The Stuffy Bio:
I am a freelance writer and photographer with a love for old cemeteries, architecture, genealogy and history.
I left the advertising industry after over 20 years to focus on family and writing…the best move ever!
Who I Am: A Tombstone Tourist
When I was young, my sister and I would spend time at my grandparents farm in Oklahoma, where my mother’s side of the family have lived since it was Indian Territory. My grandmother would chose one day each summer to be the family decoration day, when we would make the rounds to area cemeteries visiting ancestors’ graves, doing a bit of clean-up at the sites and leaving flowers.
After the graves had been decorated, my mother and grandmother would want to spend “time alone” with certain relatives buried in the cemeteries. At this point, my grandfather, who had been orphaned by the age of five and living on the streets, would walk up and down each row of stones and tell me stories about the people whose names he recognized…which were most of them!
“Mrs. Keller used to make the most delicious biscuits, and would save one or two for me out of each batch. There’s old man so-and-so who ran the livery stable. He would let me sleep in the hayloft in exchange for cleaning the stalls each morning.”
By the age of 12 I looked forward to these visits and hearing the stories. I had made the connection that there were stories…and people…behind the stones. Telling these stories kept their time period in history alive.
At the same age I became fascinated with genealogy, thanks to spending so much time hearing my grandparents’ tales. Now, this was long before Alex Haley’s “Roots,” so we did things the hard way…looking through dusty, over-sized books at rural courthouses, walking the cemeteries to confirm dates and even visiting funeral homes to read their logs. As a tomboy, I loved the entries from the “wild west” era like, “killed by Injun, fell down well, or hit head from fall form horse (my great-great-grandfather’s notation). “
Eventually I began to realize that I was just as interested in the cemeteries and old records of people who had no connection with my family. And a “Tombstone Tourist” was born.