Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Collecting Cemeteries

picture taken from freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com (Vernon, La)

It isn't often that you find useful historical information about cemeteries in the local newspaper in New Orleans. I just happen to get lucky last week. The Times-Picayune ran an article about a gentleman by the name of Martin Gauthier, a retired engineer from White Castle, La. For those of you who are not familiar with him ( and I wasn't until I read the article) he is an amateur historian and his specialty is Louisiana cemeteries. Mr. Gauthier "collects cemeteries" as a hobby. He travels around the state as well as the country and locates "lost cemeteries". The article in the Times states that "part of the investigation involved researching cemetery records and eventually visiting graveyards". His real passion is finding the resting places of all of the Louisiana governor's. This is quite interesting because it seems that many of them are buried under very modest means and some of their tombs do not even indicate that they were a governor of Louisiana.
While my blog and website are dedicated to New Orleans, I felt that this information was relevant as many of the governor's were from New Orleans or the surrounding area and several are buried in New Orleans, we're just not sure where! Yet his information can be useful to many other people who are interested in cemetery history and preservation as well.
How is this useful to us? Mr. Gauthier claims that he has located 6,000 cemeteries and probably needs to locate about 1,000 more. He started a website that includes 64 parishes of Louisiana and a list of the cemeteries he has found. It also includes pictures and interesting information. Alecia P. Long, an asst. Prof. at LSU, stated in the Times article that "sites like this, even by an amateur historian, can enrich research." I suggest you check it out at www.la-cemeteries.com. I have looked through the site and was really impressed. Mr. Gauthier is a man after my own heart, he says in the article "I wish I knew more about marble, architecture, and the actual stones, but I don't,... but a cemetery can just be so pretty." How can we not agree with that?
Article appeared in the Times Picayune; written by Steve Ward of The Baton Rouge Advocate

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