Tag Archives: headstone



I had plotted my path in a large square. It went from Athens Browns Ferry Road up to north of downtown Athens. I had a plan. I HAD a plan. You know what they say about the best laid plans….I got slightly off track. I pulled up GPS on my iPhone, and started out to the first one.  Now, I only had three on my list, I went to seven, and attempted two more that were inaccessible. When I say inaccessible, I mean, I can’t see it directly from the road, or there is no ” good” access. Before I even got to the first one, I went to three others. When I use my phone, I also go to maps and search cemeteries. Little red dots appear and I’m off!!! Hot on the trail! The first one I spotted that sounded interesting was Polly Malone cemetery. Off a fairly well-travelled road, although, between corn fields and soy beans.

Farmhouse in front of Polly Malone

It was only about a half mile off the main road, on dirt and large gravel. I went. It was pretty old and broken. The earliest burial was 1815, no Polly though, but, it appeared most of the Malone family was there. A blend of old and new. Polly and husband Henry were listed in the 1870 census for that area as being farm laborers, probably for Dr. J W Proctor, who also had a farm. Several others in the census were listed as domestic servants.

Polly Malone cemetery

I then went on the Anderson cemetery, I figured, it’s just down the road, why not? This was easy to get to, behind a farm, on a road that leads to county property. It said “private drive”. I went. The Findagrave site only listed six burials. The cemetery was full, and I took 79 photos. This will take some time. There were a lot of ” homemade headstones.

Anderson cemetery

Anderson cemetery, homemade headstones

I stopped for gas on the way to the next one. It was another Anderson cemetery with just two burials listed. It was in a small clump of trees among fields of corn. Corn that didn’t have much life in it either. We had a drought and it showed. This Anderson was listed as Madison county, but, it was still in Limestone. It was not quite as far as the county line road.

Anderson # 2

Anderson # 2

I finally got to the cemetery on my list, but, not before I found Collier, but, could not get to it! So, I went on to Cambridge Church cemetery. It was no longer a church. The marker for it was down the road about 1/4 mile. There was a request here, so I was able to fulfill it.

Cambridge church

Success!! I was on the road again! Now to ONeal, not on my list , but, on my way!! Sometimes, I also see if there are any graves listed on Findagrave that have no pictures attached. I figure, eventually someone may be looking for them. So, I did find seven here. I was disappointed I could not find the request, but, took 9 photos that were not listed. At this point, I am asking myself if I will ever get the the cemetery next on my list??? It was just up the road. I did, and was glad I did. Round Island…now, it did appear to be round in form, but, behind a church. There were 3 requests, I was able to get one, really old one!!

Round Hill cemetery

Again, there were several not photographed, so, I did my best! I am done, that was the last one on my list!! But, am I? On my map I saw another as I was looking for a way out of Limestone county. Sunny Hill, it just sounds nice, right? There were about a dozen not photographed, I was able to get all but one. I felt like this was a successful venture. And worth going to that last one.

Have you ever looked in the distance and saw a clump of trees in the middle of a field of corn, soybeans or whatever grows in your area? Check your map, it just may be an old cemetery. I have found, at least locally, there is not mush out there on the history of our cemeteries. You almost must have someone famous buried there. So many of these I have found were on farms, perhaps the owners, or maybe workers, or earlier, slaves. It would be interesting to know who they were.




I love looking through cemeteries, I think I have stated this more than once, perhaps countless times. My husband now says, “where you grave diggin today” ? I enjoy the historical aspect. Looking at the different headstones can tell you so much about the person. The detail of markers from the mid 19th century are so detailed, you have to wonder why that craftsmanship is no longer requested.

The older cemeteries have much more interest to me. I hardly ever stop if I don’t see vertical markers. They have changed so much over time, from wooden markers to flat ones. These new cemeteries seem unadorned, although they are always covered with flowers. I look for the obelisks, there I know, I will find something intriguing.

But, sometimes, you come across a marker that makes you sad, that of a child. That is what I will show today. We have all heard the saying, ” no parent should ever have to bury their child “. Below are some photos I have taken of children’s headstone, from stillborn to seventeen years of age. Some parents lost two children. The lamb usually marks the grave of a child. The lamb always stands for innocence.

Lois Christine Swann, 1 year

Roger Speegle 1 year and Donald Speegle 2 years

Blaxton Boy

Charles E Lamb 1 year

Maggie Russel 17 years

Great-granddaughter of Setimus D. Cabaniss, no name or age

William James Sykes, 4 months

Curtis Ray Pepper, 2 months

Ruth Elizabeth Black, 9 years of age

Sally Haywood Hansell, three years

Edward Mason, 8 days old

James Edmond Gamble, 2 years

Mary Helen Gamble, 6 years

Burton Clements, 2 years

Infant son, Witty

William Witty, 4 months

Infant daughter, J.S. Crutcher

Too many children lost at a very early age. These are all from cemeteries in Madison, Limestone and Lawrence counties. You can search online for your relatives, and read bios on FindaGrave.


I don’t mean a child, cat , dog or even a bird. I am talking about a cemetery!!

The ACPA ( Alabama Cemetery Preservation Alliance ) website has a listing of registered cemeteries that can be adopted. A lot of people stumble upon old cemeteries while hunting, along rivers and lakes, in the woods or clearing land for a building. There can overgrowth of plants, headstones overturned and general neglect.


Genealogy researchers seem to be the ones most interested, it connects them to their past. It gives them clues to marriages, children and financial status, as well as their role in the community. Headstones can be interesting, from the ornate to the homemade. They can give information about a person’s religion, career, interests and heritage.

