If you plan to go and visit an ancestor's grave, make sure you pack your cemetery bag before you go. Here's what your cemetery bag should include:
- a camera and batteries - take photos of everything. The sign to the cemetery, a wide angle view of the cemetery, the proximity of the grave to a landmark within the cemetery (a fountain, the office, a pond, a church). Photograph all sides of the gravestone. Check nearby stones as they may also be your ancestors. If the names are the same and you are unsure of a connection, take photos of all sides of the gravestone for further research.
- pencils and paper - take notes. Write down names, dates and inscriptions exactly as they appear on the stone. It is very easy to make assumptions in the excitement of the moment, and it will be important to have an accurate record once you return home. Take note of any symbols your are unfamiliar with so you can look them up later. These may give important clues about the life of your ancestor.
- garden clippers - carefully trim back any overgrowth that covers the stone - especially if the stone is a flat marker. Do NOT dig into the marker to remove moss or growth. Instead, try washing it away
- water and soft cloth - wash away any dirt or moss that is obscuring your ability to read the marker. If a marker is hard to read, pour some water over it to see if the wet stone allows for enhancement in reading the marker