Well this is it!!!

Here it is. The big day. The chance to present my project in front of my friends, family, and community members. I’m very excited about this and I hope you all are too.

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Please join us on Wednesday, June 15th, 2016 at 12:00pm. The presentation will be held at the Dorchester County Historical Society at 1003 Greenway Drive, in Cambridge, Maryland, 21613.

I look forward to seeing you there!

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A Public Presentation…

Well it is that time of year. It is almost time to start collecting new sites and I look forward to new and interesting locations and photos to be able to share with you. The most exciting thing I have to share right now is that we have been invited to speak at the Dorchester County Historical Society and I finally have a date for that to share with you.

The presentation will be held on June 15th, 2016 at 12:00pm (bring your lunch!). It will be held at the Dorchester Historical Society Building at 1003 Greenway Drive, Cambridge, Maryland, 21613.

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I would like to extend an invitation to everyone who has been reading along and sending in locations, and supporting us throughout this project. I couldn’t have done this without all of the help from tips coming in through email and spotters keeping lists of sites they see while driving, and the guides for taking me to some of the more remote parts of the county. I would love to see you all there and be able to thank you in person.

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Remember to keep those tips coming in! There are just some graves that we could never find without your help!

Anyone going out now working on their own research remember, Spring has Sprung. Make sure you use bug repellent, I’ve already heard reports of ticks, chiggers, and mosquitoes. I have also seen some snakes while I was out, so be safe and make sure you keep an eye on your surroundings.

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Spring is in the Air…

And Happy Easter Weekend to everyone. I just wanted to bring everyone up to date on what’s going on! We had a fantastic time at the TUgis Conference. The presentation went beautifully and was very well received. There was a lively Q&A and discussion afterwards and many agencies, organizations, and individuals were interested in helping out or volunteering in some way. I hope to be able to reach out to people soon with some volunteering ideas. Also the Dorchester Graves Webmap won the award for Best Student WebApp, so that is very exciting (thank you everyone who voted for us!).

I’d like to thank everyone who came to the TUgis presentation or stopped by the WebApp Hall to visit and talk. It was exciting to get to meet some of the blog readers and followers in person. Thank you all for the kind words and support!

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Also we have been invited to speak at the Dorchester County Historical Society and give a presentation on our project and its findings. It will be mostly geared towards individuals who are doing historical or genealogical research with a little section regarding the science and technology of data collection, but anyone interested in the project is more than welcome to attend. There will be more information to follow on that once we have the details nailed down.

The Salisbury University Geography Department has been kind enough to let me use the GPS device this spring even though I am no longer a student, so I hope to start collecting points again next month. If you know of a gravesite that is not currently represented on the map (click here to go to map) please email us so we can put your site on the list of places to visit.

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Additionally I have been adding the rest of the photo’s to the website. The link for every sites name, alphabetically up to letter “H”, should be in good working order. If you find a link between A-H that is broken, or just leads back to the map instead of to the correct photo page, please email me and let me know so I can fix it. I am slowly but surely plugging away at this so thank you for your patience.

I believe that is all the news I have for now. I know I haven’t been posting as frequently as usual but until collection resumes there just isn’t as much excitement to talk about. I promise once I start fieldwork again there will be more photos and more to read about. But until then please enjoy this photo of the full moon from Wednesday night that I took through my telescope!

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TUgis Here We Come!

I am thrilled to announce that the Dorchester Graves Project was selected to be presented at the TUgis Conference in March. TUgis is Maryland’s Geospatial Conference and is held annually at Towson University. Those who aren’t familiar can learn more here. The conference highlights GIS Projects and Initiatives from around the State and it is a great honor to be selected to present.

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Also I would like to let everyone know that I have been picking away at posting photos, and all pages, alphabetically, up to the letter “G” are up to date. I am still looking for new sites to map when we start collecting again at the end of March so keep the tips coming.

A Huge Thank You to everyone who has helped out so far!!! Your support has taken us from the fields and marshes of Dorchester County, to the classrooms of Salisbury University, to the event halls of a major state Conference! And none of it would have been possible without you!

Happy 2016!!!

Well after a lovely long break off to rest and recoup from my final semester I’m getting back into the swing of things.

In case anyone wanted to know, we did get an A on the mapping project from Salisbury University. I would like to thank everyone for all their help and support throughout this whole undertaking. I truly could not have gotten as far as I did without help from you and the community at large.

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Our next steps are getting the last of the photo pages posted to the website and then linking them to the corresponding points on the map. This is a time consuming process so it will take a few weeks to get them all done. I appreciate everyone’s patience.

Field collection will hopefully pick back up in the beginning of March. By then hunting season should have wrapped up and the worst of the winter weather will be behind us… hopefully.

