Posts Tagged Cemeteries

New England Travels, Part 2

Jul 27th, 2015 Posted in Cemeteries | no comment »

 

 

June 22, 2015  (Click on any photo to enlarge!)

Early in the morning on Monday, we began our travels again. I had read an article back in April here, about the “oldest maintained cemetery,” and mentioned it to the girls during planning. So off we went.

We stopped at the Mayflower cemetery first.

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At the Mayflower Cemetery, I was interested in a grouping of stones of the Loring family, who I’d guess were all related. Barak and Perez Loring died in Grenada in 1792. I thought that was really interesting, but couldn’t find much about them. I assume they are related to some of the other famous Loring families. You can read more about the Mayflower Cemetery history here.

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Barack and Perez Loring

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Duxbury, MA, The Myles Standish Burying Ground

After the Mayflower Cemetery, we traveled on to the “oldest maintained cemetery.” What interested me about the Myles Standish Burying Ground is not who Myles Standish was. You can read about him all over the place, such as here or here. My traveling companion wrote about our excursion here.

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It was neat to see where they think John Alden was buried, too. (Next to his son) But you can read about him everywhere, and I have nothing I can add right now to the discourse on the Mayflower or early settlers in America.

John Alden here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Alden

And here: http://mayflowerhistory.com/alden/

 

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John and Priscilla Alden are thought to have been buried here, near their son. The slate stones were put there in 1930.

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Jonathan Alden, repairs done around the 1970s – original slate encased in concrete

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No, instead, I was extremely interested in the little plaque that started this whole portion of the trip.

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The plaque reads: “America’s Oldest Maintained Cemetery. Myles Standish Burying Ground is the oldest maintained cemetery in the United States. This sacred ground has been cared for by the Town of Duxbury, Massachusetts, and takes its name from Myles Standish, military leader of the Plymouth Colony, who was interred here in October of 1656. Plaque dedicated in August 1977, as a bicentennial gift to the Nation by the American Cemetery Association.”

 

There is a lot to discuss here. What does “oldest maintained cemetery” mean, exactly? Does oldest refer to the age of the oldest marker, considered to be Jonathan Alden, the son of John Alden (1687)? The cemetery was the first burying ground in Duxbury, and the first burials were likely either unmarked graves or they were wooden and have long disappeared. According to the National Register nomination, “Known burials date from 1656 to 1831, and surviving original gravestones date from 1697 to 1804.” Does oldest refer to the Native American discoveries made? It’s not really very clear what time period oldest refers to. According to the Town of Duxbury website, “The oldest colonial burial ground in the United States was in St. Augustine, FL., where some of the Spanish conquistadores rest, however, this cemetery has been lost to history as has the original Pilgrim cemetery on Plymouth’s Cole Hill. There in lay the honor bestowed to the Town of Duxbury by the American Cemetery Association in 1977 as naming the Standish Burial Grounds the oldest maintained cemetery in the country.”

 

And what about “maintained”? The site was mostly neglected after the Mayflower cemetery opened, around the mid 18th century. It wasn’t until the mid 19th century that anyone took an interest in the cemetery. According to the NRHP nomination, the Duxbury Rural Society (now the Duxbury Rural and Historical Society) took over the cemetery in 1886 and cleaned it up. It’s now owned by the Town of Duxbury, so presumably they are the caretakers. Or does the Duxbuury Rural and Historical Society still maintain the site? It is not listed on their website as one of their responsibilities. Does “oldest maintained cemetery” refer to the age of the earliest burial, or the amount of time it has been cared for? Because Mt. Auburn in Cambridge, MA, has certainly been maintained since 1831.

 

Another question I have is, who is the American Cemetery Association? I have only found brief references in newspaper articles dating no later than 1990. Nothing that tells me who the organization is or was. What is their significance, and what is their right to bestow the “honor” of oldest maintained cemetery upon the Standish Burial Grounds?

 

In April of this year, 2015, the cemetery was added to the National Register of Historic Places. This date is interesting to me. Why now, what was the impetus for adding the cemetery now, when it’s had such a history of interested parties involved? In the 1800s, of course, there was no such thing as the National Register of Historic Places. In 1977, though the NRHP existed, there were no criteria for adding cemeteries. It wasn’t until 1986 that the National Park Service reviewed the criteria and requested additional published guidance for cemeteries and graves. In 1992, the National Register Bulletin #41, “Guidelines for Evaluating and Registering Cemeteries and Burial Places” was published. The Standish Burying Ground was eligible under criteria A-D. So why not until 2015? I’d be curious to know whose idea it was. There was a brief mention in an August, 2014 newspaper here.

