lots of corrections, sent out lots of messages...met an interesting fellow graver like that.
But then toward the end of the day...yes, it was a long day of waiting for the phone to ring so I could do my duty, so a lot of Find A Grave work was achieved...I found memorials for the Three Wise Men that somebody had created, yes, ***THE*** THREE WISE MEN.
For a few hours in the afternoon, I was in charge of the memorial for Gaspar (also spelled Caspar and Jaspar) and really buffed it up, adding photos and information from Wikipedia. Nailed down the date of death according to tradition. Then I returned the memorial to its owner.
Had some great conversations with the creator of that memorial, who also created memorials for a few dozen (let us call them) obscure Roman Catholic saints...and a few who are merely beatified but not yet canonized. I even started to create a "virtual cemetery" of saints.
I have been busy finding images in public domain for this fellow's collection of saints and really buffing up those memorials. Also finished with Malta today, and another "M" country after that, and I'm now working my way through Mauritius.
May 22, 2021. Woke up this morning and in the course of checking out areas of interest on the internet, I discovered THE ACORNS ARE FOUND.
Specifically, two men with the last name "Acorn," a father and son who died in an accident in icy water up in Canada in 1888. The location of their graves was known, from a cemetery history that I carefully, grave-by-grave, turned into memorials.
I submitted a photo request and that request was outstanding for about two years. In fact, it was one of my very first photo requests ever made. Well, somebody in the area found that old grave and was even able to obtain dates of birth from the old stone. Here is the thank you note I wrote a moment ago:
I am so excited you found those two Acorn graves. I think those are pretty nearly my very first photo requests, and alphabetically they always come up near the top in my list of managed memorials so I see them all the time.
They are not even my relatives...just lonely, obscure graves that I documented from a PDF of a graveyard history. I put in a photo request because I think every cemetery should have a few outstanding photo requests, so gravers who happen upon the cemetery will have something to hunt for and, in so doing, perhaps document even more of the cemetery.
But there was also...I don't know, a kind of feeling or sentiment. The story of their deaths, I guess. I grew up on Minnesota and often went out on frozen lakes with my father. Every year somebody went out too early, too late, or did something fatal in-between. Their story seems too close, too familiar.
I didn't even know if gravestones were out there. Heck, I've never even been to that province of Canada, let alone that cemetery. I was just working and trying to do good from afar, via the internet.
Lately, I put more explanation into my photo requests..."This is not a relative, just a lonely soldier grave...if you should find yourself in Benghazi, Libya...etc."
Would you like to manage these two memorials? I will gift them to you, if you like. I know if an interested relative ever appears, you will turn them over.
Either way...just, thanks. Thanks for going there and doing what you did.
A P.S. to my previous message....
I think I may have created that Alcorn cemetery as well. I don't remember for sure. But that last sentence about the spelling of the names versus the spelling of the cemetery....that "feels" like something I wrote a while back.
I did transfer those two Acorn graves. The other graver is geographically close. But what a great Find A Grave team effort, made more amazing by the fact I've never been in that province of Canada and yet I managed to start that ball rolling from an PDF of a document.
Today, I submitted my 5 grave corrects, per the usual, making my way through Monaco and ending up in Morrocco. Also took a side trip outside the alphabetical list of nations with Commonwealth war graves, to Colgne, Germany. There the reliqueries of the 3 Wise Men are kept.
To think I have, briefly in the last few days, had administrative control of ***the*** Three Wise Men. I made improvements to those memorials and then, as promised, handed them right back to the guy who created them. I am borrowing a saint or two from him each day, then returning those memorials with careful improvements. Today I finished with Saint Apollonia of Alexandria.
Today I also wrote an email missive (more expressive than a regular email, but less than a manifesto) with some ideas about improving Find A Grave; this in response to the "please submit feedback about improving Find A Grave" that appears when I am offered management of a grave; wasn't like I just got it in my head to write a missive.
Anyway...my idea, in summary, keep score and give credit for cemetery creation; but only in nations where there are a lot of missing cemeteries, basically the non-English speaking places; India being an exception...lots of undocumented cemeteries but English is the official language.
I had some other minor ideas, too, basically about adding a couple sentences to the "Cemetery Corrections" forum and being quite open to good, trustworthy information for cemeteries that currently lack any description, website, address, etcetera.
The other day I also added a gender identifying edit to Titus (39 to 81 AD) as well as St. Eliphius, and (!!!!) Phillip The Apostle. Also found a good historical place of birth and death for Phillip The Apostle. Spending hours dealing with Saints and Apostoles is like being in Sunday school or a class on early church history. How lucky I am. This period of "dead time" won't last forever. I better enjoy it while I can.
I am off to send another email and reconcile duplicate graves for St. Hygenus.
May 23, 2021. I found duplicate memorials for St. Anne, the mother of The Virgin Mary, and submitted those to Find A Grave.
