Old Ellsworth Burial Ground: Last Stop on the Maine Adventure, Part II

Last week, we spent some time at the front of the Ellsworth Old Burial Ground. As the ground starts to slope downward, you’ll notice that the organization of the markers get increasingly haphazard. Some are lying flat, others look like they might have been moved. Some are broken.

You can see that two of the markers for the Hale family have broken off from their bases entirely.

The Wooster family presented a bit of a mystery to me. Four of the five Wooster children are buried at the Old Burial Ground. But their parents, Daniel and Louisa, are not.

Born in 1814 in Hancock, Maine to Summers and Hannah Bowden Wooster, Daniel Wooster married Louisa Norris in 1843 and settled in Ellsworth. He was employed as a millwright and farmer. They had five children, the first of whom was Helen, born in 1844. She died less than two years later.

Helen was the first of Daniel and Louisa’s children.

Next came Oscar, born in 1848 and died a little over a year later. Like his sister, Oscar’s marker features a lone willow tree at the top.

Oscar was the first son for the Wooster family.

Another son, Watson, was born in 1850. But he, too, would die before his first birthday. His marker differs from his siblings in that it has both an urn and a willow tree on the top.

Watson’s marker looks like it has an urn on the top in addition to a willow tree.

George Wooster was born just a few months after the death of Watson in 1851. He almost made it to his third birthday, dying in November 1854. He is buried on the left side of the cemetery by himself while his other three siblings are all together further down the hill.

While he’s buried at a distance from his siblings, George Wooster’s marker features the weeping willow, too.

A few months before George’s death, daughter Mary Ella Wooster was born in August 1854. According to the 1860 U.S. Census, she was living with Daniel and Louisa in Ellsworth. She does not appear again with them in the 1870 Census. Daniel and Louisa Wooster both appear in the 1880 Census. The Ellsworth American reported the death of Louisa in 1882 and the marriage of a “Mary E. Wooster” in 1883. Daniel’s fate remains unknown.

The Herbert family also lost its fair share of children over the years. Their history is a bit more cloudy as it goes back a bit further than the Woosters.

Born in Deerfield, Mass. in 1778, George Herbert was the son of George and Honour Herbert. George Jr. came to Ellsworth to practice law in 1803 shortly after passing the bar. He is thought to be one of the first attorneys to practice in Ellsworth. He represented Ellsworth in the general court of Massachusetts from 1813 to 1815. In 1816, he was appointed county attorney of Hancock. He died at the age of 41 in 1820 of “consumption of the lungs”.

George married Charlotte Tuttle in 1808 in Littleton, Mass. They had at least five children during their marriage and three died in infancy. The first two were both named George and the third William. Interestingly, there is a photo on Find a Grave of two different markers representing all three boys. The one below is the marker I photographed.

The first George was born in late 1809 and died in October 1812. The second George was born in January 1813 and died in October 1816. William was born in 1819 and died the same year as his father, 1820.

George and Charlotte Herbert had three sons who died in childhood. Two were named George and one was William.

Charlotte lived many years after George’s death. The 1850 Census shows her living with daughter Charlotte and son, Charles. She died of paralysis in Springfield, Mass. in 1869 and is buried with her husband.

Another mysterious footnote to this story is at the bottom of the marker I photographed. A William Abbot, son of William and Rebecca Atherton Abbott of Castine, is mentioned with no dates. Why he is added to this marker is unknown and how he’s related to the Herbert sons. His brother, Charles, graduated from Harvard with the class of 1825, which included Jonathan Cilley (discussed here a few weeks ago).

I did learn that William Abbot Sr. was a distinguished attorney in nearby Castine and was a representative in the state legislature in 1823, 1824, and 1826. He later moved to Bangor where he served as mayor in 1848. He died in 1849 and his burial site is unknown, as is that of his wife, Rebecca. It’s possible he knew the Herberts because of his legal career or was related to them by marriage. But nobody truly knows.

There are five Browns listed as being buried at the Old Burial Grounds, three of them being definitely connected. The first two wives of Enoch Lurvey brown share a marker.

Enoch Lurvey Brown’s first two wives are buried at the Old Burial Grounds. But where’s Enoch?

