Frequently Asked Questions and Tips


1. What does the WH stand for at the end of the lot number? The old plots were designed to hold 8 burials (more if there were infants, children, or cremations). Sometimes a family didn't need the whole plot so it was cut in halves or quarters. WH, EH, NH, SH stand for West half, East half, North half and South half. (West is toward the city of Washington). Half lots typically held 4 burials while quarter lots held 2. SW 1/4, SE 1/4, NE 1/4, NW 1/4 are all quarter lots. Not all of the sections are set up this way but the Hedge, Pump, Freeman sections (which are the oldest sections) are mainly configured this way.

2. This is not a question but rather a word of caution. Cemeteries can be fascinating places but they can also be very dangerous. One day as I was working in one of the sections of the cemetery, a young boy and girl who lived next door to the cemetery came over to see what I was doing. As I was talking to the girl, the boy took a running start and "tackled" a very large stone (which stood 4 feet tall). The stone fell over with a huge thud. The boy was lucky he was not seriously hurt. The kids then told me they were not supposed to be in the cemetery because a cousin of theirs had once had a stone fall on him and break his leg. Even small tombstones are very heavy.

The ground underneath some graves can cave in, especially if the coffin was made of wood and is very old. The ground can give way and the tombstone can lean and fall over. I have also heard of stories where people have had a leg sink into the ground underneath them as a grave collapses. You should always take a partner with you and use extreme caution.

3. Tip for reading tombstones: I imagine you have all heard many tips on how to read tombstones but many of them are harmful to the stones. Any technique that requires contact with the stone can cause damage. I have seen photos of stones that someone had used shaving cream on and the stone is now completely discolored. Chalk rubbings can also cause pieces of the stone to flake off. I read about and have tried a very simple technique that works very well and causes no damage to the stone. The idea is to shine light across the face of the tomstone from the side. This causes the ridges and depressions to show up. You can use a strong flashlight or a small mirror to reflect sunlight across the face of the stone. If it is a very sunny day, you can hold a dark umbrella over the stone and then shine the light over the stone. How you want to explain this to strangers who see you standing in the cemetery on a sunny day with an umbrella, flashlight and mirror is up to you though - have fun.

Sometimes just getting the stone wet helps bring out details.

4. Check everything: There are many variations of names included in all of these records so make sure you check everything you can (or that I've loaded so far). Sometimes the interment listing has a nickname or a middle name or initial that is not on the tombstone. Sometimes, it is the other way around - there may be more info on the tombstone. Some foreign names are spelled differently on tombstones and in the interment listings - one may have the Americanized version while the other has the original language. Some differences are simply errors in transcription or recording of the original information. Remember too, that not all burials have tombstones so the only way you may be able to find someone is to search the name index, interment listing or lot owner books. I have tried to cross reference all sources and make the name index as complete as possible. There are even cases where there is a tombstone but no matching interment listing. I have also located death records at the Washington county Courthouse that indicate a person was buried in Beallsville Cemetery and there is no corresponding interment listing at the Cemetery. Some tombstone photos that have been loaded have death dates that come after the 1965 cut off dates for the name indexes that have been loaded so you may be able to find additional people by scanning thru the tombstone photos.

So this is one big puzzle with many pieces. Sometimes they fit nicely and other times not but hopefully it gives you some clues.

5. Ages on tombstones: I learned something new tonight that means I will have to go back and make lots of corrections to the tombstone photos. (I'm embarrassed to say this never even occured to me). When the stone says "died in her 27th year" that does not mean she was 27 years old - she was 26. If someome dies in their first year they haven't reached age 1 year yet. So while I go back and change all the ages, make sure you look carefully at the stone to see what it says.

6. Does "consort" mean wife?: Yes. If a stone says "consort of " it means that the woman was married and her husband is still alive. " Relict of " means that her husband has already died. I have not seen a tombstone with " relict of " yet so if anyone has a picture of one, please email it to me - I'd love to see it. Thanks to Bill, we now have a photo of a stone that says "relict of" This is the fist one I have every seen.


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