01 December 2010

Want to Be a Cemetery Hunter Too?

  • I was looking over the site and you seem to visit a number of beautiful places. I also like the Cemetery Hunters' mission. Could I be a Cemetery Hunter too?
    Absolutely! Currently, the Cemetery Hunters is a small group of people with diverse backgrounds who happen to share a love of history, a deep respect for our final resting places, and a need to see them maintained and preserved. We are always seeking new individuals who also share these things. 
  • That sounds just like me! Where are you guys located and when do you go out to the cemeteries?
    All the present members are from the west side of Connecticut, so cemeteries of western CT have been the main focus although we are not adverse to taking our adventures to new areas. We have no set times or dates for our explorations. We simply go out when two or more of us are able to do so. If you want to join us, let us know! Email us at cemeteryhunters@gmail.com.
    • Oh, shucks! I live ________ and am too far away ever to join you. Is there any way to still be involved?
      There sure is! Just as you are too far away to join us, we are too far away to explore the cemeteries in your area. If you happen to make a visit to any of them and take pictures, let us know. I need the cemetery name, its location, its condition and any historical knowledge or interesting observations you may have. Send me your name/nickname too and I'll be able to give credit where credit is due. 
    • I know about the public cemeteries still in use and the large religiously affiliated ones, but how do I find out about private family plots or the forgotten cemeteries?
      I use a variety of resources for researching cemeteries. A basic Google Maps or Bing Maps search for cemeteries in your area will likely just pull up the main ones, but sometimes you can be pleasantly surprised. Careful though. Google Maps doesn't always put the cemeteries in the right spots. A Bing Map birdseye view will help you locate them as many of the satellite images were taken in the autumn when the foliage of the trees would not obstruct the landscape. Old-fashioned book/paper atlases also occasionally mark some of the older burial sites. Even walking through the more well-known cemeteries with your camera at the ready will often inspire someone there to mention another obscure cemetery to you. However, the most valuable source is the historical society of the area. Let me say that again because it is so important. Talk to the historical society. Not only can they give you names, but they can give you locations and interesting facts about them. If possible, talk to someone who has been there as they will provide the most help. Example: I went to the Colebrook Historical Society and the sole historian, who had been to these little-known burial sites, could describe to perfection how to get to them. I went to the Goshen Historical Society and between the three historians there, they had only been to four of the fifteen burial sites in the town. For the other eleven, I was provided a general direction but no specifics and spent several days trying to find any of them... to no avail.   
      • All right, so I searched the internet, looked on a couple paper maps, and went to the historical society for information. I am ready to go to some of these cemeteries. What would you recommend I bring with me?
        First of all, I would recommend bringing a friend.Cemeteries may be beautiful but they can be dangerous. Not too long ago, there was an incident of a young woman being attacked and raped in a local cemetery in a good neighbourhood. I'm not saying that this is going to happen to you, but cemeteries tend to be quiet and isolated. Even if someone isn't lurking behind a headstone waiting to leap out at you, if you trip over a rock or step in a hole and break your ankle, you'll be glad you had someone there to help you. Bring a cellular phone and have your friend bring theirs too -- if you have different carriers, one of you may be able to get reception even in the most remote locations. Comfortable durable shoes and sturdy clothing are a must. Sometimes you have to forge your way through bushes or wade through mud and that's not something you want to be doing in slippers and loungies. Treat any cemetery exploration like a hike and bring food, water, and a first aid kit since many sites are some distance from anything resembling civilization. If you plan to make a day of it, sun screen is always wise. I find that sunglasses and hats are also beneficial to bring even if it isn't sunny. As I've said before, you never know what jungle you'll have to go through to get to your cemetery and hats and sunglasses help keep things out of your eyes. Gloves are useful too for similar reasons and also if you want to rub the dirt off fallen stones to read them. Depending the season, bug repellent can do wonders for your experience. And of course, when you bring your camera, remember to charge the battery before you set out or bring extra batteries just in case the brand new ones you're using decide to die. It always happens. Also, make sure your camera's memory card has plenty of space on it or that you bring another card along. There are few things more frustrating than driving an hour to a particular cemetery, taking three pictures and then being told that there's no more room on the card. 
      • I have everything. I'm ready to go. Is there anything else I should remember?
        After your explorations, have someone do a tick check. I've found a number of those little pests on me after being out in the cemeteries and the sooner you find them, the better. Most important, please remember, do NOT explore on private property without the owner's permission. You would be surprised how carefully the police monitor the cemeteries. Yes, they're mostly looking for would-be vandals and you're just there to take pictures, but trespassing is trespassing is trespassing, no two ways about it. If you ask for permission beforehand and explain your interest, most of the owners are very understanding and will not only give you permission but give you a tour!
        • Woohoo! I had a blast! I've been out to a cemetery and now I'm back with a ton of pictures and some great information. I think you should add it to the site. How do I go about getting all the info and pictures to you?
          Rest assured, it's easy. Send an email to Valt -- that is me! -- at cemeteryhunters@gmail.com with your information and history on the cemetery. If you feel so inclined to wait while your pictures upload you're welcomed to send them in the email too. If you upload your pictures to the image-hosting site Photobucket and your album is set to public, you can also send me the link to their location and I can simply take the direct links from there. It's up to you! 

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