Help new tourists find deceased loved ones

Jay Nolan
Jay Nolan

Going to the funeral of my wife’s aunt this week caused me to reflect a bit. It also reminded me of a fascinating thing that is going on all over, even here in Knox County. It’s called “Cemetery tourism.”

Seems like lots of people are interested in tracking down their ancestors and researching their family genealogy. One way to “document” your ancestor actually existed and when they lived apparently is to take a photo of their tombstone.

Because so many early settlers into Kentucky came through the Cumberland Gap settling into this area, from a Kentucky genealogy standpoint, we have some pretty important tombstones in our little county. The folks at the Tourism office tell me hardly a week goes by that someone is not coming into their office looking for directions to one of the many family cemeteries here tracking down ancestors.

As a result, the tourism office had a great idea. We need a map showing the location of all the cemeteries in the county!

The more cemeteries we can make available to these tourists, and the easier we can make it to find those cemeteries, the more likely they are to explore. The longer they explore, the more fun they have, and the longer they stay. The longer they stay, the more money they spend. What a win-win-win deal!

Bill Oxendine and his staff in the PVA office agree maps like this would be a useful. In fact, his office already has a partial list of local cemeteries. But as Bill tells me, he knows not all of the local cemeteries are on his map. And of course, before we make a map, we want to have as close as possible to 100% of them listed.

So, the question is, are any of you out there willing to volunteer to help Knox County attract more tourists and preserve our history? Do you know the exact location of your family’s burial grounds, and have you checked to see if it is or is not on the PVA maps?

I think if enough folks are willing to help and we can get all the cemeteries listed, a map of cemeteries would be highly beneficial. What do you think?