My grandson Dayan and I discovered the thrill of geocaching back on Day 72. Geocaching is a type of treasure hunting game played using a phone’s GPS. There is an app that includes a map of nearby caches, coordinates and hints, if you need them. We had fun the first time we played, although we only found 1 of our 2 caches. Today, for my first, Dayan and I teamed up again to geocache, focusing on the Carl Junction area.
As we ate lunch, Dayan pulled up the map to discover what caches were hidden nearby. We realized that there were three caches in small cemeteries in the area. One of the cemeteries was well known to us because we drive by it often. It also has a reputation for being spooky, due to the burial there of a mass murderer. We agreed that today, our treasure seeking would take a creepy turn. We were up for the challenge and after lunch, off we went.
Our first stop was Twin Groves Cemetery, off of 96 Highway. Neither of us knew this small cemetery existed. Using my phone’s GPS system and Dayan’s tracking skills, we began our search. I have to say, Dayan has a knack for finding these caches. He just seems to start in the right spot, finding the general location in a matter of seconds. We cheered our success as Dayan spied the cache nestled in the V formed by two trees. I signed the log and we recorded our find through the Geocache app. While we were there, we walked around and looked at the old headstones and talked about those buried there. Dayan discovered many who were born prior to the Civil War.
On we traveled to our second location, called Burning House on the app. This spot, while not a cemetery, was creepy for other reasons. After a fire and demolition, all that was left of this house was a basement and one section of foundation above ground. We figured out rapidly that the cache was hidden in the foundation, since it would be unsafe to drop down into the exposed basement. Dayan retrieved our treasure and then carefully replaced it after I signed the log. Further down the dirt drive was a tall stand of weeds and trees. There appeared to be someone living back there so we didn’t linger long at this site.
We were excited we had found two for two and that encouraged us to head to the next cemetery on our list, Peace Cemetery. It is ironic that this place has the word Peace in its name. It has been the focus of several paranormal investigations because of unrest here. Dayan read aloud about Billy Cook, the murderer who is buried there, and suddenly our creepy geocaching session also became a history lesson. Billy Cook was known as a spree killer, going on a rampage over 22 days, in January of 1951, that left six people dead between Missouri and California, including three children. Cook was a Joplin, MO native and dumped the bodies of five of his victims, all members of the same family, into an abandoned mine shaft near Joplin. After he was executed in San Quentin, his body was returned to Joplin, but residents didn’t want him buried in town. Eventually he was buried in Peace Cemetery, in an unmarked grave, outside the cemetery proper.
Dayan and I were glad it was daylight while we were there! The cemetery is old and not used any more, cared for by volunteers who occasionally mow. Dayan’s instinct stopped us in the right spot and we ventured into a little fenced off area beneath overhanging trees. We noticed right away that there were Cooks buried in this section and wondered if these were Billy’s parents and family members. If so, perhaps he is buried in there too. While Dayan swatted at cobwebs and spiders, I crept forward and discovered our cache hidden beneath a rock. Even though we had never been in this historic cemetery before, we decided not to explore further. We were both ready to move on to our next site.
Our last stop was Sherwood Cemetery. Dayan found interesting information about Sherwood and so our history lesson continued. Union troops burned the town of Sherwood on May 19, 1863. At that time, with 250 residents, Sherwood was the third largest town in Jasper County. Nothing of the community remains except the almost forgotten cemetery. It is reported that Abraham Lincoln has a cousin buried there, Catherine Lincoln Sallinger. We found our last cache and sat on a stone bench to record our visit in the log. As we headed back to the car, Dayan found an interesting headstone. We discussed how cemeteries are really places of history. Each person had a family, a life, a story.
What a fun afternoon! We are hooked on geocaching and look forward to more afternoons spent seeking these interesting treasures. Riding in the car, we had time to chat and share our own stories and laugh. At one point, in a lull in our conversation, we both said, simultaneously, “This has been fun!” We cracked up over our in-sync speaking. This grandson of mine and I are often in sync. I appreciate him and love our time together. We laughed today that we used to make up stories called the Adventures of Dayan and Yaya. Geocaching is giving us an opportunity to live out some adventures!