Saturday, July 19, 2008


RAOGK stands for Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness. This is a volunteer organization that links people around the US and in many other countries who are interested in genealogy and agree to do research for others at no charge.

I came across RAOGK about 10 years ago when I wanted to do research in Texas. I received great response from the local contact and have used them several times since then.

I decided to volunteer in the Memphis area to do cemetery photos. I don't have any family connections to Memphis so am not too familiar with the local genealogy sources but figured I could take photos.

By far most of the requests come from people who have relatives at Memphis National Cemetery. This is a veteran's cemetery that was established during the Civil War after Memphis fell to the Union army. It is in what is now a rough area of town.

It has thousands of civil war era graves and in fact the 2nd largest number of unknown graves of any cemetery in the US. Many CW casualties were moved here after the war. It also is the final resting place for over 1,000 Union solders who were killed in the USS Sultana explosion on April 23, 1865.

This was the largest maritime disaster in US history but few people know about it. A steamer carrying former Union POWs who had just been released from camps in the South died when the ship exploded. It had over 2,000 people on board and only 800 survived. The ship only had capacity for 376 passengers.

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