It wasn’t unusual for the wives of the same man to share a grave marker, especially if they died within a few years of each other. So seeing Julia and Louisa Brown on the same marker didn’t surprise me. But it did spur me to try to untangle the branches in the Brown family tree.

Enoch Brown was born in 1816 in “Eden”, Maine (which we now know as Bar Harbor) to James Pettus and Susanna Lurvey Brown. His mother died shortly after Enoch’s birth and the fate of the Brown children was in chaos as their father prepared to remarry to a widow with children of her own. Enoch was sent to live with various friends and family in the Cranberry Islands in his first years, then apprenticed out to learn the blacksmith trade. He married Julia Ann Mayo in 1838 and they settled in Ellsworth where he did quite well in his trade.

Enoch and Julia Ann had nine children during their marriage and most lived well into adulthood. Hamilton Brown, born in 1851, did not make it to his second birthday and is buried near his mother.

Hamilton was one of the few Brown children that did not live to adulthood.

Julia Ann died in 1858. In 1860, Enoch married 23-year-old widow Louisa Wilbur Devereaux. They had two children, George and Cora. Louisa died in 1864 at the age of 27. Three months later, Enoch married a third time to 29-year-old Cynthia Grindle and they had four children of their own, making Enoch the father of an estimated 15 children over his lifetime. At least one of his sons also became a blacksmith.

So what became of Enoch? He died of pneumonia in 1902 at the age of 85 and is buried at Woodbine Cemetery in Ellsworth by himself, his grave unmarked. Cynthia died in 1903 and is buried by herself in Hillside Cemetery in Bucksport, Maine. Why they are buried in separate cemeteries is unknown.

It may seem disrespectful to end on a humorous note, but I can’t resist. As I was looking down the hillside, I noticed that at the foot was the parking lot for the Ellsworth Bureau of Motor Vehicles. I wonder if the town joke is that waiting in line at the local BMV can suck the life right out of you, landing you in the burial grounds.

Hopefully, waiting in line at the BMV doesn’t take so long you end up in the burial grounds.

With all seriousness, our Maine adventure was more than I could have hoped for. As always, these feelings are coupled with the realization that there are so many wonderful cemeteries I didn’t have the opportunity to see. But I did get to spend some much-needed time with my husband and son hunting for sea glass, scrambling over huge rocks, taking in some breathtaking vistas and enjoying time on the water.

This fifth trip to Maine only confirmed what I already knew. This state captures my heart in a way few others have and demands even more visits to take in all it has to offer. So that means I’ll be bringing you back with me eventually.

I hope you’ll stick around until then.

Climbing rocks with my best buddy.


Old Ellsworth Burial Ground: Last Stop on the Maine Adventure, Part I

Saying good bye to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park was difficult, but it was time to head back to Portland to catch our flight back to Atlanta.

That didn’t mean I wasn’t going to try to hit at least one more cemetery on the way to the airport. I chose the Old Burial Ground in Ellsworth for my final hop and it didn’t disappoint.

Situated on the Union River that feeds into Union River Bay, Ellsworth is one of those picturesque New England towns that typify the area. Lots of historic homes, places to grab a lobster roll or chowder, a quaint bridge. It’s a tourist’s dream.

The church’s sanctuary was built in 1846 by Thomas Lord, a master builder from Blue Hill. The building survived a 1933 fire which devastated much of Ellsworth’s business district.

Finding the Old Burial Ground was easy, they’re close to the bustling main artery that runs through town. You can find it behind the very handsome looking First Congregational United Church of Christ, organized in 1812. The current Greek Revival building was constructed in 1846, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Old Burial Ground, according to Find a Grave, has about 155 graves. Eighty percent of those have been photographed. It starts out level but then goes down a gradual hillside that ends in a parking lot for the Department of Motor Vehicles, of all things. More on that later!

You can see the back of the church from this angle.

Near the front of the cemetery, you can see two sets of three markers. In both cases, two parents are buried with an unmarried daughter between them. And in both cases, the wife died a few months after her husband.

Three Robinson graves are near the entrance, with the enclosed Chamberlains in the plot right behind them.

Born in Litchfield, Maine in July 1801, Thomas Robinson was the ninth child of William and Mary Stinson Robinson’s 10 children. He attended what was then Waterville College (later to became Colby College, of which he would become a trustee) and graduated in 1827. He moved to Ellsworth after that and studied law with the Hon. John Deane. At some point, he married Elizabeth Chamberlain. They would have five children over the course of their marriage.

