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Diggin' Up Bones

Carraco’s book on
Oldham graves, cemeteries available

Genealogist to speak at
December lecture series in La Grange

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

(December 2010) – A family reunion sparked Dot Carraco’s interest in genealogy. Years later, as genealogy coordinator for the Oldham County History Center in La Grange, Ky., Carraco and a team of volunteer researchers have organized a new publication listing graves and cemeteries of Oldham County.

Dot Carraco

Photo by Helen McKinney

Dot Carraco, research genealogist for the
Oldham County History
Center, has recently
compiled 10 years
worth of research
into a book.

Before the reunion, Carraco said the idea of genealogical research had “never even entered my mind.” After she retired from a nursing career, Carraco took another job but decided she needed to do something else. She knew the History Center had one book out on graves and cemeteries, but she also knew she could put together enough information for another book.
“I thought it would be good to do another one,” said Carraco. She began researching county cemeteries on her own before volunteering at the History Center in La Grange, Ky. She hunted grave sites and went through cemetery records but at first, “didn’t know what to do with the information. I was just collecting it.”
Carraco thought she should begin at the Floydsburg cemetery, the one she thought at the time was the largest in the county. It turned out not to be the largest, but still an important one, with many people buried there and lots of history surrounding it
Her information has been compiled into a new book, “Oldham County, Kentucky, Graves and Cemeteries.” It covers a 100-year time span, from Jan. 1, 1900, to Dec. 31, 1999.
To spread the word about the book, Carraco will give a presentation at 6 p.m. on Dec. 8 at the Irish Rover, Too in La Grange. Previously scheduled for the Westport General Store, the venue has been moved to the Irish Rover, Too, and the presentation is part of the Fall River Lecture Series sponsored by the Oldham County History Center.
In “It’s About Dead People” Carraco will share some of her unusual experiences as the cemetery researcher for Oldham County. During the last decade, she led a group of volunteers in researching this cemetery survey project which collected information on nearly 14,000 interments.
Carraco and her faithful followers physically visited the 206 known cemeteries, unless they were completely inaccessible or lost to time. Information they recorded included dates on the grave stones, the general condition of the cemetery and the GPS location of the cemetery. Digital photographs were taken of each grave marker.
She trudged through cemeteries, working in hot weather and all kinds of conditions, she said. “It was hard work, but it was a lot of fun.”
Carraco said she couldn’t have completed the project with out help. “I had a bunch of good volunteers.” She had a lot of men volunteer for the project, which in her words, helped if she had “to go out in the boonies” and look for a cemetery.
“I would make dry runs to see how the land was first and see if there were any problems,” said Carraco. If she needed a four-wheel vehicle, someone was always ready to lend a hand.
“I did the established ones first,” Carraco said. “I had a good response from the community.”
After Carraco and her volunteers had compiled data and research material, the information was entered into databases. Three databases were merged to complete the book: “Graves Database, Funeral Home Records, and Cemeteries Database.” The Graves Database merged data from the previous 1974 historical society publication, “Oldham County Records, Vol. 1,” by McKechnie & Dent, with updated surveys. “I used that book as a directive to where the cemeteries were located,” said Carraco.
William B. Younger provided data processing and document layout support for this new cemeteries book. “I basically supported Dot and helped on the data processing side,” said Younger.
While he wasn’t part of Carraco’s volunteer research team, Younger said his involvement in the project “kind of evolved by my being around and offering suggestions.”
Many of the burial sites were on private land and Carraco even discovered some of her own ancestors while researching this cemetery survey project. “I had been told a cemetery was destroyed, but found out it hadn’t been.” This provided her with one more link in a missing branch of her family tree.

• Tickets for “It’s About Dead People” are $14 for members of the Oldham County History Center and $16 for non-members. The information contained in “Oldham County, Kentucky, Graves and Cemeteries” can be accessed online at www.OldhamCountyHistoricalSociety.org. A copy of the book may be purchased for $55. Orders can be placed by contacting the Oldham County History Center at (502) 222-0826 or ochstryctr@aol.com.

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