Thursday, December 18, 2014

Virtual Cemeteries on Find A Grave

Find A Grave is a popular online genealogical resource.  Many people use Find A Grave but do not understand the Virtual Cemetery feature.  Hopefully this blog post will help you understand more about them.

What is a Virtual Cemetery?

 A Virtual Cemetery is a collection of links (to memorials) that you curate, like a list with links included.  The memorials are still managed by the profile that is assigned to manage them. The Virtual Cemetery is a quick link to the memorial. A Virtual Cemetery can be private or public. Your virtual cemetery might have memorials from many different cemeteries.  The Virtual Cemetery is different than Find A Grave’s “My Cemeteries” (which are links to a cemetery’s page).  

Find A Grave Feature definitions:

Memorial - page honoring a person, showing cemetery where buried
Cemetery - collection of Memorials located in a cemetery
My Cemeteries - a place to save a link to the cemeteries you work with often 
Virtual Cemetery - a curated collection of links to memorials

You can create a Virtual Cemetery for a variety of subjects.  Here are a few ideas:

o   List of famous gravesites: famous people, veterans, etc.
o   Family name: saving the links to all your family line in one easy to find place.
o   Cemetery research: quick access list of everyone to research in a particular cemetery
o   To Do: a list of memorials that you would like to research or take photos of
o   High school Class alumni             

This is a listing of Virtual Cemeteries  You can see that some are lists of tasks for a cemetery.  And then there are lists of famous people. The number next to the Virtual Cemetery name indicates how many memorials are included for that cemetery.

And here are a couple of examples of Virtual Cemeteries:


How do you create a Virtual Cemetery?

When logged in your Find a Grave account go to your profile page by clicking your profile name:   

Then go to your Contributor Tools:

Click the edit button next to “My Virtual Cemeteries”:

Click Add New:

Fill in the Your Cemetery name.  This one just has the same name as the cemetery I am working on. Click Yes if you would like this to be visible to the public, or No to keep it private.  Then click Add This Cemetery:

Your cemetery will appear in your list of Virtual Cemeteries.  It will not show up as a clickable link until you add memorials to it. The Virtual Cemeteries that are private have an * next to the name:

To edit a virtual cemetery click on the Virtual Cemetery link in your Contributions to Find a Grave page:

How do you add Memorials to a Virtual Cemetery?

To add a memorial to your Virtual Cemetery: Click on the Edit Virtual Cemetery link on the memorial page:

Then click the box next to your Virtual Cemetery you would like to place the memorial.  Click on Save Changes:

Here is the record in the Virtual Cemetery:

HCGS Makes a Difference Volunteer Project

We are using Virtual Cemeteries for the Hamilton County Genealogical Society’s project on documenting Hamilton County’s Civil War Veterans. Each Virtual Cemetery is a gallery of the cemeteries we have researched.  This makes it easier for our volunteers to find memorials they are working on without having to look up each person repeatedly.  For the public it shows the record of the soldiers in each cemetery, as if we created a memorial wall of the Civil War Veteran’s in each cemetery.

Our virtual cemeteries are located here: HCGS Virtual Cemeteries Or check out our Find A Grave Profile 

The image below shows a portion of the Virtual Cemeteries we have created for the project.  

We will need volunteers to help us with our project. If you like to work with Find A Grave searching and adding memorials to our Virtual Cemeteries or would prefer to head to the cemetery and take photos we would love your help.  Check out our earlier post on the project for more info: 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Researching Your Ancestors Using Church Records by Jeff Herbert

Jeff Herbert
“Researching Your Ancestors Using Church Records” will be the topic of the regular monthly meeting of the Warren County Genealogical Society on Wednesday, November 19 at 7:30 p.m.  The guest speaker will be Jeffrey G. Herbert, past president and current treasurer of the Hamilton County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society. 

Herbert has more than 20 years of experience in genealogical research and writing with a focus on local history.  He has authored more than 15 publications identifying and indexing local sources to aid researchers.  He is an expert in German research and old script handwriting.

Church records memorializing baptisms, marriages, deaths and burials often include information which can be extremely useful in identifying and sorting out family relationships.  However, they are often overlooked or considered too difficult to obtain, particularly by beginning or intermediate level researchers.  This presentation identifies valuable entry points for these vital sources of information.