I found gender identifiers lacking for the following individuals and submitted those: Saint Mark the Apostle, the Emperor Caligula, and Claudius (as in, "I, Claudius")
I submitted my 5 cemetery correction/updates for today, working my way into the nation of Mozambique. I came upon the only World War II casualty buried in Mozambique, whose grave I took administrative control of a while back and wrote about that...it was a blast from the past, my very first Commonwealth War grave and now I'm involved with so many.
I looked up Portugese involvement in World War I along the way because of some mention of a Portugese war death that I came upon...fascinating. I prefer to read about World War II but World War I is still pretty interesting and you can't understand II without a firm basis in I.
May 24, 2021. The day begins in the deep, dark Congo, where I have been tracking down an obscure Commonwealth War Graves cemetery.
Here is the email I received from the CWGC:
Dear Mr Hoff
Thank you for your enquiry about Lubudi African Cemetery in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Please accept my sincere apologies for the delay in getting back to you but it has taken some time to look into.
Unfortunately, we have very little information about the cemetery as we have not been able to visit for many years because of the political instability and unrest within the country. As you are probably aware from your own investigations, even finding information on-line about the DRC is difficult.
I have however, been able to access our archive file for the site and although the location information is limited, I have been able to piece together some details which you may find useful. Lubudi is a town located approximately 220 miles north of the city of Lubumbashi which is in the south of the country. The cemetery is close to the 'Cimenkat' cement plant (Cimenkat - Lubudi Cement Plant (industryabout.com) which is located at these GPS Co-ordinates: -9.942339, 25.960236.
I believe the cemetery will be situated within quarter to half a mile radius of the plant.
In closing, apologies once again for the time it has taken to get back to you but I hope the information provided is helpful.
Co-ordinator, Africa and Asia Pacific Area
And here is the email I sent, a moment ago, to Find A Grave. I can't add that cemetery until Find A Grave adds some geography to its drop-down menu:
Can you please add, to your locale geography, the town of Lubudi in Haut-Katanga Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo? I really need Lubudi as it is 200 kilometers from the only town you have listed for that province, which is Lubumbashi. That's just too far away!
I have been tracking down a cemetery there with help from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, see their email below. There are 15 known and well-documented graves there, and I will be excited to add that cemetery and those memorials just as soon as it can be done properly…for which I need Lubudi to be added as a geographic place.
While I await word of that, I am headed to the "M" countries, starting with Mozambique, to complete my 5 daily cemetery documentations.
May 26, 2021. I was just able to add this cemetery, with assistance from both the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (they provided approximate geographic coordinates) and Find A Grave Admin (they had to add geography to the drop down menu)
Soon, I hope to make memorials for the 15 individuals buried there.
Note that no credit is given in Find A Grave's "scoring system" for cemetery creation, not even one that required this much work. This is something I've been suggesting could be changed. But at least I have seemingly unlimited profile characters to claim credit, anyway.
Submitted my 5 corrections today...I am really bogged down in Namibia, where there are many small cemeteries that contain burials from the clash between Allied and Axis forces in World War I in this part of the world, a campaign that doesn't get too terribly much attention in most history of World War I. Looks like I will be in Namibia for a while, WHO KNEW?
Also, today I discovered, kind of by accident, that some "test cemeteries" exist for Find A Grave. These can be found by using "Find A Grave" as a cemetery search term. I had a little fun there today. However, it is my quickly instituted policy in these test cemeteries that I won't leave flowers like flags, poppies, in fact most flowers I won't leave there. I will only leave mostly silly and whimsical flowers and non-sacred flowers because I don't want to debase the currency of flowers left on the grave of, say, saints.
But a TEST CEMETERY? What obscure and nerdy Find-A-Grave fun. I urge others to give it a go.
May 27, 2021. Had a lovely conversation today with a Find-A-Grav member in Namibia, who pointed out an issue with duplicate cemeteries and people trying to create different cemeteries for soldier graves.
The PROBLEM, I say, is the wording of the CWGC website which, naturally, concentrates upon its own soldier graves. Sometimes, in doing so, they seem to imply these graves are in separate cemeteries when, in fact, often they are in municipal cemeteries. Even their photos can lead to this mistaken assumption and, therefore, the creation of duplicate cemeteries.
Also today worked on the memorial for Saint Emphrem The Syrian, got it all updated, and transferred it back. Learned quite a bit about the early Church that way.
May 28, 2021. I continue to work my way through Namibia with cemetery corrections and adding documentation, here and there. I found more than a dozen graves in one place that needed corrections, which I could easily correct by working off CWGC information. All my suggested edits were quickly accepted, which was gratifying.
Today I found somebody had posted...what is the word? not so much "inappropriate" images so much as "what are these even doing here" images to the grave of, oh my word, ARISTOTLE. I sent an email query for correction to Find A Grave since there was no way to contact the Find A Grave member; message function inactive.
