Franklin’s grave undertaking

Published 2:07 am Saturday, October 11, 2008

Lisa Franklin, whose ancestors lived in Covington County, is helping make a Web site where anybody can “dig up” information on anyone buried in Magnolia Cemetery.

Franklin, who currently lives in Houston, Texas, was visiting the cemetery Friday and taking pictures of the gravesites. She will add those photographs to an online archive of the cemetery on the free Web site,

“I’ve already entered all of the interments that have markers, and a few that I’ve found that didn’t already have markers, onto the site,” Franklin said. “I think there’s 1,700 or 1,800 graves in this cemetery alone that we already have documented here and now we’re getting the photographs of all the plots and their markers.”

Franklin added that she will also add the archive to her own personal genealogy Web site, She has a special affinity for Magnolia Cemetery because so many of her ancestors are buried there.

“I’ve never lived here in the county, but my grandfather was born here,” she said. “He bought a plot here for $25 in 1914; it’s a huge plot. He knew that it would always have to be maintained by the city because it was behind the courthouse, and he was absolutely right.”

Franklin was joined Friday by her friends, Joan Hible and Peggy Chesteen, who assisted with taking photographs for the survey. Chesteen was also instrumental in helping Franklin rediscover a private cemetery in Covington County.

“I had two goals for this trip,” Franklin said. “One was to complete this survey, and the other was to find Teel’s Cemetery. There was a lady in California, about two years ago, who saw that I had been there and requested photos because her ancestor was buried there. I said I’d go get some photos, so two years ago during a family reunion I tried to make my way back to the cemetery. But the hurricane had changed the terrain and the old way I used to take back there was no longer passable.

“Well, (Chesteen) asked around in her beauty shop and found somebody who knew a way back there. So, (Thursday), we all went back there by a different route, and with the help of Lamar Everage we were able to find it again. So now that lady in California has photos of her ancestor’s grave.”

Franklin explained that she has always been a history buff and an avid reader, so a love of genealogy came naturally to her.

“I was 15 years old and I asked my grandmother Franklin who our ancestors were,” she said. “I still have the little piece of paper that I wrote it on. I drew out a little tree, and for years I kept that and thought, ‘well, that’s all we know.’ I didn’t know how to research it as a teenager.

As I got older, I took more of an interest in it and started figuring out how to research, went up to an archive, and just kind of went from there.”

Franklin said that genealogical research has been made much easier with improvements in technology, but cautioned that not everything available on the Internet is accurate. She explained that she prides herself on accuracy in her archives and does not put anything online without documentation.

“Everything that I use for this project is going to be based on readily available documents,” she said. “A lot of family trees that you see online have been harvested just based on hearsay and things like that. I’ll never do that; you have to document to be sure that it’s right.”

Any reader who may have useful information on a gravesite in Magnolia Cemetery is invited to e-mail Franklin at