Today instead of my usual rambling, I want to feature a website that I have found very helpful and I'm sure I am not alone. I met Rebecca & Roger at the DCO listfest a few years ago. Both are Darke County, Ohio natives. Both are on the Darke County, Ohio mailing list and attend the annual listfest. Listfest is where people who are on the list come from all over the US to share a meal, a speaker and a day of genealogy in Darke County, Ohio.
Rebecca has written a piece about the beginnings of the project, I can't put the whole thing here but I will put as much as I can along with the link to their ongoing project. Stop by & check out the work these two have done. Now on with Rebecca's intro.
Spencer & Stephens Photographic Cemetery Readings
After years of researching our family descendants it became apparent to Roger and I that when returning to long ago visited cemeteries that far too many of each of our family headstones had become increasingly harder to read in legibility. Some of the older family stones had become chipped or broken over the years, some of the cemeteries grounds we not as nicely taken care of as in years past and the most horrible occurrence was that stones were just “simply gone” and no one seemed to know what had happened to them. Roger and I had each taken pictures of family tombstones in past years for our own personal records. But not enough to save some of our family monuments that now are simply gone or so much harder to read.
It was in 2000 that the idea of doing a photographic cemetery reading came about in a discussion between Roger and I when working one weekend on family data. It had been approxiamentlly 40 years sense the last text reading had been performed by Anita Short and Ruth Bowers. Even with those records available that many of us had used for years in our researching Roger and I wanted to do a more complete permanent record that left little room for error in documenting what each and every stones inscriptions actually were.
With both of our families roots deriving from Darke County and connecting to each others lineage we came up with the concept of reading and photographing the cemeteries in which our family descendents were buried. It would be our way of honoring our deceased family members. It then was decided upon to also incorporate our personal family information in these books. We could include family pictures and documents and even a brief family history of each of our lines. It was explained as to how both Roger and I were related to one another. Some of our more distant “family branches” of those buried in these cemeteries were briefly touched up and pictures, obits., and documents of these individuals were included as well. We only intended at the beginning to do just the cemeteries in which our family members were interred.
Not only were the cemeteries with our relatives buried in them declining each and every year and needed their burials documented but we felt that it was imperative that many other cemeteries and stones falling into disrepair and needed to be done as well. We were by that time being asked by others as to what cemetery we planned on doing next. Friends were urging us to continue on with our work. Jane Barr was our most avid believer in what we were doing. We decided that doing the family histories etc. in our books was too time consuming. With the number of cemeteries that needed read and photographed before further decline happened we knew we needed to do more then one or two cemeteries a year. In 2004 we read and photographed 19 cemeteries and published 6 books. 10 cemeteries / 4 books in 2005. 4 books / 15 cemeteries in 2006. 2007 - 13 cemeteries / 3 books. 2008 3 books / 8 cemeteries. 2009 - 9 cemeteries 3 books plus the index book Vol. 1 that covered the 76 cemeteries and the 25 books we have done thus far.
Our goal is to continue our photographic cemetery reading series of all the cemeteries in Darke Co. Ohio but for possibly one or two of the very largest ones. We will cross that hurtle of doing those cemeteries when all the others have been completed.
Roger and I sat out in accomplishing a quest that actually neither of us in the beginning had anticipated to be so time consuming yet so enjoyable and passionate in our doing. Neither did we ever think from the beginning of our work that 10 years later we would have the number of cemeteries read that we have nor accomplished so much. The work at times can be exhausting but is always very gratifying. Each and everyone of us are put on this earth for a purpose and hope to leave a legacy once we have passed on from this earth. Our books will remain forever. Spencer & Stephens legacy will be in leaving the best documentation they possibly could of those that are buried in the cemeteries among the rural farm lands of Darke County, Ohio.
To visit the website for Rebecca & Rogers photographic cemetery readings click here .
If you have ancestors in Darke County, Ohio, please take a minute & stop by Rebecca & Roger's site. They do fabulous work.
I get no kickback's or recognition for this blog, it is done because I believe cemetery preservation in any form is a neccessary activity if we hope to save the burial locations of our ancestors. Photographing these stones has taken an enormous amount of time & dedication for these two people & I felt some sort of recognition was due.