Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Obituaries-The Side Dish

n. pl. o·bit·u·ar·ies
Med. Lat.-obituarius (report) of death.
A published notice of death, sometimes with a
brief biography of the deceased

This is the Webster Dictionary definition of the word obituary. However, Sonoran Jackrabbit thinks this definition falls short. It certainly does not allow within this 'published notice of death' the many morsels of information the obituary may offer the genealogy researcher. Patient reader think of the obituary as the side dish to the main course of our cemetery and headstone research.

How satiated the SJ feels after trekking five states from where we live to snap many shots of our elusive relative's headstone when we are fortunate enough to have an obituary to complete the experience.

As a matter of history, obituaries were begun in the 1500's with the advent of the printing press. They contained little but the name and age of the deceased. When a publisher in the 1800's thought it socially viable to let the reading public know who amongst them had succumbed from one printing of the publication to the next, obituaries became longer and more detailed.

SJ is only a rabbit, who does not feel the need to wax on when the evidence presented is sufficient to allow the reader to form his own conclusion. How much more fulfilling is finding the headstone of Domitila Robles Yanez when SJ has an obituary to go along with it.

All that just could not fit on a headstone. Not meant to. Seriously, why write about obituaries when most of us do understand their value as a resource? Because in Arizona there is a web site that we only became aware of this weekend that consists of nothing but Arizona obituaries. Maybe other states have something similar. This free data base of 33,900 obituaries grows daily from reader's contributions. SJ lives in Arkansas and we were able to submit almost 400 obits for Arizona this weekend alone. It is so simple to access information and just as simple to enter obituaries. Just wanted to highlight
Arizona Obituary Directory

http://obits.arizonagravestones.org/post.php and the wonderful database they are building.

Lots of people from around the United States are Arizona Snowbirds in the winter so even if you are researching someone who is not from Arizona, per se, you may find an obituary for them listed in the database. You never know unless you look.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Robles Virtual Cemetery at Find A Grave

Let me acknowledge here and now that I have used the masthead logo above from the actual Find A Grave website. Hope they don't shoot me as I am a contributor to this wonderful and free site and utilize their logo with the humblest respect.

Most genealogists will be aware of Find A Grave and their contribution to the research of our ancestors so don't let me preach to the choir, as it were. However, for the Sonoran Jackrabbits family, La Familia Robles (The Robles Family) of Arizona, California, Sonora, Mexico (mainly) let me tell you a little about the site so that you also may become interested in contributing to Find A Grave.

Basically, it's a virtual graveyard. No, the concept is not as cold I may make it sound. Here in one place a person wishing to locate the final resting spot of their loved, and maybe unloved ones, may be found. The contribution of information regarding the deceased comes from people like you and me. We upload to the site biographical information, historical information, photos of the individual and perhaps (hopefully) their headstone marker to the cemetery where they are buried. There are thousands of cemeteries with millions of memorials listed for all 50 states and all around the world. If the cemetery doesn't exist on the Find A Grave site you may add it.

We don't just add our family information to this site, but others. Imagine how marvelous it is at midnight to find the resting spot of someone you have been looking for, for over 40 years and just never seemed to have been able to locate when you traipsed all over the cemetery in the heat and the cold where they were suppose to be buried. I know because it happened to me.

Around midnight sitting in Little Rock, AR, tired and thinking I'll check just one more name on a whim, I entered my brother's name, David Joe Vasquez under the Globe Cemetery, Globe, AZ search and to my amazement his name appeared. I clicked on his name and found myself looking at his headstone. I have been looking since I was 18 years old (that was awhile ago) to find his grave....even our mother who is 91 years old now could not recall where he was buried....him having died as an infant when she was 18 and too poor to afford a headstone for him at the time. The city records for the graveyard could not tell me which plot was his. But someone knew and has honored his memory with a beautiful marker.

Located, at last, because of a stranger's kindess to take a photo and upload it to the Find A Grave site. And there are probably thousands of stories like mine.

Now, here is what I think is the really cool aspect of Find A Grave. They allow us to create a virtual cemetery for our loved ones. No matter which cemetery they rest at we can 'bury' them at our virtual cemetery. That's almost inconceivable until you do it. I created a virtual Robles Cemetery where our loved ones from 20 different cemeteries are gathered together, so to speak. The link for it is below.

Find A Grave from a genealogy point of view really is invaluable. Gave great happiness to a 91 year old woman who now knows her child has a headstone to mark his existence. It was found from 1000 actual/cyberspace miles away. You can't put a price on that. But from a practical standpoint, while it's ALWAYS preferable to be able to visit the actual cemetery you are researching, it is not always financially or timewise practical to do so.

Robles family I challenge you to stop at that cemetery you are so used to just driving by, armed with your camera so that you, too, may become a contributor to Find A Grave.