Cemetery Tuesdays…

I don’t know, how about it? I like having a ritual. I say ritual because routine sounds too depressing. As a family historian, general history fan, gardener, and seeker of general quiet, cemeteries fascinate me. I have checked out a few local cemeteries and have a couple I like to visit on occasion, but I am really interested in exploring more rural cemeteries. I’m going to try to research, visit, and document a new cemetery at least one Tuesday a month (or maybe weekly) and when I get home…I’m going to celebrate with tacos, because it is Tuesday after all!

I also partake in volunteer headstone searches for Findagrave.com. That will give me another excuse to get out around the area. If you’ve never used it for researching your genealogy or local history, I highly recommend it.

Cemeteries can be the homes to beautiful old plantings, headstones, local history, and are often set in lovely, little asides out in the country. They can also be holdouts for ecosystems rapidly vanishing. I would love to volunteer as a caretaker for some of these cemeteries

Today, since it’s cold, windy, and nothing is really growing yet. I want to share a few very different ways cemeteries can relate to history, genealogy and gardening.

  • Prairie Cemeteries: Did you know some of the best preserved native prairies are within the boundaries of pioneer cemeteries? Not only do you get to see and learn about those who settled the frontier, but see what grew there hundreds of years ago.  Read up about Pellsville Pioneer Cemetery in Rankin, Illinois, one of many pioneer cemeteries  guarding native prairie:

In pioneer cemeteries, a disappearing part of Illinois’ landscape lives on

Cemetery Prairies Preserve the State’s Horticultural History

photo by Michael D. Tedesco from Cemetery Prairies Preserve the State’s Horticultural History

 photos via gravegardeners.org

 

  • Local Cemeteries: Just a few short blocks from my house is one our town’s older cemeteries. It’s filled with beautiful monuments, headstones, and planters. It’s also the final resting place of many of Point’s founding citizens. Walk through one of your town’s older cemeteries, read the names. I bet there’s a few you’ll recognize as streets and neighborhoods. It can be a wonderful place for a reflecting walk, learning about local history, and for seeing beautiful, seasonal plantings. In some cases, you may even see historic plantings. Make sure to pay attention to more than just flowers. Cemeteries can be the home of many old shrubs and trees too!
  • Family Cemeteries: I have a lot of family buried in large cemeteries, a few buried in smaller country cemeteries, and very few buried in family cemeteries. These often tiny, forgotten family plots are dotted all across the United States. Some are hiding in woods, on large farms, on the corners of country roads, and sometimes tucked into neighborhoods. Even if it’s not your family, they are interesting glimpses into the past and sometimes long lasting perennials, trees, or shrubs still grow. Some cemeteries are even marked with historical markers. I would love to the Young Cemetery in Plano, Texas. It’s the final resting place of two members of my Finley line, my 5th great uncle Thomas Finley, and his sister, Prudence (Finley) Jackson along with their families. It’s a well loved pioneer cemetery with the burials of a few of Collin County’s first settlers from the 1840s! Iris and daffodils bloom throughout the cemetery in Spring, something I hope to see for myself, someday!

  • Cemetery Rose Gardens: I’m not likely to find 200 year old roses growing here in central Wisconsin, but in warmer climates, there are some cemeteries that are home to some very, very old roses. Maybe there are some around here? Who knows? Roses pop up in old cemeteries quite often. Mid summer is a great time to look for them blooming. You can also find some really amazing collections across the country.

Lynchburg, Virginia is home to Old City Cemetery, which holds the commonwealth’s largest antique rose collection. While the collection was started in the 1980’s, many of the cultivars are hundreds of years old.

In Sacramento’s Historic City Cemetery volunteers have worked for over 20 years to collect and grow California’s historic roses. Roses are collected from cemeteries, homesteads, and the wild and replanted at the once derelict cemetery.

 

Now…on to Taco Tuesday.

Updates and Upgrades!

UPDATE: Despite having more time than I know what to do with lately, I still don’t fee like I’ve caught up on chores. Ugh. That being said, I am getting ready to pot up my little seedlings, dig up some new beds, and I have a ton of posts in my draft section. There should be a good mix of history, genealogy, and plants in topics coming soon!

UPGRADE: I have acquired 24 landscape timbers to start laying out two new garden beds in the vegetable area. After doing some research on landscape timbers, I decided I am OK with using them in the veggie garden. I have been watching so many British garden shows lately that I am starting to want to call it a “veg patch.” Oh. Boy. The newer process of treating lumber means they are now safer to use in gardens. I did some research and double checked the description on the lumber I bought. So, I feel confident in using these. But, be sure to double check any lumber you choose to add in your garden!

UPGRADE: I have a fancy new camera. I bought it in January, but I am just now starting to get it figured out. It’s aNikon D3500 which I got as bundle from Target while I still worked there. I was able to stack several discounts and get a good deal on it. It will definitely be an upgrade from my S7 phone and my Nikon Coolpix L310. I also bought a few accessories: this Altura wide angle lens and this Altura viewfinder eye piece.  The camera and both accessories are great starting points for people like me. I like to take beautiful photos, but really only have high school photography class knowledge. Todd and I both agreed we need to document more adventures and visits to ancestral places!

Enjoy photos of life so far! Can you guess which are from my phone and which are from the new camera!?

Well, here’s to catching up, praying for a lift on the stay-at-home order, warmer weather, and more posts! I can’t wait to get more projects and posts rolling.

 

~p.s. I am trying out ‘affiliate’ linking. There are affiliate links in this post, but they are only for products I appreciate or use personally!~

 

Refocusing for 2020

Sometimes, I get wrapped up in sharing so much about my garden,  that I forget some of my other plans for this project.  Beautiful flowers and plants are just so dang distracting! I’ve shared a lot of my garden already, but I have more plans for the other side of my “Grow Your Roots” project, family history.

Last year was quite a reality check for the complexity of my project. There are so many factors that go into growing and writing about a heritage garden that it easily overwhelmed me. I also felt I spent so much time working on weeds, at my real life job, and strict genealogy, that I missed out on some of the more fun and probably more interesting aspects of this project (the  journey and experience).

I want to share the excitement of finding new information about my ancestors and finding their homesteads (or whatever is there now). I also want to embrace the travel aspect of it. While visiting my grand-father’s likely birth place was amazing, I missed the chance to experience more of the area and culture. While it is obviously different from the culture of 1915, spending time in the area can teach me about the landscape, people, and history of that place.

One of my core beliefs about history in general is that if you can find a way to personally connect to a historical figure, event, or place, history becomes much more important to you. While I have a degree in US History, I will admit much of it just went in one ear and out the other, aside for some cool bits of trivia. It wasn’t until I started researching my genealogy that history really became important to me.

Two examples of this are inspired by one ancestor. John Finley. Oh, is he a thorn in my side. But I have to give him credit for sparking my interest in the War of 1812 and the pioneer history of Illinois. I had really never given much thought to either topic, until researching him. Through that one ancestor so much history has come to life and I gained deeper appreciation for a state I previously only grumbled about.

So this year, in my quest to find ancestral homes and plants. I want to stop, take in everything about the place, and really dive into that moment and all the history that has lead up to it.

Plus,  tracking down the actual plants and flowers, is much more difficult than I originally expected.  Even if I don’t come home with a cool plant, an experience is worth it. And I can find an appropriate plant to honor my ancestors that will live in Zone 4!