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Archive for August, 2020

I love “Find a Grave.” If you are not familiar with it,Love_Mildred L Hammons
it is a free website where cemetery headstones, organized
by cemeteries are posted. Often family members will add
newspaper clippings, obituaries and photos.

It can be a wonderful place to connect with family members. In days of old, people would put a note in a bottle and leave it on a headstone, hoping that a family member would find it and connect with them. Today we can do that digitally through “Find A Grave.”

The problem comes when someone adds information that is incorrect. Last week I was researching a family, and discovered that their youngest daughter didn’t have a death date. She was born in 1924 so she may still have been living, but I thought I could at least find a marriage for her, since she was born and lived in Missouri.

I had her birthdate, so I started looking for a marriage record. Of course there were two women with almost the same name, in the same town getting married near the same time. So started looking at the spouses. The first man I looked at was Andrew A. Love who married Mildred Louise Hammons on Christmas Eve in 1849. I chased him over several states and found his burial back in Missouri. It identified his wife as Mildred Louise Shelton, but looking at her information it showed that she had the same exact birthdate as Mildred Louise Hammons. A super closeup look at the headstone allows you to read that her name was Mildred L. (Hammons) Love. Mystery solved. She was mis-identified by the person who added her to “Find A Grave.” Because she was mis-identified, she was also mis-indexed, and would have been impossible to locate in an index. I contacted the contributor, and it has now been corrected.

It is easier to verify the burial information if you can view the headstone, but what can you do if there is not a picture of the headstone? If you have a free sign in to “Find a Grave,” you can contact the contributor for more information, or you can take a look a “Billion Graves.” “Billion Graves” has a free section where you can view the headstones. Graves are put into “Billion Graves” through photos being added, and then the names on the headstones are indexed.

While these are great resources for tracing and connecting families, always remember that they are not primary resources.

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