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Friday
Dec032010

* finding graves without headstones, what happened? 

I use familysearch.org alot for record searches, and it's *free*! I have found so much information on this site.  A branch of my tree lived in the Philadelphia area circa 1850-1930 and I was lucky enough to find some death records matching my search ! These records can have REALLY helpful information, it just depends on what information was recorded. A few of the death records indicated my ancestors were buried in Greenwood Cemetery, Philadelphia and after some googling I found the cemetery, The Knights of Pythias Greenwood Cemetery. I contacted The Friends of Greenwood Cemetery, a nonprofit organization working to preserve the cemetery and it's records.

It was true!!!! They had a plot with 6 matches and for $15 they would conduct a search of their records and send me: any information they had for the plot and individual burials within the plot, maps of the cemetery, and someone would go to the cemetery for me to take a digital picture! I couldn't wait to hear back, and then the picture...The headstone is not for who I was looking for, but it is the bro of my gg grandmother!

Picture from Greenwood Cemetery

No headstone or marker for my Wrights?? I couldn't believe it! How could there be 6 people buried here without any marker? The owner of the plot is my gg grandfather John Wright (1848- 1922) and the others include: his wife (died at 45), sister (died at 30), son (died at 7), and 2 daughters (died at 1 and 57). He outlived all of them for such a long time. This made me really sad and these short lives are only a few of the deaths John endured throughout his life. The cemetery records included causes of death; diphtheria, small pox, consumption, heart disease.

I'm lucky to have this information, but it weighs heavy on my heart. I am working with my family to purchase some sort of marker/headstone for their plot. I never did find out if they had any record of an original headstone, could it be that a storm caused a tree limb to shatter the stone? Was it vandalized? John bought the plot and buried his family, was there anyone there in the end for him? At the time of his death he was living with his brother and sister in law who were also older in age and his only son was living in New Jersey. I will probably never know what really happened but I hope to gather some family and make a trip to the cemetery in the Spring when we get the marker figured out. I think it could be a good chance to connect and share family information we all have. 

Have you found yourself in a similar situation? What stories do you have from the grave?

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