Some people have a passion for gardening or painting or cooking or woodworking. One person I know “haunts” graveyards. She snaps photos of headstones and adds information to the website www.findagrave.com.

Jan Dixon has been at it for over a decade. “As soon as I heard about Find A Grave, I became interested. Of course, being a Kanabite, I had to look at Kanab’s cemetery first.”

When she learned that Kanab Cemetery only had 48 people buried there who were registered on the website, she knew her work was cut out. “My family alone numbered more than that!” siad Dixon.

She went to the city office and talked to Raelene Johnson, who happily provided a list of everyone the city had recorded as being buried at the cemetery. Then Dixon went to work. She spent the better part of the summer of 2005 painstakingly taking photos with her eight-pixel camera of every headstone in the Kanab Cemetery.

She resized the photos to meet Find A Grave specifications, then, using dial-up internet, entered the information from the headstones and uploaded the photos. “I just kept plugging away at it until Kanab was done.” It was over 2000 names!

But Dixon was just getting started. “Then I got the list from the Fredonia Cemetery and did theirs. I have a lot of family in Fredonia too.”

Next she worked on the cemeteries in Moccasin, Mt. Carmel, Hurricane and Centennial Park. St. George was already nearly completed by someone else, so she looked at the Cedar City database. The sexton there sent her a 36-page list of who they had in their cemetery. Dixon added about 3,200 names to the Find A Grave site. Now, wherever she goes, she visits cemeteries. “Every chance I get, I try to stop and poke around little cemeteries.“

According to Find A Grave website, Dixon has added 7,422 memorials. Once a person adds a memorial, they become the “manager” of that file. “I don’t count them, I do if for a hobby.” 

Admittedly, she has slowed down a bit the last few years due to mobility and transportation issues, but her enthusiasm and sparkle as she talks about her main hobby clearly light up the room.

Jim Tipton, who created Find A Grave in 1995, wanted to support his hobby of cataloging and visiting the burial sites of famous people. He later expanded the site to include non-celebrities. In 2013, he sold Find A Grave to Ancestry.com.

So no matter where in the world you are from, or what deceased persons are of interest to you, you can “visit” their gravesite if it has been entered in the system. Some have photos and family notes and messages and links to other family members. It is a great tool for genealogists.

But be careful! You may find yourself with a grave new hobby.