About Me

My name is Traci Rylands and Atlanta, Ga. has been my home for most of my life.

Writer, editor. Friend, wife, Mom. Coupon clipper, church food pantry volunteer. Investigation Discovery (ID) addict, amateur travel agent. Those are a few words that describe me. But the most important would be follower of Christ.

As a student at the University of Georgia, I took obituaries over the phone at the Athens Daily News. My first job after college was at a company that sold “pre-need” funeral plan insurance policies. So I have met many funeral directors over the years and am comfortable with the subjects of death, funerals and cemeteries.

Now I’m a photo volunteer for Findagrave.com, a database of cemeteries around the world. I enjoy learning about the stories of those individuals whose graves I find while educating others about death and dying. The term “cemetery hopping” comes from when I move from grave to grave trying to locate a specific grave.

I am not connected in any way with Findagrave.com management and receive no compensation for writing about them. I am not employed or connected to the funeral service industry. I just want to share my passion for unearthing the past and what happens along the way.

You can contact me at traci.rylands@gmail.com.

P.S. As of January 2016, I am also a writer for the Atlanta Journal & Constitution Homefinder section.

image

This photo was taken at Grenwood Memorial Cemetery in Greenwood, Nebraska in September 2015.

39 thoughts on “About Me”

  1. Todd Guenzi said:

    Congrats on your new blog! I hope it does well……and you get tons of followers.
    Enjoy the journery……..and the “hopping!”
    Todd

  2. Todd Guenzi said:

    well……..apparently I coined a new word by mistake – “journery” maybe a mash-up with “scenery” and “journey?” Anyhoo…….enjoy the journey and the cemetery scenery as well.
    tg

  3. Book Smart Mom said:

    Can’t wait to check back next Friday to see where you’ll hop next.

  4. Pat Hunsche said:

    It was great to hear from you and I remember I had just had knee surgery so was
    not able to get out and help you find the graves. We had a great time that day. I would make one suggestion, go back to Kennard cemetery, Dixie Lambert has been photographing the graves and also maybe adding obituaries. She has done a super job on the website. I will check on the twins.
    Pat Hunsche

  5. woody bell said:

    I hope you found the Rogers Bell Cemetery (my family cemetery) The other cemetery
    is the black cemetery. The Rogers were Cherokee leaders and indian represenatives
    They married into the Bell family in the early 1800’s
    Woody Bell Duluth Ga.

  6. Hello SwanGirl,

    First I would like to thank you for all your hard work in Photographing the gravemarkers at Sylvester cemetary. One photo of the grave marker for Skelton–Coy Winn and Ruby Daniel does not show the year for Coy Skelton death because there is a pot in front of the marker. The date entered for his death list the year as 1981 which cannot be correct as he outlived my Grandmother Ruby Skelton by several years and she died in 1984. I am looking for documentation to verify and if I run across something I will update the information if I can. Thank you again for your hard work. James Parker

  7. Dear Traci:
    I approciate your research work and photography. Would you be interested in more work on Westview? It is under-studied. Asa Candler, WB Harstfield, Ralph McGill, and many other Atlantans are buried there.

    • John, I would love to do that! There are a number of famous and not so famous but interesting people buried out there. Charles Davis Tillman was the first person to formally publish the African-Americn spiritual “Old Time Religion” and wrote a number of gospel songs. I stumbled across his grave by accident out there. Would you please e-mail me at traci.rylands@gmail.com so we can talk more about it?

  8. Randy Blake said:

    I too have family in the Old Greencastle Cemetery in Dayton, I am planning on visiting this summer. The Montgomery county history is being forgotten. I enjoyed the blog

    • Randy, I haven’t been back since that visit so you will have to let me know what state it is in when you visit. I am hopeful that it’s in better shape but skeptical at the same time. I hope you are more successful than I was in finding your family buried there. Thanks for your comment!

  9. Enjoy your blog very much!!! Hope you can keep up with your cemetery hopping including in Ohio!

  10. Love !!

  11. I have always been intrigued by graveyards and cemeteries. I’ve recently become a “graver” and have sought out the graves of some famous and not so famous (some infamous) folks during my travels. In the past few mos. I’ve been to the grave of one of the conspirators of the Lincoln assassination,(where only his skull is interred), to a few rock stars graves, The German Orphan Asylum Assoc. Cemetery in New Orleans, The Great Santini’s grave (real life person who inspired the character), baseball players, and even Rondo Hatton…..”The Creeper” whom has an award named for him in the sci-fi monster movie genre.

