Thursday, January 16, 2014

Placemarkers... Cemeteries

Placemarkers are where it all began for me, if you would like to understand my why, you can check that out on one of my other blog posts In The Beginning, Why I'm Even Doing This? Part II.  To start out I'm not going to explain how placemarkers work, I am just going to show and tell how I am using them.  Hopefully this will motivate and give you ideas of how you can use placemarkers.

I have used placemarkers to document the final resting place of all my family.  Any time I am going to a cemetery I have my cell phone with me, this is important for my Google Earth research.  My iPhone has a camera and GPS.  The GPS that is on the phone isn't the most accurate but neither is Google Earth.  The iPhone GPS is only accurate to about 16 feet.  When we are talking about finding a grave 16ft is not much to work with but its worlds better then trying to rely on Rows and Section, especially if the cemetery is old and the marker stones have sunk or disappeared.

My Cemetery Project has me tracking down family members in 31 cemeteries.  That is just the cemeteries I have personally visited.  I also use Google Earth to track all my cemeteries I want to visit and who in that cemetery I am looking for, I have 44 cemeteries and counting to go visit someday. I don't use placemarkers for the cemeteries I want to visit and I will go over how and why in a future post. Using placemarkers to track my family is just the surface. The placemarkers default is a yellow pushpin, I didn't think this really represented my relatives well. So what I did was not only changed the icon but the color too.  I choose between two icons ones with dots in them and ones without, this would identify direct descendants and other family members. Then I changed the color, I just picked a color scheme that worked for me, trying to stick with basic colors to simplify things, this color scheme identified generations. I have see where someone mapped out a cemeteries and color coded the whole cemetery by gender. I have also thought about redoing mine to follow a more complex color schemes to divide my family placemarkers into paternal and maternal but haven't yet because of the size of my project as it stands now.

That's just the Icon, now the Name/Title for the placemarker. Mine is really simple its just a number based on when I put them in that cemetery. I restart my number each cemetery, this is so when I print a cemetery map I can use this numbering system to identify the who. It also is small image, so if your family members are laid next to each other in the cemetery the text image for that placemarker isn't covering up other relatives, while its not a big deal in Google Earth it would be a problem in printing. With the Icon and Name out of the way its time to get creative and share your family members memory, and you do that in the Description box. Here is where your placemarker can really start coming alive. You can just make a simple comment of who this marker represents and a birth to death date, but you can also take it so much further. I have added pictures of that relative if I have one or since its a cemetery I post a photo of their tombstones. I also put links to their memorial, which is a good link to have to share a obituary or biography if you don't want to place those in your placemarker. This helps make your Google Earth more interesting to whoever you are sharing it with.

The last thing I have been doing with my cemetery placemarkers is adding a time stamp to them. This adds an interesting feature to the project as you see how and when they populated the cemetery. Its a new feature I have been adding to my project so not all of my cemetery placemarkers have had this rewritten into the placemarker but definitely a must if you are starting out, especially if you have lots a family members in one cemetery.

After I get through this show and tell I will explain in detail how I designed the placemarkers in a later post. I am creating templates that you will beable to download. My next post will be Polygon and plotting family land in Google Earth.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Why use Google Earth for Genealogy???

Genealogy Through Google Earth                       by Eric Stitt

We all know that Genealogy and Family research doesn't always happen in your back yard.  We can’t just get in the car and drive across the states to visit the old homestead, and I know I’ll be camped out in line when we figure out time travel.  But what if you could visit that old homestead or scroll back in time when your neighborhood was an old farm field, Google Earth can do that. 

Using geographic information found in Deeds and addresses from sources such as Census data, property where ancestors and neighbors once lived may be marked on historical maps, which can then be overlaid on modern Google maps. Geographic features mentioned in property descriptions such as rivers and creeks will appear on topographical maps and in Google’s satellite imagery. Using this information, it is possible to locate a family homestead on an historical map and compare the changes to those locations that have occurred over time as the area developed. In some instances, the old home may still be there or a family cemetery.

How many times have you found a source that quotes your family member is buried in Sec D, Row 12, Lot 52 and then turn around and still have to hunt through 100’s of tombstones just to find them?  In Google Earth we can make place markers to pin point your family member with GPS, and then you can print out a map for other family members to use next Memorial Day.

In Google Earth for Genealogy you can learn to do all these things.  Making your family stories really come to life with 3D models and giving your family a God's eye view of your families history.  

Check out to download Google Earth for yourself.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A New World of Family History Research

Hello everyone and welcome to my new blog Genealogy though Google Earth. I have been using Google Earth for my Genealogy from the beginning, and teaching a Google Earth for Genealogy Classes up in St Joseph MO for the Northwest Missouri Genealogical Society for a few years now. Just recently I was asked to present at the GenealogyKC Conference this spring and between the two thought I should start a blog dedicated to Google Earth and Genealogy.

My plan is start out describing how I use Google Earth in my family history and then move towards sharing more advanced features. All that being said it is going to take some time to write each post, in the mean while I still plan on writing on my original blog.  I all ready have some posts Google Earth related over at my other blog Genealogy by Eric and below are links to the individual posts.

You can get a head start by downloading Google Earth at  So stay tuned as I help you explore the world of your ancestors with Google Earth.