Thomas served at least one term in the Maine State Senate in 1838 and may have served in other capacities. In 1844, he was president of the Maine State Whig Convention. When Thomas died in 1856 at the age of 57, his obituary noted that “He was a man of quiet but earnest character, and had gathered to himself many warm personal friends, who mourn his loss.”

Elizabeth died in 1849 at the age of 40. Thomas’ will indicates he remarried at some point to a woman named Margaret and they had two children, to whom half his estate was bequeathed. He left his only unwed daughter, Frances, $500. I was impressed at the detail of his will but since he was a skilled lawyer, he wanted his final affairs to be as orderly as possible.

Frances, who is buried between her parents, died at the age of 23 in 1864. She never married.

Buried behind the Robinsons are three members of the Chamberlain family, their plot surrounded by an iron fence. Judge John Chamberlain, his wife, Mary, and their daughter, Caroline are buried there.

Judge John Chamberlain wore many hats during his life in Ellsworth.

Born in 1781, John Chamberlain was the son of John and Mary Jackson Chamberlain. He married Mary Hopkins, daughter of James Hopkins, one of the first settlers of what is now Ellsworth.

Mary Hopkins Chamberlain’s father was one of Ellsworth’s founders.

A judge, John Chamberlain served as a justice of the peace, merchant, businessman, and farmer. He was also a Selectman and county commissioner during his life. He died in 1839 at the age of 59. Wife Mary died just a few months later.

It’s unknown how many children he and Mary had. But daughter Caroline is buried between them. She never married and died at the age of 29.

Caroline Chamberlain never married and died at the age of 29.

Judge Chamberlain built a Federal-style home that became known as the Chamberlain House. It was later purchased and used as a dentist’s office, known by many as the Whitney House. The building now serves as the site off the Ellsworth Historical Society and is being restored to its original glory.

Judge Chamberlain’s home now holds the offices of the Ellsworth Historical Society. (Photo source: Steve Fuller, The Ellsworth American)

Across the path, a much older slate stone marks the grave of Melatiah Jordan, the man for whom the church and the burial ground owe their existence.

The familiar motif of a weeping willow tree bending over an urn was common in the early 1800s.

Born in 1753 to Samuel and Merry Bourne Jordan, Melatiah came from a distinguished family that included the Rev. Robert Jordan, who came to Maine in 1640 from England. Samuel, a graduate of Harvard, was a member of the general court and a Town Officer in Biddeford for many years.

Samuel and Melatiah operated a lumber business together near Franklin, Maine before Melatiah settled in Ellsworth. He married Elizabeth Jellison in 1776 and they would have a total of 13 children over the course of their marriage. She died in 1819, not long after her husband.

A Revolutionary War veteran, Melatiah was often referred to as “Colonel Jordan”. He was commissioned to be the first collector of customs of Frenchman’s Bay by President George Washington. This basically meant collecting the duties imposed by the government on any vessels coming through the area, depending on the ship’s tonnage and goods carried. He served from 1789 until his death in 1818.

Elizabeth Jellison Jordan died shortly after her husband at the age of 62.

Apparently, it was a good time to be a customs officer because of the amount of smuggling that took place. Melatiah and his fellow collectors benefited greatly by dividing the profits that came from the seizure of ships carrying contraband. It made Melathiah Jordan quite a wealthy man over the years.

The Federal-style house Melathiah built in 1817 for his son, Benjamin, was called the Jordan House. Today it serves as the Ellsworth Public Library.

The Jordan family’s legacy continues through the use of their home as the public library. (Photo source: The Ellsworth American)

Not long before his death, Melatiah donated the land for the Congregational Church and paid for construction of a meeting house on it. The building was not completed until after he died. He also donated the land for the old burial ground, in which he is now interred.

Benjamin Jordan’s son Benjamin Jr. was married to his wife, Charlotte Saunders Parsons, by Thomas Robinson (who is buried directly in front of his parents).

Buried near his parents is son Benjamin Jordan. He and his wife, Sarah Dutton Jordan, had at least six children. They lived in the Jordan House for several years until he sold it to shipbuilder Seth Tisdale. Benjamin lived to the ripe age of 79.

