Vienna society posts graves online
Project has collected information on 900 sites at township cemetery
VIENNA — When the coronavirus pandemic hit in March, Christine Novicky knew in-person meetings and events of the Vienna Historical Society would not happen, so she and other society members decided to devote their time to another needed project.
Novicky, president of the society, and other members have been recording data on cemetery markers at the Vienna Township Center Cemetery — also known as the Vienna Memorial Cemetery — and other township cemeteries and placing information on www.findagrave.com.
She said she has been using the website and app to add photos and GPS coordinates of headstones in the cemetery.
“This is important for folks working on their genealogy. Oftentimes, no one remembers birth and death dates, and these may be found on tombstones,” Novicky said.
Recently, Novicky and society member Jeff Ford were at the middle section of the township cemetery taking photos and recording information on different markers. Novicky said she attached information she found, including an obituary of the deceased person, to the website. A GPS feature shows where each marker is located.
Novicky has received assistance from the Trumbull County Public Library on finding obituaries on people buried there.
“When COVID hit, I needed a project and thought this is a good time to work on this project because it was something that needed to be done,” she said.
Novicky said finding information on each person buried at the cemetery has been at times both easy and challenging.
“There were some people who were not originally from Vienna, so getting information on them was harder. A lot of people were from West Virginia. I had to contact people with historical societies in West Virginia to find information,” she said.
To date, Novicky and others have recorded data on 900 markers, mostly in the middle section of the cemetery.
“We wanted to do this section first because everything was legible,” she said, noting some of the oldest markers in the cemetery at the southern section are harder to read.
In addition to Ford, society members Michele Garman and Pam Klinger helped. Ford said some of the oldest markers were crooked and needed straightened. When that was done, information was recorded.
Novicky said the Vienna section on the Find a Grave site shows a picture of each marker, the date of birth and date of death of each person, GPS information on where to find the marker, an obituary, cause of death and information or story on the death.
When the group had time, it also recorded information on markers at Oakwood Cemetery in Warren and Crown Hill Cemetery in Vienna, which was mostly for relatives of people who were buried at the main cemetery.
Novicky said she wants to promote this to other societies as a project they could undertake.
“It is a very valuable tool for future generations,” she said. “All historical societies should make an effort to record their cemeteries on Find a Grave. We have gotten calls from people asking about information on people buried in Vienna. Now they can go to Find a Grave to locate it.”
The most challenging part of the project was the weather because it go so hot and it was difficult to work outside.
“When COVID started, the weather was cooler and comfortable. I was here one weekend in May when it was snowing. The heat got really bad in June and July,” Novicky said.
Ford said he remembers some markers had information on them that was underground because markers had sunk.
Novicky said while she found many interesting stories, she remembers one — Ella Farnsworth — who died after rescuing her children from a fire at their home.
“The story was covered in the newspaper, and she was badly burned trying to rescue her children. She only lived another day or two after the fire but was honored as a hero. She saved her children,” Novicky said.
She said she includes information like this on the website.
Novicky said while the society has not done online programs during the pandemic, she and other members have used social media posts and emails to engage audiences with current projects.
“Mostly been emailing old school-time photos and trying to get folks to identify who is who. Had a big post about the tornado of 1947 that happened in June,” she wrote in an email.