Sunday, April 11, 2010

Visiting Cemeteries

I know my blog has been quiet lately. I'm waiting on information requests from several sources.

When I was in New York last week for Passover I visited several cemeteries in the NYC area, four in Queens and three out on Long Island. I showed up with my lists and my camera, family members in tow because they also wanted to visit ancestors or, in the case of my niece, just a nice day outdoors to help me in case we had any overgrown foliage (aside from a little ivy, no problems). It had been several years since I visited any cemeteries.

Two of the cemeteries, Mount Carmel and Mount Lebanon, I visited have searchable online databases so I knew exactly where I need to go...just needed directions. The staff at the front office was very friendly and helpful. For the other five cemeteries, Old Montefiore, Beth David, New Montefiore, Beth Moses, and Wellwood, I had my Excel spreadsheet with lists of names and dates of death if I had them. The staff at these five cemeteries made me feel very unwelcome and they seemed just flat out annoyed at seeing someone with a list of graves to visit. It's not just New York rudeness...I was born and raised in New York and I was never that rude unless I had to give what I got. At Beth Moses, they actually locked the door behind me even though the cemetery was still open for another half hour.

Across the seven cemeteries I took more than 90 photos. I didn't realize how many photos I had taken until I got home. It would have been more...I ran out of time before I could find visit some graves. I missed a few graves because those nasty office ladies sent me to the wrong sections. Within each burial society, I'd photograph all headstones with the same surnames as those on my list just in case they were related. Most of the headstones provided information I already knew. A few however provided clues to new branches of the family tree and need to be investigated. One was gg-grandmother Peshe/Bessie Zebofsky's headstone had a picture (enamelized porcelain plate) on it at but it had broken away long ago. Darn it!!

One big thing on my list was the grave of my great-grandmother Sarah Klein. I was named for her but no one seems to remember exactly when she died or where she's buried. The best guess I have as to the when is 1956-1957. Even though I do know here parents' names, Sarah Klein is still too common a name to request a search from the NYC Dept of Health. There are usually one or two in that timeframe at each cemetery. I checked them all with no luck. I know she is not in a joint grave because she and my great grandfather divorced in 1931 and I know where he is buried. Maybe if those office ladies weren't so nasty I would have had better luck.

Most of the photos are now loaded into the family tree on and also posted to The Hebrew names appear to be accurate and generally consistent which is important for determining who is the son or daughter of who in a family where names are repeated every other generation and sometimes in diverging branches of the family tree at the same time. FindAGrave lets me get the names out on the web for future discovery by more cousins.

Overall it was a successful excursion (spread over three days). I look forward to more cemeteries coming online in the hopes I can find Sarah. Who knows what other secrets are lurking out there...only the wild dogs and rabbits know for sure :-D

No comments: