Sunday, April 11, 2010

Thomas Jefferson DeGraff

A couple years ago I started volunteering for a website called One of the main things that volunteers do for this website, is to go out and take pictures of gravestones for people who are far away and can't visit their family members resting place. This is an excellent genealogical resource, completely on volunteer basis.

The first time I went out "hunting" was for a gentleman buried here in town named Thomas Jefferson DeGraff. All I knew at the time about him was his name, the cemetery he was buried in, and that he might have been involved somehow here in town with Bonnie & Clyde. That's where I started.

I had received an email from FindAGrave saying that someone was requesting a grave photo of Mr. DeGraff's gravestone. I did a little background work on him before going to the cemetery, as I was quite interested about the Bonnie & Clyde part of his story. In this research both on the internet and in our local library I found that Mr. DeGraff was a detective here in Joplin, that found where Bonnie & Clyde's hideout was. He also was there the day that the raid on the apartment happened, and survived. I was even more intrigued after finding all of this out. Through I went to my research at the library and on the internet, I was able to get her a photo of him, dozens of newspaper articles, including his obituary, his death certificate,and pictures of the Bonnie & Clyde exhibit at our local musuem. When I made my trip tothe cemetery, I got his stone photo, and also found his wife next to him and was able to get that information for the relative who had requested the photos. She was thrilled.

So, why am I telling you this story? To tell you that the important thing about genealogy is working together. We don't all have a perfect family tree, already filled out for us with all of the information that we could possibly need right there for us. And we don't all have the money to hire professional genealogists. Plus that would take away half the fun! What we can do is work together with this huge network of family historians all across the globe at the ready and able to help out a fellow historian.

Please, go check out and consider becoming a photo volunteer. I can't tell you how many family members I have only seen their graves through this site. Not only is it a great genealogical resource, but it makes it to where I can visit that family member's resting place and leave virtual flowers anytime I want, without the cost of driving to the cemetery.

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