04 September 2011

Motivation Monday – Dead People DO Talk

OK, so maybe they don’t TALK talk, but they sure can tell you a LOT. I’d found out that my mom’s grandmother, Laura Louise Richards Wersel, would be the conduit through which we’d find our American Patriot. I was a researcher by trade, working in the financial industry as a portfolio assistant, keeping track of and locating minute financial details about my clients. But, as a novice at genealogical research, I was often amazed at where the richest resources were found.

I started my genealogical research in 1996, and had spent about six months pulling together bits and pieces of my mom’s side of our family. I had been looking at several threads online through Cyndi’s List, and had seen many people mention how great cemetery records were for getting details on ancestors. I knew my great grandmother, Laura Louise RICHARDS, had died in Cincinnati, Ohio, so one day I decided to research cemeteries in and around Cincinnati.

The first one to come up was Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum. The name itself caught my eye, so while I was on my lunch hour one day, I looked up their website (http://www.springgrove.org/SG/sg_home.shtm). Keep in mind, this was January 1997, so I expected to find basic information about the cemetery and perhaps get a phone number so I could call. However, this very technology forward cemetery had a search function that allowed me to enter a surname to locate a grave. I entered ‘RICHARDS’, not thinking about the fact that my great grandmother would’ve been buried under her married name, WERSEL. This tiny error lead me to a genealogical treasure trove!

What I found, with a few more clicks of my mouse, were 38 graves, some with names I’d never heard before, all of whom were my ancestors!!  The site indicated that cemetery records were available for genealogical research, so I excitedly picked up the phone and called. The woman that I spoke with, after looking at the records, sounded almost as excited as I was. She informed me that the entire Lot 93, in Section 54 of the cemetery were my ancestors, and that she would be happy to copy the records and send them to me.

I won’t forget how excited I was when I got the large envelope from the cemetery about a week later. In it was a letter and copies of the burial records for all 38 graves. Wow, just wow. Each record that looked like a large index card gave so much information! I had, of course, realized my error in looking for Laura Louise RICHARDS, instead of WERSEL, and had subsequently received my great grandmother’s death certificate, so I realized that Laura Richards was my 2nd great-grandmother.  As I laid the papers on the floor in a makeshift family tree, the branches began to unfold, and as I added the information into my database, I discovered I could trace these ancestors back to my 5th great-grandfather, all with reliable genealogical information!

The real challenge came in finding so many new names. There was GREENE, BURROWS, HARTSHORN(E), YEATMAN (misspelled as Geatman), WEST and WOODRUFF. My enthusiasm got the better of me, and as I entered these names into the few websites that were available, I started pulling all sorts of family trees into my database. I can’t tell you how much time I spent chasing windmills, but suffice it to say that I’ve since learned to keep my focus on only a few individuals at a time to keep the branches strong and sturdy. Yes, the information is out there. Yes, you’ll find the information you’re looking for…sometimes, it just takes a really, really long time…


  1. Great example of using a less-common resource for your genealogy, and fun to read about the journey it took you on. :) Thanks for the great post!

  2. Thank you...my goal is to provide ideas to others...I thought it was cool too! :-)


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