I grew up in this area, and Cleveland is the city in which ALL of my ancestors settled when they immigrated to America. I (and my kids) have a lot of family history here, and we are excited to live here now so we can explore it!
The day your moving truck shows up at your new place to unload is a day to have the kids OUT of the house and out of the movers' ways. So, my husband stayed at the house and I took my kids out for the day. And, of course, we went to the cemetery to find some ancestors.
Calvary Cemetery is the largest Roman Catholic cemetery in Cleveland, with over 300,000 interments. It is by far the largest cemetery in which we've ever searched for a grave. Fortunately, the Diocese of Cleveland has an easy-to-use (free!) online searching tool for locating burials within their cemeteries, and I had already found the sections, rows, and grave numbers we were searching for. So, I told my kids, the first thing we have to do is to visit the cemetery office building and ask for some maps.
Visiting a cemetery office building is a great learning experience for children. We walked in and approached the front desk, where we were greeted by a woman who asked us how she could help. We showed her the paper where I had written the section and plot information I was searching for. She was nice enough to double-check my search information and then she left to find us some maps. My kids and I had to be patient; she was the only one there at the time and she was attempting to field phone calls while also working on finding our maps. We strolled around the lobby a bit and talked about how it is important to be quiet and respectful in a building like this, because other visitors may have just experienced the loss of a loved one and might be planning funerals.
After a few minutes, the woman called us back to the desk and showed us what she had found. I made sure my kids were next to me when she started explaining everything, so that they could hear, too. First, she gave us a map of the entire cemetery, with all of the sections labeled by number. She highlighted the section we were looking for and the route we needed to take:
I gave them the maps to examine as we drove to the correct section. Good cemetery maps (and these were) have distance scales and a compass rose, just like regular maps, and we used the built in compass in our car and compared it to the map, to make sure we were facing in the correct directions.
I think with all of the GPS on our phones and in our cars, map reading is becoming a dying art. But it's still SO important to learn and it helps kids really develop that kind of spatial awareness and aptitude that is beneficial not only when trying to find your way around, but also when learning other disciplines, such as art, geometry, chemistry, and even higher-level calculus. So, tackle one of these larger cemeteries with your kids or grandkids, go with plenty of time to kill, and let the kids read the maps and lead the way. They will be SO proud of themselves when they discover the resting place of an ancestor!
©2018 Emily Kowalski Schroeder