It’s been a busy week. I’ve been learning about “Find A Grave.”
After seeing a local name on all of the Decatur County inquiries, it seemed natural to talk with Mike Porter who started contributing to the site nearly 13 years ago. He now has 26,921 to his credit (as of Saturday of last week) on the website. Mike is the son of Tom and Glenda Porter and is a third generation funeral director in Greensburg. His son, Matt, is the fourth generation, but his family was in Decatur County long before that.
I’ve known the Porter family for many years, but I did not know that his great grandfather, John T. Porter, was killed Dec. 9, 1930 when the meter car on which he was riding was struck by an extra freight. It threw him from the track and caused instant death. I knew his grandfather, John H., who has a most inspired memorial that is a book and the words “A book of memories...”
It was while looking up his ancestors in the Union Baptist Cemetery that he found his sixth great-grandfather’s burial site. That was when Mike became extremely interested in Find a Grave, and his diligence has helped many families find their ancestors or put the photo of the memorial on their family’s grave (he has added 19,140 so far), the obituary or other information on the site during those years.
Just in case you haven’t used the Find a Grave site, it is an American site that documents the burial location of people in any location in the world. Anyone can search or add to the online database of cemetery records. The information is posted by unpaid volunteers and Find a Grave then posts it on the website. It is free of charge!
After Mike did the research on his own family tree, he began placing all of the individuals in the funeral home’s records dating back to 1886 on the Find A Grave website. If you know, Mike you won’t be surprised that he gives others the credit for this incredible site. He always gives credit to Russell Wilhoit “for all his efforts in recording the burials at South Park Cemetery up until 1924 on spreadsheet.” And he gives credit to the late Greg Meyer “for all his work in documenting burials in several cemeteries in Decatur County. I have used their information for many of the memorials in which I have placed on Find A Grave.” He also mentioned the late Dale Myers for work he did years ago.
Find A Grave was started by Jim Tipton of Utah 25 years ago; he built the website to find and share the graves of famous people such as Al Capone, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Elvis, etc. In 2000, he began to see so much interest in people whose ancestors had simply lived their lives without fanfare. Today, there are millions on the site with too many cemeteries to even count. What a blessing it must be for a relative to see the grave of a loved one who was buried in one of the cemeteries in Europe during one of the world wars.
On the computer, you just type in Mike Porter Find a Grave. From there you can find just about anyone. I know how important it is from personal experience. My husband’s grave site, a photo from his high school year book is on the site. Although it isn’t the photo I would prefer, I asked Mike if it could be changed. Mike added the photo I prefer. But then I checked and my parents graves in Louisville, in a smaller cemetery, is not on Find A Grave national site and that causes me some sadness. I tell you that to let you know that this site can be important for a family; it is for me. I’ll find the Kentucky Find a Grave person to put them on.
Mike or his funeral home don’t make a penny from his work on Find A Grave, and it is free to us.
Next time you see him, maybe you could give him a thank you!