Finding Uncle John

Carol learned the value of taking care of and being part of a large family from her parents. Now, she’s a grandmother and does everything she can to keep her family close and spending time with one another. Carol is the keeper of the original documents, belongings and pictures of family members who have passed on and enjoys sharing these with her family, as well as having them join her in researching.

Carol and Mother
Carol and her mother on Carol’s wedding day

In early summer of 2020, while the pandemic was raging, Carol’s granddaughter joined her for the day and they took to researching family online. Carol has always been interested in finding out the roots of her ancestry. Part of this stemmed from the last name “Shakespeare” that appears in her mother’s side of the family tree.Her granddaughter, who is a member of Find a Grave, suggested that they search for their family members’ memorials.  They found memorials for Carol’s parents and many other family members. 

Then Carol asked if they could look for her uncle, John Shakespeare.  She had lost contact with her uncle when he moved to California many years before.  Carol’s granddaughter explains, “I made the search, hoping in my heart that he would appear, but not knowing if this was just one search that would not return what we desired. The first result in the list was him. I turned to look at her, to glimpse her reaction, and she was shocked. After all the searching she had done, the hours of looking to find those who had become unconnected, we had found him.”

John Shakespeare
John Shakespeare

Carol was amazed and grateful for the sacrifice of time and effort that Find a Grave members have made over the years to help people like them who come to the site in hopes of finding their family.  They offer their heartfelt thanks to everyone who has added pictures of their family’s graves and to “the people who searched all over and helped to provide some closure when there were more questions than answers.”

Their experiences on Find a Grave have encouraged them to contribute to the site so that others can experience the same feelings of joy they did when they saw the gravestones of their family members for the first time.


  1. My experience in past days is normally folks only get interested in family files and heritages in later years, when an interest 20 or so years earlier would yield more beautiful data. So often we hear “If I had only talked and chatted with my Grandmother, or sometimes my Mom I would have had a lot more precious happenings recorded, or even facts available today.” Older family members and memories are the most precious sources, but we continue to make the same mistake is not being interested younger if we had considered. Making the same mistake our ancestors did.

    • I have to agree that genealogy is a hobby that generally gets put to the back burner until we are old enough to appreciate our lives and the lives of those who came before us and the paths they forged. Luckily, my 9th grade biology teacher set me on the path with a genealogy assignment. My mother who had a keen interest in history knew of a relative of ours who had done extensive genealogical research and could steer us in the right direction. And so began my search…45 years later, I’m still hooked. I have found Find a Grave very helpful with my research and taken the time to add relevant information to assist others whenever possible. I’m grateful for my mother’s assistance, though she has since passed, as well as the other genealogists who have aided my search. I hope one of my grandchildren will one day show an interest in this field.

  2. I’ve been a volunteer researcher for more than 20 years and I saw the research opportunities in the very beginning of find a grave. From m my childhood of my parents taking me to family graves and telling me the stories of those who lay below but who made a difference in the world and in the lives of others I thought what a great idea for research. I’m a DAR and have done research as a volunteer and I firmly believe Find A Grave has become one of the greatest easily available tools we have. Of corse we need as many sources as possible for complete documentation but sometimes the grave is the only source.

  3. I have worked on Find A Grave for a few years now, and am always trying to connect the deceased with family. I enjoy doing it.

  4. I too send my grattitude to the many people who have made it possible to find graves, or at least graveyards where my widespread US family is buried. NEELY, SMITH,THOMPSON, FOGG

  5. I have been interested in family history since a teenager. (I’m 69 now) My mother’s mom had a lot of pictures (which i have now), autograph journals from my great grandfather and great grandmother, when they were single in high school together in Kansas before 1900. In the journals there is my gt gt and 3 gt grandmother’s signatures. Also signatures of family members connected to my gt grandparents. My great grandmother died in 1903, when my grandmother was 3 years old. I know my grandmother knew about more relatives in Reno County, Kansas, but at the time I wasn’t asking the right questions. thank God, many relatives still live in or near Hutchinson, Kansas and they can answer the questions.
    I enjoy making memorials in findagrave and then going to to connect their parents to them or give the obit some information for the person coming to view the memorial. Some obits from funeral homes really suck. But then some families don’t know about their loved one

    • Hi Nancy, Linda Fry Alonzo here. When I read your comment I thought, this sounds just like me! I too, have been interested in genealogy since I was very young and spend a lot of my time in and Find a Grave. I have all of my grandmother’s journals of family history, all the letters my parents wrote to one another during WWII, all of the family pictures, etc. Genealogy is my favorite pastime.

