Friday, September 16, 2011

Geocaching For the Dead?

I've been thinking about visiting the cemeteries of all of my ancestors on a massive 'round-the-world tour. Wouldn't that be a blast? You know. No making arrangements or coordinating "best times" to visit or asking if there's room to put you up for a night or two. I could call it the "Grateful Dead Tour".

I'd start in Woods Hole, Ma., where Frank's relatives are buried, make my way to the National Cemetery in Otis, Ma., where his dad is, then shoot over to Connecticutt, Wisconsin, Seattle, Hawaii, over to Norway, Sweden, Germany, France, Ireland, and England, finally jumping back over the pond to New York and maybe up to Maine before heading home to New Hampshire.

Fun, but today I wanted a story to write. There just isn't one yet. So I let it go and started watching my thoughts meander around. It ended up being a very entertaining adventure. That is if you think like me and are easily amused.

First things first. Monday thru Friday, at 5:45 am,  I start the the 20 minute round-trip to drop my children off in Nashua, using the return trip to think before waking the other school-bound children at 6:05.

But this morning I found myself in a different rental car that my husband had brought home last night. I sat behind the wheel for the first time, familiarizing myself with the dashboard. The GPS stared at me mockingly from my right, glowing in the darkness. As if THAT would entice me to use it!

I don't like GPS. I've never used one. And this one didn't like me. I could tell. It just kept staring. 

I wanted to make friends with it when I remembered hearing that you need one to go geocaching, I thought that maybe I'd have to get one because geocaching has everything I love about life in it: nature, mystery, hiking, searching, and using clues to find answers.

I was thinking about geocaching as we passed the cemetery. The one right down the road where some of my husband's ancestors are buried.

I was putzing around this evening, not knowing what to do with my idle brain.

So I got my 4 generation family history chart out.( Do you want one? It's free to download and $1.99 to print at Staples. Click here if you do. If the link doesn't work look right. There are downloads there, too.)

Before I knew it I was looking at my great great grandparents,  Charles and Anna Sophia Carlson,who came from Sweden and died in Washington State.

You want to know where they're buried? I Googled the cemetery where they were buried because I remembered that much, and this is part of what I found:

 Old Olalla Pioneer Cemetery 
Longitude 122°40'57.7"W Latitude 47°29'31.4"N

GPS coordinates!

I could find my ancestors using a GPS as if I was going geocaching. That thought killed me!

This is what Wikiipeda has to say about geocaching: (I added family history synonyms in parenthesis)

"Geocaching is an outdoor sporting activity in which the participants use a  (GPS) receiver or mobile device and other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers, called "geocaches" or "caches", anywhere in the world.
"A typical cache is a small waterproof container (coffin)
containing a logbook ( historical documents)
" Larger containers such as plastic storage containers  or ammunition boxes can also contain items for trading, usually toys or trinkets of little value. (dead people of great value!)
"Geocaching is often described as a "game of high-tech hide and seek", sharing many aspects with benchmarking, trigpointing, orienteering, treasure-hunting, letterboxing,  and waymarking (like finding ancestors in all sorts of documents, the ones you have and the ones you find on the internet and elsewhere).
"Geocaches are currently placed in over 100 countries around the world and on all seven continents, including Antarctica. After 10 years of activity there are over 1.4 million active geocaches published on various websites. There are over 5 million geocachers worldwide. " (millions family history enthusiasts all over the world!)

 Family history is the best sport in the world!

Wanna play?


  1. Interesting post. Geocaching is typically where you find treasures, typically small things you can get in the Dollar Store, and trade for your treasures. I had a guest author write about Geocaching in June on my blog because it's a great activity to do as a family.

    So Geocaching is like a treasure hunt.

    But the thought of Geocaching for the dead is a novel one. No telling what treasures you could dig up in a cemetery! The question is: what would you leave in trade?

    BTW, with your family history, I'm fairly certain you're related to me or my husband. :-)

  2. Hey Carolyn!
    The trade off for me is figurative. Relationship building is what family history is for me. But if I were to REALLY play the game right, keeping with the analogy of the cache being the coffin, I'd have to be a grave robber! LOL! What would leave? I have to say I'd leave flowers!
    You HAVE to tell me how you think we're related!!! THAT would be the best treasure to date.

