In 1991 I, along with my wife and my 2 sisters, attended the first-ever family reunion of my father's family, descendants of John Wesley Campbell Britnell, in east Texas. This reunion triggered an interest in learning more about our ancestors in both the BRITNELL line and our mother's family, the STRINGERs of San Augustine County, Texas. In the 20+ years since, we have compiled a family tree of 10,000 names, spanning 13 generations dating back to 1625
We were interested in discovering the burial locations of our ancestors but could find very little data online about cemeteries. After my wife died in 2001 and one sister followed her in 2005, Sandy and I decided that, if we wanted to locate the graves of our ancestors, we would have to make the almost-3-hour drive from our homes in Louisiana to East Texas, our family origins. After 3 years of weekend road-trips, and evacuating for 3 major hurricanes, we each retired and relocated to east Texas where we share a house in Lufkin.
Our methods are quite simple: we enter a cemetery and take digital pictures of each individual headstone. (It does not matter if the cemetery is African-American or mostly Caucasian; we do them all) Those with inscriptions too eroded or lightly inscribed to be legible in a photo, we write down. The inscriptions are transcribed from the photos and notes. We often have to clean tombstones, frequently have to excavate them from the ground, and sometimes have to probe the ground to locate them. We have also been forced on occasion to return to a cemetery with "bush-hogging" equipment to find the tombstones.
We have personally visited each cemetery listed here, and have digital pictures of every individual headstone in those cemeteries. If a name appears in the inscriptions here, there is a headstone with that name on it, and we have the picture to show for it. No name appears here that one can't go to that cemetery and see the headstone. No outside information appears here except that which is a result of our personal research. As of January, 2014, we have 25,000+ cemetery pictures from more than 100 east Texas cemeteries; more are added as we complete a cemetery visit.
We will provide, free of charge, individual headstone pictures to anyone who asks. If you find the names of several of your ancestors/relatives in a cemetery listing here, we will provide digital pictures of them by e-mail or prints by mail.
If you are interested in a cemetery not listed here, we will visit and photograph it for you if we can find it, and if it requires no overnight travel from Lufkin, Texas. At my age and after 30 years of travelling all over the world, I prefer to sleep in my own bed at night. We don't ask for payment, and will not accept it if offered. My sister and I are both retired, and do this for personal satisfaction. We concentrate our efforts in five counties here in East Texas (Angelina, Nacogdoches, San Augustine, Sabine, and Shelby) but will travel outside this area to nearby locations. If you need help with a cemetery, contact us by email, telephone, or US mail. I have had some luck locating burial locations in distant counties without leaving my desk.
This is an ongoing effort. (my original goal was to photograph every cemetery in San Augustine County) There are no plans to "finish" this project. I will probably quit when I can no longer stand on my own feet. Need help with a cemetery or a burial location? E-mail me, call me, write. We'll help as much as possible, and sometimes even when impossible.
The cemetery pictured above is located at Attoyac Baptist Church, about 13 miles southwest of the city of San Augustine. Many, many relatives on my mother's side of the family are buried here: Stringers, Mills', Walls, Poindexters, Butlers, Sowells, Wises, and others are in our family tree. They are Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles; First and Second cousins, some 1x, 2x, even 3x removed. Some cousins, still living, have installed headstones for themselves to ensure their resting place here in this burial ground.