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Tis the Season: Cemetery Tours

Well, it's that time of year when people turn their thoughts to dressing up, eating too much candy, and checking out the local cemetery. Whether you take a tour of a local cemetery or a virtual tour hundreds of miles away, you can learn about the history of the cemetery and those buried there.

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Type: Article
Resource: GenWeekly
Prepared by: Gena Philibert-Ortega
Word Count: 913 (approx.)
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Well, it's that time of year when people turn their thoughts to dressing up, eating too much candy, and checking out the local cemetery. A cemetery tour, whether in person or online, can provide you with information on the history of a cemetery and the famous or infamous, people buried therein. Now, I have to admit that I am not into midnight or late night cemetery tours. I would rather be there in the day when I can really see the headstones, but if you want to try something different, this might be up your alley.

Where I live in California, we don't really have many magnificent cemetery events. If you live in New York, however, you are in for a treat. The Green-Wood Cemetery, The Green-Wood Cemetery, in Brooklyn has tours and events throughout the year. For Halloween, they are conducting two nights of tours with "tales of murder, mayhem, spirits, and ghosts." Although these tours are at 1:00 p.m. you can take a tour on November 4th at 4:15 p.m., requires the use of a flashlight, and allows you to visit Catacombs. If you happen to be at the cemetery on a day where there is no formal tour, you can use their self-guided walking tour book to learn more about the cemetery and those interred there.

Save our Cemeteries, http://www.saveourcemeteries.org/ , provides tours for two New Orleans cemeteries, the Lafayette and St. Louis cemeteries. This is a non-profit organization which has as its mission is to protect New Orleans' 31 historic cemeteries. Its web site provides you with information about its tours but also articles on such subjects as restoration efforts, protecting your New Orleans family vault, and a list of New Orleans cemeteries. You can even view past issues of their newsletter while checking out their web site.

Cedar Hill Cemetery, Cedar Hill Cemetery (Hartford, CT) , in Hartford, Connecticut is offering a late night Halloween tour, 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on the 27th. This tour begins with fortune telling, hot cider, and exhibits. It continues with a tour through the cemetery while "Cedar Hill notables" tell their stories. The cemetery encourages you to dress up as your favorite Cedar Hill resident.

Now, it's also the time of the year for Dias de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrations. Day of the Dead is a Mexican celebration that is a time to remember and honor one's family. Families decorate gravestones, clean up gravesites and have picnics, all to remember those who have passed away.

The Agua Mansa Cemetery is the final resting place for the founders of the Agua Mansa community, the first community of non-native peoples in the San Bernardino Valley. At the Agua Mansa Cemetery in Colton, California, a Day of the Dead celebration will be happening on Saturday, November 4. Sponsored by the San Bernardino County Museum (http://www.co.san-bernardino.ca.us/museum/), vendors, grave decorating, folkloric dancing and genealogy will be the course of the day. As the caretakers of this cemetery, the museum also has a list of burials from this cemetery.

The University of Colorado's Museum of Natural History, http://cumuseum.colorado.edu/Exhibits/DayofDead/details.html , has an exhibit dedicated to the Day of the Dead, running from October 25 to November 11. Their web site includes information about this holiday, Day of the Dead events, and information about making Day of the Dead altars.

For those of us that may not get to tour a particular cemetery because of distance, some places offer online cemetery tours. As technology advances, more and more cemeteries are providing online tours of their grounds. Virtual tours range from live "feeds" from cameras to individual photographs of the grounds to videos that you can watch on your computer.

Some examples can be found at the following web sites: Midway Cemetery in Midway, Georgia, http://quantumtour.com/entity/0000007//tour/0000007/, Graceland Cemetery, part of the web site Graveyards.com, in Chicago, http://www.graveyards.com/IL/Cook/graceland/maingate.html, National Cemetery at Gettysburg at http://www.nps.gov/archive/gett/getttour/tstops/tstd4-23.htm, Texas State Cemetery athttp://www.cemetery.state.tx.us/gallery/index.htm , and the Historic Congressional Cemetery at http://www.congressionalcemetery.org. What's great about the web site for the Historic Congressional Cemetery is that includes digitized versions of death certificates, gravestone photos, internment logs, and obituaries.

Hollywood Cemetery, http://www.hollywoodcemetery.org/Index.html, in Richmond, Virginia is the final resting place for two U.S. Presidents, James Monroe and John Taylor. The Hollywood Cemetery site includes a slide presentation of the cemetery's history, from it's founding in 1847 to information about the James River that runs aside the cemetery; this 49-slide presentation will not only take you back in time but also provide you information on some of those entombed there. One of the more interesting memorials at Hollywood Cemetery is the 90-foot granite pyramid that memorializes the Confederate soldiers buried in the cemetery. A virtual tour of the cemetery allows you to move your cursor around a map and see what different sections of the cemetery look like.

If you are interested in the other Hollywood, as in Hollywood, California and all the famous people buried around there, check out Hollywood Underground at Hollywood Underground This web site includes lists of celebrities buried in Los Angeles area cemeteries along with obits of celebrities who have recently died. Although not a genealogical site, it's a fun one to peruse.

The web site Interment.net is a type of virtual cemetery tour in that they currently have over 4 million records from 8,905 cemeteries worldwide that provide genealogists with places to look for their ancestors. By clicking on the right-side menu you can view a listing of cemetery records that have recently been uploaded. A cemetery blog sponsored by Interment.net provides interesting information about the world of cemeteries.

Source Information: GenWeekly, New Providence, NJ, USA: Genealogy Today LLC, 2006.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Genealogy Today LLC.

*Effective May 2010, GenWeekly articles that are more than five years old no longer require a subscription for full access.

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