Archive for the ‘Halloween’ Category

Cooper’s grave a reminder of the special nature of burial sites

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

I work with genealogy data every day at, but lately, as a genealogist, I’ve wanted to get out of the office and help record the important facts left behind on tombstones. One of the many content partners whose data we index at WorldVitalRecords is Find A Grave, so that’s where I started.

I signed up as a contributor at Find A Grave and found some photo requests for a local cemetery I had never visited before. It was nice to discover that this cemetery was only a mile or so away from my office in Provo.

During lunch I jumped in my car to locate the cemetery and take a look around. I planned on going back again later with the printed photo requests to gather the requested information.

In no time I was winding up the side of a mountain on an old paved road, just high enough to be above most of the homes. East Lawn Memorial Hills Cemetery was quite the surprise. I thought back to the recent burial of my grandfather in Lindon and wished this picturesque location could have been chosen for his final resting place. I meandered through the cemetery roads a bit and then pulled over and began to walk the rows of in-the-ground, flat tombstones.

The cemetery is nestled in the foothills above Provo, near the mouth of Provo Canyon. Mountains soar behind it. Paths wind among the trees, hills, flower gardens and graves. Utah Lake dominates the

Halloween Memorial

Halloween Memorial

vista to the west, with more mountains beyond it. Truly this is the most beautiful of all burial grounds I’d ever imagined.

There are more gravesites here than first appear; the flat headstones hide in the grass until you come close to them. I was alone with the residents, at peace, a few hundred feet above the hustle and bustle of the suburbs.
I ventured toward a couple of young trees, which appeared to have a sign strung between them.

I could see that great care had been taken in stringing the sign, and the tree trunks had become columns of pictures, tied with orange ribbons and bows. There were pumpkins at the bases of the trees.

The pictures were of all of the same family, dressed for several Halloweens. The little boy in the pictures was Cooper; his name was spelled out on the sign. I had not yet seen his grave.

Cooper's Headstone

Cooper's Headstone

A few steps from the trees, I found it. Little Cooper’s windswept hair, mischievous eyes and big, happy smile were now embossed forever in bronze, with a lake in the background. Cooper’s parents have since told me that the lake is Navajo Lake, near Cedar City, where Cooper loved to wade and skip rocks. It was the most beautiful tombstone I had ever seen.

Suddenly, the graves all around me felt alive. A gravestone is not just a rock in the ground with some lettering on it. It marks the final resting place of someone’s son or daughter, brother or sister, parent or neighbor or friend. To someone like me, who is involved in the never-ending work of family history, perhaps this should be obvious. But on that day in that place, I felt it as I hadn’t felt it before. A grave is a place to keep memories alive.

I went back a couple of days later with Cooper’s name on my list of photo requests, because the Internet is a place to keep memories alive, too. I met a brother and sister who are also Find A Grave contributors. They were busy walking the rows, looking for graves of which photos had been requested. They hadn’t seen Cooper’s grave yet. I told them they were in for a special moment. I imagine them lingering, as I had, amid the Halloween decorations, at the beautiful resting place of a beloved little boy.

Take the time to work on your genealogy. Learn more of the stories of your own ancestors, and sooner or later you’ll find some special places like Cooper’s.

Discover Your Family Stories

Note: Cooper’s family has a blog where you can learn more about Cooper, the annual run established in his memory and the family’s memories of their son and brother.

View From the cemetery

View from the cemetery

Cooper's grave and Halloween Memorial

Cooper's grave and Halloween Memorial

A Closer Look Into St. Mary’s County Cemetery Index

Friday, October 31st, 2008

St. Mary’s County Cemetery Index was recently launched at This index contains vital records from cemeteries located in St. Mary’s county. The database contains 4,194 records. Each record contains the name, birth date, death date, and the name of the cemetery. The database will be free to access on until November 1, 2008.

Many of the individuals in this database were buried in the following cemeteries: All Faith Episcopal, Charles Memorial Gardens, Evergreen Memorial Gardens, Holy Face, Our Ladys Catholic, Queen Of Peace, Sacred Heart Catholic, St Georges Catholic, St Georges Episcopal, St John Francis Regis, St Marks Uame, St Michaels Catholic, St Peter Claver, and St. Mary.

F. Scott Fitzgerald (his record is located on in the Find A Grave database), author of many well-known novels, including The Great Gatsby. He was originally buried in Rockville Union Cemetery with his wife Zelda Sayre. However, at the request their only child, the Women’s Club of Rockville had the couple’s bodies moved to his family’s plot in St. Mary’s. Fitzgerald’s epitaph is the final sentence from The Great Gatsby. It reads, “So we beat on, boats against the current, born back ceaselessly into the past.” St. Mary’s cemetery is located Rockville, Maryland (next to the St. Mary’s Church on Veirs Mill Road).

A Peek Into the Old Dutch Burying Ground of Sleepy Hollow Database

Monday, October 27th, 2008

Halloween is coming up soon. This week at we are featuring The Old Dutch Burying Ground of Sleepy Hollow as our Halloween database. Click here to access this database. The Old Dutch Burying Ground is adjacent from the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in New York. The ground contains approximately 1,700 tombstones from the mid 18th century to the late 19th Century. Many of these stones have crumbled and the writing on many is not legible. The oldest legible stone is that of Mary Stone, No. 138.

On the Northern side of the burial ground lies the remains of Washington Irving, author of the “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle.” It is said of his burial location, “Marked by no tawdry memorial of elaborate sculpture, a simple marble slab indicates the grave; a slab ingeniously fashioned, with rounded corners and edges designed to foil souvenir collectors who have carried off piecemeal two earlier stones.”