Genealogy Trails History Group
Data from Hosts of Genealogy Trails ©2008


Here are some suggestions on how to make your Cemetery Hunting safer.
It doesn't matter if the cemetery is in town or in a rural location.
They all have their own type of danger.

It's always a good idea bring someone with you.
However, if you have to go at it alone, leave the location of where you're going with someone.
Before venturing off, call someone and tell them where you are at. (Cell phone may not work in the woods)
Notify the local legal authorities that you'll be there.
If the cemetery has a sexton or office stop in and let them know you're out there.
Mace and sun block are always good things to carry with you.


Car Keys
Remove them from the vehicle before you start on your search.
Have two sets, one under the floor mat and one to carry with you.

Rural Cemeteries and Wooded Areas

Sunken Graves/ Headstones-
Sunken grave

What has happened is the older casket disintegrates and/or shift over time and the ground naturally goes with it.  Graves on hills will move down the hill.
Prop with a long stick, test the hardness of the ground. Never hold on to the headstone to do this.
Clear away leaves before stepping.


If you find a cemetery location but no headstones can be found, step back and look at the ground. It resembles very small rolling hills, high then low. 
The low spots are where the graves are/where.

Old Wells -
Carry a really long stick and poke the ground in front of you. Clear away leaves before stepping.
-Cemeteries that use to be on a home place will have a well somewhere close by.

Rodent Holes-
They can be dug up under the headstone without any signs.
Never hold on to headstones.
Prope with a long stick, test the hardness of the ground.
Clear away leaves before stepping.


Rodent hole

Many times they will wash down into the creek.
If a grave as been tampered with by humans or an animal digging you may run across one or part of one.
Do not touch it and notify the local authorities. (It may not be as old as you think it is)

First Thing is to STOP, Don't Run and LOOK AWAY!
Remember that mommas will protect their young at any cost.

Bears, Mountain Lion, Wolves, Wild Dogs and etc.
Many of them are not afraid of people.

How to protect yourself:
Shoot a gun in the air. (Shot Gun) - (Know what your local gun laws are)
If  you don't have a gun handy and you encounter one of these beautiful animals-
Stop, look down, hit the ground, cover your head and play dead.

They like to lay on the tombstones because they get nice and warm.
Size doesn't matter - The baby ones can cause serious bites.

How to protect yourself:
Stop, back up slowly!
If you have a shovel - protect your legs with it.
Trying to kill it may cause you to get bit- just back away slowly.

Carry a snake bite kit!

Insect repellent, works good. 
Carry Epinephrine pills. (if your allergic)


Poison IvyPoison Ivy
Grows around lakes and streams in the
Midwest and the East.
Poison Sumac Poison Sumac
Grows in boggy areas, especially in the Southeast.

Poison Oak Poison Oak
eastern (from New Jersey to Texas) grows as a low shrub; western (along the Pacific coast) grows to 6-ft-tall clumps or vines up to 30 feet long.

Blocks for , oak & sumac, etc.
They work by blocking the oils. The plant oils can spread from contaminated clothing, shoes, gloves, tools and pets.
You can purchase these types of products at your local drugstores.

Look out for Jewel Weed. It grows in wooded areas where it is somewhat damp.
They say where there is poison ivy there is jewel weed nearby, although I havenít always found that to be the case.
Jewel weed instantly neutralizes poison ivy

Other ways to protect yourself:
Wear long sleeve shirts, long pants, gloves, hat, rubber boots and sunglasses.

Bring clothes to change into. Place worn clothes in a plastic bag. (stops the oil from spreading)
Water and Jewel weed soap- wash your hands and face.
Jewel Weed products can be found on the internet. Do a Google search.

Be on the lookout for "meth labs"
One of the situations that requires you to leave immediately from that location is a meth lab.
They are a definite problem and should not be messed with if found. After leaving that area find the local sheriff and tell them what you found.
You definitely don't want to mess with the owners of the lab. Quite often they are hidden in isolated areas such as old farm houses and buildings, timbers, overgrown fields and of course in or near old cemeteries overgrown with weeds and brush. The "lab" isn't always obvious.
Sometimes they cook it in an Igloo cooler or something else innocent  looking. There is usually an odor similar to cat urine or a chemical smell. Meth labs are capable of exploding, so if you see anything suspicious, get out of the area.

Some other signs of a meth lab:
Empty propane tanks, anhydrous tanks, lithium batteries that have been peeled open, stained coffee filters, plastic tubing, empty
cold medicine packets, lighter fluid, and other things are all evidence of someone cooking.


Local or In Town Cemeteries
Mace is always a good thing to carry with you.

-If visiting those beautiful New Orleans above ground cemeteries go only in large groups.
-They are hot spots for drug dealers, prostitution activities and homeless.

Other suggestions-
Never wear lots of jewelry.
Wear an inexpensive watch and older clothing.
A backpack can be placed in front of you. Keep your camera in there until you need it.
Use a hand held tape recorder and read the stones. Later you can transcribe them from that.

Genealogy Trails National Site

© 2006 - 2008 by Genealogy Trails -  All Rights Reserved - With full rights reserved for original submitters.