Genealogists visit cemeteries to research their ancestors’ final resting places; Michael Nejman frequents them to take pictures. The self-proclaimed “Grin” Reaper has photographed graveyards worldwide and posted his work on a Web site entitled To Die For! <www. 2diefor.c0m/todiefor/>.
As the name implies, this site is a tribute to the “lighter side” of death. The site’s “Loose Dirt” section highlights the latest death news and provides funerary trivia, such as who’s buried at Westminster Abbey. It also includes famous last words, links to other sites and above all, a celebration of cemeteries.
To Die For! is Nejman’s tribute to his favorite monuments and necropolises. Here you’ll find his Top 10 Graves of the Rich and Famous (yes, Elvis made the list) and his pick for “Most Ostentatious Memorial in America,” and learn who owns the plot next to Marilyn Monroe (it’s not Joe DiMaggio). The site also reveals what Graceland, Lenin’s Mausoleum and the Pyramids at Giza have in common: They all made the Grin Reaper’s Top 10 World Cemeteries list.
– Allison Stacy
Easy Come, Easy Go
You won’t strike gold at the Independence and Ashcroft ghost towns in Colorado, but you can explore the boom and bust of two historic mining towns. According to legend, gold was first discovered in Independence on July 4, 1879. The town grew to 300 residents almost immediately and reached 1,500 by 1882. The next year, however, gold production dropped sharply and most residents were lured to nearby Aspen by higher wages and a milder climate. You can find out more about the short history of both towns by visiting in person and taking a look at some original frontier architecture. Independence is 18 miles from Aspen and Ashcroft is 13 miles away. For more information, call the Aspen Historical Society at (970) 925-3721.
UP IN ARMS
If you’re fascinated by Civil War memorabilia, you won’t want to miss the Ohio Civil War Collectors and Artillery Show. Four buildings will be filled with military items, relics and memorabilia dating from 1775 through 1898. You can buy, sell, trade or just window-shop. Outdoor displays will include living history encampments, battery firing demonstrations, harp and dulcimer music, and a Civil War field hospital scenario by the Society of Civil War Surgeons. The fun takes place May 6-7 at the Richland County Fairgrounds in Mansfield, Ohio. For more information, call or write Don Williams, 1083 Oak Hill Circle, Ashland, OH 44805, (419) 289-3120.
North vs. South
Pennsylvania was the site of the largest and bloodiest battle of the Civil War and of Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address. You can learn more about these momentous events by visiting the Gettysburg National Military Park and National Cemetery. You’ll be able to take a self-guided auto tour that traces the events of the three-day battle. You can also visit the site of Lincoln’s speech and see the Cyclorama — a 360-foot-long circular painting that depicts Pickett’s Charge. For more information, call (717) 334-1124 or check out <www.nps.gov/gett> on the Web.
THE DEEP BLUE SEA
Find out where you got your sea legs at Mystic Seaport — The Museum of America and the Sea. You can visit the 19th century village of tall ships and historic buildings, browse the exhibit galleries full of marine artifacts or witness the nearly lost art of wooden shipbuilding in the shipyard. You’re sure to come away with a better understanding of the link between your past and the sea. To find out more, call (860) 572-0711, or check out the Web site <www.mysticseaport.org>.
The small southern town of Granbury, Texas, is rich in history and legend of all sorts. Davy Crockett’s wife and son settled here after his death, and the famous prohibitionist Carrie Nation paid a visit in 1905 — rumor has it she even wielded her ax in a few local saloons. Granbury’s centerpiece, however, is its restored Victorian courthouse square, featuring an 1891 limestone courthouse with a beautiful clock tower. There’s also an historic opera house, railroad depot and cemetery. If you’re still up for more, check out the classic cars at the Great Race Automotive Hall of Fame or participate in a variety of living history events held throughout the year. For more information, call the Granbury Convention and Visitors Bureau at (800) 950-2212.
From the June 2000 issue of Family Tree Magazine