      • I’m another 60-something grandmother who started in my teens using cemeteries to trace my family. About every 4 years my family would travel from California to Georgia to visit my mother’s family who have lived there for many generations. In high school I did charcoal rubbings of the gravestones of my great-, 2xs great, and 3xs great-grandparents, which I still have! Now I have participated by adding information on my husband’s family, plus making relationship connections between many other memorials. Thanks for all the wonderful work of Find-a-Grave!

    • Hi Nancy,
      Did you know Reno County was most likely named after General Reno, Indian Fighter way, way back when. Ft Reno, Oklahoma, and Reno, Nevada also were named after him. He is a very, very, very distance relative. I come from the Reneau line which has many variations of spelling in the US, and likely other countries. Original name Reynaud came from France. There is a Reno/Reneau group that meets every 2 years. Just curious if you may have found any of those names in “your” family research? When Find a Grave began years ago, they never had any of my known relatives, they have really expanded, and I also locate relatives I’m looking for. I do not do a lot of research but try to keep up with it, at 84 I’m having trouble keeping up with me.
      M J Comfort

  6. I have found many ancestors and helpful obituaries on Find A Grave. I have told many people how helpful it is.

    • Since I’ve been researching the Head family for 25 yrs. or so, I’d be grateful if you’d communicate with me about your family, Larry.

  7. I still have hope that findagrave will correct a grievous error
    and prevent non-family people from creating a site for someone they don’t even know. The number of sites that a person has created should NOT be rewarded in any way. Please, give family members adequate time to grieve and create the site themselves! They alone have the pictures, stories, and information to make the site more useful to researchers.

  8. Great story, and its this kind of effort on the parts of others that helps those who follow us, whether searching now, or in the future. I have to stop and work to try and find parents for a baby, or look for that child to link him or her to the parents. I hate to see no links and they are alone.

  9. i was surprise that someone had done the dubois and allan family . phila pa. how do i ask if they did the lilly family. no one now to find as the family has died out. it would be my husbands great grandparents. that died in the flu of 1918 . .

  10. Being a member of Find-a-grave for many yesrs , I am constantly amazed by the many emails I have received from family members and descendants thanking me for posting memorials of their love ones and friends. These notifications have come from many state and countries. I take great pleasure in providing a great memorial service for all of the individuals who cannot afford to travel to these cemeteries.

    • Thank you for your work. A volunteer like you helped us by putting up my Mom’s information. After lining up the funeral, the church, the songs, the photos, the flights, the sleeping arrangements ..after just enduring the funeral and the cemetery .. we were exhausted; then, someone very very kind helped by uploading Mom’s obituary and it meant everything to me. I have so much gratitude for the work that volunteer did for us. Plus, I got to thank her, and she shared fascinating stories about her work for find a grave.

  11. I have been doing genealogy since I was 25 years old. I am now 73. I have back to adam on one side

    • Be wary.. We found that both our parents were not the biological offspring of their legal parents. Two new lines to research and happier with the truth.

      • Also, need to say: Find a Grave volunteers should be given Sainthood or the equivalent. I have searched gravestones. It is not an easy task.

    • do you have John Adams and John Qunicy Adams in your family tree? my grandmothers mother was an Adams inline with them.

      • Dale , I have both Presidents , John Adams and John Quincy Adams in my wife’s Family Tree. I can send you a screen shot of the lineage if you would like!

  12. I have worked for years to get family members linked to each other. I get a real sense of satisfaction when I see families all together again.