The meeting will be held in the Phillippi Meeting Room of the Campus Center at the Otterbein-Lebanon Retirement Community, 585 State Route 741, (north of State Route 63), Lebanon, Ohio.

The event is open to the public, and is free.  No reservations are necessary, and everyone is welcome!

For more information, contact the Warren County Genealogical Society
at (513) 695-1144 or

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Anne Hutchinson - American Jezebel

Saturday, November 15th at 11:00 AM at the Main Library

Mr. Leland Cole, long-time member of the Hamilton County Genealogical Society, will be presenting two lectures at the Main Library on November 15th. If you enjoyed the Quaker talk presented last month, this talk will extend your understanding of the Quaker influence in the early days of our country. 

Lee will also discuss "Turmoil in the Ukraine" at 2:00 PM. The nation of Ukraine has experienced recent violent turbulence in a very stormy relationship with her Russian neighbor. Lee Cole, past President and current Board Member of the Center for Economic Initiatives and developer of a Marshall Plan prototype that has assisted many Ukrainian businesses, has first- hand knowledge of the current situation, and will provide a thorough overview along with historical background. This program is part of the Library's new "World Affairs" speaker series. 

Who Was Anne Hutchinson?

Anne Hutchinson was born in Alford, England in 1591 where she was educated.  Later she went on to become one of the most important women in British America.  Eleanor Roosevelt felt Anne was one of the five most important American women – Ever.  She is greatly responsible for Separation of Church and State and Freedom of Speech and was the inspiration for Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter.

Anne, a fiery red-head, was very thoroughly trained on the Bible by her father the Rev. Francis Marbury and became skilled on debating the subject.  Her mother taught her how to be a mid-wife, a skill she would later use in America.  When 21, Anne married Will Hutchinson, also from Alford, whose family ran a very successful woolen import/export business.  Soon after, the government increased business taxes the couple decided to move to America.  On the ship she taught sessions on the Bible to other passengers.

The Hutchinsons built a fine house in Boston near that of Governor John Winthrop, the outspoken, autocratic, Puritan Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.  Anne continued to give lessons to small and ever increasing groups of local women.  These popular sessions were eventually attended by up to 80 people, both men and women.  Winthrop was enraged as Anne had differing views of “Salvation.”  He could not get her to change her mind so put her on trial.  The first day, Anne successfully defended her position against Winthrop and the clergy.  At the end of the second day, Anne was convicted and banished from the colony.  A second trial excommunicated Anne from the Puritan church.

Anne and Will fled to Providence where they negotiated with the Indians and settled in Pocasset, now Portsmouth, thus becoming co-founders of Rhode Island.  In the meantime, Winthrop continued to send ministers to meet with Anne and try to get her to recant her statements.  She would not.

In order to avoid these meetings, the family decided to remove to Pelham Bay (now the Bronx) and negotiated with the Dutch for land.  Sixteen people, including much of Anne’s family moved.  The land was located between the warring Dutch and Lenape Indians.  One day Anne was informed, through the Dutch that the Indians and Chief Wampage would attack.  Anne refused to leave the camp since she never before had any trouble with the Indians.  The Indians attacked, slaughtered all the inhabitants and animals and burned the camp.  It looked as though there were no survivors.  However, Anne’s youngest daughter, Susannah, was in the meadow picking berries and hid when she heard the screams and saw the smoke.

Wampage found Susannah, adopted her, and took her into his village.  She lived with the Indians for seven years until finally she was ransomed by her uncle, Edward Hutchinson.  She returned to Boston where she married John Cole.  Eventually they moved to Kingstown in Rhode Island to manage the Hutchinson’s property.

Submitted by Lee Cole

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Session Added: Hands-on with Land 2, November 1, 11 am, 1 pm and 3 pm

The Hands-on with Land session scheduled for 1 p.m. is full. A second session has been added at 3 p.m. on the same date. If you are on the library's waiting list, you have been accepted for the later session. Additional spaces are available at 3 p.m. Please email Liz Stratton at if you are interested in attending. Put "Land Series" in the topic line. The lecture at 11 a.m. does not require a reservation.

From the Collection of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County
Longworth Homestead, Used with permission from the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County
In Hands-on with Land sessions, we share discoveries, issues, strategies, and participant examples. The focus of the November 1 sessions is locating and gaining access to original indexes and records. A variety of strategies will be shared at the 11 am lecture.