  12. Jerry Olinger said:

    Traci, I greatly enjoyed the photos and information regarding the Old Green Castle Cemetery, in Dayton, Ohio. I have lots of Olinger family that migrated there between 1804 and 1811. Both OLINGER families with two JOHN OLINGER’s wife both having a wife named EVE. Very confusing, but I have worked for over 25 years on that particular family puzzle. You posted a picture of an OLINGER grave marker that you came upon in this cemetery. I’m curious if you remember other OLINGER markers in this cemetery? Also, have you ever used the shaving foam method to enhance the readability of such old stones that are hard to read otherwise? Again, thanks for your work in preserving such vital information from so many cemeteries, and I look forward to hearing from you. Jerry

    • Hi, Jerry!

      Thanks for your comment. My great-great grandfather Samuel Grice was the son of John Grice and Mary Olinger. From what I’ve read, the Olinger family helped start the church when it was first established. Many of the Grices lived in Brookville. According to Find a Grave, there are 15 Olingers buried at Old Greencastle. Nine have been photographed. I know I saw more than three markers with that name on them when I was there in 2012. But as you read in my post, it was very hard to walk around and some of the markers are difficult to read.

      I do not use shaving cream, chalk, flour or talcum powder on gravestones. They contain chemicals that can damage the surface of the stone and wear it down even more over time. I try not to do anything to stones at all beyond using a soft brush to get leaves or dirt off. The only thing I would try is briefly putting tin foil over the surface to see if that brings out the letters more clearly. You can also use a mirror to reflect light onto a stone to see the engravings better. This site provides a good primer on what to use and what not to use when working with gravestones: http://saveagrave.net/hard-to-read-stones.

      I am making plans to revisit Old Greencastle in April when I am up in Dayton. The first thing I want to do is visit Old Greencastle since it’s been cleaned up and maybe I can find my relatives now. I’d be happy to hunt for the Olinger graves for you while I am there.

      Traci

  13. Jerry Olinger said:

    Thanks Traci,

    I appreciate the prompt reply. I have went through the records of Old Green Castle that are posted on Find A Grave. Only one older John Olinger and Eve Olinger are listed on the 1850 Montg. Co., OH census. The other John and Eve Olinger must have died prior to 1850. I’m still trying to document that. Since the Olingers thst are located in Old Green Castle Cemetery are descendants of the immigrant CARL/Charles Olinger of 1732, I feel that the John Olinger who died in 1870 and is buried in the Vanniman-Bowman-Wooden cemetery across from the Bear Creek Cemetery in Madison Twp., is the other John Olinger who descends from the immigrant JOHANNES OHLINGER/OLINGER of 1849. Any thoughts or new information you might offer is greatly appreciated. Also, thanks for the web link regarding how to photograph these old grave markers with minimal damage to the stone.

    Jerry

  14. Jerry, I have to confess that I haven’t done a great deal of research yet on the Olinger line in my family tree. From what little, I’ve been able to deduce, my Olingers came over from Germany before 1744, settling in Pennsylvania then Virginia. That was Johann Phillip Olinger. I’m not exactly sure when Mary Olinger married John Grice. The Grices came to Ohio after living first in Virginia.

    I wish I had more insight I could give you but as I haven’t done nearly the amount of work you have done (and kudos to you for that), I can’t at this time. My family tree is on Ancestry.com for public view if you want to see it.

  15. Jerry Olinger said:

    Traci,

    If you like, I will send you an invitation to my main family tree on Ancestry.Com and you may be able to see what I have on the family. As I remember, the Olinger family that was married into the Grice family in Montgomery County, OH were not descended from Johan Philip Ohlinger/Olinger but from Carl/Charles Olinger, the immigrant of 1732. If my records are correct, I show John Grice (1816-1888) was married to Mary Olinger (1817-1882), a daughter of Johannes “John” Olinger and Eve Hay. If I am not correct, I welcome your critiquing and correction of my information. If you have conducted any research in MO tg. Co., OH on the Olingers of the early 1800’s, you k ow very well how difficult and Co fusing it can be separating these two families. I will send you an invitation to my main Ancestry.com tree.

    Jerry

  16. a great blog Traci

  17. Thanks so much! Very interesting stuff.

  18. HEY,I JUST WANTED TO TELL YOU THE HOLLYWOOD RD. PICTURES ARE GREAT,I GREW UP NEXT TO IT.THE PICTURE LOOKING DOWN HIGHTOWER RD.TOWARD HOLLYWOOD RD.ON THE LEFT SIDE IN THE WOODS ARE THE OLDEST GRAVES YOU WILL FIND THEY GO ALL THE WAY TO THE LITTLE CREEK.ITS VERY OVER GROWN, WE USED TO WALK THRU THERE WHEN I WAS LITTLE,OVER 50 YRS AGO.I KNOW EVERY INCH OF ALL THE GRAVE YARDS THERE.EVEN ALL THE WAY TO THE DOG AN CAT CEMETERY.IT WAS A WONDERFUL PLACE TO GROW UP,KINDA SCAREY BUT WONDERFUL.

