Monday, April 16, 2012

Lakewood Memorial Cemetery, Hinds County, Mississippi

I think it's probably safe to say that the largest cemetery in Hinds County, if not the state is Lakewood Memorial Cemetery on Clinton Boulevard in Jackson.  Some time back I called the office out of curiosity to get a ball park figure for the number of people interred there.  The number was over 30,000.  I don't know the exact number, but that number was enough for me.  I knew it was huge but I had no idea just how big it really is.

I don't remember exactly when it happened, but some tornadoes came through that part of town and did a tremendous amount of damage to the old trees there.  The cemetery actually had to be closed for a period of time while clean up was done.  The reason I mention that is that with the old trees, I don't think you could fully grasp how spread out it is.

This shot was taken from section 24.  The building in the distance, in about the middle of the picture is a columbarium.  I don't know how far it is, but I do know that it's a hike.  The scene only covers part of a few sections.  One of the things about the cemetery that I think is pretty cool is the way the different sections are marked.  The picture below shows where section 24 is.

I think the little bird houses are a cute touch.

There are a couple of things I'm not to fond of.  The markers are all of the flat bronze type.  You can imagine trying to find the marker for a family member or friend without the exact location.  If you need to know where a family member is buried, you can go by the office and they will help you out with maps and more information.  They've always been very helpful.

The second thing I'm not too keen on is that their records are not computerized, and from what I understand, they have no plans to computerize them anytime in the near future.  I was wondering this morning what their objection is.  I know there is some very sophisticated software these days to enter that information into.  You can add photos, GPS data, etc. It could be a tremendous help for visiting loved ones.  I just hope they'll change their minds in the future.

A fellow graver has made it a goal to take a picture of every memorial in the cemetery.  I volunteered to help him.  It's something that I think is worth every minute of time spent doing it.  I noticed yesterday that there were 90 photo requests for Lakewood.  Since it's unfeasible to walk the cemetery in search of the marker for a particular person, unless the requestor has the exact location, there will probably be many more requests that may be some time getting filled.  As my father-in-law is fond of asking, "How do you eat a whale?"  One bite at a time.  So, it'll take some time, but every memorial entered is one more toward the ultimate goal.


In 1996, the USGenWeb Project was established.  It's organized by state and county.  I've added a link to MSGenWeb to "Sites to See".  It's an invaluable resource for genealogists, and it's completely free.  The only problem is that not all counties are kept up to date.  Still, you can find some great information.

As I mentioned in another post, I'm drawn to the Find-A-Grave requests for cemeteries that have no map or gate shot.  One thing I've found is that several of the MSGenWeb sites for different Mississippi counties have links to surveys done for cemeteries in those counties.  In almost all of them, there's a brief description of the cemetery and/or directions to it.  Granted, the directions may be decades old, depending upon when the survey was done, but it's a place to start.

The surveys are good for another reason.  It can be a good way to verify that the person requested a photo of a headstone for someone who is actually interred there.

If you live in Mississippi and you've never checked out the web page for your county, it'll be worth perusing for sure. 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Yazoo County, Mississippi

This morning I had a nice road trip back to Highway 433 and Mechanicsburg.  Mt. Olivet Cemetery is right across the street from the Mt. Olivet Methodist Church.  It's on 433 and not far from Mechanicsburg Road.  I passed The Blue Rooster again on the way there and stopped in for a bottle of tea and a pack of nabs for the ride home.

I picked Mt. Olivet because there were 13 requests for pictures.  I ended up finding 8 of the 13 graves.  I hate I didn't fine the other 5, but unfortunately there were several headstones that I couldn't read, and I found several of the flat bronze markers that were mostly covered by grass.  I'm afraid there may be some that have gotten completely covered and are no longer visible.

There was a feature of this cemetery that I thought was interesting.  They had a section set aside for Confederate soldiers who had passed away.  A small shelter was constructed with four benches you can sit on to relax or reflect.  The headstones are emmaculate.  I don't know how old they are, but they're obviously well cared for.  I walked through and looked that the names, dates of birth and dates of death and one struck me.  The gentleman was born in 1800 and died in 1862.  So, he was 61 when he fought in the Civil War, and died a year after the war started.  Another soldier was a 1st Lieutenant, and he was only 18 according to his dates of birth and death.  Now I wished I had taken pictures of that part.

