The opening scene from the movie, “Midway to Heaven” was shot at the graves of grandparents and great grandparents in Alpine, Utah. You can understand my surprise when the view I’ve known for a lifetime flashed into view.
Our family has spent a lot of time at that particular location over the years in part because of its setting and quiet atmosphere in a mountain setting.
Our children and grandchildren have enjoyed visiting cemeteries and research libraries throughout their lives as they’ve tagged along on my never-ending genealogy quest.
The genea-gene seems to have rubbed off on them as I frequently receive notes, photos and phone calls now as they encounter sights, sounds and records that add to our family knowledgebase in the course of their lives.
This week, we are tending the children of one of our daughters as she and her husband travel to Massachusetts. While he conducts business, she is spending time in Boston, Salem, Duxbury and Plymouth visiting ancestral sites and doing some family history research.
I wish I was with her, but married couples seem to think they need time alone once in a while.
To a degree her adventures this week will be semi-guided by me at home from the “command chair” in my office.
Technology has served me well in family history research for decades and will do so again this week.
Our daughter and I will stay in written, audible and visual contact all week as she explores the area for the first time.
The written location lists and tips that I made for reference are great but by using Skype, FaceTime, Google Huddle and the information from my genealogy website, she won’t have to waste too much time finding the new locations in her limited time on site.
Of course, there is a side benefit to me. I get to see the old family sites and homes from the comfort of my air-conditioned office. I even get to help her find some of the family headstones in Burial Hill and other cemeteries to replace the photos that were fried during my last “strip search” scan by the TSA.
She will get to “talk” to her ancestors in Plimouth Plantation who in their actual lifetime would have seen our communications this week as magic even if the concept of such a thing flashed through their minds.
How many times in the past, have I tried to direct other relatives to the somewhat obscure burial locations of our ancestors in Massachusetts? We’ve always struggled with the memory in my mind converting to their on-the-spot searches in a location foreign to them. That won’t be a problem this time. All our daughter will need to do is send me a video stream of what she is seeing and her current GPS coordinates. I can direct her right through the trees on the back trails to the gravestones in the woods.
The same will be true as she tries to find the right door to the various libraries and research centers that she hopes to visit. Fortunately, she allowed 50% of her time to just have fun and enjoy the sights and scenes of the area. I did recommend a few restaurants and stores that I know she’ll love but odds are that she’ll come home telling me stories of the great places she found without my help.
Have you acted as a remote pilot for genealogy trips in this manner? Some of the things we are going to use weren’t even possible a few months ago. What tools will be available for researchers in the future? I don’t know but I anxiously await their arrival on the scene.
I’ll bet you do to. It’s a great time to be alive. Take advantage of all of the tools available to us today and tomorrow to continually increase the effectiveness of your own genealogy research efforts.