Do You Have a Graveyard Kit? Here are the 13 Things I Keep in Mine

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By Susan Wallin Mosey

Is it weird that I have a graveyard kit?  How else can you go grave hunting in an organized and well-equipped manner?  Mine is stored in a pink bucket with a decal on it.  (I’m a very girly grave hunter.)

The bucket contains all the stuff I need for proper gravestone hunting (except a goodly supply of water—never leave home without a goodly supply of water).  The bucket contains:

1. A notebook and a pen, along with any information that I had the foresight to gather together beforehand.

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2. My camera, of course.  How else can I take photos to upload to findagrave or billiongraves?

3. A little pink flashlight, for casting shadows on gravestones for better pictures.  The experts advise a big mirror for that purpose, but that won’t fit into my bucket.

4. Grass snips, a trowel, and a whisk broom, for quick cleanup work as required.

5. Cotton gloves.

6. A second bucket just like the first one, for hauling water if there’s a faucet.  (But I learned the hard way to also bring plenty of gallon jugs of water, especially when going to very old or abandoned cemeteries.)

7. A soft scrub brush that fits well into my husband’s hand.

8. Liquid soap—a special kind.  I did a lot of research on this subject!  It’s called “Orvus” and it has three main uses, so I’m told:  Washing horses, washing antique fabrics, and washing gravestones.  Fancy that!

9. Wet wipes.  I like having clean hands when I use my camera (and all the rest of the time, too, actually).

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10. A big Ziploc bag, for kneeling upon to take photographs.  I don’t like dirty knees either.

11. Bug repellent.  I once went wandering through some tall grass in the woods in cropped pants, looking for a few old gravestones which made up a small old family cemetery…  and I came out with about a hundred bug bites on my lower legs.  I’m lucky I didn’t end up with Lyme disease!

12. White chalk for marking trees and driveways for navigational purposes.  Don’t want to walk the same rows twice if I don’t have to.

13. Little American flags.  I like to leave them at the graves of veterans.

Okay, so is this normal, or weird?  All genealogists love graveyards, right?  I once saw a coffee mug for genealogists that said, “I’m only interested in dead people.”  Well, yes, but I wouldn’t say only

Find important dos and don’ts for visiting cemeteries here.

Also read: A Gravesite Can Reveal Remarkable Details About Your Ancestor, IF You Can Find It: Here’s How

31 thoughts on “Do You Have a Graveyard Kit? Here are the 13 Things I Keep in Mine”

  1. Amen Cindy ~ You should NEVER scrub, rub, wet or otherwise disturb when approaching a stone. There are certain light techniques (black light, anyone?) that can do just as good a job to help you see the stone. There are a LOT of municipalities and counties that have ordinances against “defacing” (and yes, that’s what you are doing when you apply any pressure or chemicals to a stone) markers or headstones – and the fines can be pretty steep. I say, “Back off and leave your “scrub brush” at home…or risk a ticket”

  2. I use Bounce drier sheets to keep bug off… especially ticks. They take up little space and stay fresh kept in a plastic sandwich bag. Rub on legs and arms. Stick in pockets, etc.

  3. I don’t generally go to the trouble of wet-cleaning a stone unless it belongs to one of my ancestors.

  4. I don’t know! Google “Orvus.” I suppose it can be gotten online – just about anything can.

  5. Yeah, I expected to get really “flamed” about using any kind of soap, but thankfully, that didn’t happen. The Orvus soap is special – there’s a scientific explanation as to why, which I’ve forgotten at the moment.

    North Aurora! As I type this I’m about a block from Butterfield Road!

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