Why visit cemeteries?

Winslow Cemetery

Winslow Cemetery, Rural Poweshiek County, Iowa

Why visit cemeteries, let alone FIVE of them, in just two days?

As a genealogist and family historian, I find visiting cemeteries fascinating. They are a quiet place, yet I can just sense the rich stories as I stroll the lanes. Because the cemeteries that I visited recently are the final resting place of numerous family members and neighbors or friends from my hometown, their names are familiar and the memories come alive.

Upon my recent visit to Iowa, I went to the Winslow Cemetery, which is the first time I’ve been there. It is situated high on a hill, well-kept, and encompasses views of the Iowa River valley. Greeting me were views of farms and country roads, the carved bed of the Pumpkin Vine Railroad now a remnant in the hillside across the way, and combines working hard to complete the harvest of corn. Red-wing blackbirds rose and swirled in large flocks, their calls and flapping wings breaking the silence of the cemetery setting.

I snapped photos of the gravestones of great-aunts and great-uncles. I thought of the Plumb-McLennan family reunions with them. Delicious deviled eggs, lemonade, Jello-salads were part of the lunch. Big smiles, sparkling eyes, and soft voices shared family stories. Wrinkled hands and warm hearts were there to greet the youngest generation.

Over the coming weeks, I will add the photos of the gravestones onto the Find-a-Grave website so that those seeking family history will be given concrete information. Seeing names and dates of one’s ancestors helps to add more pieces to the family history puzzle. I use the photos and the information on the gravestones as sources to substantiate the genealogy records of those family members.

So yes….I visit cemeteries!


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