If you’ve ever read Little House in the Big Woods, Little House on the Prairie, or seen the award-winning TV series Little House on the Prairie, you have been influenced by Laura Ingalls Wilder’s work. These stories are based on Laura’s own childhood experiences living in Kansas and Wisconsin and provide insight into 19th century life on the frontier.
Although most people are familiar with stories from Laura’s childhood (her books are based on Laura’s own childhood experiences), not many know what happened later on in Laura’s life. As told in her books Little Town on the Prairie and These Happy Golden Years, Laura married Almanzo Wilder and moved to De Smet, South Dakota. Before she was married, Laura worked as a school teacher since age 15[edit by contributor], worked with the local dressmaker, and attended high school.
Laura had two children, a girl named Rose and a boy who died in infancy. This heartache was just one of the many trials Laura and Almanzo experienced during their early years of marriage. Almanzo was left partially paralyzed from an illness, their barn caught fire and destroyed most of their hay and grain, another fire burned their house down, and a drought severely damaged their crops.
The couple then moved to Mansfield, Missouri where Laura worked for a loan company as well as a writer for the local paper. It was here that she gained most of her writing experience that came in handy years later when the family lost most of their money in the Stock Market crash (1929). With the help and encouragement of her daughter, Rose, she published her first book Little House in the Big Woods three years later.
Since the original publication of the book, Little House in the Big Woods had been in print continuously and has been translated into 40 different languages.1 This provided the Wilder family with the continuous income they needed to recover from all the money they lost during the Stock Market crash.
Laura died at the age of 90—eight years after Almanzo passed away. She was buried alongside her husband in Mansfield, Missouri.
Want to learn more about Laura Ingalls Wilder? Read more here.
1 Laura Ingalls Wilder, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laura_Ingalls_Wilder.
It’s a new month and a new year so we’re starting a brand-new contest. Introducing the monthly Win the Pin contest!
Each month you’ll get the chance to compete for the unique pin of the month. All you have to do to win the pin is to upload or transcribe enough images for BillionGraves to get a spot on the leaderboard by the end of the month. Those 50 Uploaders and 50 Transcribers will be the lucky winners of that month’s pin.
We were blown away by how many new records were created in 2013 by all of our dedicated uploaders and transcribers—it was our best year yet! Let’s make 2014 even bigger and better. Will you make it your New Year’s resolution to get on the on the leaderboard each month?
How many pins can YOU win?
Here is our very first pin for the month of January:
Keep an eye on the leaderboard this month to make sure you get to win this pin. Happy BillionGraves-ing!
-Make sure you have permission and are welcome to take pictures in your local cemetery before doing so. Remember, private cemeteries require permission of the owner before taking any pictures.
-Winners will be announced at the end of the month on the BillionGraves blog. Prizes must be claimed by the 15th of the following month via email to qualify for shipment of prizes.
-Promotion is open to all to participate for free. Registration is required.
-More than one individual may contribute to a single account, however, the limit is one prize redemption per BillionGraves account.
-Items will ship in 6-8 weeks after contest closes for winners in the U.S. Please allow 8-12 for winners outside the U.S.
-Recipients will be required to provide a mailing address for physical items.
-All images must be uploaded/transcribed no later than midnight (GMT) on January 31, 2014.
|Top Uploaders||Top Transcribers|
|1. Paulwuzhere 17,001||1. HonestAbe 19,322|
|2. kathleenba 14,989||2. vblackledge 13,512|
|3. STEVE N 9,779||3. StoneScriber 12,931|
|4. valmer 3,829||4. AcesKitten 12,361|
|5. Jim Pack 3,828||5. Pianomom3 7,925|
|6. NoahMcEagle 3,686||6. grumpy_redneck 7,112|
|7. sunsearch 3,637||7. Melyssawebb 6,583|
|8. Forestbank 3,317||8. KRobDFW 5,757|
|9. George 2,793||9. gopanowitz 5,713|
|10. RyanJenkinsEP 2,755||10. 10131307t 5,436|
|11. celestyna 2,540||11. STEVE N 4,384|
|12. Ephrata Cemetery 2,444||12. huskerken 4,217|
If you are on this list, please make sure your email on your BillionGraves account is your correct current email address. We will be emailing you through the email on your account. You will need to provide us a shipping address where you would like your gift card sent. So watch your inboxes for that this week.
Thanks again to all who contributed this month! We sure appreciate all your many contributions!
The holidays are always a time full of symbolism, both religious and secular, so I thought it would be a great time to publish Part 2 of our Headstone Symbolism series. I love discovering and thinking about deeper meanings behind symbols in our lives, I think it’s provides interesting insight into the lives and values of others.
If you missed part one, you can go back and read it here.
Keep in mind, the following definitions are just ideas of what each of these symbols mean. Just because someone (whether that’s the person actually buried there or one of their relatives) chose a certain symbol for this headstone doesn’t mean that’s what it meant to them. But it sure is fun to think about!
