A dream of every genealogist or family historian is the day when most, if not all, cemeteries will be genealogist-friendly.
There is not much to be done with the old cemeteries, which no longer have a caretaker or other staff. These cemeteries fall to volunteers to transcribe or produce a website with the known burials listed, and it is even better to find an old transcription in a library so headstones, no longer discernible are now available to present day headstone hunters.
The cemeteries that do have staff or offices are another story. The headstones and the documentation within the records and files in the office can be a great resource and a treasure chest of information.
Would it not be wonderful if the office could maintain a copy of the obit published in the paper and perhaps even a photo of the deceased? Since everything can be scanned onto a hard drive or memory card, it would not take up any physical room other than a box of memory cards listed by dates.
What a dream!
Sand Flat Cemetery is a perfect example of what can be achieved even with no official staff but a very interested and active cemetery association.
The Sand Flat Cemetery Association maintains the cemetery but even more, they have set up a wonderful website about the cemetery and it is genealogist-friendly. Their Mission Statement says it all:
In order to remember and honor our deceased ancestors and relatives buried in Sand Flat Cemetery, this website was designed to identify each person buried in the cemetery, their parents, spouses and their children.
Another goal is to provide photographs of each cemetery marker and of each individual and their families along with articles, stories and obituaries whenever possible.
We owe a great debt of gratitude, indeed the very essence of our being, to our ancestors that have predeceased us all. Our meager efforts of tribute are the least that we can do to show our appreciation for their lives. Lest we not forget, we are only one small step behind them!
If you are planning a trip to the cemetery, you can contact the association by email to Jeff Botts:
Jeff L. Bott: email@example.com
Because Jeff is personally interested in family history and genealogy, he has taken it upon himself to provide as much genealogical information as he can find about those buried at Sand Flat. You can search the Surname list. Click on a surname, you will be taken to a listing of all the people buried with that surname. Then click the name of the person you are interested in. You will be taken to the “Sand Flat Genealogy Project” page showing a “card” with their genealogical information listed. I have used the surname “Ratliff”. There is one, a Lena Ratliff. Click on the person’s name and you will be taken to the “Person Sheet”. For Lena Ratliff, I found her husband, Oscar Teolia Baker. They both had a camera icon next to their names. Clicking these icons brought me to a copy of a Death Certificate.
You are instructed as to how to distinguish who is buried in the cemetery and who is buried elsewhere. People listed with all capps are buried in the cemetery and people with just the surname in capps are buried in another cemetery.
This is what can be accomplished if a cemetery association or corporate office will employ just one person with an appreciation for genealogy and family history.
I found on the website a photo of the McDougal Cemetery. It is offered as an example of what happens to cemeteries when they are abandoned., often because there is no money to help pay for maintenance.
If you would like to send a small donation to Sand Flat Cemetery Association, here is the information:
If you would like to make a TAX DEDUCIBLE CHARITABLE CONTRIBUTION to help maintain and preserve the Sand Flat Cemetery, please mail your check directly to the Secretary-Treasurer, Teddy McDowell, 1630 CR313 West, Tyler, TX 75706-2812. Your assistance is much needed and will be greatly appreciated!
If not to the Sand Flat Cemetery Association, please find a cemetery association in your area and make a donation to them, even if it is $5, every little bit helps. Find out when they have the annual or bi-annual cemetery clean up day and get involved.
The Sand Flat Cemetery will never be forgotten or neglected and I wish this for all our small cemeteries.