Family Circle 14

A family history site: Chasing My Own Tale

Saturday Fun: Find A Grave Promotes Good Health!

I’ve just completed a great workout. My family and I used Find A Grave for a great multi-faceted excursion today! This was a lot of fun for all four of us.

As a contributor for Find A Grave, I was assigned the task of searching and photographing two graves in my local cemetery. The area in which we live consists of lovely rocky hills with giant evergreen trees. It’s a beautiful area, one with plenty of waterways and beautiful scenery. This makes for some interesting excursions.

Many of the newer cemeteries are located on relatively flat ground. One can stroll along the rows and rows of grave markers with little effort. The newer cemeteries usually have a sign posted at the front entrance showing a map of the property, which includes general overlay of the property. Some even display orderly sections designating the general location of veterans, for example.

The cemetery we went to, Newcastle Cemetery, in Placer County, northern California, is now over 20 acres. It is home for many Japanese-Americans. Many miners are buried there; the earliest I found in 1897. We found a 1922 Civil War Memorial, dedicated to the patriotism of Union soldiers. I also found a young man who died in Afghanistan, during Operation Enduring Freedom.

We chatted a few minutes with a couple who regularly visit the Newcastle Cemetery and they spoke of learning about a funeral for a gypsy which included a family member chopping off a chicken head as part of the ceremony. In another ceremony, a biker’s burial was marked by sprinkling whiskey over the casket.

Sadly, they spoke of vandalism which occurred there several years ago. Someone stole two 1860’s era cannons from near a veterans’ memorial. Concrete that held them in place was knocked out with a sledgehammer and they “walked away” with these two cannons that were used in the Civil War. They said the cannons were donated when the veterans’ planter was built in 1922, and weighed about 100 pounds each and were worth $3000 apiece. The 28-inch-long solid brass or bronze cannons have 4-inch-diameter barrels and are marked “U.S. 198”, according to the couple.

Our family hiked every inch of that cemetery and discovered many local heroes. I found a State Senator, buried in 1972, I believe. Of special significance to our family, I found the grave of our previous Bishop, who died suddenly in 1998. My husband had attended the funeral and he recalled the general area where Arjay was buried, up a steep hill. This sweet man was also a homeschool teacher for our girls for a short time. They enjoyed his weekly math visits to our home.

Unfortunately, we were not able to find one of the graves, that of a young woman who died in an auto accident in 2012. My husband found 3 probable family members, and I found another 2 with the same last name on the Cremation Wall.

We were, however, able to find the other decedent, a Japanese-American woman. Her grave marker had 4 names listed, but only two were marked as having died. Just adjacent to her grave, her husband was buried. He was the first in the family to apparently be buried there.

What an interesting “local history” experience – complete with taking in some much-needed sun and exercise! No need to go to the gym, when we do one of these Find A Grave assignments. I definitely fulfilled my 10,000-step goal today!

As mentioned, not all cemeteries are as difficult to travail as this one. I hope you look up your local cemetery and consider being a Contributor for Find A Grave. You’ll get some great exercise, do a good deed, and learn interesting facts about your area.

Location in the state of California

Location in the state of California (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


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