If you are a family history addict like me, one day during your research, you will become curious about contacting lost relatives. I’ve read about various strategies on doing this. And I have tried them with varying levels of success. For a while I have toyed with the idea of using Cemeteries to make contact with strangers with shared DNA.
Regular readers will know I love Cemeteries. After my latest visit, I am now using Cemeteries as part of my strategy when contacting lost relatives.
Father’s Day At St Peter’s
Every Father’s Day I visit St Peter’s Cemetery, Dalbeth. I take flowers to lay on my Dad’s final resting place. I never bought my Dad a Father’s Day card or gift when he was breathing above the ground.
Laying flowers on top of him every Father’s Day is my way of apology.
This year, the Cemetery was full of the living. Others were laying flowers and cards on graves for Father’s Day. At the corner of my eye I noticed my Dad’s cousin’s grave. He rests a few rows down from Dad. We never knew him and only research led me to his existence some years ago.
It is a well-kept grave, with flowers. So, lost relatives visit. I occasionally visit it after paying my respects to close family and I have often toyed with leaving a message.
This year my eye noticed a Father’s Day card sellotaped to the Headstone. I just missed living relatives visiting St Peter’s. My wife and I walked over to the grave and I asked my wife if leaving a note would be disrespectful.
She did not feel that it would be. So, I took my notebook out from my pocket and wrote a short note explaining who I am. I enclosed my email address and this Blog’s URL. I slid the note into the back of the sellotaped Father’s Day card.
We walked away to visit our next grave stop.
Getting The Notebook Out Once Again..
I found my Great Grandmother Jane Sherry’s (1860-1944) final resting place a couple of years ago. She rests with a couple of family members. Notably my Great Aunt Alice Sherry McLaughlin (1903-1972) and her husband Robert Harkins McLaughlin (1902-1949)
I think Alice and her family paid for this stone.
It’s an impressive headstone, although needs cleaned. In recent times there has been visits from unknown relatives to the grave. Someone laid a Xmas wreath last year, and flowers regularly appear.
There was a bunch of flowers lying on the grave when we arrived to pay our respects. I wondered if there was a connection between Dad’s cousin’s grave visits and my Great Grandmother’s grave? Out came the notebook..
I left another brief note informing future visitors who I am and how they can get in touch was left on the grave’s flower holder.
Contacting Lost Relatives: Be Respectful
My brief, handwritten notes could easily have turned into a long letter about my research and other interesting things. But, it may not interest the eventual reader. And too much information could overwhelm them.
Being respectful is key. To the dead and the living.
I have no magic strategy on how to find lost relatives. Leaving notes on graves may not work. But its worth a try!
And if it is successful then I look forward to finding out more of my family’s story.
Have you tried contacting lost relatives by leaving notes on family graves?