Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tombstone Study: Samuel L. Dugger Headstone

Out in Carter and Johnson Counties of Tennessee, many of us Duggers know the name Samuel L. Dugger  (Dugger is my father's last name - but I was given my mother's last name of Doerflinger...but I still consider myself a Dugger).

Born in 1806, Samuel was the son of John and Mary Engle Dugger.  John and Mary Engle Dugger were the parents of a large number of children (the exact number of children is still being disputed, but the number of children ranges from about 15-20 children).

Samuel is my ancestor, along with his wife Hannah Ida Potter Dugger.  Samuel married his wife in 1830.

Samuel died in June of 1890 and was buried, along with his wife Hannah, at the Julius Dugger Cemtery in Johnson County, Tennessee.  Below, you will see a picture of his headstone (however, the words are very difficult to read because so much time has passed since it's creation).

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Holidays Are A Time To Spend With Family

Hi everyone.  With Christmas less than a week away and one very family packed schedule for me - I must tell everyone that I will mostlikely not be posting any articles until after Christmas.  I just have so much to do and I have very little time to do the research that I think these articles deserve.

So I'd like to take this time to tell everyone Merry Christmas (Or Happy Christmas if you are from the U.K) and happy holidays.  I hope everyone enjoys their family during this wonderful time of year so that you have some memories to pass down to your descendants someday.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Cleaning Stone Grave Markers

Part of preserving our cemeteries is to try and preserve the stone grave markers that show the final resting places of our ancestors.  Part of taking care of these cemeteries is to keep these stones clean, which can also help when trying to read the stone grave marker.

Since I am far from an expert in this field, I decided to do some research so that I can try to provide you with the best possible information.  One of the things I found was this wonderful video that was made by a man named Jason Church.  This video shows how to properly clean a grave marker and also comes with an accompaning pdf document that gives the same information.  You can find this video at:

After all my research, I've noticed that one thing has rang true:
Never, ever, under any circumstances, spray, pour, scratch, or rub anything onto the stone.  This could cause further damage.  Contact an expert in cemeteries and stone work and ask that person to help.  If you have the money, the best thing might be to have a new stone created that lists the same information and is placed slightly in front of the old stone.  This way, there is a new stone that will probably last a bit longer than your old one.

For those of you who want to have a rubbing of the stone, please - buy a kit.  I know that these kits can get a bit pricey, but if you are going to rub the stone then you midaswell do it correctly.  By buying a kit from a genealogy store and following the instructions that are included, you can rest easy knowing that you are not furthering any damage to the stone.

Remember, these stones are old and fragile.  Time, weather, and pollution has probably damaged these stones and it is best to make sure that you take all the cautionary steps.  By doing all of these things, you will be making one of your descendants very happy when they come searching for the stone.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Using Interment.net to Find Your Ancestors

Are you trying to find where your ancestor was buried?  Do you know where your ancestor died and you are pretty sure he/she was buried near that town/city?  Well...I have one option to try and find your ancestor.

Try going to http://www.interment.net/us/tn/index.htm to look at some cemeteries by county.  Since this website goes off of volunteers, not every cemetery is listed.  Infact, not every county has a cemetery that has been transcribed.  But, it is still worth a shot because you might find a possible match.

If you are lucky enough to get a possible match then you can ask a volunteer to go over to the cemetery and take some pictures of the tombstone for you.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Using Ancestry.com's Picture Collection To Find Headstones

Have you ever sat on your computer, daydreaming about finding that headstone of your great-great grandfather who lived on the opposite side of the country from where you do?

Well...you could fly to that side of the country, spend your days searching through cemetery after cemetery in hopes of finding his headstone, finally find it and snap a photo of it.

Or...you could try Ancestry.com's Picture collection in hopes that someone took a picture of said headstone and uploaded it onto Ancestry.com.

So now you are probably wondering how in the world you search through Ancestry.com's picture collection.

First, go to www.Ancestry.com. Then, go to the top part of the page and click on the link called "Search". On the left, click on the link that says "Go To The Card Catalog". On the left, clink on the link that says "Pictures".

Now, you have 18 databases to choose from. Go ahead and search these databases and see if maybe you can find your ancestors headstone!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Sister He Never Knew Of...

