If this didn't really happen to me, I'm not sure I'd believe it. What an incredible experience I had in Maine cemeteries last week. My ancestors were in control of my cell phone's GPS - for real!
While preparing to leave for my annual Legacy Genealogy Cruise, I noticed that six generations of my ancestry lived within an hour's drive of Bar Harbor - one of our ports in Maine. I admit, I had thought to myself, "what in the world am I going to do in Bar Harbor, Maine?" It turned out to be an experience I will never forget.
With the family group record of Joshua Smart and Anna Dunphee in hand, I and five others left the ship and rented a van in search for the East Belfast Cemetery. Anna's obituary stated that she was buried in East Belfast. Thanks to my smart-phone's GPS, we located the unmarked cemetery in a small forest off the main road. We looked for the Smarts but didn't find anyone. The best part, however, was seeing Ken McGinnis (one of Legacy's developers) get so excited. This was his first time cemetery-hunting, and I don't think it will be his last.
A little disappointed, and with no concrete plan of where to go next, I typed the word "cemetery" into my phone's GPS. It returned a long list of cemeteries, but nothing stood out. I put my phone down and wondered what I should do next. A moment later, I looked at my phone, and a detailed entry for Smart Cemetery appeared. Startled and puzzled, I felt my heart beating a bit faster. Smart Cemetery was not previously in the list, nor had I clicked on anything. Obviously I was excited and knew exactly where we would go next. I clicked on the Get Directions button, and after a 2.6 mile drive, we were there.
My wife and I, Ken, Diane, Luc, and Ruth walked the cemetery in search for my Smarts. Ruth was actually looking for her Nickersons who also lived in the area. She was the first to scream. She found her ancestor, Benjamin Nickerson, on the edge of the cemetery. The Nickersons were also my ancestors, and with the Families app on my phone, I learned that Benjamin was also in my database, making Ruth and me 6th cousins once removed. She found both a deceased ancestor AND a living relative!
Unexpectedly, I next found the stones of my 6th great-grandparents - Joseph Crosby and Ruth Nickerson.
Diane then found Ruth's great-grandparents.
This isn't even the best part yet...
By this time we had only about an hour before we needed to head back to the ship. Ken said "let's find another cemetery." So we typed in "cemetery" into the GPS and found the Nickerson Cemetery. It was very small and we didn't spend much time there, but we had time for just one more. My phone next located the Green Lawn Cemetery - in Swanville - not too far away. This is where it gets good.
Approaching the cemetery, I noticed it was much larger than the others. Everyone in the van started yelling at me to "turn here." I didn't see the first entrance in time, so I pulled into the second entrance. Because of time I thought we should just drive up and down the rows and stop if anything looked promising. I still hadn't found my Joshua Smart family.
About 50 feet in something told me to stop. This is where I stopped:
This is the view from the front:
Do you see the stone just to the left of the van? This was the family I had been looking for. This marker belonged to Annette Stinson, wife of John Smart who was the son of Joshua. Her stone gave me her parents' names, when she died, and her exact age which was all new to me.
Just to her left was this stone:
This was the final resting place of Joshua and his wife. The inscription is barely legible, but I'll try to use my Photoshop magic in the days to come, as it appears to give me new information about his wife.
Can you believe it?!?! With time running out, I took the second entrance and stopped at the very spot where my family was buried.
We now had to drive the country roads of Maine to get back to the ship. My phone's GPS wouldn't work. Neither did Luc's. Neither did Ken's. And so we did our best to remember where we came from. Isn't it interesting how our GPS devices led us right to our family's cemeteries? And once we were finished, we didn't seem to need them anymore. Makes me think our ancestors wanted to be found.