 

The property was approved to be submitted to the NRHP in December by the Massachusetts Historical Commission, and announced in January 2015 by the Secretary of the Commonwealth.

 

Usually it takes a year for approval, but reading through the nomination, it’s clear that the property has just about every feature the guidelines require, including Criteria D, for yielding future information about prehistory. Duxbury was also the site of Native American settlements.

 

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So while I really enjoyed visiting the Myles Standish Burying Grounds, I am still left with many questions. Thankfully, the Massachusetts Historical Commission has a wealth of information regarding the laws, regulations, and requirements for the state of Massachusetts cemeteries and burying grounds. Other states should be so well organized.

 

 

 

 

 

Final draft Visualization – Part 2

Mar 31st, 2014 Posted in Public History | no comment »

 

 
YOU MUST READ THE PART ONE RECAP FIRST so you know where I am going with things.

For starters, HERE IS THE REVISED AND COMPLETED MAP ON GOOGLE MAPS – Mad River Cemeteries.

A screen shot is a little harder for this one, so it’s best to just VISIT THE LINK. and poke around but here’s the idea:
 

 

Mad River Cemeteries Google Maps final draft

 

When you click on a marker, it will give you the lat/long (in some cases, and they are noted, I had to approximate the location based on directions given so some may not be exactly right – I welcome any corrections, please comment) and other information such as whether it is still there, how many burials if known, condition, etc.  There are only three cemeteries still in use today – Myrtle Tree, Nettle Creek, and Terre Haute. Myrtle Tree and Nettle Creek also had churches associated with them. (So did many of the family cemeteries including Shaffer and Zerkle, but that is for another project.)

 

I had a little fun with the markers, don’t hold it against me. I did color code Shaffer, Zerkle, and Terre Haute to correspond with my NodeXL relationship charts.
And that brings me to the NodeXL charts I created.

Cemetery Groups Shaffer Cemetery


Cemetery Groups Shaffer Cemetery

 

Cemetery Groups Zerkle Cemetery 2

Cemetery Groups Zerkle Cemetery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The above two NodeXL charts show the relationships between the people in each cemetery (connections) and where they are buried (color). Corresponding colors in each indicate which families are related. As I said before in my first test, these won’t work for a larger data set so that is why I didn’t include one for Terre Haute. It is the largest cemetery and there is no way I could represent it in a NodeXL file. You can see some of the relations are indicated above in Orange.

 

 

Zerkle Cemetery Families

Zerkle Cemetery Families

Shaffer Cemetery Families

Shaffer Cemetery Families

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The two NodeXL charts above show the relationships between the people buried in the cemetery and between those buried across the cemeteries. The colors indicate relationships. You can see the two largest families are the George and Catherine (Roush) Zirkle families (indicated by aqua) and the Abraham and Margaret (Maurer) Zirkle families (indicated in blue – not exactly the same color blue, oops. It’s a royal blue in the Shaffer cemetery and a dark blue in the Zerkle cemetery). Incidentally, George and Abraham were brothers.

 

Cemetery Cluster Zerkle Cemetery

Cemetery Cluster Zerkle Cemetery

 

The above cluster was just something I used in the analyzation section of NodeXL. I love how it came out but I don’t know how I did it. It shows the different family relations in the Zerkle cemetery. The program chose the colors, so they really don’t indicate anything other than a family relationship. I tried to repeat it in the Shaffer cemetery but couldn’t. You can see how this would never work for a larger data set, it’s almost too much here.

So there we go. I’ve visualized until my eyes were ready to pop out. I welcome feedback. If anyone can tell me how to do a relationship chart for a really BIG set of data, please let me know!

 

 

Final draft Visualization – Part 1: Recap

Mar 30th, 2014 Posted in Public History | no comment »

 
This blog will be in two parts. In this first part, I will summarize what I have done so far and refer back to previous blogs as I have gone along this process of figuring out how to visualize some part of the project I am still thinking through and that will be my final thesis project.

The idea is to use technology to enhance research and discover something new using visualization techniques. Considering my ultimate project of creating a completely open source, collaborative, and crowd sourced cemetery database, I had hoped to have more commentary as I went along on this blog. But since I plan to continue to work on this over the next year, hopefully people will find it and comment.

My first goal was to map all the cemeteries in one area – I chose Mad River, Champaign Co., OH because I have spent a lot of time doing genealogy research in the area. (See my family history blog both here on AOM and my previous blog on Blogger.) I tried several different programs, but none did exactly what I had in mind. I ultimately settled on plain old Google Maps, because they recently changed things so you can upload a spreadsheet of information and I thought that might be useful. So I tried it, even before I had my spreadsheet fully finished. You can see how that worked out on my blog from March 13, 2014.

