Am I crazy for even giving a dang about people I don't know nor have any relationship with? I don't have much time on my hands, but I always seem to have a passion for old graveyards and would like to do more than just wander around admiring the stones. I have no idea how to go about this though. I know of a couple of 'private' places that are in need of help. DO I just go in there with a pruning saw and a machete and hope the neighbors don't call the cops? What do I do about privately owned property? Do I go through the local historical society and go from there? \
For various reasons, this might be a hobby that I might enjoy and be able to do. I enjoy digging through the internet to find info on people/places and I MAY be able to devote some weekends to clearing areas. Just want to hear what attributes I SHOULD have to get into this? Thanks, Bill
Well if you are crazy for caring about old cemeteries, you've found the right loony bin.
You need to know the laws in your state & your community regarding what you can & can't do in cemeteries before you do anything to a cemetery. In Mass, you can't even prune a branch of a bush unless you have the family's or cemetery's permission; it is considered vandalism.
You need to determine if the cemetery REALLY is on private property or if the town has jurisdiction but no staff for maintenance. If it really is on private property, you need to talk to the owner of the property. Some are warm & fuzzy, some will greet you with a shotgun.
If you have a local, county or state preservation/historic society, talk to them. Some have lots of experience and would love the help, and some won't even return your call. Talk to the folks in town who are on the cemetery commission, historic commission, and are responsible for maintaining town-owned cemeteries.
Restoring the markers themselves is a whole field of endeavor that amateurs should avoid. The best of intentions can do more harm than good in the long run.
Things you can do that might help preserve the sites without touching much is see if they are listed on this site. If they aren't, we can walk you through creating a cemetery and adding pictures of the cemetery, adding a map, and adding the memorials.
If you have the time, you can check which cemeteries are on the site, but don't have pictures and maps. Tracking them down, figuring out how to get there, and actually getting there are adventures in themselves. And then researching the cemetery history and typing up an accurate description can be just as time-consuming but fulfilling. There is a whole forum thread devoted just to this purpose.
While you are talking to folks, see if there are any transcriptions or other records floating around that you can access to make sure all the departed are recorded in a cemetery. Some memorials you can just spend hours on for research because they are so interesting/challenging; others just won't seem to catch your attention.
There are tons of things you can do. Just be warned. THIS IS A VERY ADDICTIVE HOBBY!!!!!!!
Welcome to Find A Grave. Thanks for caring!