Next time, we’ll make our way down the hillside at the Ellsworth Old Burial Ground.

To the Lighthouse: Visiting Tremont, Maine’s Hillrest Cemetery

“I don’t think that it would hurt anyone to live on an island…you get away from the hustle and bustle. You are not trying to keep up with the rest of the world, which is going too fast.”

— Dalton Reed, son of lighthouse keeper Nathan “Ad” Reed

The last cemetery we visited on Mount Desert Island was on the western side, Hillrest Cemetery.

That morning, we took a boat ride out to Little Cranberry Island and saw plenty of sea life along the way. Since it wasn’t far away, we also visited Bass Harbor Light and climbed on some more rocks.

The eastern side of Bass Harbor Light.

You can’t go up into the lighthouse but you can get right up next to the western side. I noticed nearby there was a gravestone on the way to the parking lot. Wasn’t expecting that!

According to Find a Grave, this is a cenotaph. But I think it’s possible that Tom’s ashes may be buried there.

I looked Alford “Tom” Williams, Jr. up on Find a Grave and this stone is said to be a cenotaph. His obituary noted that he served in the U.S. Coast Guard for 30 years before retiring. He was a lieutenant of the Southwest Harbor Fire Department and active in the Southwest Harbor-Tremont Ambulance Service.

My guess is that as a member of the Coast Guard, which managed this lighthouse, Tom was charged with helping care for it. That made me wonder what it was like to have spent so many years tending to such a rugged landmark.

Up the road from Bass Harbor Light is the Tremont area, near Southwest Harbor. This side of the island is much less touristy and offers a great deal of natural scenery that was lovely to take in as we drove along.

Hillrest Cemetery is located in the Southwest Harbor-Tremont area.

I found very little information about Hillrest Cemetery. According to Find a Grave, there are about 570 marked burials but only 40 percent are photographed. A new chain-link fence was put around it in 2011. From what I could see, it is well tended and in good shape. The cemetery sign, oddly, is located in the back instead of the front.

On the southwest side of Mount Desert Island, Hillrest Cemetery is in good condition for a rural cemetery.

The Hillrest Cemetery sign is actually in the back of the property.

As is my custom, I take a number of pictures and research the people later. It was with much delight that I learned that I’d photographed the graves of a local lighthouse keeper and his wife.

Born on in 1857 in West Tremont, Maine, Nathan Adam “Ad” Reed was a young boy when he secured his first job aboard ship and by 19, he was officially a captain. Well known around the area, Ad commanded the schooners Abraham Richardson, Montezuma, Union, Lavinia Bell, and the C.B. Clark.

A native of Maine, Nathan Adam “Ad” Reed was ready to give up the life of a sea captain and stay in one place with his family. (Photo source: Lighthouse Digest magazine)

At 18, Ad met and married 17-year-old Emma Almira Mitchell. Within a year the couple had their first child and would eventually have 15 more.

While Ad loved his work, he didn’t like being away from his family. At the age of 45, he was thrilled to get the post of second assistant keeper for Maine’s Great Duck Island Lighthouse. He served in that capacity from 1902 to 1909, and then as first assistant keeper from 1909 to late 1911.

Located south of Mount Desert Island and the Cranberry Islands, Great Duck Island Lighthouse wasn’t built until 1890. Great Duck Island is estimated to support 20 percent of Maine’s seabird population. The island earned its name in the 1700s from a pond that attracted numerous ducks.

Great Duck Island as it looked before the tower was painted white. (Photo source: U.S. Coast Guard)

Because of Ad’s large family and four other children already living on the island, Ad insisted that the State of Maine provide for a formal education for the children. It took a while to get approval but eventually, an old storage building was remodeled and turned into a schoolhouse.

School teachers boarded with the families during their stints on the island. At one point, Rena Reed, the sixth of the Reed children, became the school’s teacher after earning her teaching certificate at Eastern Maine Normal School in Castine.

According to Ad’s son, Dalton, life at the lighthouse was often a challenge but the family always had plenty of food. Capt. Reed purchased 12 to 14 barrels of flour every fall, which was usually enough to get them through the winter months. Dalton said meat was a rarity, but they ate plenty of fresh fish and lobster. None of the children ever saw a doctor, and Emma Reed had her own remedies for every ailment.