  13. I started working on genealogy in 1975, but it was slow-going. When I discovered all the information online around 2001, I was thrilled. And then I found Find a Grave! It has been exceptionally helpful. I was able to gather a lot of information about my mother’s family from my father, who enjoyed talking to the older people he knew, especially my mom’s grandfather. Unfortunately, my dad knew little about his mother’s family, except that her grandfather was “Old Judge Spurr”. That tidbit of information was really helpful to me and now I have connected over 14,000 of my relatives. I just wish more people knew about and used Find a Grave.

  14. I first looked at Find-a-Grave as a valuable resource as I researched family histories. Now I am concentrating on connecting records of deceased relatives so those connections will be there for others as they work to remember their roots.

  15. I have been a member of find a grave for over 10 years. When I add a family member to my tree and know where they are buried, I always check find a grave and if I have the parents, children, etc., I always notify a find a grave member with the cemetery record numbers of the rest of the family. I have taken many photos in my local cemeteries that connect to family members buried in other States. I’m alys happy to share what I know or have with headstone photos and/or obits.

  16. I check with Find A Grave first before I look any place else. They have been very helpful to me.

  17. I have been interested in cemeteries since i was in high school, walking through the American Fork, Utah Cemetery on my way home. When i as a married woman, we lived in Napoleon, Missouri and took my grandkids to the local German cemetery and we extracted names and placed them on Find A Grave site. Now i live in Idaho and am not able to get around on my own.

  18. I’ve been a member of Find-a-Grave for several years and have enjoyed the ramble through so many personal odysseys. As an amateur historian, I find this site an enjoyable visit and a valuable research tool. However, I do have one gripe I’d like to register. Some weeks ago I found and offered to you what I consider to be a very interesting photo of a well known major league ball player playing ball for the US Navy in the South Pacific during WWII. At the time the photo was taken by a Navy photographer, this future star was in his early 20s and serving his country overseas. The photo was rejected with no explanation. I would like to find out why, and would be glad to correspond with someone who can address the issue. Thanks for your consideration.

  19. I have enjoyed Find-a-grave for many years. I use it almost daily. I have been a contributor for a long time. I elike researching for myself and friends. It is a wonderful site!

  20. I too love Find a Grave, as I have been doing genealogy for 30 plus years, and even worked in the genealogy Dept at our Public Library here. I have found some valuable information on some of the sites, and I have also had documents proving that some of the things you read on some people are not quite true. It may have been entered by some people from memory and not documented, so you do have to be careful of what you copy for fact…

  21. As part of a project to identify and document the ancestors of the founders of my community we turned to Findagrave to help us identify a 17th century grave. We searched for the graves of Robert and Elizabeth Swan in the oldest cemetery of Haverhill, MA without success. We finally pulled out our phones and searched for pictures of the graves which were taken 30 years ago by Findagrave contributors. There was a great picture of the ancient stones and we were able to use the picture and the landscape to identify the stones as those of Robert and Elizabeth Swan. Thanks for Findagrave volunteers for helping people find their ancestors.

  22. I’d imagine that since you didn’t take the picture, you (and Find a Grave) don’t own the rights to publish it. Just my guess why it was rejected.

  23. I have enjoyed using Find a Grave but especially adding memorials. I have taken pictures of three cemeteries in a small town in two days. What fun. Illness no longer allows me to go take pictures but I enjoy adding information to memorials and connecting them to their parents, siblings etc. There is always something one can do to bless families “visit” their loved ones that would not be possible without Find a Grave.

  24. I enjoy finding new relatives, and when they are not on findagrave, I add them, hoping that someone else will take a picture of the gravestone. I have not been disappointed. So many grave woalkers in our wonderful country!

