Good stuff starts with Find-A-Grave. Okay, certainly not all good stuff, but lately it seems like LOTS of good stuff has made it’s way to me, compliments of the wonderful people who post on Find-A-Grave. Take, for example, the photo shown above, which awaited me in my email upon arising this morning. Find-A-Grave volunteer Jaci happened to be at the Crystal Lake Cemetery in Minneapolis, Minnesota, fulfilling a photo request for someone, when she took this picture of the headstone of my great-great grand parents, Albert and Lavina (Bursley) Stanwood. She had no way of knowing that my yucky photo posted there was taken over twenty years ago, at sunset with a flash, later scanned with a low-res machine, and the original photo lost so I didn’t have any decent version of the precious gravestone.
What blows my mind even more is Crystal Lake Cemetery is HUGE, HUGE, HUGE! What a kind person to be combing that large cemetery for someone, and then on top of it, to serendipitously stumble upon MY family’s gravestone that needed to be updated online. Totally cool.
My Find-A-Grave stories don’t end there. I have found the site to be one of the best for making cousin connections. If it wasn’t for Find-A-Grave, and contacting the individual managing several Bursley memorials, I never would have met my fourth-cousin-once-removed, John. It was largely John’s research that proved our family’s connection to Benjamin Bursley, a Revolutionary War patriot and a descendant of John Howland and Elizabeth Tilley, two of my Mayflower ancestors.
Most recently my Find-A-Grave connections put flesh on the bones of my Day ancestors. It was another sort of serendipitous contact – Merrylyn had posted information on my Day family, and when I contacted her, I learned her great-great-great aunt’s sister, Elizabeth Skillings, married John Day, brother of my fourth great grandfather, Aaron Day. We are both using the FAN principle, researching friends, associates and neighbors of our ancestors, and have had fun collaborating on the John Day/Elizabeth Skillings connection. Merrylyn had previously obtained copies of some genealogical data on the Day family that had been submitted to the Starks (Maine) Historical Society where John and Elizabeth had lived. The writer had spent time interviewing old relatives, and stories had passed on through the generations, with the following tidbit revealing the character and personality of John Day, Sr., father of John and Aaron:
“When the children were young they had two Grammy Days. John said his father told him to call his mother’s mother ‘Poverty Hill Grammy.’ He did and his mother spanked him! Other family notes refer to his other Day grandmother as Pine Woods Grammy. Aaron Day from Waters History lived on what used to be Poverty Hill. Jeremiah lived in the area today known as Pine Swamp. Hence the name Pine Woods Grammy.”
This simple little paragraph contains several bits of information:
- Another confirmation that John Day married his cousin, Sarah Day, daughter of Aaron Day and Sarah Goodhue.
- Aaron Day lived at Poverty Hill in Ipswich.
- John Day was a character. I can imagine similar banter in my own household – my husband would make similar jokes and find it hysterical. Me, not so much. I can relate to my fifth great grandmother’s dismay at having her mama called Poverty Hill Grammy. :-)
- John’s father Jeremiah Day lived at Pine Swamp, just outside Ipswich, Massachusetts, where he was born.
After learning about these Day family documents, I was able to obtain my own copy from the Starks Historical Society, but never would have known about them (or who to contact) if it wasn’t for my Find-A-Grace connection. Yup, Find-A-Grave rocks.