Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - Can You Stumble Over Someone on Find A Grave? I Did

Artwork by wackystuff

© 2010, copyright Michelle Goodrum I feel like I tripped right over something - virtually. It's like I was wandering around the cemetery and a hand reached up and grabbed my ankle.

You see recently I sent off for my great grandmother's sister's death certificate. When it arrived, I noticed it said she was buried in Calvary Cemetery in Los Angeles and a little light went off in my head. Her father, (my gr gr grandfather) is buried in Los Angeles, according to his death certificate. But we don't know where.

I decided to take a perusal through Find A Grave and see if anything turned up. Since we have quite a few family surnames in Southern California, many of them Catholic and potential candidates for burial in a Catholic Cemetery like Calvary, I decided to scroll through the list of internments. Imagine my surprise when I got to the Gs and there was the name of my great great grandmother, Elisabeth Georger, with the same birth and death date that we had from her funeral card! (Well, almost, the death year on the tombstone is 1891).

Printed with permission. Original, privately held by Cousin, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE]
I felt like I had been walking along and literally fell over her tombstone! We have been looking for Elisabeth's place of death/burial for many years now. Elisabeth arrived in New Orleans from Antwerp on 20 June 1890 with 4 of her 5 children where her husband was waiting for her. A family story says that they left New Orleans because something really awful happened.

We have a photo taken of Elisabeth in Mexico City on some unknown date.

Printed with permission. Original, privately held by Cousin, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE]
Finally, her husband Jean Nicolas was naturalized in the Superior Court of Los Angeles County 29 April 1892.

We really weren't sure where Elisabeth died but at least now we know where she is buried. I requested Elisabeth's death certificate from Los Angeles County but they were unable to locate it. So, I still don't know for sure where she actually died or the cause of death. Drat.

Here's the best part of the story. I contacted the Find A Grave submitter to see if there is any relationship between her and Elisabeth Georger. There isn't. When she visits a cemetery, this wonderful volunteer takes photos of the tombstones around her ancestors and adds them to Find A Grave! Wow! How's that for a volunteer? She offered to transfer the memorial over to me and return sometime and take a photo of the tombstone (she didn't have a camera when she initially transcribed the headstone).

Now, I have a Find A Grave account with one memorial - Elisabeth's. I'm looking forward to contributing the handful of headstones I have photographed to Find A Grave in the near future. And the next time I visit a cemetery you can be sure that I'll be photographing the graves surrounding my ancestors and contributing them to Find A Grave. Hopefully, someday I can "pay it forward."

To read the rest of the story:
To cite this article:
Goodrum, Michelle. “Tombstone Tuesday - Can You Stumble Over Someone on Find A Grave? I Did.” The Turning of Generations, 16 November 2010. http://turning-of-generations.blogspot.com : accessed [access date].


Elisabeth Georger age 45, departed Antwerp, Belgium and arrived New Orleans, Louisiana; Marseille Passenger List, 20 June 1890. Ancestry.com. New Orleans Passenger Lists, 1820-1945 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2006. Original data: Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New Orleans, Louisiana, 1820-1902. Microfilm publication M259. 93 rolls. Record Group 36.

Jean Nicolas Georger naturalized in the Superior Court of Los Angeles County 29 April 1892. Ancestry.com. U.S. Naturalization Record Indexes, 1791-1992 (Indexed in World Archives Project) [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Original data: National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, D.C.;Naturalization Index of the Superior Court for Los Angeles County, California, 1852-1915 (M1608); Microfilm Serial: M1608; Microfilm Roll: 1.


  1. That is so awesome! I love findagrave!

  2. How exciting for you to find her the way you did -- and to find her at all! It's sad that she died so soon after arriving in America and her husband becoming a citizen.

  3. What a neat story! Findagrave is so much fun; I love searching for people on it, and sometimes there is so much more than just barebones information.

  4. Great find, Michelle! I've been a Find A Graver for over 6 years and still love it (you can "friend" me as EMarie).

    I have a family member buried in Los Angeles' Calvary Cemetery, and have dealt with them a couple times in person. They are - to put it politely - rather tight-lipped with information about their interments. However, if you're persistent, and happen to get the right person to help you, they *might* give you some information about your gg-grandmother's burial and place of death. I'm not sure if they'll do it by phone, but you can always try. I remember they grilled me for quite a while as to who I was and what I wanted... and all I wanted was the location of a burial (it's a HUGE cemetery)!

  5. Elizabeth, Interesting perspective. I couldn't tell if they were um, confused or their older records were mixed up or what. I do have another amusing story to relate from that expedition that you particularly will find amusing. Stay tuned...