The Photograph Andrew County Tombstones (PACT) Project

For over thirty years, I have been collecting information on Andrew County, Missouri, though I do not live in the state. While some transcriptions of the cemeteries had been published in the 1970s, I had the idea that seeing the actual tombstones would be even more helpful for researchers. But the thought of trying to gather pictures for over fifty cemeteries was nothing more than an impossible dream.

However, in mid-2004, I mentioned my dream to several people. John Bennett responded that he thought the impossible was actually possible, using the new technology of digital photography, CDs and web sites. We began to recruit volunteers, at the same time learning that there were actually over seventy cemeteries in the county, some never catalogued. By the end of 2004, a few hardy volunteers were already in the cemeteries. Gary Weekly took the first actual photograph in the project. Without John and Gary, the project would never have been more than something in my imagination.

By 2005, we had learned a lot about getting volunteers, giving driving directions, mapping cemeteries, taking good (and bad) pictures, and the huge scope of the project. At this stage, volunteers were taking pictures, giving advice, sending unsolicited funds, and giving moral support. Joe and Keith Stanton stepped up as hard-working photographers. They took thousands of photographs in dozens of cemeteries, keeping track of rows and directions. Other hard-working photographers came and went from 2005 to 2007. Betty Halvorsen came into the project in 2005, and she also has taken thousands of pictures, as well as cleaning old stones, digging them out of the ground, and instructing others in the wonderful methods which she has developed. In 2006, Nadine Taylor joined Betty, adding her expertise in local research. Without Joe, Keith, Betty and Nadine, the project might have died after a few photos. Nadine has also done a lot of proof-reading, so that I can correct my transcription and typing errors. Betty and Nadine have never quit working; they are the backbone of the project.

We had angels. Several wonderful people sent us money, which was used for postage and other operating expenses. We would have had to quit several times if not for Darrell and Lorine. Others took pictures, including families and young men involved in their Eagle Scout projects. The entire list of volunteers can be found elsewhere at this site, and nothing would have happened without them. Each one is vital and special, they have worked hard, and we are grateful to each for their selfless work. There is no glory in this project, only mud, snakes, poison ivy, wind, dogs, cattle, electric fences, bad directions and long hours. Not one volunteer made any profit, nor will we. These pictures and transcriptions cannot and will not be sold.

The transcriptions have been a collaboration between some of the photographers, Betty Halvorsen, Nadine Taylor and me, (known as "THE Transcriptions"). But the buck stops with me, so if you have corrections, please contact me (below). We'd like to continue to correct and update. I have labeled and organized pictures and typed transcriptions eight to ten hours a day, seven days a week, most days since late 2004.

The project is, in one way, finished. All cemeteries have been visited (some many times) and photographed. We still have some missing stones, and we still want to get better pictures of some of the markers, but all of our photographs are currently linked. (Please report broken links.) You can help by sharing historic photos of these cemeteries and tombstones. Who knows what we may add in the future? Keep checking back.

Monica Schirmer Eshelman

Update February 2015: After over ten years of working on the PACT project, Monica is no longer managing the website. If you have corrections, updates or questions, please contact Kris.

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