THE FIND A GRAVE WEBSITE
BY BARBARA BUTCHER
Elizabeth Selby was married in Johnson County, Iowa, April 23, 1863 to James Francisco. He died at Marne, Iowa, September 23, 1875. On January 31, 1877 Mrs. Francisco was united in marriage to Lemuel E. Perfect at Marne. He passed away January 5, 1892. On February 9, 1896 Mrs. Perfect was united in marriage to James W. Phipps at Baxter, Iowa. Mr. Phipps passed away October 25, 1921 at Rockville, Missouri. Later Mrs. Phipps came to Avoca, Iowa to make her home with her son until her death. When Mrs. Elizabeth Phipps died in 1937, where was she buried?
There is a website called Find A Grave (www.findagrave.com) which is a resource for finding and/or recording the final resting place of family, friends, and ‘famous’ individuals. The creators of the website believe that burial information is a wonderful resource for people researching their families. Visiting a grave site is a way of keeping the memory of someone alive. So, this Find A Grave website is a comprehensive ‘virtual cemetery’ where loved ones can visit graves, leave flowers, etc. when they cannot do so in real life due to geography, finances or other circumstances.
It is fast, easy and FREE to join Find A Grave. Once you are a member, you can create a memorial, submit data, add flowers, add photos or search the entire database at no charge.
One of the neat things about this website is that you can “request a photo” for someone buried in an area that you are unable to visit. You make a request, the Find A Grave website sends out an email to people in that area who have volunteered to take photos, and then you wait to see if someone follows through on your request. We have had responses to requests we made for gravestones in California, Colorado, Nebraska and even promises for one request in France.
My husband and I have been members of Find A Grave for two years now. In that time we have fulfilled 146 gravestone requests for others. We have twenty more we just took photos for this past weekend, but I have not posted them to the website yet.
Sometimes the requests pose quite a challenge. Go back to my first paragraph for a minute. There was a Find A Grave request for the gravestone of Elizabeth Phipps in the Layton Township Cemetery at Walnut, Iowa. Rev. David Smith from the Griswold, Iowa area is a fairly new member of Find A Grave. He searched the old part of the cemetery but was unable to locate a stone for Mrs. Phipps.
When he and I were talking about it, I told him I could look on our cemetery map and also in our obituary indexes at the Walnut Genealogy Society Room. I didn’t find an Elizabeth Phipps on our map, but she was listed in our index. Next to her name, WGS member Ruby Andersen had written “see James Francisco.” One thing led to another, and when I went out to Layton Cemetery to locate the stone of James Francisco the following inscription had been added to the bottom of his gravestone – Wife, Elizabeth Ann, 1840-1937. There was no mention of the name “Phipps,” but I knew this was the requested gravestone!
[See photo of stone below. It reads “FRANCISCO, JAMES S. FRANCISCO, DIED, Sept. 23, 1875. AGED, 43 Y’s. 1 Mo. & 7 d’s. We hope to meet again.”]