Since that didn’t really seem to turn out to be what I wanted, I decided truly what I wanted was to be able to take the multiple historic maps that I have used in my research, and layer them over a map that indicated where the cemeteries are located now. Many families, like my own, owned property that spilled over the county line between Champaign and Clark counties. I also wanted to see how many of the cemeteries that currently have place names (ie. those that Google Maps actually recognizes without me having to label them. Many of them are listed in the Ohio gazetteer) occurred on property that was owned by someone with the same name. I had a hunch all of them were named after an original land owner. I still want to accomplish this, but what I found out about that process is that it is excruciatingly time consuming, has a huge learning curve that I do not have the time for right now, and will take extra time for the web site to load and maybe that is not ideal for short-attention span blog readers. I have a feeling I will have to take a class on GIS at some point to try to figure this all out. I did learn some things about the cemetery names just from comparing the historic maps to my digital map. You can read about that on my blog from March 16, 2014. I’m still working on some of that as I continue to research those two cemeteries.
Anyway, besides those drawbacks, I also feel like that approach doesn’t address the purpose of the project – to find a visualization that is representative of a larger whole. In other words, what can I do to visualize something small that I can do anywhere? Using historic maps to see if there are cemeteries on the property of a person the cemetery is named after is fine for Champaign and Clark counties in Ohio, but what about other places? Can I do that in Arizona? Maybe, but it’s not going to be quite as effective.

Then I thought I would try to show change over time somehow. You can see my thoughts on this on my blog from March 20, 2014. I was trying to figure out how to show that with maps. I tried to learn to use Omeka and Neatline to do some mapping, but just installing both required a ton of coding knowledge that I don’t have, and help from my husband. (He is the best!!!) We managed to load up both, and successfully wiped out my WordPress blog in the process. Luckily, he figured out how to fix it when I discovered it the next day. Unfortunately right now I don’t have the time to learn to code. Maybe over the summer!

So while the “change over time” angle might work for any area, and I might explore this option some more, I still struggled with the issue of so what? What does this have to do with a crowd sourced database of cemetery information? Who will care? In asking these questions and thinking about Findagrave, which does a little of what I am hoping to do with my project, I thought about relationships. Relationships are at the heart of Findagrave–both the relationships of the deceased AND the relationships of the people making the memorials on Findagrave. Findagrave links people to their spouses and children, and recently added the ability to see someone’s siblings on their page. Since the relationships seem to always get people in a tizzy, I think being able to map relationships would be a good visualization. I went back to my original blog of March 13, 2014 (see link above) and decided I would give NodeXL a try again. This time I figured out how to use it properly!  See my blog from this morning. I think I am on the right track.

I tried to use Manyeyes from IBM to see what their network relationship analysis looked like, but every time I’ve tried (this is the second time) it won’t load Java and says the site is insecure. Even when I ignore that, it still won’t load anything. It’s too frustrating and I don’t even know if it’s going to look any better than what NodeXL does.

Essentially my final draft is a combination of traditional mapping and relationship network analyses. I chose to focus on just two cemeteries, the Shaffer and Zerkle cemeteries, only because as you will see, NodeXL will not work with anything much larger, and even though these two cemeteries have under 30 burials, there are over twice that in relationships mapped out, making them almost unreadable. I really need a program that will allow me to show multiple cemeteries and the relationships between them.  Part Two will go into more detail and show you the visualizations.
 
 

Cemetery Visualization Test #2

Mar 29th, 2014 Posted in Public History | no comment »

I’ve been playing around with NodeXL and trying to see what would work the best. (See here for test #1)

So this time I thought I would try to show the relationships between the people buried in two cemeteries, Shaffer and Zerkle, in Mad River township, Champaign county, OH. If that worked, I could continue to add cemeteries until I had the whole township’s relationships plotted. I started with the Shaffer cemetery database I created.