Getting youth interested in preserving cemeteries is integral to the future of how these cemeteries will continue to exist. Perhaps a Boy Scout project or church youth group could take on such as task. They could research those buried there or even study what was on the land in years past.

Mooresville Cemetery , Limestone County Alabama

Reynolds Cemetery, Lawrence county Alabama

Elliott Cemetery, Lawrence county Alabama

Alabama is not the only state that has websites and organizations devoted to cemetery preservation. Check out these below.

Saving Graves

Arkansas Cemetery Preservation

African Heritage

Colorado Cemetery Preservation

Save the Slaves


I love old cemeteries……

Really looking forward to getting out to some cemeteries again. Was out last Tuesday at Athens City cemetery and Old Town cemetery. I am really getting into cemetery lookups on FindaGrave as well. I like the fact you can post a listing on FindaGrave and request a photo of a headstone, especially if there is not already one posted on their site. I have had many a volunteer photo taken of some relatives. Now it is time to pay back the favor.

Athens Old Town cemetery

Mooresville cemetery

Photo request in Mooresville cemetery

Was glad to help out the person looking for their ancestor.

I am looking forward to going to Chickamauga battlefield soon. My 3rd great-grandfather, Joseph McCall, CSA, 46th Georgia Regiment, fought there, although died in the battle of Kennesaw mountain in Georgia. I would like to visit all the battlefields of the Civil War, and locate the grave of Joseph McCall. Maybe someday. For now, I will be satisfied to help out others looking for their ancestors.




Skeletons in the closet .You know, there are secrets in all families

While searching for some information in Texas, I ran across an obituary from a 2nd great grand uncle. I was looking for anything on Julie A Pickens my 3rd great grandmother. She was born in Alabama in 1823 and lived to the ripe old age of 95! Wow!! I had run across a headstone of two of her sons, William Thomas and Leonidas C, both born in Alabama, and brothers to my 2nd great grandfather, Harvey H PIckens. The Harvey name carries through our family for years, although, my father never liked it. He recently told me this. I have been telling him stories as much as I can, You see, he has some dementia issues. It is getting worse, but, I like to still try to tell him some history of his family. I think he likes the fact I am doing the research.

Well, here is what I found during my search. I found the headstone, and William T Pickens, has a Masonic symbol on his. I have never understood much of the masons. I really need to try to understand it more.

It seems to go through several branches of my tree. William T Pickens was a member of Rebekah Lodge, Fannin  county Texas. He is buried at Oakwood cemetery, Fannin county Texas, with mother Julie A , brother  Leonidas and sister Josie.

Read closely….how does the Masonic lodge and the Ku Klux Klan tie together?

Myrtle Hill Cemetery

This is the map of Myrtle Hill Cemetery, Tampa Florida. It is said to be haunted. After some research at the Plant City Historical Society, I went to the cemetery in hopes of finding the headstone of my Great grandmother, Alice Lindell Davison. I entered the cemetery from the west, and chose to go to the older side of the cemetery, which was only a guess. I really had no idea where I was going. Only two other vehicles were in the park that day. After driving around some, I finally got out and walked around some. There is a mausoleum there to the north, that is a retro design from the fifties. It is a beautiful cemetery, decorated with  large oaks of cascading spanish moss. Absolutely gorgeous! I remember seeing a large marker with the name Savage. It must have been four feet high. Somehow, it seemed familiar. I looked around some, but, had no luck in finding the headstone.  I got a strange feeling, as if I had been there before. After my visit, I called my parents to see if I had ever been there. We moved from Tampa when I was three. I thought perhaps, I had gone there with my grandmother, maybe. They both told me I had never been there before.

Some weeks after I had gotten home, I posted a request on FindaGrave, to see if a volunteer could find the grave. I was overjoyed when someone answered my request. This gentleman was kind enough to go to Myrtle Hill and take a photo. He took a photo and posted it on FindaGrave, and told me of the location of the burial. I was so close when I was there. I can’t wait to go back and see for myself.

Rubbing Elbows

How to do a cemetery rubbing:

Check with the cemetery or local historical society to find out if rubbings are permissible. Do NOTattempt a rubbing on a wobbly, flaking, chipped or crumbling tombstone. Take a photograph instead. You can bring out details in the photograph with many software programs today.

Clean the tombstone with plain water and a soft bristle (natural or nylon) brush. Scrub the stone from the bottom up to avoid streaking. Flush the stone with water after you have scrubbed.

Large flat crayons work well for rubbings or you can use charcoal, rubbing wax, or chalk. Use can use sheets of newsprint – you might ask for an end roll from the newspaper office (it’s usually free), butcher paper, rice paper or Pellon interfacing material for your rubbings, (rice paper, and Pellon can be found in arts and craft stores). Before going to the cemetery, cut the newsprint into poster-size sheets.  Soft brushes or cloths may be needed to remove dirt and moss from tombstones.  Never use harsh brushes or chemical cleaners, and if a stone is crumbling, do not attempt a rubbing.

Use masking tape to adhere the newsprint to a stone with indented letters or decoration.Rub lightly to start with, and then progressively harder to bring out the detail and letters. But be very careful and gentle so you won’t damage the tombstone.

If you used chalk, carefully spray the paper with chalk spray or hairspray to protect the rubbing but be careful not to get any on the tombstone. You can also use the masking tape to secure the rolled up rubbings.

Be sure to pick up and trash and leave the cemetery just as you found it.


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