During the hands-on sessions, participants will find ancestral land records online or learn how to access them from afar. Topics explored include:
  • County boundary changes and their effect on locating records
  • Availability of Hamilton County land records and indexes both online and at the Recorder's office
  • Federal land record availability with a specific emphasis on the issues faced researching Hamilton County warrantees and patentees
Submitted by Liz Stratton, Education Director, Hamilton County Genealogical Society

Monday, October 27, 2014

Uncovering World War I Genealogy Resources

Mark your calendars for 11:00 AM November 8th at the Main Library. Patricia Van Skaik will discuss some of the little-known resources available to those researching ancestors who may have served in World War I.

The library is home to numerous Grave Registration Cards that may include personal information about the veteran, as well as the funeral home used and the location of his grave. Rare books include clippings from contemporary newspapers that provide the reader with a picture of how the isolationists of the time felt about our country involving itself in a "European" war.

Rare Newspaper Clippings Housed at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County
Hope to see you there.

Submitted by Kathy Reed

Sunday, October 26, 2014

"Clicking and Claiming" on -- A Commentary

My Great-Grandfather, August H. Vonderheide, with his first three great-grancdhildren

Anyone who has been doing genealogy for any length of time knows not to trust family trees on at face value. They may be absolutely correct and include wonderful source citations. They may serve as a starting point for conducting your own research on an elusive ancestor. Best of all, they may lead you to connecting to “cousins” who are researching the same ancestor. I’ve had all three experiences.

Through Ancestry, I've had the pleasure of meeting and forming relationships with cousins who were working on the same family members. I’m very close to a 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th cousin I would not have discovered in any other way. One newly-discovered cousin lives about 15 minutes away from me, and we discovered that our gg-grandparents were brothers who ran their own business as blacksmiths in Cincinnati in the 1840s. What a delightful discovery.

BUT . . .

Not all discoveries are this positive. On ancestry, the company lets you know if someone is copying information from your tree to theirs. When I see the same name appearing over and over, I always contact them through the Member Connect option to see if we are related. A couple of days ago, I followed this procedure to contact someone who had included my g-grandfather in his tree. He had it totally wrong, and I offered to help him straighten it out. I did not expect to get this reply:

There may not be any logical or traceable connection at all, as the tree, by this time, is not actually a "family tree", but more correctly, a "community tree". In the process of assembling this interconnected tapestry, the families of various in-laws, or even second or third spouses, are included, which makes some of the "connections" a little obscure. I include something I call "cousin of a cousin", as your cousins may have an entirely different set of cousins, and when these families are expanded, gradually most of a community is included. So I probably bumped into (unnamed ancestor) by including parts of somebody else's tree, and if this information is incorrect, perhaps I was not sufficiently prudent in verification. Perhaps you could provide clarification?

The core of my tree is based in southwestern Wisconsin, Grant county, and expanding outward from there. Some goes back to European or Canadian pasts, and has stretched back and forth across the United States several times. In truth, I probably have no connection at all with some 95% or more of the people on the tree, and in fact, I am not even a direct relative of the base person, John Doe*. He was a brother-in-law to my first cousin, and I started the tree shortly after he died, as a sort of memorial. John* was about 8 or 9 years older than me, and he hung out with my older brother and my first cousins. He was always pretty much of a maverick when he was 17, and he was not much changed by the time he was 70. I pursue the expansion of the tree mostly for the intellectual challenge, as it is both a test of deductive capabilities, sorting out the scattered acts, and a way to fill time during retirement years. And I like to think it may be a starting point for somebody else who wants to start their own tree. Good Hunting.

*Name changed to protect the guilty.

I don’t think I have an answer for this one. Do you?

You can't just "click and claim" him -- he's mine.

Submitted by Kathy Reed

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Hands on with Land 1: Identifying Landowners, October 18

We are aware that the "Hands on with Land" session at 1 PM on  October 18 is full. A second session has been added at 3:00 PM. The nine people on the waiting list have been accepted for the 3 o'clock session. Space is limited in the second session. If anyone else is interested, contact Liz Stratton at or leave a message for her at 513-956-7078. Put the words "Land Records" in the subject line. The lecture "Surveying Land Records for Genealogical Gold" at 11:00 AM is open to everyone and does not require a reservation.

Additional details can be found on the Hamilton County Genealogical Society website,