While I was in Tennessee, one of my wondeful missions was to go into the mountains to take pictures of some gravemarkers and gravestones. I was so thrilled to enter into this rugged country of sorts, into the world of dirt roads and unmarked cemeteries. As odd as it sounds, I was so thrilled to be in something so opposite of my California lifestyle.

When we finally made it to the cemetery, we had to park below a hill and walk up the rest of the way. My Aunt Phyllis warned us to look out for snakes as we walked up the hill full of overgrown grass. When we finally reached the top of the hill, there was a small metal fence that surrounded the cemetery. Most of the place was overgrown with grass, weeds, and bushes. The trees made it so very little light made it into the cemetery and it was a bit hard to see in most places. I certainly wished at that moment that I had brought a flash light so that when I took a picture of the stones, you would actually be able to read them.

So as everyone began looking around, I began taking pictures. My Aunt Deb had the job of writing down what was on each stone. As I was kneeling and bending and twisting every which way to get a "great" picture of my great grandparents' gravestones, I noticed something shiny on the ground. When I reached down, I realized that it was a small stone that had been covered by a bush.

As I pulled the bush back and read the stone, my eyes lit up. "Look what I found!" I shouted out to everyone. As they gathered around me, I read the words on the small stone, "Inf. Dau of Monroe and Matilda Dugger".

I looked at my Aunt Deb and she shrugged. "Dad nevered mentioned nothing to me about a baby sister of his that died young, but then again, he never mentioned much about his family to us."

Everyone looked at my Aunt Phyllis. "I never heard a word about this," she said in suprise.

I was thrilled and ideas were rolling through my head faster than I had time to process them. I suddenly lost interest in the cemetery and was desperate to get back to my Grandpa's house. I had to see him, I had to ask him, I just had to know.

When we finally made it home, I instantly ran into my Grandpa's room to ask him about it. Before I had the chance to tell him what I was so excited about, he smiled at me and tried to calm me down. "Baby Girl, you're going to have to calm down if you want my old ears to hear a word you're saying," he said with a smile. As I told him the story though, his expression changed to one that was difficult to read. "Well, I am sorry to say that I never knew of this 'sister'. My Old Man never mentioned him, but we never talked much. Now, Baby Girl, I'm sorry I can't help you any. But it is time for this old man to get some rest." I gave him a quick hug before leaving his room and that was that.

To this day, I don't know if my Grandpa knew of this "infant daughter" or not. He was never very fond of me researching his parents side of the family. I think this is because he did not get along with his father after his mother's death. He always felt like the black sheep of his family.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Doing Some Volunteer Work During The Holidays

During the holiday season, my mom and I always go searching for a volunteer project that we can take on to better someone's life or community. In the past we've done "adopt a family", where we buy presents for everyone in a low income family, sometimes we even make them a meal and buy them a tree. Other years we've made cookies for our local Boys and Girls Club (That was a 3 day affair of cookie making!).

Every year for the past two years however, I've been trying to find something that relates to genealogy. In the past I've done free look ups or helped people with their brick walls. But this year - I am not only putting a genealogy twist to it, but a cemetery twist too.

This year, I am going to go out and transcribe a small local cemetery with a friend of mine. Once I've done this, I will organize it into a small book that gives pictures, a general map of the cemetery, and a brief local history of the area. Then I will give the book to many of the local libraries in the area and the county, while also creating a website where that lists all the information in the book.

Mind you - this is no small task and will certainly take a lot of effort and time. But these days, the smallest things can brighten up our world. I'm sure someone out there will need the information.

So I call on all of you to find a cool way to volunteer for the genealogy world but with a cemetery twist. I've made a quick list of some ideas to get you started, but certainly anything you come up with will be pretty cool.

  1. Maybe you own a lawn mower and you don't mind cutting grass for a underkept cemetery. You could then go down there and make it look so much nicer while also making it easier to read all the stones and markers.

  2. Maybe you are a great photographer - you could volunteer to take pictures of your local cemeteries and send them to your local genealogical society or put them on a website.

  3. Do what I am doing - make a transcription and publish it.

  4. I find this to be extremely sweet: Clean up any dead flowers around the stones and then place a fresh flower on there.

Whatever you decide to do this holiday season - I'd love to hear about it. Drop me a line to let me know!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Pets Get Buried Too!

I was talking to my dad today about my visit to my Grandpa in the summer of 2003. It was really the only time that I met my Grandpa (well...at least that I can remember. I met him a bunch of times when I was a baby and a toddler).

While I was out there visiting my grandpa in Elizabethton, Tennessee, I learned a lot about my family. One of the things I didn't expect to learn about was my Grandpa's love for his old dog, Jennifer (My little cousin was named Jennifer also...yet he never had a dog named Elyse! Well...that's a story for another time).

So as I am walking around his gigantic backyard (literally...HUGE) and looking at the gardens and trees, I noticed a big gravestone underneath a willow tree. So I approached it and began reading it: Jennifer - Beloved Dog and Loyal Friend. Now mind you - this was a beautiful gravestone with a small dog bone etched on the top corners and it looked like it was made of a beautiful granite.

In the middle of my admiring the stone, I was stung in the thumb area of my hand by a big gigantic bee (Did I mention I am terrified of bees?). I instantly started screaming and shaking my hand - but the bee remained stuck. So as I am running at top speed back to the house, screaming at the top of my lungs, no one even notices me until I get inside. I get inside, still screaming as loud as I can. My Aunt Deb (who took me to Tennessee) is the first to see me and as I put my hand up for her to see - she starts screaming also. My cousin Jen (who also came to Tennessee with me) walks in the room and starts screaming also. My Grandpa finally comes limping into the kitchen, grabs a paper towel, and pulls the bee right off of my hand.

I still remember it clear as day as he patted me on the shoulder and gave me a smile before turning to put the paper towel in the trash. My Aunt Deb began freaking out because there wasn't any neosporin in the house...so my Grandpa took me into his room and poured a small shot of whiskey over my sting. (Oh...and did that one hurt!)

As we began talking about how I got the bee sting in the first place, he began telling me stories about this wonderful dog Jennifer. As he told them, his face truly lit up in a way that very few ever saw. I really felt like I connected with him over the stories he told....

Which brings me to my point - pet cemeteries are important too. The fact that my Grandpa was willing to bury his beloved dog who had spent so much time with him after my his wife died - it really showed how much of an impact that Jennifer was to my Grandpa.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

There Is No Way That Was Made In the 1700s...

Have you ever been online looking at a ton of websites searching for a picture of a particular gravestone? When you finally found a picture of a gravestone that had all of the right information on it, but the stone looks waaaaay too new to possibly be what you are looking for?

Yep...it happens. And no, you aren't going crazy. Often times, many genealogical societies will create a new grave marker or stone for a person who was influential to the area. Sometimes family members who are proud of their lineage will create a new grave marker for someone who either served their country in a war or who made a big difference in something.

If you notice something like this, don't sit there pulling your hair out in confusion...this is definitely something that happens.

This happened with me when I was researching an ancestor of mine named Julius Dugger. I was searching on Ancestry and knew I probably wouldn't get a picture of his grave stone because he died in the late 1700s to early 1800s (I can't think of the exact date off the top of my head). But I did the search anyway - and sure enough - there was the picture staring me straight in the face. Everything that I read on the stone only confirmed what I already knew...but I also knew that there was no way this stone was created in that time period. Well, a little more digging and sure enough, there was my answer: A genealogical society in the area had created it for him because of his influence in Carter and Johnson Counties, TN.

Having a new gravestone created for a gravestone that either no longer exists or is too hard to read is becoming more and more common. My only word of caution is to not take everything on that new grave marker as complete fact because the new grave marker was created long after the person died...and therefore, there is more room for mistake.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Access Genealogy - A FREE Website of Tennessee Cemetery Transcriptions

As I was searching the web today, I found a website that held transcriptions to cemeteries in Tennessee. This site is not just helpful when it comes to Eastern Tennessee - but the entire state.

Cemeteries are organized first by county (with one category for national cemeteries in Tennessee), then by cemetery name.

The transciptions are all done by volunteers and most of the indexes are complete (or were when they were transcribed).