  19. Fellow Georgian and FIndAGrave person. Loved your blogs!

  20. Mark Murray said:

    Here’s a curiosity for you; Cuthbert GA cemetery (unsure of the name ), corner of Gordon St and Broad St (US 82/GA 50). If traveling east on Broad, turn north on Gordon and immediately look to your right, or eastward. Look along the top of the cemetery fence or wall.

    This has always been a strange thing to see. What would posses a person to to this? Strong sense of humor, I’d suppose.

    My parents always pointed out this curiosity whenever we passed thru Cuthbert. Now I’m prevliged to creep-out my kids.

    Let me know what you learn. BTW, enjoyed your article in the Oct Georgia magazine.

    • Hi, Mark! I haven’t been through Cuthbert before but now you’ve got my curiosity piqued! Do you have a picture of it? I looked online and couldn’t find anything. Are you talking about Rosedale Cemetery or is it a different one?

      I also didn’t know that football great Rosey Grier was from Cuthbert.

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the article. So many cemeteries, so little time!

      Traci Rylands

  21. Cindy Morris said:

    Dear Traci, I just stumbled across this site while googling Hollywood cemetery. I am 50 and visited the mountain side all of my youth and up until the early 2000’s , helping my parents clean family graves. It was just not safe in recent years, but hope the area will turn around eventually. I also read that you found our pet heaven! My family has 6 dogs buried in the old section. Again my husband hasn’t wanted me to go for years now due to the area. It used to be a peaceful little place, but my dad always carried his gun when we went. We did meet vagrants from time to time. My grandmother told me how grand Hollywood was, with a fountain and gold fish. I’ve always wished I could find a reason for it to be cleaned and restored😊Would love to chat with you more! Email me after the holidays .
    Merry Christmas to you!

    • Hi, Cindy! Loved hearing from you. Yes, the area where Hollywood Cemetery and Pet Heaven are has changed a lot in recent years. I try not to go alone. It’s been a while since I’ve been over there. I will probably revisit Hollywood before spring (and the bugs/snakes return) to poke around some more. It really is a shame that it’s become what it has. Did you have markers for your pets at Pet Heaven? It’s highly likely I photographed them while I was there if you did. I took a ton of pictures.

      I’ll be in touch after the holidays. Merry Christmas to you, too!

      • Cindy Morris said:

        In the old section : Flip, Tara, Tinker
        Little bit newer small section in front of old – Tav and Rusty
        Popcorn was in the old section near a tree but no marker
        In Hollywood it’s the lots that face the street, now with gravel, but we cut the kudzu all of my younger years! Stradley is the family name. There should be a vase at my great grandparents . Minnie Lee Stradley, also a great aunt and her child
        Just happen to check back at your site but email is usually faster for me🎄

  22. Hi Traci,
    I want to spend time at Westview. Do you know if I need to obtain permission?
    Best,

    • Hi, John! Westview is open to guests every day, regardless of whether or not you are there to visit someone’s grave or not. The Abbey Mausoleum is also open to guests as well. No permission is necessary. It’s well worth a visit. If you need to locate a grave, they can help you in the office. They will not, however, look up the location of more than a few graves a day unless you pay them to do so. The last time I looked on Find a Grave, the place had over 200 photo requests. I have spent many hours wandering the grounds, which are well taken care of. There’s a map on the Find a Grave site for Westview and they can also give you one in the office as well. Enjoy your visit!

  23. James A Thorson said:

    This is excellent. I’m glad I just found you. I presume that you’ve already done a page on the campus cemetery at the University of Georgia, where I used to teach. There is a similar, bigger campus cemetery at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Thanks for your good work.

    • Hi, James!

      I’m a little shamefaced to admit I haven’t written a post on Oconee Cemetery in Athens, since UGA is my alma mater. But I’m hoping to do so this year once I work through my other trips.

      Thank you for the tip about UNC, I will look into that.

      Thanks,

      Traci

  24. Love your site. I teach microbiology and have taken students to Graceland cemetery in Chicago to study lichen growing on monuments, among other things at the cemetery.

    • Hi, Kim!

      I’m glad you like the site. That is truly amazing that your students are studying the lichen on the monuments. I’d love to know more about what they’ve discovered. Do you have anything I could read about it? This is the kind of thing a layperson like me knows so little about. I’m sure my readers would enjoy learning more as well.

      Traci

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