In 1982, we began placing our records on the Emmet County’s new mainframe computer. I spent many hours in a basement office of the County building entering and editing records. The ability to sort records by many different criteria was astounding! And distressing! It pointed out errors in our records which had been made decades previously and were unnoticed until the computer brought them to our attention.
That project pointed out to me the necessity of doing a major overhaul of our records. We made three inventories of the burials in the cemetery by visiting every lot and every grave. We recorded the information on every monument and marker. On the last inventory, we took a photo of every marker in the cemetery.
Stone Funeral Home allowed us to put their burial records into our database, this included the records of the Henika Funeral Home. Schiller Funeral Home allowed us to input the records of the Erwin Funeral Home into our database as well.
In 1985, we began to cut obituaries from the Petoskey News Review. Then we began to cut all of the obituaries, whether they were interred at Greenwood or not. That was a great project, but it didn’t help us with our old records. The Petoskey Public Library graciously allowed us to digitally scan their microfilm. Much of it was very good quality, but some of it was horrendous quality. But we did as much as we could.
Then the Little Traverse Bay History Museum gave us their copies of the actual newspapers going back to the 1880s. Now we could scan the actual newspaper. The quality was better, but scanning one side of one page at a time was still tedious work.
Because we had possession of the actual newspaper, we received many requests to examine them in our office. We do not have enough staff for this so we decided to place all of the newspapers on our website. Our programmer did his thing and we renamed every newspaper to make sense for the computer.
We began downloading all of the death certificates from the seekingmichigan.org website. We entered the information from them and then uploaded them to our website.
In 2017, we received a grant from The Henry E. and Counselo S. Wenger Foundation to scan all of the Pellston and Levering newspapers. They were on the tail end of our project but with this grant we were able to scan them and place them on the web. There is much valuable information regarding the upper end of the County but also of Petoskey and Harbor Springs in these newspapers.
When we first began scanning microfilm, the project was tedious enough that we only scanned the front page, the obit page and any other page of particular interest. That worked for our needs, but when we placed the papers on the web it was not enough for researchers.
In 2018, the Petoskey Public Library received a large grant from the Friends of the Library to re-scan those incomplete newspapers and to OCR (Optical Character Recognition) all of the newspapers so they would be searchable. That work has almost been completed.
We received another grant in 2018 from The Henry E. and Counselo S. Wenger Foundation to develop or purchase software to search the newspapers for keywords. Our programmer is currently working on this project. Any funds left over will be used to scan additional newspapers.
We have been able to bring you this wonderful resource because of thousands of hours by my staff. But that was not enough, each one of the groups mentioned above have contributed to this endeavor. It began with an effort to make our records better, we are not done with that project yet. We are still working, stay tuned.
Copyright 2017 by Greenwood Cemetery. All rights reserved.