  3. Great Blog Betsy I enjoyed reading your Stories.

  4. Thanks Gail, even though I was stretching it a bit calling this one a story! Don't you think?

  5. Betsy, aloha. You have a rich imagination, Betsy, and are a great storyteller which is why I enjoy your posts.

    The other day I was telling someone about your blog and your intense interest in family history. As I was telling them about it, I realized that I have no idea what my grandmothers' maiden names were nor, quite honestly, do I care.

    Yet, Betsy, when I read your posts, I am entertained. Going looking for ancestors' graves is not even on my list of the top 100,000 things I would like to do. Nevertheless, what you have to say delighted me--especially they part about coming to Hawaii.

    And, Betsy, you taught me a new word. Prior to read this blog, I had never heard the word geocaching so thank you for expanding my vocabulary.

    Happy hunting, Betsy. Until next time, aloha. Janet

  6. Aloha Janet, Thank you for this comment. I like your honesty. I never had a desire to know about my ancestors either, until I did! One day, literally, it just kicked in. I love to see that fire build in people. Never fails after they start looking. For some it's the thrill of the hunt, like geocaching. For others there is a curiosity that develops into deeper connections and even love. There's nothing else I'd rather do! I just learned about geocaching a year ago from my neighbor whose whole family enjoys it! The things you learn at the bus stop. And I can't remember which island my ancestors are buried on, but I'm serious about "looking them up"! I'll let you know if I'm close by so we can meet in person!

  7. That's kind of cool. I remember when I first found my great grandfather's grave who died in 1905. I had heard the stories how he was killed and my grandmother was 7 at the time. It totally changed their lives but it caused me to reflect what was going on during that time and what the service might have looked like.

    I used to spend a lot more time with this and at some point will run with it again; but I do find it interesting.

    Thanks for sharing this.

    I want to apologize, I thought I had you in my reader and was wondering why I wasn't seeing any posts from are there now....:)

  8. Absolutely NO apology needed! We can only be so many places! You do a lot for everyone. I know that you care. And I'm glad that you like family family history. That's a great support to me!

  9. Betsy, you crack me up! Who else could connect researching family HISTORY with this modern, high-tech activity of Geocashing!
    A good friend of mine who geocashes with her husband around here is going to Wales this week and they plan to do it over there! Imagine! A game with global participants.
    I think you SHOULD take the Grateful Dead Tour - and blog about it all along the way!

  10. I would LOVE to! I need a lot of funding! Maybe I should start a fundraiser for:Family of 11 Wants to Visit Dead Relatives the World Over!!

  11. I'm with Lori: that Grateful Dead Tour would make for both an amazing experience and a wonderful book. Cheers! Kaarina

  12. Putzing around makes me laugh, mostly because it reminds me of sitting with my grandfathers listening to them use Yiddish expressions.

  13. I putz around a lot...until I don't!

  14. I can "see" a billion dollar enterprise in this idea. You don't need to get into the coffins. And, theoretically, you don't need to go to the cemetery. It could be mostly web-based with some physical aspects where it was possible and feasible.

    You sell a service to the funeral homes that they can sell as an add on service to what they do: burials, burial services, etc. The basic service, let's say, is $5,000 for 100 years. It's an online profile of the deceased with comments. Premium service, I'm just imagining here is $100,000 for 200 years of online profile and comments, other media (videos, etc), and a safe deposit box at the funeral home. In that safe deposit box, all sorts of wonderful treasures can be stored for touching, seeing, smelling, and feeling by future generations.

    Of course, there can be several mid range options. The mid-range always sells the best.

    If you succeed in this endeavor, I want free premium accounts for me and 99 friends and family.

    Big hug to you. And success!

    1. HAHA! Stan, you're so cool! You see the fun in it, don't you? Always the business man! I would need a lot of help to start it because I know NOTHING! But it would be a blast! Thanks for the dream. THAT ALONE is worth everything!


What do you think? I'd love to know.