Most serious genealogists have been using Find A Grave for years. This invaluable online genealogical resource currently lists more than 96 million graves from around the world, including many Skillmans. Each person’s listing is considered a “memorial,” which contains a write-up on the individual, along with the dates and places of birth and death (if known), as well as the cemetery in which he or she is buried. Pictures of the individual and the gravestone are often included, and anyone who feels so compelled can leave virtual “flowers” and a comment about the person.
Membership in Find A Grave is free, but you must register in order to be able to add memorials to the website. As of this date, I have added 433 memorials, mostly for my family members and ancestors, as well as a few friends. I have added a memorial for every one of my ancestors if I know where they are buried. I have also added 838 photos of individuals, cemeteries and gravestones, and I have taken 103 photos of gravestones requested by other members for their ancestors. Find A Grave is a website for everyone, and most members are very willing to help out other members. Additionally, I have been contacted by several heretofore unknown cousins who found a common ancestor among the memorials I have created.
Another great feature of Find a Grave is that you can link the memorials of people with those of their parents and children, so you can view memorials of an entire family, even if the members are buried in different cemeteries; in essence, you can create “virtual cemeteries.” For example, you can create a single virtual cemetery for all of your second great grandparents, who may be buried in multiple cemeteries, but you can view them all together in one virtual cemetery.
If you are not a member of Find A Grave, I encourage you to join and add memorials for your own ancestors as I have. But a word of caution — be sure to read the rules and FAQs before you begin, because there are certain things that you cannot do. It is particularly important that you make sure that no one has already created a memorial that you are trying to enter. Duplicate memorials are a no-no, and there are also special rules for correcting a memorial if you find an error. You cannot make changes to someone else’s memorial, but you can suggest changes to the creator of the memorial and under special circumstances request ownership of an existing memorial. However, you may, at any time, add a photo of the individual or the gravestone. I have also even seen death certificates on Find A Grave.
To give you an idea of what a memorial looks like, please check out this link to my father, John E. Skillman, Jr.’s memorial. You will see that you can then click on links to my mother and his parents, his brothers, and then to his grandparents and so on, all the way back to his third great grandparents. These are all Skillmans, and I know you will enjoy adding your own ancestors in this same manner. However, do not be surprised to discover that someone has already added a memorial for some of your own ancestors.
John E. Skillman III
Editor’s Note: Should Find A Grave survive the internet age and find itself sustainable in perpetuity, it will provide the invaluable service of preserving legible images of gravestones far beyond their natural lifespan. Among the biggest threats to our historic grave sites are the natural elements which have been escalated all the more by modern industry. Acid Rain has rapidly contributed to the demise of many historic headstones.