By Clairissa Cooper
When Flower Mound Boy Scout Josh Jones was just 15 years old, his father, Doug, passed away unexpectedly. At Doug’s funeral, the Lewisville Old Hall Cemetery was packed with friends, family and loved ones to honor the loving husband and father of five. Two and a half years later, the Old Hall Cemetery was once again filled with friends and loved ones to honor Josh’s father – this time in a different way.
Jones, along with family, friends, and fellow scout troop members, indexed over 1,200 headstones for a national grave-collection genealogy database as part of Jones’ Eagle Scout project. The process involved taking photos of each headstone, transcribing the names and dates, and then uploading them to the database via the BillionsGraves app.
According to the BillionGraves website, they rely on volunteers to “preserve precious records found in cemeteries throughout the world.” Images taken of each headstone utilizes a GPS tag so users worldwide can access the records from anywhere and locate ancestors.
“My father is buried here so I feel like preserving family history is important to assist people in honoring and paying their respects to ancestors and loved ones that have passed away,” said Jones, a senior at Flower Mound High School and member of Troop 292.
As a Scout, Jones has participated in a wide variety of community projects but says performing service that is connected to his father is his most favorite of all.
“[My father] is definitely looking down on me. I know he’s proud that I’m doing work will help others make family connections. It’s important to remember them.”
“I remember my father telling me that the only way to pure happiness is through serving others. That’s where you can find true joy,” said Jones.
Projects like Jones’ aren’t just limited to eagle scouts or large groups. Anyone can transcribe records through indexing or utilize genealogy resources to seek out their own family trees, according to Lantana genealogist Lisa Bird. Bird is the family history lead consultant at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Highland Village.
“Learning the history of our ancestors can build resilience in us,” Bird said. “This knowledge helps us feels a part of something greater, a connection and a belonging.”
Community members interested in learning more about indexing or family history research can go to www.FamilySearch.org and sign up for a free account.