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I have been putting together the list of all the sites people had told me about but I never had a chance to go to. Right now this comes to about 25 locations. If you don’t see your site on the map, please email us so we can be sure to get to it when we start collecting again.

Thanks again for your interest in this project; I look forward to achieving much more and to the additional discoveries to come in 2016!

College Countdown

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but my professors at college are so excited about this project that they’ve allowed me to use what I’ve collected so far as the capstone project for my geography degree.  Between the scope of what I’m trying to accomplish and the sheer number of hours I’ve spent researching, interviewing, and collecting they decided it was well worth the 3 credits necessary to count this as an independent study project.

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As a thought provoking addition to the map of gravesite locations I will also be laying my collected GPS points over a map of the 100 year flood model for the county. This will be both informative and at the same time, sad to see.  In addition to the graves currently at risk, we will be able to see which sites are going to be in jeopardy in the foreseeable future.  Sadly, from what I’ve seen, we will be losing a great many of some of the oldest gravesites in the county.

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For the next several weeks we will be taking a break from field collection. This comes at a great time since hunting season just opened and it’s bad time to be wandering around in the woods. Also with the holidays here it’s just easier to put things on hold so no one is stressed and everyone gets to enjoy the holiday season.

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For the next three weeks I will be creating the map based on the GPS points I have collected so far. I’m not sure exactly how many I have right now, but I do know it is over two hundred. Not a bad start and certainly enough to build a very detailed map to put on the website for now.

I know I’m behind on uploading the pictures taken at each site; I have over a hundred sites that still need to be posted to the website. Hopefully once the semester is over I will have the time necessary to get them up there, so I thank you for your patience.

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I’d also like to thank everyone who has been helping me along on this journey, and I can’t wait till we get to pick it up again after the New Year. Until then, I hope you enjoy the Holiday Season with your families and loved ones.

Time and Tide…

I know I use this phrase often, but it truly is the best summary for not only the challenges posed to the integrity of the grave sites, but the challenges we’ve faced on this project as well.

You would think being almost completely surrounded by water I would have paid much more attention to the tides. But it wasn’t something I had considered until last Friday when we went to scout locations for Saturdays field collection trip. Water was completely across the roadway in many parts of the lower county making many of the sites inaccessible.  We haven’t been able to go out collecting for the past two weekends now, last week due to the super moon tides and this week due to Hurricane Joaquin.

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Time is against us as well, in that this is our last semester at Salisbury University and many of the resources we have currently had access to, including the GPS device and the various computer mapping programs, will be gone after graduation in December. With all of the tips coming in on grave locations I hope to cover more ground in less time, so we are remaining positive in this regard.

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Since there won’t be a field collection update for this week or last week, I’ve decided to answer some of the most popular questions received from visitors to the website. If this goes well and I keep getting great feedback from visitors I’ll try and do this every couple weeks.

“Are you interested in any sites in southern Caroline County, since depending on the census year, it was sometimes in Dorchester County?”

Not at this time, but it is something we will consider as a supplement in the future. Due to the time constraints listed above I am sticking to Dorchester County as the boundaries currently sit. But for any researchers having trouble locating sites, remember that Caroline County was created out of parts of Dorchester and Queen Anne’s counties.

“Are you attempting to photograph every headstone to allow researchers to look/search for their ancestors, or just to document the existence of these cemeteries?”

Again, due to time limits we are not able to photograph every stone at every site. Being a geography major, the main purpose of this project is to locate where these sites are, and to create a map of their locations for future researchers. That being said, there are other resources to help genealogists and enthusiasts who may be looking for a particular family member or gravestone. I don’t want to duplicate any efforts since there are so many volunteers out there who are photographing stones and researching family connections already.  I will create a resources page and list as many links as I can think of to help those researchers find the help or information they need.

“Do you already have this one?”

Please don’t hesitate to send us any tips you may have for the locations of graves! Even if you think it’s a simple one or something someone else may have already pointed out. I would rather receive 10 tips for the same location than miss a hidden or remote grave because someone figured their tip had already been submitted. Just this weekend I received 2 great new locations from followers (Thanks Kari and Jacob!). Keep the tips coming! The more we receive the more complete the final map will be!

“How do I subscribe?”

Anyone who wishes to follow the website and be alerted when a new blog post is published can have the article sent straight to their email inbox. All you have to do is click the plus sign icon (+) at the bottom of the screen and enter your email address into the box. Poof, that’s it. Now you’ll be notified when new information is posted.

Thank you everyone for your support! And check back next week when hopefully I will have some new pictures and stories posted!

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Why are we here…?

The question I get from people most often when talking about this project is “Why?”. Apparently graveyards are not something people think about often. We go to a funeral, bury a loved one, and then move on with our lives, rarely thinking about that small stone in the ground. If you are lucky this cycle doesn’t happen often, If you are like me, it happens far more frequently than you would wish.