In December 1911, Ad was promoted to head keeper at the Nash Island Lighthouse off the coast of South Addison, Maine. Although it was a much smaller light station than Great Duck Island and he had no assistants, Ad and his family were ready for the challenge. Sadly, three months later Ad became ill and had to leave Nash Island. He died in April 1912 at the age of 55 of Bright’s Disease (a kidney disorder).

As signified by the three links, Capt. Nathan Adam “Ad” Reed was a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. They stand for “Friendship, Love, and Truth”.

A recent article in Lighthouse Digest offers a wonderfully detailed story about the lives of the Reeds while on Great Duck Island. You can read it here and see several photos of the Reed family.

Today, Great Duck Island is managed by Bar Harbor’s College of the Atlantic (COA) under the Maine Lights Program.

After Great Duck Island Lighthouse was automated in 1986, the Coast Guard destroyed all but one of the keeper’s houses, as well as most of the outbuildings. In 1998, the 12 acres encompassing Great Duck Island Lighthouse became the property of Bar Harbor’s College of the Atlantic (COA) under the Maine Lights Program.

Emma Reed died 20 years after Ad. I could not find her in the U.S. Census records but she may have lived with one of her many children. She is buried beside Capt. Reed.

Emma Reed died several years after her husband.

One of Ad and Emma’s daughters is buried at Hillrest. Lucy Leona Reed was born in 1892 and lived on Great Duck Island with her family. In 1913, she married streetcar conductor Benjamin Gott. They had two children together. In 1919, Lucy died at the age of 26 of unknown causes in Arlington, Mass.

Lucy Reed Gott died in Massachusetts in 1919.

Lucy’s epitaph reads:

One precious to our hearts has gone
The voice we loved is stilled
The place made vacant in our home
Can never more be filled.

The Lopaus family has 22 markers at Hillrest Cemetery. One obelisk stands for Capt. Andrew Lopaus, his wife, Rachel Milliken Lopaus and a son, Samuel Lopaus. Samuel was a sea captain like his father. He was lost at sea in 1865 at the age of 24. I could find nothing about the circumstances surrounding his death.

Capt. Samuel Lopaus was only 24 when he died at sea. This is a cenotaph.

Of Andrew and Rachel’s six children, two other sons would carry on the maritime tradition. Born two years after Samuel, Alonzo Lopaus married Nancy Young in 1869. They had five children, three of whom lived to adulthood. Alonzo died at sea in 1887.

Brother Roscoe Lopaus was a lighthouse keeper, working on seven different islands in Maine and Massachusetts during his career. His first post was from 1881 to 1883 at Nash Island Light, where Capt. Nathan Reed finished the last three months of his career in 1911. Both Alonzo and Roscoe are buried at Hillrest.

I found these two unusual markers for another father and son as I was preparing to leave.

A native of Scotland, Tom Harkins was a stone carver.

Jack Harkins followed in his father’s footsteps, it appears.

A native of Scotland, Tom Harkins came to America when he was 10 and later married Rhoda Dickens in 1906 in Maine. He worked as a stone carver until his death in 1950. Son Andrew Jackson “Jack” Harkins  carried on the tradition until his own death in 2000.

Finally, I found a sweet tribute to the cemetery’s caretaker, Alton Murphy. He is listed on another stone with other family members but this one was just for him. As it turns out, he was the son of Emmerata Lopaus Murphy. She was a daughter of Capt. Andrew and Rachel Lopaus, and sister of Samuel, Alonzo and Roscoe Lopaus.

Alton Murphy took care of Hillrest Cemetery in his later years.

Born in 1870, Alton never married and held various professions over the years, from sailor to fisherman to laborer. I don’t know how long he cared for Hillrest Cemetery but it was long enough for someone to want to commemorate his service with a marker.

Next time, I’ll wrap up our Maine adventure with a visit to Ellsworth’s Old Burying Grounds.

Footbridge in Somesville, Maine.

More of the Maine Adventure: Exploring Otter Creek Cemetery

Places like last week’s Mount Desert Street Cemetery are true gems because they offer up a great combination of history and beautiful stones. But truth be told, most cemeteries are of a more mundane nature. You’re not always going to see a monument with a soldier on top or one with a intricately carved ship. However, that doesn’t make them any less special to the families with loved ones buried there.

