In a recent post, I mentioned that one of our daughters was going to Plymouth, Massachusetts and that I was going to guide her visit to ancestral homes and graves via her smart phone.
We were mostly successful except for one glaring error. Someone must have moved the graves of my 3rd great grandparents in the Burial Hill Cemetery.
By the time she arrived in the cemetery, the day was about spent, the scores of photos I hoped she would secure there obviously weren’t going to be taken, so I asked if she would take a photo of the tombstones of our ancestors David and Sally Churchill Drew.
It should have been a quick find and photo, but it wasn’t.
Grandma Sally’s tombstone had been broken off at mid-height when I last visited the cemetery and I’d asked that it be repaired. I never could get a follow up visit arranged to confirm its repair and had worried about ever since.
I knew exactly where the tombstones are located. What was the best way to tell her the directions? Of course! – have her go to the top of the hill, stand by grandpa William Bradford’s tombstone, hold out her left arm at a 45 degree angle, fix a point in your mind and start walking down the hill.
I told her their height, color and approximate distance from the road. Simple.
Off she went as we continued to talk about the other stones in that part of the cemetery.
“Dad.” “They aren’t here.”
“What? Has someone broken them off at ground level?” “Look around.”
Back she hiked to the top of the hill in the hot, humid afternoon sun. She held her arm out toward the bay, fixed a spot in her mind across the street. Off down the hill toward the spot once more. How hard could it be?
I even sent her a photo of the stones taken long ago with me standing between the two markers – Still no Joy. Not even broken off remnants sticking out of the ground.
“Dad, I’ve got to get on the road.” “We are going to Salem this evening and have a lot of driving to do to get there.”
“Just a second sis.” “Let me ask your Mom to confirm my memory.” …… “She says they are right where I said they were.” “Are you sure you can’t see them.?”
“No.” “I’m sorry but I’m walking back toward the rock church where I parked my car.”
As she walked, I told her about all of her ancestors buried there. And then, she said, “I thought you said they were out in the open with nothing growing around them.” “Here they are.” “ If I would have held out my right arm instead of my left arm I would have been pointing right at them.” “They are in the shade under a big tree too!”
I’m still disoriented. She took photos of them, in the shade, in the wrong place by at least several hundred feet. The photos I’ve taken of them over the years clearly show them in the open. Drawings from my earlier forays to the cemetery confirmed my memory, but that isn’t where she was standing.
No, someone hasn’t moved them, but I have no explanation for the discrepancy. None at all. Well, maybe one theory….
Have you ever “lost” the tombstones of your ancestors in a cemetery? Apparently, it happens during dimensional shifts that occur from time to time. I think there is a correspondingly large collection of keys, glasses, wallets and hats sitting in a pile in another dimension exactly where I sat them down. The rifts in the time continuum have subsequently closed up and moved them to a flipped image location on that side of the rabbit hole.
You know that statement is correct. Admit it. We aren’t nuts. Someone or something else is moving and hiding our stuff. It isn’t the fault of failing sectors in our feeble minds.
During my last visit to Burial Hill, I used my Garmin GPS tool to get the coordinates for each of the tombstones of my ancestors so others could find them again sometime in the future. The data was lost when the TSA cranked up the power on the scanner in an apparent attempt to reopen the hole in the space time continuum knowing that I’d visited the other side while visiting the Burial Hill Cemetery.
Not only did I loose the latitude and longitude addresses, but also all of the photos, notes and scanned images from my New England visit. Ones and zeros in digital memory are the magic used to record our data. Unfortunately, when they are subsequently randomized by the boys and girls in blue, the magic goes away . That experience taught me to always upload all the data acquired on genealogy trips to my website before driving anywhere near the DNA scramblers used at airports.
The good news was that the stone had been repaired. Thanks Burial Hill cemetery sexton. I sincerely appreciate you fixing grandma’s tombstone. I wish you hadn’t moved it though.
However, I’m still trying to remember ….. Was he wearing a black hat and did he squint funny out of his right eye? Nah. He isn’t a dimension hopper with a penchant for tombstone relocation humor. I must have read too much science fiction growing up. Thanks Robert Heinlein. You have me questioning my sanity.