Even though I didn't find all the graves I looked for, it was a good trip and another cemetery I had not seen before.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Wesley Chapel Cemetery, Yazoo County, Mississippi

Two or three weeks ago, I went to fulfill some requests at the Wesley Chapel Cemetery in the community of Phoenix.

To get to Phoenix, you have to take Highway 49 to Bentonia.  You then take 433 to Mechanicsburg Road.  After you turn left on Mechanicsburg Road, you just drive until you see the church.  If you're a Civil War buff, a battle was fought at Mechanicsburg during the Vicksburg Campaign.  I had heard about Mechanicsburg, but I didn't realized is was in my own backyard.  I thought it was in Virginia for some odd reason.

When I first got to the cemetery, I spent some time just walking around.  It is just beautiful.  There are quite a few azaleas that must have been spectacular when first in bloom.  There are old cedars with Spanish moss.  I took a picture of one of them but unfortunately, I didn't handle the back light well.  I think it still gives you an idea of the beauty. 

I hate to admit that I didn't find all of the requests I went in search of, but that's just the way it happens sometimes.  It was worth the trip to get the few I did plus the scenery.

As I've said before, it's all about the journey.  Well, as I was driving to the cemetery, I passed a very cool place on 433.  I didn't catch the name when I drove by it, but decided it was worth checking out on the way home.

The Blue Rooster is basically a combination of a general store and restaurant.  If you click on the link, you can check out their menu.  They have another restaurant in Flora right by the railroad tracks.  The folks who own and run the businesses are just as nice and friendly as they can possibly be.  I found out that their burgers were ranked in the top 10 best burgers by the Mississippi Cattlemen's Association.  Just looking at the pictures on their site, I can imagine!

The Blue Rooster is just one example of the neat sites around Mississippi that I'd never see if it weren't for Find-A-Grave the wonderful gravers from Mississippi. 

Friday, April 6, 2012

Goodloe Cemetery, Madison County, Mississippi

I just want to give a little background on the way things work on Find-A-Grave.  People can makes requests for pictures of the headstones of family and friends.  When I want to see the requests, I look at all of those for my zip code.  They can be up to about 50 miles away.  Most of the times, someone has already been to the cemetery and there will be a map generated for the location of the cemetery, and a "gate" shot.  The map makes is easier for others to fulfill future requests. 

Well, for me, I'm drawn to the requests which don't have maps or gate shots.  I have no statistics on how fast cemeteries are disappearing, but it does happen.  If there are no relatives around to care for family cemeteries, Mother Nature can quickly reclaim the land.  I feel there's a need to document them.

It's a very interesting hobby, and can be very gratifying.  Many folks who make requests don't live in the area anymore, or perhaps never did but had ancestors who did.  It's not always convenient for them to get to the cemetery their loved ones are interred in.  I enjoy being able to help.  I'm also a bit selfish in that I enjoy seeing a lot of Mississippi that I wouldn't have otherwise.

Tomorrow morning, I'm going to try and find Goodloe Cemetery and hopefully fufill two requests.  There is no map or gate shot.  One of the invaluable sources of genealogical information is the GenWeb page for the county.  Quite often you'll find a text file of a survey someone has done of the cemetery which may have directions on how to get to the cemetery.  I found a file for Goodloe Cemetery.  It's supposed to be off of Highway 463 in Madison, off of Cedar Hill Road.  There's an interesting note that the owners of the property in 1996 did not want the location published because of the possibility of people wanting to see and locate gravesites.  Well, that would be me.  We'll see what happens if I find it in the morning.

I drove to where the directions said to go.  Unfortunately I found a gravel road that was blocked by a locked gate with posted and no trespassing signs on it and around it.  I wasn't positive that was the right spot so I drove around and asked a couple of folks, including the former sheriff of Madison County, Mr. Toby Trowbridge.  He was very nice.  He and his wife were out working in their front yard.  He called a couple of people.  One of the folks was who I understand is the local historian.  He affirmed that I was in the correct place, but the cemetery is on private property and is overgrown.  I hope someone will have more success than I did.