On a recent trip to my homeland -- the state of Maine -- I ventured way north and paid my first visit to my family cemetery.
My dad's cousin (my first cousin once removed [FCOR] and yes, I had to google that) led us... behind what looked like a machine shop, down this barely-a-road, to a plot of land near the river.
He told us that yes, "our" cemetery had flooded some years back, and that yes, "our" family plot might be missing a few bones -- or more.
My gram's maiden name was on the handmade sign as we came around the corner. Another first cousin of some kind is teaming up with his son to mow and maintain this piece of our history -- and the road to get to it. I am extremely grateful to them both.
They made the white crosses you see here, and then had plaques engraved with names and dates when they had that information... which was most of them.
This is the children's section. Apparently it was also open to rural neighbors who didn't have other accommodations at a time when child mortality was high. Folks were allowed to cross the river on a ferry and bring their babies here.
My heart lurched, having lost an infant -- I wondered about that ferry trip, and I still do. Did the mother go on the ferry, or leave that to the father? Or, gulp, did she go alone? My gratitude for my distant cousins' labor, and that this spot is so beautifully maintained -- well, it swelled up so large that I couldn't talk and it came leaking out of my eyes a little.
How did they know to do all this?
I asked my FCOR, and he shrugged, "Grampy left me a map."
You know what I'm going to ask next, and it is to you: what do you have? What papers do you hold from predecessors that may or may not necessarily be in your family? If you want help organizing or preserving them, by all means reach out.
But please do start, for free, with these tips for basic care and safety; they can triple the lifespan of your documents. Just sign up here!