  25. Well done Carol, keep searching…

    Best regards, Mike Shakespeare

  26. Find a Grave est un site vivant !
    Tant qu’il y aura des gens qui alimenteront la base de donnée, bénévolement, Find a Grave permettra de faire vivre la mémoire des personnes, proches ou inconnues, qui font partie de notre histoire, de celle d’une autre personne, ou de la mémoire collective.
    J’ai personnellement toujours plaisir à consulter les pages dédiées aux personnes disparues.
    Il n’y a absolument rien de morbide là dedans.
    Tout comme je lis les noms des défunts quand je circule dans les allées d’un cimetière monumental ou d’un petit village perdu, surfer sur Find a Grave me donne l’impression de faire revivre ceux qui sont partis…
    Merci Find a Grave !
    Bruno (de France)

  27. Regarding photos: Did you know that you can post a photo to any memorial without the mamager’s ok? It’s the biggest gripe about the site since a memorial manager cannt delete a photo!! I’ve been trying for years to get that changed since someone takes the worst photos and posts them to my sites that already have excellent photos posted by me. So… in you case this major glitch in the programs’s site can work in your favor! Just do it!!

  28. The LDS church has extensive ancestry records on a large scale. They were able to find some if my family way back to the 12th, 13th and 14 centuries. I was amazed. I am not a member of the LDS church but was allowed to make a free account with the site. After adding what I know of my ancestors, they were able to connect many more.

  29. This is interesting to me because I discovered that “Uncle John” is my 13th cousin once removed.

    • Find a Grave members have contributed information from all over the world and you can add or update information from your neck of the woods, no matter where you are.

  30. My story is complicated and has many twists and turns, I know I’m not the only one though. In a nutshell, mother is German and biological father told her he was from Hawaii. He did not know I existed as he did not believe she was pregnant and she didn’t have details due to language barrier. He was Army. I looked for Louis Rodriguez grave (common name with different ways to spell) for years. Then my DNA results come back showing I’m half Puerto Rican. There is a large Puerto Rican/Hawaiian sector in Hawaii so his grave could be in Hawaii. I just can’t find ot.

  31. I would be very happy to be a contributor, but.i no longer live in Utah. I now live in Salmon Idaho.

  32. I have found so many extended family members through find a grave and some fascinating stories in some of the descriptions/comments right back to mid 1600

  33. No only have I found my family on Find A Grave but I have been found by cousins and friends too. So yes, Find A Grave is a very important tool in my research efforts and so beautifully done. Lovely obituaries with kind and loving words and poems are helpful in feeling connected to them all. Thank you to the operators and for doing a good job keeping it going. Best always, t.g./ Calif./ Aug. 7, 2022.

  34. Find A Grave has been so helpful to me through the years. I think of all the work you have done, and I thank you. Thank you very much!

  35. There are to many people on FG that reject the information because they are not a family member and have no clue to this person. I have the same thing going on in both my mom and dad’s side of the family. Then they won’t transfer the memorial so that I can correct some of the errors. I have tried to send obituaries to the memorials, and they won’t even post half of the obits. That is our family history, and they are the ones that gave their lives to start are world and worked to make the world better. This started out to find the ancestors by someone going to the cemeteries and finding the graves or memorials. But it is sure nice to see the obits to the memorials.

  36. I am so happy for all the hard work Find A Grave members have done. I am the keeper of some of my family members and it is an honor. Thank you for the connection with our past and all who spend the time connecting our familiesl.

  37. While I appreciate all the work done by volunteers, I do wish more people would realize this site is for final disposition, not connecting family and genealogy.. There are many websites that are available for that, both free and paid.

    • Jane B Bill: I disagree with you. FG is a perfect place to connect your ancestors because it is available to everybody for free. You have to go to several sites to get the information that going from Great Great Grandparents down to currect parents can give you immediately on FG. I know, I have over 9,000 people on my tree but have spent over 13 years putting a lot of narratives and photos on there. I also like to add photo’s of everyone of my immediate family when I have taken their photos myself. I have such an extensive family with same cousins from both sides after siblings of one family married siblings of another. I love reading the narratives of the various family members.

  38. When I stumbled on the Find a Grave website I was thrilled that there was a FREE site for people to search for their ancestors. When I had my son I was just 19. I wanted to fill out the family record in his baby book, and so began my quest to learn more about my family history. I approached my grandfather to get more information. He was the youngest of 11 children and was born in 1894. Through Find a Grave and Ancestry I have found all but one of my grandfather’s siblings. I became the family historian and keeper of the family pictures and stories that were shared with me. Once I found out how to share the obituaries, pictures etc. it has become my goal to share as much as I can so they will be there for future generations. Many thanks to all the contributors.

