One for the genealogists


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Halloween is fun.

Between trick or treating, anticipating unique costumes (I once saw someone dressed as a flower pot), house decorations, long-suffering pets in cute getups and children double-whammied by excitement and sugar highs, what’s not to like?

And while I don’t write about ghosts or vampires, this year will be a little different as I’d like to quote a funny anecdote. It comes from one of the most helpful reference books on my shelf; Sharon DeBartolo Carmack’s, Your Guide to Cemetery Research.

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Zombies In The Cemetery

Walking through old cemeteries never bothered me as Mom was into genealogy long before it was popular. I always found something poignant in the crumbling, moss-covered headstones in the older part of the cemetery.

One Halloween, I discovered a pre-Civil war section of a cemetery while visiting family in Illinois. Korkie, my grandfather’s little black dog, was patient with me as I meandered down the old gravel lane leading to the river. I was supposed to be exercising him rather than reading headstones. The artistry of one headstone caught my eye and I stopped to take a closer look.

Suddenly, I slid on the loose gravel and didn’t stop until I ended up in a storm drain large enough to drain a lake. The sun was just setting as I painfully pulled myself out of the dark hole. Korkie, frantic from my sudden disappearance, was doing his best to help me out by alternately tugging on my sleeve and barking excitedly.

I must have looked a sight coming out of that hole, dressed entirely in gray and covered with abrasions and rotting vegetation. Only the tail lights of a passing car were visible through the dust and flying gravel by the time I drew enough breath to call for help. I managed to get back to my uncle’s house just after dark and before my family launched a search party. We all had a good giggle about my underground adventure that night.

The next morning, our giggles turned into guffaws when the news reported that some local teenagers from prominent families had been arrested for speeding. All were hysterical at the time of the arrest. They were claiming to have witnessed a zombie rising out of a grave in the old graveyard.

Source: DeBartolo Carmack, Sharon. Your Guide to Cemetery Research. Cincinnati: Betterway Books, 2002 .

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