The answer is simple. Because. Because we are losing these sites to time and tide. Because some have no one to take care of them, because some are already past all hope of help. Because this is our heritage, our history.  Because there are so many stories out there to be told. Because these sites, no matter how small, or how old deserve the same respect and dignity of any of the large, for profit, cemeteries. Because I don’t believe anyone even knows where they are all anymore. And finally, Because if we don’t do it, who will?

Some are easy to find. They can be right in someones front yard.

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Some take more time and effort to find and then get to…

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When strangers happen upon us at a burial site we get some of the strangest looks; surprise, disgust, suspicion… Cars slow down and creep by, I guess wondering why there are a handful of people in the cemetery taking pictures and holding strange electronics. After all nothing says mischief like a pair of rainbow polka dot rain boots…

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However we have been fortunate in our travels that there are many more people fascinated by what we are doing than repulsed by it. I was able to speak with a man who was volunteering his time to help rebuild one of the more historic churches in the county down on Taylor’s Island. In addition to a quick history of that church, he was also able to guide me to another grave site nearby and gave me a brief history of that one as well.

Sometimes curious neighbors come out and speak to me absolutely thrilled that their site will be featured in the project. I had a lovely conversation with a church elder who gave me a brief history of the church, some great facts about the neighboring historical buildings, and discussed with me the sad situation that since the church has recently been renamed, the church elders feel they have lost some of their identity. I wish I had the capability to record some of these conversations, or at least had an anthropologist on my team to know what to do with such cultural knowledge.

Always looking for volunteers.   Email us at dorchestergraves@gmail.com

Heroes and History

I wanted to dedicate an entire blog post to the Members of the Armed Forces. We have come across many, many military graves located around the county. For such a small area we have certainly produced a proud number of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines.

In addition to the hundreds of World War I and II service members laid to rest in Dorchester County, there are a notable number of military gravestones from Vietnam, and Korea, as well as campaigns as far back as the Spanish American War, the Civil War, the War of 1812, and even the American Revolution. The Revolution graves are usually marked with a medallion so as to be properly identified.

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Christ Church in Cambridge has a row of such graves. The medallion reads SAR 1775. Sons of the American Revolution.

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The monument on the left is for a French born sailor who served in the Spanish American War and the monument on the right is for the first man from Dorchester County to die in World War I. His ship was torpedoed off the coast of Scotland and he died on a life raft a few hours after the explosion from his injuries and exposure. He volunteered for service.

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This crypt is for a young man who died in Coblenz, Germany during the United States Marine Corps campaigns during World War I. A fact of note is that this is the only above ground crypt in the entire graveyard.

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This graveyard is the final resting place for what appears to be three brothers who all served in the War of 1812. The 1812 Service Members are also identified with a marker. Sadly no further information is available for this family. I will have to do some more research and hopefully bring more of their narrative to light.

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Everyone has heard the phrase “Brother against Brother” when speaking about the Civil War; Dorchester County had Father against Son.

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 This humble stone is the marker for Lieut. Colonel Thomas Woolford, leader of the 4th Maryland Regiment during the American Revolution. Wounded and taken prisoner in the Battle of Camden, SC, he was also part of the campaign to free Charleston from the British.

All of these stories are either amazing, heroic, tragic, or moving. They all deserve to be told. And yet, this is just a handful of the monuments around the county. This project has only covered about half of the area of the county, so there are still a great many more resting places as yet unmapped.

All of the information for these brave soldiers was gleaned from the monuments themselves or from 5 minutes on Google. If this much information was uncovered in such a short amount of time I would love to see what could be accomplished by a dedicated researcher.

Back in Action…

Well it has been a couple weeks since our last post. Apologies, I was on vacation last week so I did not get a chance to post the pictures from the previous weeks collection. Now I am two weeks behind. Sigh….  However I am very excited about the sites located during the last outing!

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Also, I would like to take this opportunity to thank some of the locals in the area who have taken time out of their afternoons to be our field guides on this project. Most of the sites located were on private properties or farmland and we would never have been able to get out to the sites without the permission from the owners, and our field guides knew exactly who to call to get these clearances. So I would like to thank them for their time and efforts in assisting with this project.

Additionally this adventure has been humbling as I have realized that even though I was raised in one of the most rural counties in the state, I am not the well rounded country girl I once believed I was.  As we were trekking through various corn and soybean fields it suddenly occurred to me the very real possibility of running into slugs, spiders, snakes or any other brand of creepy crawly. Just about the time I gave myself a pep talk and was enjoying my new found courage, my field guide pointed out the holes and burrows surrounding the grave sites and told me the groundhogs or foxes would not be too pleased if we stepped on them… Oh, and they bite. So much for courage…

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Exhibit A:  It’s like Whack-a-Mole, if the moles were vicious, man eating, carnivores.