A new (unusual) hobby

I picked up a new hobby yesterday.  I guess you could call it volunteer work in the same is description.

You won’t find me posing for crazy selfies when I’m doing this hobby.

Or recommending music to listen to while doing the hobby.

I do I have go to a specific location to do this hobby.

That location is a graveyard.

Maybe I should take a step back.  A few years ago, I was driving around Northwood trying to let my youngest get a full nap in before we headed to the Pittsfield Hot Air Balloon festival.  We were driving in an area near my husband’s Bartlett ancestor’s farm.  I noticed a small roadside cemetary (common enough in New Hampshire) and saw the name of my children’s great, great, great grandfather on a tombstone.  I pulled over, amazed to find several generations of lineage in that little plot.

Last weekend, I was talking to my husband’s cousin about geneological research.  He told me that he had burial location and images of gravestones for all his relatives on his father’s side.  Apparently he had been able to find them through BillionGraves.


I looked into it.  BillionGraves is basically a crowdsource of cemeteries all over the world.

Our goal is to preserve precious records found in cemeteries throughout the world. We use modern technology to capture images of headstones with their GPS locations so users worldwide can access those records anywhere.

The site relies on volunteers all over the world visiting cemeteries and documenting them through images captured on the app.  The app geotags the images so that people can pin-point their exact location.  Then volunteers at their desktops look at those images and attempt to transcribe the information on them.

Some of the gravestones I was photographing yesterday had already deteriorated to a point that I really wonder if anyone will be able to make sense of them.  To be fair, the headstones around them were from the 1700s.

A quick perusal of the site made me realise that no one had even started working on our local cemeteries.  Actually, a lot of the smaller family plots are missing entirely from the map.

I decided this met all my volunteering needs:

  • Helps others
  • I find it interesting
  • I can do the work on my own time

It also gives me some quiet time.  I have a strange love of cemeteries, especially really old ones.  People spend a lot money on headstones because they want to be remembered.  After 10 generations, only people who are interested in geneology are going remember you.  And if I can help even a few people with this activity it will be worth it.

It doesn’t hurt that Candia’s Hill Cemetery is gorgeous.  In fall those old trees produce some incredible foliage.

There are worst places to be laid to rest. This cemetery is so beautiful.

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