google-site-verification: google65e716d80989ba07.html Monday Madness - The Craziest Thing You've Done in the Name of Genealogy? | The Armchair Genealogist

Monday Madness - The Craziest Thing You've Done in the Name of Genealogy?

I’m not really the kind of girl who makes crazy impulsive decisions. I’m methodical. Don’t put myself in harm’s way. However, I got to thinking the other day about just how obsessed I can be about my research.  I know other genealogists can be just as focused (sounds better then crazy). I know that when I'm focused little will come between me and the task at hand. Which got me to wondering,  how many of my readers have some interesting experiences to share in the name of genealogy and finding your lost ancestors?

Like I said, I'm not the person who emotes wild and reckless behaviour, the craziest thing I can recall, I broke into a cemetery. After driving two and half hours to a cemetery, where I believed my ancestors were buried, I arrived to discover a brick wall surrounded the cemetery and the gates were locked. This was an older Catholic cemetery and was only open during specific hours. Not inclined to go home without getting past this brick wall (no pun intended), I went to the church next door looking to beg my way in. I could not find anyone, so I proceeded to Plan B - a break in.

Luckily, I had my teenage daughter and niece with me and of course, they were up to the challenge. I actually think for a few minutes, I felt like a teenager again, and my accomplices thought Mom and Auntie was just a little cool.

The wall was set into the side of a hill so we found a point around the brick wall where the climb up and the drop on the other side seemed like a happy medium. Maybe the wall was 6 feet high at this point. However, to someone of little agility and physical fitness it may as well have been 50 feet tall. Armed with the fact that my fifth great-grandfather's tombstone laid on the other side of the wall, I managed some genealogical superpowers and scaled the wall. (Thank God, I wore pants that day). With no broken bones and only a few grass stains, we were in and set to work recording information and taking pictures. No worries, I am very respectful in all cemeteries, I often bring flowers to disperse amongst all my ancestor’s graves. On this day, I had in my head not to let a brick wall come between my relatives and me.

Getting out seemed a little more challenging. We got ourselves on top of the wall at the lowest point and I walked the ledge like Nadia Comaneci on the balance beam (well, in my mind anyway). When the ground came to a reasonable level, I made a jump for it.

Was it worth it? Not really! I never found the tombstone for my fifth Great Grandfather. Once inside the walls, I discovered a tombstone for a mass grave, apparently this cemetery was moved from its original plot of land across the road. Some of the older graves were destroyed and in the move a mass grave was erected in the middle with one common tombstone, I presume my grandfather is probably amongst these unidentified graves.

That’s about the craziest thing I ever done. What about you? What crazy or silly thing have you done in the name of your family history research? Leave your thoughts in the comments section or a link back to your own blog post.

3 comments:

  1. I'm not sure where crazy meets stupid, but. . . I knew from an index that there was an unmarked cemetery called "the Hurd cemetery" in Somersworth where my fourth-great-grandfather died. It was on private property. I triangulated out where it was, drove into the driveway and talked to the owner. "May I go find this cemetery on your land? and do you know where it is?" It was August, I was in shorts. The owner had a vague idea and pointed me in a direction. I walked through a jungle. I should have brought a machete. After a while I saw a stone leaning against a tree, but it was undecipherable. I saw nothing else. The next day I had a bad case of poison ivy. All in the name of genealogy.

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  2. Well, nothing quite so crazy, but I have been know to drive hours and hours out of the way just to visit a cemetery. Once I drove from Toronto all the way across Ontario to Kincardine (almost 3 hours) just to find the grave of my great-grand uncle. The kicker is, I already had a grainy photocopied picture of the stone AND I had a 13 hour drive AFTER that to get home that evening!

    I was so glad I went though - the drive was beautiful, the cemetery was awesome AND I found some other stones that I hadn't know about.

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  3. I did it the other way around - I was wandering around Wellshill Cemetery in Perth one afternoon and kind of forgot the time. When I got back to the main gate, it 5pm and the gate was padlocked. The walls topped with railings were far too high to risk climbing but I had to be at a dinner (showered and dressed up) for 7pm so I ran around in a panic for about half an hour, with no mobile signal, before luckily finding an unlocked gate. I like cemeteries but not enough to spend the night in one :-)

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