The Greene County Cemeteries Project
Background: Greene County, NY is home to roughly 250 known cemeteries and burying grounds of various ages and sizes. From single stones lost in overgrown woodlots to sprawling rural cemeteries, there are no shortage of locations where local families have chosen to lay their loved ones to rest. While many of these cemeteries are simple to find using modern navigation tools, an even larger portion reside hidden away and forgotten well off the nearest road and lost to the memory of those whose ancestors rest there.
The Project: There has never before been a concerted effort to accurately map all of the known cemeteries and burying grounds of Greene County, and until now the possibility of doing something like that seemed incredibly daunting. Using the community, old maps, and existing lists providing directions this project aims to finally start permanently associating Latitude and Longitude coordinates with every known plot across all 14 Townships. This will create a permanent record with irrefutably accurate information from which new maps and GIS databases can later be built.
Why: There are already existing directions for many local cemeteries, but these old directions often read like the example below:
"Head three miles from intersection of [roads], look left and follow the tree line for .3 miles along the back of [name]'s farm. Cemetery is just beyond the tree line looking East."
Needless to say, giving someone directions like that is a lot harder than saying:
"Type this into google maps: [coordinates]."
Latitude and Longitude are centuries old, tried-and-true methods for describing exact locations on Earth's surface. Unlike the names of roads and property owners, Latitude and Longitude coordinates are never going to change... and the number of devices that can use them for navigation continues to grow. Right now, for example, you could download dozens of different apps that can use your phone or tablet GPS to give you the coordinates of the spot you are sitting at this moment. It really has never been easier.
How can you help this project? Participating in this project is simple and you can help in a number of different ways. If you know about an old or small cemetery near you, see the "Location Submission" page and tell us about the cemetery and how we can find it. If you are the more adventurous type, check out our "Resources" page and look at some recommended GPS navigation apps and tools so you can go out and map the cemetery yourself. If the second option is more in line with your "Indiana Jones-style" tastes then we encourage you to contact us using the location submission page before you go, that way we know we aren't mapping the same places multiple times and we can find out who our volunteers are!
What is the end product? The final result of this project should be a near-complete list of cemeteries across the County which will be available both here on our website and through the other major Historical Societies in Greene County. This is a community effort, and the end result is going to be a widely distributed and accessible record for future generations to examine and utilize.