Planning a research trip this weekend? Don’t forget these books.

Fall is the best time to visit an old cemetery. Gorgeous leaves, clear, crisp weather, and most importantly, NO BUGS. For those of you planning on trekking through historic cemeteries this weekend, don’t forget to bring your notebooks/tablets, cameras, comfortable clothes, and most importantly, these books.

  1.  Your Guide to Cemetery Research by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack;
  2. The American Resting Place by Marilyn Yalom;
  3. Stories in Stone: A field guide to cemetery symbolism and iconography by Douglas Keister

If you’re cramped for space and can only bring one book, I’d go with the Stories in Stone. It’s compact, relatively lightweight, and hardy enough to endure drops, bumps, or smacks.

I reviewed the books back in 2009 and still believe these three items are essential references for any genealogist or history buff looking to know more about what those symbols and carvings mean.


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Beyond the Ghosts… finally joins Facebook


It took long enough, but now that I’ve decided to start posting again, it makes sense for BTG to finally have its own Facebook page.

Not only will these blog posts show up over there, but having the page allows me to put up alerts for events happening within the preservation community within the next few days like restoration events, tours, and talks.

So come one, come all, and like Beyond the Ghosts… on Facebook!


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Need help clearing out the brush? Consider the 4-legged, hairy weed whacker


It’s one thing to tackle the weeds in a tiny garden, quite another when it comes to clearing out masses of overgrowth in a say, a forgotten cemetery. While some communities have volunteer groups, like the Newcastle Weed Warriors, that are ready to do battle, others are not quite so fortunate.

One cemetery owner had a marvelous idea. Why not hire some goats to do the job?

“Using goats to clear land is creative and also is more environmentally friendly than other practices, such as machinery or herbicides. Another huge plus for using goats is they don’t require workers’ compensation coverage. Goats also can get into places where heavy equipment can’t,” reports the Park City Daily News.

Indeed. Goats are known to taste practically anything and everything in their search for culinary delights, in addition to climbing trees, or even pushing through fences to get at a particularly tasty treat.


As a result, there are currently, 16 beasties munching their way through the overgrown Covington Family Cemetery in Kentucky. They should be ready to turn the place back over to the 2-legged species in about four weeks.

Read the whole article here.



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Places to see: Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery, VA

Freedmans cemetery

The next time you’re in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, think about swinging by the Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery on 1001 S. Washington Street that was once paved over by a gas station. The east coast is (in)famous for having any number of forgotten cemeteries scattered throughout the region. This is one of them.

“The dedication of the cemetery happened almost by accident. Alexandria was a gathering place for escaped slaves during the Civil War. But after the war, with no headstones on the graves, the city found a way to forget. In the 1950s, a gas station was allowed to pave it over. But eventually the cemetery was rediscovered, and the city tore the gas station down, and archaeologists found more than 600 graves.”

Read the entire story and see the video here.  Plan your trip here.

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Move into our assisted living facilities, get a free cemetery plot?

Over near Springfield, Pennsylvania, there’s a developer who’s looking to morph part of a local cemetery into an elder care home/assisted living facility.

“The commissioners voted 6-1 to approve a final subdivision plan to consolidate two tax parcels within St. Peter and St. Paul Cemetery, 1600 S. Sproul Road, and subdivide a portion of undeveloped ground into a separate tract for future development.

The 318.1 acres will be divided into 294 acres of cemetery land and a separate 24.1-acre lot. The request was made by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, which owns the property, and The Benson Companies, the equitable owner of the smaller piece...Earlier this year, Benson presented a sketch plan to the planning commission showing independent living apartments and commons, assisted living units, a skilled nursing component and urgent care facility on the cemetery property.”

Now I understand planning and am the first to recommend getting one’s affairs in order, but I think this is taking things a wee bit too far.

Although the ghoulish side of me wonders if the marketing materials will offer a free burial plot to potential residents as an added move-in incentive.

Read the full story here.


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Updated: Wow, I leave for a bit and look what happens…

Update as of 9/12/2014

After seeing too many interesting articles about restoration and historical cemeteries pass me by, I’ve decided to start posting again,.

This time, though, I’m going to take a slightly different route. Instead posting all original content (which ran me ragged), I will do a combination of the following:

1. The occasional original post.

2. Pass on interesting articles and/or those I think need more publicity.

3. Do more fun Snapshot postings (like this one about a sergeant in the WWI tank corps).

As always, keep the comments coming, and if you have some restoration news you’d like to share, let me know!


I can’t believe it’s only been a year since I decided to stop posting. There  have been some great questions and helpful comments–keep ‘em coming!

I’m so glad I decided to keep the blog live because I had no idea how useful it was. Many thanks to all my 16,000 + visitors in 2011 and yes, I will be around to answer questions if you have them.

And who knows? I might even get inspired to start posting again.

Happy New Year!


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Can you help save Flight Lieutenant George Arthur Marrows?

An appeal asking for more information about Flight Lieutenant George Arthur Marrows appeared in yesterday’s Gainsborough Standard.

Courtesy Gainsborough Standard

Courtesy Gainsborough Standard

Flight Lt. Marrows was the pilot of a Halifax bomber which took off from RAF Breighton on 7th June 1944 to bomb rail communications. It crashed near Bretigny-sur-Orge killing all seven crew. All are buried in Bretigny-sur-Orge Communal Cemetery.

The local restoration society would like to repair Flt. Lt Marrow’s headstone in the Gainsborough cemetery as it’s broken and the inscription is very difficult to read. Anyone with information please visit

Read the entire article here.

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