Four issues occurred:
1) I first realized that in order to relate this to the much larger project (that being a cemetery database and website that I am currently formulating and just have ideas about so can’t share much yet), I needed to use the information (names and relationships) solely from Findagrave.com and not any of the other resources I had used to compile my list. It had to be the crowd-sourced information.  So that is what I used.
(2) I realized I could not be true to the actual name as it is spelled on each headstone, otherwise the information wouldn’t graph properly. So I had to standardize a little. (For example, Abraham Zerkel is spelled that way on his headstone, but his wife Margaret’s stone says she is wife of Abraham Zirkle. If I showed their relationship that way, the program would think I had two different Abrahams.) I also had to change some surname spellings due to duplicates. Jacob, Jonathan, and Michael all had same surname spellings for multiple different people. I did the best I could but I had to make sure the relationships graphed properly.
(3) I saved it as a TIFF file and used Paint to add the legend and a title. I learned that you cannot upload a TIFF file to WordPress. Frustrating! I had to convert it to JPEG so I didn’t have to re-do the legend that I made.
(4) And lastly, as you can see I only graphed the Shaffer cemetery. Why? Because if I did more than one, you’d never be able to read it. You can barely read this graph as it is! NodeXL is kind of frustrating in that I can’t share this on the web so that it is interactive. I had to save it as a Tiff file and post it here. Looking at it in NodeXL itself I can click on each node and it will highlight the relationship line so that you can see just everyone that person is related to. But even that on the tiny laptop screen was hard to see, so I know I need to make some small tweaks to this but I can barely see it. I already noticed that at first I had some duplicated names and I couldn’t figure out why (George Stange Jr was there twice – why? because in one field I’d put in George Stange Jr. and the other was George Stange Jr — details!!!)
Shaffer Cemetery NodeXL

So although I am scrapping this idea, I did learn a couple of things that are relevant to my genealogy research, though perhaps not this project.

On to test number three…which I hope is the last! Please comment if you have any suggestions or anything you’d like to add.

New Graph (Cemetery visualization test #1)

Feb 25th, 2014 Posted in Public History | no comment »

I spent the day making a database of everyone buried in the Shaffer cemetery. Yay! So I have part of part one done. 1 cemetery, 3 different archives of who’s buried there. I imported it into NodeXL and made a chart. No idea what this is telling me, but I’ll get there. I can see that I want it to tell me something!

Graph test

Visualizing and Mapping Cemeteries

Feb 23rd, 2014 Posted in Public History | no comment »

Initially I was agonizing over this project. I know what I want to do, but I don’t know how to express it exactly (even after reading the first four chapters of The Spatial Humanities: GIS and the Future of Humanities Scholarship – Bodenhamer, David; John Corrigan, and Trevor M. Harris). I found a pay site called www.namesinstone.com but since it’s pay for use, I couldn’t decide whether their format is useful or not for mapping cemeteries. Supposedly they have software you can use to map any cemetery. So that didn’t help with my idea, which follows:

Eventually this is something I’d like to do on a larger scale (meaning, lots and lots of cemeteries – a big project [as opposed to the definition of scale in GISci, referred to on p. 33 of the aforementioned book]), but I will start with three cemeteries that I have spent way too much time trying to analyze and understand from far away and using only the resources I can dig up online and here and there. They all reside within a few miles of each other in the township of Mad River, Champaign county, Ohio. Two are family cemeteries and have not had burials in over 100 years, and the third is still used today. My ancestors from this county are buried between the three. One is the Zerkle Cemetery, off Coffin Station Road and Thackery. (GPS Coordinates: Latitude: 40.0428363 and Longitude: -83.8979884) The next is about 1/2 mile away, the Shaffer Cemetery, same cross streets. (GPS Coordinates: Latitude: 40.0467251 and Longitude: -83.8849324) The final cemetery is the township cemetery, Terre Haute Cemetery, off Storms Creek/55. (GPS Coordinates: Latitude: 40.0522805 and Longitude: -83.8807657).

I have lists of burials from the Shaffer and Zerkle cemeteries from the DAR, the WPA, the Champaign County Genealogical Society, Find-a-Grave, BillionGraves, FamilySearch, US GenWeb, and probably other places. For Terre Haute, I haven’t spent much time on it. It is maintained by the Mad River Township Trustees, so I assume I can acquire a list from them. If not, I know there are several of the former sources that have a listing for Terre Haute, I’d just have to take into consideration the time frame the list is from, since there are still on-going burials in the cemetery. My idea is to create a database of all these lists that first reveals differences between the lists (who’s missing, etc); and then create a map of the location of each burial ~ which will reveal (hopefully) who is missing and where there are gaps in the burials.

I wasn’t sure how to do this but then I found a website discussing a 4-H project done in Iowa for a computer company to develop cemetery mapping software. (See here for the full story and pictures. ) The kids plotted the GPS coordinates and three months later found out that was not what the company wanted. They then had to go back and start over, with the help of their county GIS coordinator. They had to create shape files, use aerial photography, and it took them 5 years to complete the first section of the cemetery.

