21 March 2011

South School Cemetery, Catlin, New York

Entrance to Cemetery
Yesterday, I went to a small remote cemetery on a photo request from Find A Grave. It was called South School Cemetery, also known as Martin's Hill Cemetery. It was kind of off the beaten path although you could see it from the road. I enlisted my family to go with me as I didn't want to be out there by myself, and my 9 year-old son agreed to be my "assistant." He likes to help me on these little tasks because he feels like a detective and it is more action than looking at records. I had looked up any interments already listed for this cemetery and since there were only three, I decided to look for all of them even though there was only one actual photo request.

Before going out, I looked up the cemetery on Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice (this is becoming one of my favorite online databases) and attempted to search for the name on the photo request. I didn't find it, but thought I would make the trip anyway since it is a small cemetery.

Grave markers going every which way
When we got there, I gave my son a paper with all three names and told him to give it a shot on finding them. He, as I suspected he would, started walking quickly through the rows glancing at the headstones. This is a pretty old cemetery, so a lot of the stones are hard to read or illegible without some extra efforts. It is kind of a sad looking cemetery with sunken, broken, and missing grave markers. Some of them don't appear to have any names or I was unable to read them because they were face down. There were also sunken areas that appeared to have someone buried there without any kind of marker at all.

Large tombstones that had fallen over
I really don't like to mess with the markers other than removing debris or leaves, so I started taking pictures of the ones that I could. It was around noon so the lighting was okay, but so many of them were tilted downwards that I just couldn't get a good shot of them. It made me a bit sad walking through there as it just seemed so forgotten. When I go to a cemetery like this, I like to record as many of them as I can to put on Find A Grave for some future descendant to hopefully find.

I was unable to locate the name on the photo request as I had suspected would happen. I did, however, find the other two names already listed on Find A Grave and took photos of those. My son was unable to find them on his first go round. This was not surprising because he wasn't looking very carefully. I had seen them, photographed them and moved on. I sent him back around with some hints on looking for both the first and last names. He was so excited when he finally did find them... right at the front entrance. He had walked right past them! After an hour, my husband and kids had reached their limit of "cemetery time." As always, I was grateful that they humored me long enough to tag along so I wouldn't have to go alone.

There was one grave marker that was interesting though. It had fallen over and the grass around it was already starting to grow over it. It was the grave marker of a baby that was only 3 months old. These markers always make me a little extra sad. Someone had thoughtfully placed a baby blanket and pacifier on the grave and it seemed fairly recently since as they looked relatively new. It was nice to see that someone else had been out there to visit and that little baby was still being remembered.
Fallen over grave stone with offerings


  1. The pictures look like they are from an old cemetery that was not taken care of. In those days, grave markers were made of limestone or concrete. They obviously do not withstand the
    elements. Now almost all markers are made granite or bronze.Markers and headstones are set on a concrete foundation that
    will prevent it from tipping. Did you check with the city to see if they have a program
    usually in collaboration with the local chamber and monument dealers that will restore these cemeteries? We are actively involved in cemetery restoration programs here in Indiana.

  2. Thanks Sara, for the suggestion! I wouldn't have even known where to start to find out that information. I will look into that!