Get to Know: Tasha Westby Tietz
Tasha’s work documenting gravestones ensures that stories from the past won’t be forgotten.

Get to Know: Tasha Westby Tietz

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Tasha Westby Tietz has always been interested in history, and in 2020 she created a Facebook page to share her passion with others. Graveyard Girl is a page where she posts cemetery photos, including headstones, and epitaphs, as well as visits to new locations of interest when she travels.

“I like to do a bit of research and compose a story with photos to bring it to life to share with others,” she said. “There have been several people I’ve learned about researching local history or using the website Find a Grave, reading obituaries, and more.”

She also shares pertinent stories from other similar websites or groups that likeminded people could appreciate.

Through her hobby, Tietz has been able to help finish documenting some of Aberdeen’s cemeteries on the website Find a Grave. She believes that no one should be forgotten in death, and her work also helps dispel the taboos that are associated with cemeteries.

Tietz has been a Registered Nurse for over 8 years and is passionate about caring for others and has been touched by all of the people and experiences along the way. She and her husband John are the parents to three daughters, and they help keep her busy along with their dog.

Her page can be found at //


Q: How does your work reflect your passion?

A: One way that my “work” at the cemeteries mirrors my passion is that peoples’ lives are being remembered and shared even if with only a small population. It is important to me to preserve history and genealogy. My belief is that no one should be forgotten in death and cemeteries should not be so “taboo”. I do tend the graves of some family members as often as I can, which means a lot to me and something I try to instill importance in with my kids.


Q: What is something you love about the Aberdeen community?

A: Aberdeen is and feels like home to me and I’m comfortable here. My family roots and memories are here. People are kind and helpful and they truly care about others. We have lots of enriching things to do and be a part of. I’m proud to be from Aberdeen!


Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: Some of the things I enjoy are biking, music, nature, reading, hanging out at Richmond Lake, genealogy research, camping, and of course driving through and walking around exploring cemeteries. There is something new and interesting to see and learn with every visit. In 2020, I walked through Aberdeen’s Sacred Heart Cemetery (established in 1895) in several visits and used the Find a Grave app to ensure that every legible and visible headstone had been photographed and added which resulted in over 1,500 people and many more photos entered into the database.


Q: Where is one of your favorite places to go in Aberdeen?

A: If I had to pick somewhere besides Riverside Cemetery, I would choose Storybook Land. We are so lucky to have a place like this to enjoy and it just keeps getting better.


Q: What is one word you would use to describe yourself?

A: This is a hard question for me so, since this is the theme of the article, an interesting word I would use to describe myself is a “taphophile” which can be defined as a lover of visiting cemeteries, a “tombstone tourist”, photographer, and researcher of everything about cemeteries, etc. In my mind at an early age, I got the feeling that most lives ended as a “name on a stone” and therefore I like to ensure people and their stories don’t get forgotten. Believe it or not, there are many others like myself and I’ve found a lot of Facebook groups where people share their findings.


Q: Why is community involvement important to you?

A: Community involvement is important to me in order to make a difference. There is power in numbers for bringing awareness to an issue and collaborating to get things done. We were made to enrich each other’s lives. It’s empowering to feel a sense of community with bonding over a mutual interest regarding the community of “gravers”.


Q: How did you become interested in researching graves?

A: I’ve always been fascinated by history. Though I’ve been visiting cemeteries for over 20 years, I’d say I really leaned into this about 6 years ago after joining the Find a Grave website/app. Volunteers collaborate to take photos and enter information on “memorials” created for those who have passed away which can then be searched virtually. Initially I was only taking “requested” headstone photos simultaneously with my usual cemetery wandering. The site has helped me see graves and information about my own ancestors I may not have seen otherwise, and it’s been heartwarming to help others out in the same way while doing something I enjoy anyway.


Q: What is one of the most interesting graves you’ve visited?

A: This is a difficult question for me, but my answer is a whole cemetery. I visited the Spink County Poor Farm Cemetery at Frankfort, South Dakota which consists of a handful of headstones and white crosses in a field. It was absolutely fascinating to me, and I would enjoy learning any information anyone has about it as I haven’t found much documentation or any photos online related to the Spink County Poor Farm.