Friday, April 8, 2011

Murky Days = Cemetery Visits

The early spring weather here in New Jersey has been dismal.  This cold and rainy spring following a long winter of snow has delayed the regeneration of plant life.  To those pursuing family research, these factors make for great cemetery visits.  There are few growing plants to interfere with the finding of gravestones.  Cloudy skies mean no shadows on graves, making for better pictures.

I had the opportunity to visit a few cemeteries in the area this past week.  I had never visited St. Mary's Cemetery in East Orange, Essex County, New Jersey before today.  That cemetery is in poor shape.  The gates were closed and I did not try to go in.

St. Mary's Cemetery is maintained by the Archdiocesan Catholic Cemetery Program.  I did not call the number because I was visiting another cemetery run by them, Gate of Heaven in East Hanover, Morris County, New Jersey.  Upon inquiring about St. Mary's, I was told that Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in East Orange could arrange access to St. Mary's.  Gate of Heaven is an active cemetery and is very well maintained, but they will try to hit you with a $25 inquiry fee.

image from Newark Cemeteries

Older records for St. Mary's Cemetery are on microfilm through your local family history center.

Description of microfilm of St. Mary's Cemetery records from
When you do photograph a grave of interest, take a close-up of the grave, the stones surrounding it, as well as a more distant view.  This process will help you, or those who come after you, to locate the grave in the future.  Plus, unknown relatives could be buried nearby.  If any of the close graves share a surname or variant, get a picture of them, also.

These two graves were side by side at Rosedale Cemetery in Montclair, Essex County, New Jersey.  One is spelled Eckert; the other, Eckhardt.  They may be the same family, or they may not be.  Take a picture just in case.

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