SHAFTSBURY, V.T. (NEWS10) -History in the town of Shaftsbury is being preserved online one gravestone at a time. Burial records have been digitized by just a single person in the cemetery department for a year and a half.
Jen Holley is saving all of this data for future generations. As the current cemetery superintendent, her love for coding led to the modern approach.
“The person I took over from was here for twenty years. He was a great guy, but he didn’t use a computer,” joked Holley.
Over 10,000 lots are among the sixteen public and private cemeteries on file. Not all are in use yet, and these graves go as far back as the 1800’s.
“We need to protect our records. From the past and going forward. In doing so, we have created a whole new department,” described Holley
The town uses the program Cemify to upload files and locations of each grave. Holley says families do not even have to know what cemetery their loved one is buried in. “They can just come here and search for the last name. Jones is a very common name and it happens to be my grandmother’s name. And then they say, “Oh, she’s in Village Cemetery.””
Through these extensive efforts and their results, Holley hopes other towns adopt a similar system to keep their history alive. “I’ve talked to a few towns interested in what I’m doing. It’s really getting people interested in our cemetery.”
Holley says there is still a lot of work to be done. The project could be completed in 2024 but may go on longer.