Monday, February 18, 2008

The Cemetery Detective

Shirley Wolf has rediscovered 10 African-American cemeteries in southern Indiana's Floyd County, and she may be on to 10 more, according to a long feature story by Katya Cengel in the Sunday Courier-Journal newspaper published across the river in Louisville. The story, perhaps inevitably, leads with Wolf's controversial use of dowsing to find burials, but farther down we get a taste of her genealogical technique:

To locate the unmarked cemeteries, she went through the county's death records, from the early 1900s to the 1960s. When she found an unfamiliar burial site, she would check if the person was African American, and if he or she was, Wolf would check to see if the person owned land. If he or she did, Wolf would visit the property to see what she could find, asking those in the area if anyone knew about a cemetery. ... A picture framer of German, French and Swiss descent [and a past president of the Southern Indiana Genealogical Society], Wolf is focusing on African-American cemeteries because she wants people to know that, despite the ravages of slavery, "there are things that can be found."

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