On the Fascinating Hobby of ‘Grave Tromping’

babes-gravestoneOn an early spring day in 2011, my family drove out to the Long Island National Cemetery in Farmingdale to view Babe’s gravesite and I left with what I now know is a terribly inadequate photo. So as I started doing a little research for my latest series of blog posts, I went on what I thought would be a wild goose chase: Has anyone else posted a picture of Babe’s grave marker?

As it happens, yes.

I came across FindaGrave.com, where Marvin and Samme Templin had created a profile page for Babe and someone (we don’t know who) posted a photo of the headstone to further enhance the profile.

FindaGrave.com has been in the news in the past. I found stories about the site on National Public Radio (from 2010); on the Philadelphia Daily News/Inquirer website from 2016; and on the BBC site from just a few months ago.

It’s been described in at least one media report as “Facebook for dead people.”

The Salt Lake Tribune wrote a short piece about FindaGrave in 2013 after it was acquired by Ancestry.com.

The site is not without controversy. There are a number of people who have written unflattering pieces about how the site deals with privacy issues and how it responds to complaints. The BBB has not been kind in its rankings of the site in the past, though Ancestry has said it is committed to improving any issues in that area.

I was just happy to have a chance to see the profile page for Babe, the nice photo of his grave marker, and to have a great email exchange with Samme Templin.

“We work with a group of folks who add veterans and their spouses to national cemeteries on Find-A-Grave,” she wrote in our Aug. 19-20exchange. “Just so happens that I worked on Long Island National Cemetery and added the memorial for your uncle.”

She and her husband do this as a hobby, working their way through national cemeteries around the country as a way of honoring veterans. Their profile page on FindaGrave indicates that they’ve created a staggering 505,000 online memorials and posted nearly 147,000 photos. Marvin, she said, is a veteran, “so I honor him in doing this.”

She said they’ll spend time going through cemeteries collecting information, creating profiles and adding photos of grave stones to existing FindaGrave profiles.

“You can get hooked on this big time,” she said. “We’ve been doing (FindaGrave) for over 17 years and work on it as much as we can. Most of our trips are cemetery tromping, looking for relatives. We also look to see if there are requests in that particular cemetery and hopefully can fill some request along the way. Our way of paying forward for those who have filled our requests.”

2 thoughts on “On the Fascinating Hobby of ‘Grave Tromping’

  1. With the beautiful cemetery we have across the street from us, I’ve considered getting involved with a little tromping. You’ve inspired me to look back into that. I can’t make the commitment she and her husband have made, but I’d be honored to help people connect with their families with a little tromping.
    I love your posts, Kurt. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s