Something To Look For.

Daryl (my cousin and a Dakin family expert)  on the left and me to the right. We are at the monument for those lost at sea.

Daryl (my cousin and a Dakin family expert) on the left and me to the right. We are at the monument for those lost at sea.

Many people who take up genealogy know about the many records that we can explore. We can look up anything from birth and death records to church records, marriage records, military records, and the list can go on and on. However one item that has escaped me until this summer were records that are on public display in almost any town you can think of. They are in government buildings, in public parks, in churches, and most any place that people will gather. They are there for you to see and use at will. I am talking about memorials that list names for many reasons. When visiting the towns where your ancestors lived it would be prudent to keep an eye out for these memorial records.

This summer I traveled to Digby, Nova Scotia, the home of many of my ancestors. By the waterfront, I noticed a memorial to the many people that had been lost at sea. They had many as Digby is well known for it’s fishing fleets. I found many names from my family being honored.

The memorial to the men lost at sea.

The memorial to the men lost at sea.

Part of the long list of men lost at sea. People from my family are listed.

Part of the long list of men lost at sea. People from my family are listed.

I also found the same in a local church. Seeing the names somehow made the place less unknown and a feeling that I belonged in some small way.

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World War One memorial in the Trinity Anglican Church in Digby, N.S.. Founded in 1788.

World War One memorial in the Trinity Anglican Church in Digby, N.S.. Founded in 1788.

Downtown Digby also had a memorial to it’s soldiers of World War Two. Here also were familiar names.

World War Two memorial. This is in the center of town.

World War Two memorial. This is in the center of town.

In Haverhill Ma. I also found memorials with names on them. Here is a Korean War Memorial. Seeing one’s ancestors name here could be a major find for someone.

Korean War Memorial in Haverhill, Ma. Names of donors and veterans are on each brick.

Korean War Memorial in Haverhill, Ma. Names of donors and veterans are on each brick.

Those who did not make it back.

Those who did not make it back.

Even in my hometown of Plattsburgh, N.Y. I found names all around one our monuments.

From the steps of city hall you can see the Macdonough Monument. It has a giant Eagle with it's wings spread on top. This commemorates the American Victory in  the Battle of Plattsburgh. Fought during the War of 1812

From the steps of city hall you can see the Macdonough Monument. It has a giant Eagle with it’s wings spread on top. This commemorates the American Victory in the Battle of Plattsburgh. Fought during the War of 1812

These stones are all around the monument. What a find they might be for someone.

These stones are all around the monument. What a find they might be for someone.

I firmly believe that when visiting old hometowns and places that our ancestors lived and died, it would do well to keep a look out for these memorials. They could give you a clue that is needed to get more information. They may not be as good as a death certificate. They will not give you all the answers you need. But they just might be the key you need to open that door to getting to know your ancestors a little better.

Here is one more picture I took a few years ago. It is of the Vietnam War Memorial Wall. Engraved into the wall is the name of my cousin.

My cousin's name on the Vietnam Memorial Wall.

My cousin’s name on the Vietnam Memorial Wall.

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15 Responses to Something To Look For.

  1. Jim McKeever says:

    Good advice, Charles … Sometimes things are hidden in plain sight. I’m amazed at the Civil War monument in my local cemetery east of Syracuse that bears the names of more than 100 men from a relatively small town. I don’t know what the population was at the time, but it couldn’t have been more than several thousand. Such a high percentage …. And I’m sorry about your cousin. I’ve been to the Vietnam Wall a few times, and it’s sad and awe-inspiring at the same time.

  2. This is such a great idea! While i have gone looking for a few specific plaques that i had heard existed, and even been to the wall commemorating those who died in Vietnam, i never really thought about just checking out general memorial monuments and plaques in the towns we visit! What a great idea, one i’ll now practice, and pass along. thanks Charles.

  3. gpcox says:

    Charles, this is one of the top tribute posts I’ve seen! Outstanding photos, too.

  4. Amy says:

    Great tip! And also a very meaningful thing to do even if you don’t have dead relatives from that town.

    • chmjr2 says:

      Our ancestors left their mark where they lived. This is a way to perhaps see a different side to them. A more complete story. I saw a window in a church that had my ancestor as it’s donor. I had no idea of their religion or beliefs up to that point.

  5. Sheryl says:

    This post is a wonderful reminder to look at the names on monuments. Too often I don’t read all the names on a list because the weathered engraving is faded and difficult to read. I really need to take the time to look more carefully at old monuments that might possibly contain ancestors’ names.

  6. Carrie-Lee Hurzeler says:

    I would like to ask the Dakin expert a few questions. I am wondering if he could get in touch with me. Also by chance do you have the bottom portion of the plaque listing the people lost at sea between 1867 and 1967? Thanks.

  7. boundforoz says:

    Don’t forget the award boards in the schools as another source of names , where the winners of certain prizes were listed each year – lovely polished timber with gold lettering. They are usually in the front hall,

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