Emma Monson cleans a grave on April 17 in preparation to upload a photo of the grave to BillionGraves. Photo courtesy of Sheryl Mackey

Emma Monson cleans a grave on April 17 in preparation to upload a photo of the grave to BillionGraves. Photo courtesy of Sheryl Mackey

Federal Way youth, leaders clean graves to help ancestor research

Dozens of Federal Way community members recently spent a Saturday cleaning gravestones at Mountain View Cemetery in Lakewood — assisting with future genealogical research, too.

About 60 youth and leaders of the Federal Way Washington Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gathered at the cemetery on April 17 in an effort to locate and document as many graves as possible, said Sheryl Mackey, a local resident and LDS member.

With brooms and smartphones in hand, they cleaned and photographed headstones, then entered the information into the “BillionGraves” app.

“I feel like this is a very eye-opening activity because it reminds you that you never know how long you have with loved ones,” said Emma Monson, a junior at Thomas Jefferson High School. It was a profound experience for Monson because while working, she came upon the gravesite of a little boy she knew many years ago who had suddenly passed away, Mackey said.

The BillionGraves Project, a free app for smartphones, is a genealogy database — the study of family history and lineage — for researchers throughout the world. The company, founded in 2011 by Brian Moncur, has a goal “to preserve precious records found in cemeteries throughout the world,” according to their website.




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Jacob Keeney cleans a grave on April 17 prior to snapping a photo and uploading the information to BillionGraves. Photo courtesy of Sheryl Mackey

Jacob Keeney cleans a grave on April 17 prior to snapping a photo and uploading the information to BillionGraves. Photo courtesy of Sheryl Mackey

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