Maine Graves - Part One

STOCKTON SPRINGS, Maine (WABI) "Never in my life did I think I would be a grave digger," says Tyler Greenlaw, an assistant at Smith's Memorials in Searsport.

Skeet Smith says he asked Greenlaw to come work for him after noticing his work ethic.

Tyler says the work is challenging, creative, and rewarding.

"You start putting up these stones for people and you see the genuine thanks they have on their face when they talk to you," says Greenlaw.

End-of-life arrangements can get costly.

"That sand is like, 120 bucks for 50 pounds, so, you know, I mean every thing's so expensive," says Smith.

But Skeet says he'll help anyone who needs it.

"You try to keep the price down. You know, and if somebody doesn't have any money, we can work with them and find them something," says Smith.

For a good reason.

"It's a small town. It's a small area. Know everybody around here," says Smith.

Skeet also works with his brother, Charles Smith.

"Charlie deals with most of the public. I work in the cemetery and in the background," says Smith.

Charlie also helps with design.

Preserving the memory of those lost is important business around here. Preservation is an acknowledgment of the history around them.

"Kind of a permanent mark that you're putting into the world," says Greenlaw.

He has even discovered some of his own family members.

"I've found my great-great grandfather was buried down in Staten Island, New York. I never would have thought," says Greenlaw.

Piecing together lineage is something Charlie has made part of his life's work.

Charlie has always loved history, especially the history of his hometown, Stockton Springs.

He's also the vice president of the town's historical society. It's a role he loves.

"It's about the people we either knew as kids or their ancestors. Or, our ancestors, for that matter. We do it because it needs doing," says Charlie Smith.

Charlie has even begun documenting and archiving entire cemeteries on where the public can search and add to its database of cemetery records.

Charlie's contributed thousands of records.

"I've entered 4100 burials. I've taken 8000 pictures but fleshing out the relationships," he says.

He says that's nothing compared to some of the other online contributors he's gotten to know, like one woman with 85,000 primary entries and another couple with 122,000 records.

He works with cemetery preservation and restoration groups to make sure gravestones are being taken care of. Sometimes this means finding actual graves that have gone missing.

"Going on to look for the down and subterranean stones, those only happen maybe every couple months, but they're exciting when they happen," says Smith.

Like the grave of the wife of a Civil War solider.

"He's buried out on the Cape on Mount Recluse," says Smith.

He was contacted by someone in town to look for her grave. Charlie has a theory.

"To the left of his stone is a void. There's no stone, but then there's children's stones. And in that void there is a depression in the ground and wild roses coming out," says Smith.

His next step is to go to the grave and attempt to find it.