It’s hard to believe it’s been a year already. About this time last summer I was on a boat heading out to Holland Island. I had a team with me who was ready to brave the hazards we would encounter. However we were cut short by nesting pelicans, rain forest dense over growth, and a cloud of mosquitos and biting flies. Needless to say we never made it to the center of the island. I didn’t realize then that that would be the last day of grave hunting for me for quite a while.
School was coming back into session and all of the equipment I had borrowed from the University had to be returned, I began a new career, and had to relocate further away from my family, my county, and my beloved project. Had I known that was to be the last day for awhile, I may have fought harder to get to the site.
But looking back, I am now renewed with an increased fervor, that this will not be how the story ends, that there is so much more to come. I have been asked to help coordinate volunteer clean-up crews, I still answer all of my emails; and I am here to help anyone looking for family gravesites. I directed a man to his family burial grounds and even gave him the contact information for a guide who would take him to the site. Hopefully he is just the first of many who can be helped by this project.
My next step, hopefully, is to write a grant to be able to purchase a mapping grade GPS device to continue my search. Many people have asked me “Why don’t you just use the GPS in your cell phone?” Two reasons; One, as anyone who lives in the southern part of the county can attest, cellular signal is splotchy at best, and non-existent at worst. Second, and most importantly, the GPS device I was using from the school was professional grade, highly accurate, and compatible with the mapping software I am using. Something that would take six steps on my phone is all done at once on the professional device. So I would rather conduct my fieldwork accurately the first time, or not at all.
I have still been collecting tips on locations and I must say, I am still shocked and humbled by the amount of sites that are still coming in. I knew I was nowhere near the actual total, but I didn’t think there would still be so many sites remaining. I have received reports on over 30 sites that I had never even heard of before. For anyone keeping track, I have been to 221 burial sites in the County. It would easily be closer to 250 if I had my own equipment to work with. My goal is to document at least 300. So please, if you know of any others, let me know.
For that purpose, I am going to create a fillable form to include on the website. It would include basic information such as your name and contact info, the location of the site, the name of the property owner or contact person for me to request permission from to go out to the site. This way, when I get my hands on a professional GPS device again, I will have a long list of properties to visit, and the permissions and guides will already be set up.
As always, I thank the readers, contributors, volunteers, and anyone else who has supported me throughout this endeavor. This break has been just one small speed bump along a long road to preservation, but with a little time and a little patience, I hope to be able to pick back up with the project and run with it. Until then, my heartfelt thanks, appreciation, and love for your continuing interest and support.