I nominated three people for sainthood...that is to say, I suggested with proposed edits that "Saint" is a title, not a first name. I started at Year 1 AD and I have been searching, year by year with a 25 year range, for anybody with "Saint" as their first name.
Finding some saints that way and also adding images in the public domain. The Cyrillic Alphabet is named after Saint Cyril, who invented it? I DID NOT KNOW THAT!
Well, now I know that.
Also, today I was the first Find A Grave member to leave a flower (a candle) for this Saint.
Discovered a duplicate of Saint Apollonia and submitted a merger request.
May 29, 2021. It's Memorial Day Weekend and today I spent the whole morning, and plenty of the afternoon, improving the online memorials of soldiers...even a few of what might be considered enemy soldiers, i.e. Germans.
It took forever to work my way through the end of the Commonwealth Graves in Namibia. I had to create, like, 4 or 5 cemeteries. I also submitted those cemeteries to Google.
I have now worked my way to the Netherlands, and I'm noticing there are 476 Commonwealth cemeteries and based on the first 10...there are a whole lot of undescribed cemeteries there. I thought places like Burma and Namibia bogged me down for a while, but the Netherlands look like it will take forever.
I found a nice list of saints somebody compiled, though it is a list with "religious figures" mixed in, even an anti-pope. But still a good lists of saints and I will make use of it to expand my virtual cemetery.
But enough Find A Grave for today. Today was a day with a whole lot of Find A Grave.
May 31, 2021, Memorial Day. Today, in Kampen Roman Catholic Cemetery, Netherlands, I documented the graves of 5 unknown airmen. Left virtual poppies there.
June 4, 2021. Today, in Lutten General Cemetery, the Netherlands, I took administrative control of 4 of the 5 documented graves for that virtual cemetery; Commonwealth Airmen shot down in World War II. Uploaded some documents from the CWGC.
I am now a "vax runner" instead of working in an office all day booking people for vaccine, sometimes waiting 10, 15 minutes for the phone to ring. So I can't be as active on Find A Grave lately. That period of about 3 months in that office may end up being my most active period on Find A Grave ever, at least until retirement.
(Action movie announcer voice)
"AFTER THE APOCALYPSE, there were a fast, intrepid few who ruled the infected wastelands, braving every danger to run lifesaving vaccines. They were known...AS VAX RUNNERS!!!"
(Vehicle passes in a cloud of dust, followed by armed mutants in tricked out, post-apocalyptic vehicles)
June 5, 2021. Submitted descriptions for 5 more cemeteries in the Netherlands. Total managed memorials just passed the 8k milestone.
June 10, 2021. In this cemetery, about half a dozen grave photos were turned on their side.
I straightened them out, on top of submitting the usual 5 cemetery corrections. I am stuck in Netherlands and will be for a while.
June 12, 2021. A recent photo request that I submitted was fulfilled for this memorial:
That war grave was the only one without a photo in that particular cemetery, and the simple act of requesting a photo quickly moved things forward. Before I head out this morning to shop, I'm going to make more photo requests where needed.
10:17 PM, before wrapping up for the night I learned, and added as bio information, an amazing story that connects these two side-by-side graves in Hong Kong:
June 13, 2021. Today, I went back and forth between the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Website and Google, with some Find-A-Grave double-checking, and added a bunch of missing cemeteries to Google. Find A Grave limits how many cemetery corrections I can upload in a day, but there is no limit to my Google fun except time and energy.
I worked my way through the A and B Commonwealth War Graves countries all the way to Canada, and I'll be in Canada for a while. Also submitted my 5 Netherlands cemetery updates...I will be in the Netherlands for a while. I have to admit, I like it when I can finish up a country quickly and move to the next one instead of spending weeks and weeks in a country, but I feel there is virtue in being very thorough.
June 14, 2021. A couple days ago, I sent an email to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, letting them know some latitude and longitude seemed to be off a little bit for a place called Limbe European Cemetery in Cameroon. Looking at Google Earth, I could see the cemetery nearby but those coordinates were in somebody's back yard.
Today, I received an email back saying I was correct, and the coordinates would be changed accordingly on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. This is the second time I've gotten something changed on that website...very exciting!
June 17, 2021. Typing this, I suddenly realize it's my sister's birthday and sent her a text.
So I have a lunch hour during my current COVID-19 duty, and during lunch I manage to put in a little time on Find A Grave. Today I discovered 5 war graves that were documented on the CWGC site, but not on Find A Grave. I created a cemetery and created all 5 memorials.
I don't have time, at the moment, to upload the usual CWGC documents for each memorial, but I will take care of that later. It's possible with a small cemetery to completely take care of each grave, but with a monument having thousands of names...the task feels overwhelming. So I like those small cemeteries for that reason.
Now lunch is over and it's back to the grind, by which I mean my third day of shredder duty. So many medical records documents piled up during the pandemic, and now we are grinding our way toward daylight.
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