Tombstone Tourist: 2PSNAPOD's Strange Hobby

By:  Kelly Barnett

9th Jun, 17

"Kelly Barnett (2PSNAPOD) is a contributor to this blog.  All opinions expressed are her own."

It's nice to have a hobby or pastime, especially while you're RVing. There are so many to choose from – Geocaching, Munzee, hiking, quilting, skiing, golfing, etc. However, ours might be a little different than most.

While traveling this great country of ours, one of our favorite things to do is visit…wait for it…cemeteries! Yeah…you read that right. It might seem a bit morbid for some…but for us it's just kinda normal.

Michael's dad made tombstones for a living so Michael spent a lot of time in cemeteries helping to set the stones as he grew up. My mom, step dad, and grandma loved roaming around cemeteries researching dates and names…which meant that I spent quite a bit of time walking between the rows of grave markers too.

Besides…do you know how much history there is in any one cemetery? Presidents, first ladies, actors and actresses, politicians, outlaws, and other historic figures are laid to rest and much of their life history can be found right there on their tombstones. We also find it a challenge to find some final resting spots as it is NOT always an easy task. 

It's interesting to see the different burial customs in different regions. Like in New Orleans where many of the graves are 'above ground' because the water table is so high.

We've turned our daughter-in-law, Amanda, into a 'Grave Finder' too. She's always ready to join us in our cemetery quests. She and I hunted from one end of a cemetery on Long Island to the other looking for the grave of Bob Keeshan (a.k.a. Captain Kangaroo). Did I mention that it was August, and she was six months pregnant with her first child?! 

Exhausted and relieved after a tough search!

She even scouted out the graves of the DeFeo Family (of Amityville Horror fame) - who were all killed by oldest son, Butch Defeo, in 1974 - and took us there for a visit one afternoon. She's the best! 

The DeFeo Family - Such a tragedy

?It's not all about visiting graves of famous people though. We make plenty of visits to cemeteries searching for family graves as well. On one such outing in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, we visited Forest Home Cemetery in search of my paternal grandparents and great grandparent's graves. We were joined by both of our sons, Amanda, and our grandson, Alex.

Our son, Zack, with my grandparents grave

We spent two hours roaming the grounds and found the final resting places for my family members, plus a few local 'celebrities' (mostly beer brewers like Jacob Best, Frederick Pabst and Valentin Blatz). It was a fun time and a great way to spend an afternoon. 

Fredrick Pabst - Milwaukee, WI

We've been privileged to pay our respects to several presidents and first ladies: Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Lyndon Baines Johnson, Teddy Roosevelt, and John Fitzgerald Kennedy are just a few. 

Teddy Roosevelt - Oyster Bay, NY

A closed gate and wrought iron fence in a Dallas Cemetery didn't stop us from visiting the graves of Clyde Barrow and his brother Marvin 'Buck' Barrow. Bonnie Parker is also buried in a Dallas Cemetery, but we haven't made it there yet!

Roy Rogers and Dale Evans are buried in Victorville, California, in the middle of a desert; however, the area that they are in has a small water feature, trees and grass surrounding it. Beautiful.

Roy Rogers and Dale Evans....together forever

A visit to Los Angeles landed us at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery where we wandered among the graves of such notables as Farrah Fawcett, Marilyn Monroe, Eva Gabor, Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Dean Martin, Natalie Wood, Carroll O'Connor, Don Knotts, Peggy Lee, Burt Lancaster, and Roy Orbison.

On one of our Long Island, New York, excursions we hunted with our son, Dan, and daughter-in-law, Amanda (told ya she was an avid 'Grave Finder')! After much searching Dan finally located the grave of Margaret Brown, better known as 'The Unsinkable Molly Brown' who survived the sinking of the Titanic. The thrill of the hunt is real!

Unsinkable Molly Brown - Westbury, NY

On another adventure at the very eastern end of Long Island Dan, Amanda and myself stopped at what looked to be a very old cemetery and turned out to have graves dating back to the 1700s…talk about history! 

Look at all of that HISTORY!

While visiting the El Paso, Texas, area we paid our respects to Sherman Hemsley (of The Jeffersons) and Tony Lama Sr. (an innovator in the boot making industry).

Cartoonist Bil Keane was laid to rest in Maricopa County, Arizona. Bil is best known for his cartoon series 'The Family Circus' which is depicted on the tomb in which he now lies.

Of all the cemeteries we've visited, Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah, Georgia is probably the most eerily beautiful with Spanish Moss hanging from the trees and draping monuments.

We've even had lunch on the tailgate of our truck in the middle of a small south Texas Cemetery. Surrounded by Hispanic grave markers lovingly adorned with flowers, statues and various ornaments. It was a very relaxing lunch.?

Don't rule out visiting a graveyard on your travels…you might just enjoy the adventure. Wondering how to find just the right cemetery? I have just the website for you to utilize! FindAGrave is easy to use and allows you to sort by state, city, cemetery name and or by level of celebrity. Give it a try! 

Kelly Barnett

Kelly Barnett

RV There Yet Chronicles

My husband, Michael, and I have been living fulltime in our 2011 Landmark Key Largo since April of 2011 and LOVE every minute of it. 

When Michael retired from the US Army in October of 2012 (after 29 years of service) we hit the road and haven’t looked back. 

We usually work in the south Texas oilfields in the winter and spend time with our two sons and their families in the summer. We travel and sight-see as much and often as possible.