In last week's edition, the reader was left hanging as I made my way to local cemeteries. The information I had located via the Internet indicated that my ancestors were buried in two local cemeteries, both Catholic.
I drove to the smaller of the two cemeteries first. I found many of the stones were within the realms of decay; broken with the lettering worn away by years of exposure to the environment. Unsettled, but advantageous, I began slowly working my way through the gravestones, until I stumbled upon two faded markers indicating the last name; Nunweiler.
Both of the stones were worn and difficult to read. I did my best to brush the years of dirt away. (In those days, I had never heard of tombstone rubbing and knew nothing of the treasures one could find by doing a rubbing, let alone the mere basics of tombstone cleaning. In the beginning, I had no idea about the tricks to get better readings.) After wiping off the dirt, I did my best to decipher the worn lettering, carefully noting the information before taking several photos of each marker.
From there I proceeded to the next cemetery, which is approximately twenty times larger than the first. The Catholic section of this cemetery is somewhat intermingled with the Protestant section, and in some cases it became difficult to decipher where one section ended and the other began.
I located several tombstones with the Nunweiler surname, most in excellent condition. I jotted down the information and took two snapshots per stone, before heading home.
Back at my computer, I set out to verify the information I had located on the Internet against the information I obtained from the tombstones. As luck would have it, every piece of information was an identical match. Now, it was time to begin requesting data from the area churches.
I made several errors on that first trip. My first error was not to have had at least attempted to locate an index for the cemeteries, either online or at the local historical society. This would have saved me a great deal of time, for I would not have had to walk back and forth across row after row, and section after section of the cemetery. The second mistake was not noting markers, intermingled with the Nunweiler markers. Additionally, I did not plot the cemetery for easy reference on return visits, nor did I note the section and lot number of the markers I had located. My final mistake was my failure to visit the Protestant section of the cemetery, wrongfully assuming that each of my ancestors had been Catholic.
Bookmark this page so that you can check in on
5/6/2002 to learn more about my next step.