Cemetery tracking: there’s no app for that

Until I have a better way to keep track of the cemeteries I’ve visited, there’s Google Sheets.

Some time after my boyfriend and I started visiting cemeteries, we ran into a problem: which ones had we already visited?

Before, I added cemeteries I wanted to visit to my “Cemeteries” list in Google Maps, then added cemeteries I’d visited to the “Been There Done That” list in Google Maps as well. If I opened a place in Google Maps and saw it had been added to more than one list, it was pretty likely that I’d already visited it.

Of course, I had to complicate things: in our quest to find new and unvisited cemeteries, I’d downloaded WA and OR waypoints and added them to a “blue pin map” on Google My Maps. This is not the same app as Google Maps, and not all of the “blue pin” cemeteries were in Google Maps, which caused confusion and frustration to begin with.

My boyfriend worked off the blue pin map, and I usually used Google Maps. The blue pin map didn’t show which cemeteries we’d already visited, nor did it show which cemeteries were actually visitable: it showed cemeteries that didn’t exist anymore, or were on private property and inaccessible. After several frustrating sharing and visiting attempts it was clear that we needed a better solution.

I also needed a way to track other things:

  • Which cemeteries I’d contributed photos for on Google Maps
  • Which cemeteries I’d contributed photos to on Findagrave
  • Which cemeteries on Google Maps needed iOS to upload photos (not always possible on desktop)
  • Which cemeteries had photos I wanted to do something with later, such as a blog post or an art project.

There weren’t any apps on the market that tracked all these things for each cemetery I’d visited (or wanted to visit). So I broke down and resorted to the old standby, a list. I started a Google Sheet, and today it looks like this.

Besides the obvious columns, it tracks the to-dos for each place.

  • Column C notes whether I’ve saved photos for art projects or blog posts.
  • Column D tracks whether I’ve uploaded photos for storage to Google Photos so they don’t fill up my hard drive.
  • Column E tracks whether I’ve added photos to Google Maps. N means I have to use iOS to add photos (more on that mess later).
  • Column F tracks whether I’ve changed the pin color on My Maps to show its visit status. A green pin means I’ve visited, and yellow or red ones means there’s possibly an access problem.
  • Column G tracks whether I’ve added the cemetery to my “Been There Done That” list on Google Maps.
  • Column H tracks how many photos I’ve contributed to Findagrave.

I set up conditional formatting to turn cells green when a to-do has been completed.

When I know I’ll be visiting cemeteries in a certain area, I’ll look up the cemeteries on the blue pin map and change the color to indicate the visit status. When I have time, I work my way through the list, uploading photos, changing pin colors, adding links and making the necessary notations. I may add another column to indicate a favorite cemetery.

I really appreciate the help that Google Maps and Findagrave have provided in my quest to visit pioneer cemeteries, and I’m happy to contribute photos in return. If someone has a better way to keep track of this, I’d love to hear about it.


Stump and Lamb explores personal growth and meaning via travels to pioneer cemeteries of the West. Posts may contain affiliate links.

This post was originally published at michellerau.com.

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