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.
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).
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”
Loved your article. I am a novice at doing genealogy so this information is priceless.
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”
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.
Yes, it’s amazing to me how many errors I’ve found on gravetones!