Angel: They are typically considered a guardian, messenger, or even a guide to heaven. They are a symbol of spirituality and of resurrection. Angels are said to “guard the tomb, guide the soul, pray for the soul in purgatory, and direct the living visitor to think heavenwards.” (From Cemetery Symbolism; A Wary Glossary)
Ball (Sphere): Usually a symbol of the soul waiting for resurrection.
Lyre: This could mean the person buried here was a musician. A lyre is also a symbol of the connection between heaven and earth. When it has a broken string, it symbolizes the end of life.
Palm Branches: They are typically a Christian symbol of spiritual victory or victory over death. They also could signify eternal peace or a heavenly reward.
Rose: The rose could also be a Christian symbol in that it signifies the blood of Christ. It is also a “reminder that the soul achieves its most perfect state after physical death.” (From Heritage Bulletin)
Weeping Willow: This symbol usually represents what its name implies, sorrow, mourning, nature’s lament, and remembering those that have passed.
Freemason Square and Compass: This symbol signifies a member of the Freemasons or Masons—a fraternal organization. Usually the “G” in the middle either stands for “God” or “Geometry.”
Tree stump (Woodmen of the World): This symbol (which may include an ax, the maul and wedge, and/or a dove of peace with an olive branch) signifies a member of the fraternal insurance society called “Woodmen of the World.” In its beginnings, this organization provided its members with headstones, but that turned out to be too costly. Since Woodmen never “lie,” these tombstones will usually say “Here rests a Woodman of the World.” (See Wikipedia article)
BillionGraves is going behind the scenes to give you a sneak peak of the people who volunteer their time and effort for the BillionGraves project. BillionGraves is a community of truly amazing people and we want to help you get to know each other through through our “Spotlight Saturday” posts. Everyone has interesting insight of why they contribute and we can all learn great things from others!
Meet Charlene Boyd, one of our top picture-takers and transcribers for over a year now. She graciously let us interview her and here are some of the interesting things we found out about her.
What makes taking pictures in cemeteries/doing genealogy so interesting for you?
Thirty plus years ago I first became interested in genealogy through researching my own family tree. Back then there was much more work involved in research because there was no internet and you had to travel to the cemeteries and the Archives and History Centers to research your family.
After a few years I found that I enjoyed helping people piece together information and find family members through research and posting cemetery information on other websites. Today I find a real love of cemeteries through their art and history. I take my time with each cemetery getting to know the landscape and the history, finding unique treasures in each one.
How did you get started doing BillionGraves?
I found out about BillionGraves through a genealogy discussion group on Facebook. I started out transcribing other people’s headstone photos on BillionGraves because I didn’t have a smart device that was capable of taking the photos. Later I purchased a tablet device and began taking photos at all the cemeteries in my locale.
Why do you like contributing to BG?
Why do I enjoy visiting and taking photos of headstones and cemeteries? I don’t exactly know how I started because I have been doing it for so long.
When searching my family history I have found that sometimes a headstone is the only means I have to document that relative’s birth and death, or even existence. It is very important to me that this is something that is never lost due to time or neglect. Cemeteries tell so much about our history and it is up to us to listen to their stories. I have had so many people help me by posting photos, family trees and their research online that I feel that this is my way of paying them back.
I also want to help and encourage others to do the same. Doing this has also sparked my interest in not only taking photos to share, but also wanting to learn more about restoring and preserving cemeteries. Headstones can tell us more than the birth and death sometimes if we are lucky they might tell us how this person died, their occupation if they were a member of any groups (religious or otherwise) who they married, and who their children were.
My family calls me obsessed, because anytime we go somewhere my first thought is: Are there any cemeteries close by that we can visit? Sometimes they go with me willingly and other times kicking and screaming.
Have you had any special/interesting experiences while using BillionGraves that you would like to share?
My best experience in cemetery research would be the time I met a cousin online while doing research on my Baker line. Through emails over time we shared information, later on I was invited to a Baker reunion in Oklahoma. I had been searching my Baker line and reached a brick wall.
My cousin invited me to a family reunion in Oklahoma. Through this visit I was able to visit my great-great-great grandfather’s grave; Thomas Winfield Baker, buried in Indian Territory Checotah Cemetery, Checotah, Oklahoma. Standing in a cemetery seeing his marker and knowing his history made it more real for me. I also found photos of Thomas Winfield Baker and his wife Mary Ann ‘Polly’ Long Baker, and received a copy of their family bible, because of the connections I made at the reunion.
Do you have any advice you would give to other people using BG?
BillionGraves is one site that offers you two ways to contribute. You can transcribe headstones; take photos of headstones or do both. So if you are not able to travel to a cemetery you can sit at your computer and transcribe. Either way, please know that both are important and help so many people.
Taking photos is very easy by using their app, just a click of the camera, (using a camera phone or tablet camera). Your photo is uploaded to their site with GPS tracking information included.
I am very grateful for BillionGraves they have made me feel like part of their team and I want to pass that along.
Thanks, Charlene, for all you do! We couldn’t do it without you!