Gordon Remington, a professional genealogist, tells of the time he was doing some research in upstate New York looking for a place of birth for an immigrant who died in New York. Gordon went to a cemetery where he knew his subject was buried, and where the grave was supposed to be located, but when he got to the spot, there was no tombstone.
Looking around, Gordon spotted a worker who was just wrapping up a funeral and explained that he was hoping there was a tombstone for the man. Gordon said that the tombstone had probably suffered from vandalism or the forces of nature. The worker scratched his head, said well, let’s see.
He pushed the shovel straight down into the ground. On one stab they heard a clink sound like the shovel hitting concrete! The worker dug about a six inches into the ground and found the tombstone that had been covered by years of dirt and grass.
That was exciting. The best part, however, was when Gordon read the tombstone, the inscription was clear as day; having not suffered erosion from the effects of acid rain or vandalism. It listed the ancestor’s place of birth in Ireland! In all of Gordon’s searching, this was the ONLY place that revealed this information! And, it was the only time Gordon has listed “tip to gravedigger” as an expense! The stone was that of John Carroll, and is listed on Findagrave.com at
Sometimes, however, the forces of nature are more powerful. In another cemetery in upstate New York, Gordon spotted a tombstone around which a tree had grown. The tombstone was not one in which Gordon had an interest, so he didn’t try to figure out the name, but only the removal of the tree will reveal the full inscription. From what can be seen of the stone, it looks like it is from the first half of the nineteenth century.
So, next time you’re tempted to leave when you didn’t find your ancestor’s tombstone, you might remember Gordon’s experience, find the caretaker and ask him to grab his shovel or axe!
Thank you Gordon Remington for contributing this story!