To the editor:
This letter is directed to every Boy Scout Troop, Girl Scout Troop, 4-H Club, Historical Society and the Woodsmen of America …
It is in reference to history and cemeteries.
There is a lot of interest in genealogy, and people are trying to trace their ancestors. As you seek information, you soon discover that the cemetery information is incomplete. Story County has 72 cemeteries. Some counties have over 300 cemeteries, with from 1 to 5,000 or more graves in them. And it is not always possible to go to the state and cemetery you are interested in. If you could do that, you would still need to locate the records, the sexton, etc.
During the Depression in the 1930s, the government paid people to walk the cemeteries and record the graves. As you can imagine, some cemeteries were completely done and done well, but others were not done at the same level. Then in the 1970s, there was a sequel called “Roots,” and a lot of interest in ancestry was generated.
Today, students and people are well-versed with the digital camera and computers. If we could encourage every club, group, etc., to take a cemetery and do a walk through it, registering graves and information, taking pictures and updating the cemetery information, what a great public service and history lesson it would be.
The old tombstones may have a poem or pictures that amaze you. Some old tombstones need repair, some are almost crumbled away and others are in great shape. One cemetery walker in Iowa carries a can of cheap shaving cream and a squeegee. She sprays the stone then levels it off and the cream fills in the letters, making them readable. Maybe each of you could take one stone’s information and do research, building up a short bio on the person. Sometimes you cannot find facts and some people have very interesting backgrounds.
I’m not quite sure how to ignite a desire to do this job, but I am starting with a letter to a well-respected and valuable newspaper woman I am proud to know.
Claudia J. (Cade) Biddle