Elaine's Story Or How CEMSEARCH started
In 1999 Joe was researching his family tree and joined LANCSGEN on the Internet.
LANCSGEN is a notice board about Lancashire genealogy where people can post questions and other people can answer them.
As a beginner, Joe asked many questions and received lots of useful information from the friendly folk on the list.
In an attempt to repay this kindness, Joe offered to look for graves in our local cemetery, Burnley.
The response was unbelievable, and the following weekend found us in the cemetery, with a huge list of names walking row after row of graves, looking for names and having no success whatsoever.
The following few weeks saw us doing the same thing, with exactly the same result, and if there was a defining moment, it came late one Saturday afternoon when Joe said the only way we are going to find these people is by recording the whole cemetery.
I thought he had gone completely mad, but after much discussion I was persuaded to at least give it a try, and the following weekend found us at the bottom of Burnley Cemetery with a dictaphone, yes - just one!
After taking turns recording a row of headstones, we dashed off home to listen to the results of our
efforts, only to discover
that we had been talking far too fast,
and couldn't understand a word of it.
After several more attempts, and the purchase of another dictaphone, we finally had usable data and then we set about creating a database to archive the information.
As a result of spending so much time in the cemetery, we realised how many headstones were either broken, had fallen down, or had weathered to the point where they were unreadable, and that by recording the headstones we were not only providing useful information for family history researchers, but also preserving an important part of Burnley's history.
After several false starts, and a very steep learning curve, we finally got our act together and we started to create a web site. www.cemsearch.co.uk finally went online on the 18th of November 2002.
By this time not only Joe, but I, had become totally committed to this task and after having had so many requests for the same type of information in other cemeteries, we started all over again in Blackburn, with Nelson, Accrington and Preston following on.
As a result of following up inquiries for family history researchers, we have acquired many other resources which are being added to our website for all to share.