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Cemetery Blogger Goes Witching in Graveyards

Itís that time of year, when the wind whips leaves down darkened streets, footsteps follow you when no one is there, wires get crossed and bodies get found!?

Lexington, KY, October 08, 2011 --( It’s the perfect time of year to visit graveyards and witch, or dowse, for graves. Richmond resident Joy Neighbors, a speaker, writer and cemetery blogger for A Grave Interest, loves this time of year.

Neighbors thinks it’s the perfect time to get out and investigate the cemeteries. “I do several presentations a year for genealogical societies and conferences, and they’re all cemetery-based. Cemeteries are where I get my ideas, do my research, take photos, and just unwind,” Neighbors said. “Give me a choice between the beach and the cemetery and I’ll spend the day at the graveyard, every time!”

Neighbors started her blog in February of this year. An avowed ‘tombstone tourist,’ her topics have included the usual symbols and meanings, statues, fraternal organizations, and famous people (such as Daniel Boone and John Dillinger,) to the more odd grave witching and psychopomps, to ovarian cancer, infant mortality...the list gets more mainstream as she goes along.

According to Neighbors, “Just because I write about cemeteries and history and genealogy doesn’t mean the subjects don’t have current relevance. They do. I simply take a topic that interests me, that I came across in a cemetery, and research it. It has to be something that makes me want to dig deeper – pardon the pun - into the issue.”

“The ovarian cancer blog was like that. Last winter I found the grave of the first woman who had successful ovarian surgery, Jane Todd Crawford, in 1809, in a tiny, out-of-the-way cemetery in western Indiana. Then I moved to Richmond, Kentucky in June and discovered that Dr. McDowell, who had performed that first successful surgery had lived and worked 35 miles from here, in Danville! Since September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, what better time to draw attention to the first survivor, and to also draw attention to where we are today in regards to this horrible disease. It just all came together – right places, right time!” Neighbors said.

Neighbors did a blog on grave witching, or dowsing, in August. In the spirit of the experience, she had her husband, Brian, create two dowsing rods and off she went to a small, country graveyard that had seen better days.

“Some of the graves are marked, some are not,” Neighbors said. I knew I could witch for water, so I was game to try for graves.”

And sure enough, she could. What she was skeptical of was witching for the gender of the deceased.

“That struck me as a bit of a reach, but I read about a method that made sense to me and tried it. And - it worked!” Neighbors said.

“That’s what I love about this, it doesn’t matter what your preconceived notions are – there’s always room to stretch, and learn and have some fun too.”

Neighbors will be presenting a half-day workshop on genealogy and cemeteries at the Knox County Genealogical Society in Vincennes, Indiana on Saturday, October 15th. For more information contact Brian Spangle at (812) 886-4380. She spoke about cemetery research at the national Midwest Family History Expo in Kansas in July.

And get ready for more ‘spirited’ material from her! This month, A Grave Interest focuses on haunted locations, and the people and cemeteries connected to them.

Neighbors may be reached through her blog, or at A Grave Interest on Facebook,

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A Grave Interest
Joy Neighbors

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