That being said, I realized my little Ohio project is not something that 1) I can accomplish before mid March or 2) that I can accomplish unless I physically go to Ohio., because in all these cemetery lists there are no designations or coordinates for the exact locations for the burials. So for this phase of the project, I need to pick a local cemetery. My first thought was the Pioneer Cemetery in Phoenix.  I know they have been taking photographs of their cemetery – they were doing that the last time I was there – but am not certain for what purpose. I guess I can get in touch with them and propose my idea. I think that I will have to take a much smaller piece to work with to get it done in time. But as far as what this will tell me, I really don’t know, as I am not familiar with the cemetery other than I’ve been there before. I don’t know what records they might have, or whether they’d even be interested in something like this.  Second choice, if they are not interested, I thought possibly of All Faiths Memorial Park in Tucson. This will be a little harder to do, due to distance, but I thought it might be interesting to map the Our Lady of the Desert mausoleum. I’m sure THAT has never been done! But I’m pretty sure I have no idea what that would tell me. I could create a virtual tour of the mausoleum though, it’s not very big. I at least would find that interesting, as my parents are buried there; not sure if anyone else would.

Anyway, I will hopefully be working on getting the Ohio version of this project off the ground over this summer. Wish me luck.

Digital Transformations of the Humanities

Feb 1st, 2014 Posted in Public History | no comment »

“Humanists must actively engage with, design, create, critique and hack” the environments around them in order to make sense of “who we are, where we live, and what that means.” (Digital_Humanities, p. 30)

Going digital allows historians to do the above better. “Digital” is just another tool for historians to continue their analyses of the past, just as ink, paper, the printing press and the computer were innovative new methods. Historians must be aware at all times of the dangers of the digital world – as with anything, there are advantages and disadvantages of technology, and being mindful of this is an element of a good digital historian.

Cataloging and curation are important factors to a myriad of people: digital historians, researchers – academic and lay alike, teachers, students, museum professionals and visitors, historical societies, lineal organizations, service organizations, anyone who is interested in the organization and presentation, and preservation of information and cultural artifacts that define who we are as humans. Along with this cataloging and curation goes the tagging and identification of the information of the items being presented. Proper tagging and metadata allows the information to be found quickly in the digital world, as well as relate like objects to one another.

Digital mapping is another asset of the cataloging and curation – maps create the visualization of the text, putting the person where the “action” is taking place. Many researchers are not able to be at the exact place the information they are seeking took place, and mapping and virtual collections can enable this.

Virtual gaming is something that is interesting and new to me. The idea of taking a 3D, simulated world from a game to interpret and display material is a concept that never crossed my mind. Virtual memory sites can be created and experienced from anywhere, including your living room.

But what about the dehumanizing effects of creating a game out of something of greater meaning? The case study in Digital_Humanities talks about a refugee camp experience. How do you consider the ethical and cultural sensitivities when creating this virtual world? These are the reasons for human interaction and humanists to be involved in this process, rather than computers and scientists who may or may not be aware of cultural implications for their work. But without the digital element, stories like this may never get told. Or it is showcased at a museum for x amount of time and then it goes away. The digital realm allows information to be there for everyone and stories to be told. That’s not to say the viability of museums will go away, on the contrary, an exhibit can remain far after the blockbuster show time is over.

I worked at the Museum of the Horse at the Lexington, Kentucky Horse Park during their blockbuster summer even, Imperial China: The Art of the Horse in China in 2000. (I found some stuff online about the exhibit, you can check it out here.)  It was my first experience working in a museum. What is notable about this exhibit is that it was the first time the Emperor Qin Shi Huang’s terra cotta army figures had been outside of China. And they were only exhibited at the Museum of the Horse. Since then I believe they’ve been around a bit, but in 2000 they came to our museum and were packed up and went right back to China. Anyway, the point being that there will never be an exhibit like that again, and while the website and information I found to mention this exhibit are basic, there is still this presence and anyone researching Qin Shi Huang will come across the exhibit that once was. Today the possibilities of keeping these exhibits alive and active are numerous, and there is much that could be done to re-create the summer 2000 exhibit. I can imagine a map showing the areas each artifact came from, where interactively you could click on them and learn more about the region and the item itself. Or a virtual world where you could learn about the emperor and visit his tomb virtually. Or rediscover his tomb with the archaeologists in 1974. This exhibit, like so many others, could be brought to life using digital humanities methods and practices. This is truly a great time to be in the field of history and humanities. There is so much we can be doing with the cultural artifacts and material around us to make sense of “who we are, where we live, and what that means.”

Souvenir guide, docent training manual, and work shirt from Imperial China exhibit

Souvenir guide, docent training manual, and work shirt from Imperial China exhibit