Columbus woman says she's drawn to the stories behind the gravestones at old cemeteries


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COLUMBUS, Nebraska — About six years ago, a Columbus woman set out to help people trace the generations of their families.

Shirley Marty doesn't do her research in some musty room at a county library or records office. Instead, she walks silent rows, taking photos of every gravestone at every known cemetery in Platte County as well as others in Butler, Colfax, Madison and Merrick counties.

The photos are uploaded to the website http://www.findagrave.com, an online database users can search for free to find information on millions of gravesites across the country.

Martys, a member of the Columbus Cemetery Board and Platte Valley Kin Seekers, told the Columbus Telegram (http://bit.ly/1pX0RwT ) that she used the website years ago to find information on a long-lost relative.

"The things that draw me to these cemeteries are the stories behind these stones," said Martys, a former human resources assistant at Becton Dickinson before her retirement almost nine years ago. "Once I started finding some things on the Internet, then I really got interested."

Martys, who recently turned up information on a family member who died in 1900 at age 6. The little girl's Iowa grave didn't have a stone on it, so Martys bought one for her.

"Every time I find somebody new, I just get so excited," she said.

Martys said her only cost is gasoline and some pain from a knee injury she suffered after stepping in a hole at a cemetery.

Wildlife is also a concern.

"I'm scared to death of snakes, but I have only met one or two, and they're usually just as scared of me," she said.


Information from: Columbus Telegram, http://www.columbustelegram.com

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