  39. I have over 5,000 names in my Family Tree Maker. A lot of the info I got from Find-a-Grave. I have been collecting obituaries for years but have just started getting serious about it. I’ve gone back in FG and found many obits. which I’m thrilled about. I have about 850 obits. now, mostly family and some people I know of. I have found a few things are not correct on FAG & have contacted the person that submitted it. Most of the time I hear back from them, but sometimes nothing is done to make the correction. Keep up the good work FG.

  40. Jane BBill, You may not realize this, but Findagrave is hosted by as one of their databases –
    When my husband and I first began to research our family online, he joined Family Search and I joined Find-a-grave. Now we are both members of Ancestry, but I continue to work on Findagrave. I’ve met many wonderful relatives and people who have become friends. I’m grateful for Findagrave as I’ve been able to find ancestors and relatives that I had no clue as to where they were buried. Thank you to all the volunteers and staff of both Findagrave and Ancestry for all their work. Blessings!

  41. I am a Find a Grave member for a few years. Because I have been helped out be many volunteers, I always add a few memorials when I visit my local mausoleum. Also check for specific request too. Sometimes I request a memorial be turned over to me if the relationship is close. I now don’t care about it as long as they allow my verified information to be added. Instead, I organize some of my family memorials using FG Virtual Cemeteries feature. A neat feature that allows me to see quickly where the holes are that I need to research again. Lastly, Find a Grave may not be for genealogy, but it allowed a 2nd cousin, once removed to contact me from Ukraine!! After 85 years of not knowing what happened to them in Russia.

  42. I recently found the gravesite of my infant sister, including our parents’ names. I had been searching for her everywhere for several years and suddenly, there she was.

    • Good for you. Happy to know you found your infant sister. One of my dad’s cousins told me she was married a year when she went into premature labor. Had a baby girl, stillborn, who is buried in the same Pittsburgh cemetery as her father’s parents. Similar story for my parents and my baby brother who only lived 3 hours. For my parents and dad’s cousin, died 45-50+ years later in different states. For the cousin, found her on Findagrave but not him. Found his obit, and first added the husband, then baby to both parents. In other instances, children were older but passed away young. In all instances I like attaching the children to their parents. Sometimes siblings or other family members know about the death of a young child, other times not, or like you, don’t know where.

  43. I, too, appreciate all the contributions to Find a Grave. However, sometimes errors are made and it is REALLY hard to get them corrected! My mother-in-law’s page has the wrong parents listed! I have no idea where the erroneous information came from. Her maiden name was Adeline Mench Lee, and her parents were Frank Pratt Lee and Irene May Eaches. Someone added “Ann” Zornes to her name and put in Oliver Zornes and Annie C. Dekker Zornes as her parents. She had NO Zornes in her ancestry! I tried twice to get it corrected by contacting the person whose name was at the bottom of the page, but there was no response. Is there any way I can correct it myself? It really bothers me that her information is incorrect!

    • Yes, you can click on Suggest Edits and update the fields on the edit page. Click Save and the updates will be sent to the manager for processing. Alternatively, you can request to manage the memorial. If the manager is not related, they should transfer the memorial to you as your relationship is within our transfer guidelines. You can learn more here:

  44. I think when your searching for a relative they just come out just when you need them.

  45. I have learned that my dad had a lot of stories that were told to him by his dad; write down everything you can, gather all the family pictures you can as old as you can find, and store them on the best media you can to save them. My dad got me started in working on my family tree in Oct 2021; get pictures of the old headstone because as they get older, there will be harder to read. I have some that are almost impossible to read now.
    & check with some of your libraries near you; they will give you free genealogy classes.

  46. As a long-standing and avid volunteer for this site who has added 21,000 memorials and pictures…YOU’RE WELCOME!

  47. I always thought I would be an archaeologist when I grew up. I did not. Many years later I became a genealogist. Twelve years under my belt now. I continue to support and be a member of FAG, continually adding memorials as I find relatives and their place of rest with bio’s to the site. Hoping those who search after me will find my footprints in the sands of time.

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