I suggest that if you need to find where an ancestor is buried and you have a good idea of where the ancestor died, you might want to head over and check it out.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

When The Town Pitches In To Serve Those Who Have Lost

Often times when a family lost a baby or young child in rural Tennessee, the entire town got together and helped give the child a proper burial because often the parents could not afford it.

I realized this on a trip to visit my Grandpa in Carter County, Tennessee. I went to a cemetery to see where my great grandparents were buried. As I was wandering around the cemetery looking at all the grave markers, I noticed a small grave marker underneath an overgrown bush. After pushing the bush back, I found a small gravemarker with the words "Inf. Dau. of Monroe and Matilda Dugger". I thought it was odd since no one mentioned a baby girl that had died. I asked my Grandpa about it when I got back to the house, and he was shocked to learn that there was a sister he never knew about!

I later learned from a lovely elderly woman who knew my great grandparents that it was their second child. They didn't have much money to bury the child with a nice grave marker so the entire town donated money and time to help them. She said that many of the women in town helped care for the couple's first child while also making meals for the family. Many of the men helped dig the grave and multiple families donated money to help afford a beautiful gravemarker.

Once the child was buried, the town moved on and never spoke of it again. The couple never spoke of it again and never even told their children (as far as I know).

Isn't it amazing how after a huge loss such as that of a child, that the town will come together in order to ensure that the child has a proper burial?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Rural Cemeteries

If you've ever been in the rural areas of eastern Tennessee, particularly near Carter or Johnson Counties, then you'll know what I mean by rural cemetery.

These are the cemeteries that have predominately one group of people, generally with the same surname, in the cemetery. A church is sometimes nearby, but other times the cemetery is hidden by the local terrain.

In Carter and Johnson counties, where my many of my ancestors are from, there are cemeteries that contain only 6-8 people in them. Often times they are located in the mountains, hidden by overgrowth of trees and plants, with only a select few people knowing they even exist. My great grandfather is buried in such a cemetery.

When my great aunt took me to his grave, there was no sign up naming the cemetery. The only road that led to it was a dirt road. There was a small house behind it, but it looked as if it was falling down. Infact, the GPS system we had in the rented car had no idea where we were.

But, apparently this is not uncommon. There are tons of websites devoted just to Carter and Johnson counties and they document these cemeteries. The local people go out voluntarily and map these cemeteries. They transcribe the headstones that they can, and they make sure the cemetery is given some sort of upkeep. These kind locals often do it because their ancestors are buried in those cemeteries.

So now the question becomes - how do you find the cemetery that your ancestor was buried in? Well - you start with the locals. Often times, there are people who still live in the area and know of the cemeteries around. Search through websites created by people with ancestors in the same rural area and start asking questions.

Then - start searching the cemeteries to see if you can find that person you are looking for. If you can't afford the expense, try looking on some of those volunteer sites where a volunteer will go search the cemetery for you.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

My Introduction

Hello Everyone!

I am so excited to start a brand new blog that is connected with the brand new Association of Graveyard Rabbits.

I am honored to be a member of this brand new association founded by Terry Thornton. In general terms, this association is meant to promote the preservation of cemeteries, burial grounds, and grave markers. In this blog, I will also be trying to promote learning about the burial customs of your ancestors - especially those from the area of Eastern Tennessee.

So you're probably asking why I picked Eastern Tennessee. I mean, it is in the middle of the Appalacian Mountains (some of it is) and it isn't like the area is extensively famous for their cemeteries, right? Well - yes...but I picked this area because I have a lot of ancestors from this area. Plus, this area is where I fell deeply in love with genealogy... It is where the monster was born.

So I offer many thanks to Terry Thornton for starting this group and to footnoteMaven for designing the wonderful badge for this group.

You can visit Terry Thornton's Graveyard Rabbit blog over at http://graveyardrabbithillcountry.blogspot.com

You can visit footnoteMaven's Graveyard Rabbit blog (all about Western Washington) over at http://westernwashington-graveyardrabbit.blogspot.com

And if you would like to see the Association of Graveyard Rabbit website - you can view it at www.thegraveyardrabbit.com

Thank you for reading,