I saw Otter Creek Cemetery on a map of Mount Desert Island, located just outside the entrance of the Blackwoods Campground in Acadia National Park. Only around 2,000 live in the Otter Creek area and probably fewer than that are there year round.

Otter Creek is pretty much surrounded by Acadia National Park. The red spot marks Otter Creek Cemetery. (Photo source: Googlemaps)

While the area is historically rooted in fishing and lobstering, Otter Creek was cut off from the waterfront in the 1930s when John D. Rockefeller, Jr., bought land along Otter Cove as part of his vision for Acadia National Park. Otter Creek is the only village on Mount Desert Island to be completely encircled by the park.

Since we already needed to go to Blackwoods Campground to get a stamp in Sean’s National Parks passport, we made a stop at Otter Creek Cemetery after doing that. The guys decided to stay in the car while I explored.

While not that big, Otter Creek Cemetery appears to be well looked after by the locals.

According to Find a Grave, the cemetery has about 425 burials. Not all are marked. It is still an active cemetery, with a number of recent burials. The surnames Bracy, Bunker, Davis, Richardson, and Walls are common among the stones.

This marker for George B. Saunders was familiar. There are several like it at the Mount Desert Street Cemetery so I think the “hand holding a bouquet” was a popular option sold by a local mason in the late 1800s.

The hand clasping a bouquet of flowers is one I’ve seen in several Maine cemeteries.

Born in the Bucksport, Maine area, George Saunders married Elvira Jane Bracy in 1871. They had two children, Florence and Arthur. According to the 1880 U.S. Census, the family lived next door to Jane’s parents, Capt. David and Hannah Bracy. For reasons unknown, George died in 1882 at the age of 38.

Jane remarried, becoming the second wife of William H. Davis. Arthur Saunders is buried nearby with his wife, Vesta. Florence, who married Harold Liscomb, is also buried at Otter Creek. She died at the age of 27.

Capt. David and Hannah Bracy lived long lives and are buried at Otter Creek Cemetery as well. He is referred to as Deacon Bracy on his marker.

David and Hannah Bracy lived into their 70s, long after their daughter Jane died.

Their son, Lewis, is also buried at Otter Creek Cemetery. He was married to Cynthia Howard Bracy and they had at least three children. A sea captain, Lewis signed on in 1861 as a private with the 11th Maine Infantry, Company K to fight for the Union in the Civil War. He mustered out just a year later.

Lewis H. Bracy died in Cienfuegos, Cuba in 1877. I don’t known if he’s actually buried here or if this is a cenotaph.

After his military service, records indicate Lewis was the master of the ship C.E. Howard (perhaps named after his wife, the former Cynthia Howard) when it was traveling down the Penobscot River from Bangor to the Cranberry Islands (just south of Mount Desert Island). He and his crew were caught in a storm near Bass Harbor and had to escape the sinking vessel before they went down with it. You can read his account of it here.

Lewis applied for a war pension in 1874 and received it. He would die only three years later in Cienfuegos, Cuba, which is about 160 miles from Havana. It was a bustling port city known for its good location on the trade route between Jamaica and South America. His cause of death is unknown. Cynthia did not remarry and applied to receive Lewis’ pension after he died. She died in 1911 and is buried in nearby Bunker Cemetery.

I saw another of David and Hannah Bracy’s children buried close to Lewis. Their next to last daughter, also named Hannah, was only five when she died in 1862.

Hanna Bracy may have been the only child of Capt. David and Hannah Bracy to die in childhood.

I was intrigued by the monument for the Rev. Andrew Gray and his wife, Hannah Howard Gray. The marker notes that he was “ordained in the Ellsworth Quarterly Meeting” in 1871. Considering he was 48 at the time of his ordination, I was curious about his ministry.

The son of Josiah and Sarah Morey Gray, Andrew was born in Brookesville, Maine in 1823. He was converted to the Free Will Baptist faith at the age of 28, then licensed to preach in 1854 at the age of 31. Why his ordination took place so many years later is unknown.

Although her reportedly could not read or write, Rev. Andrew Gray devote his life to preaching the Gospel.

According to the Free Baptist Cyclopaedia, Rev. Gray had four pastorates and had baptized 83 converts by 1887. One account that I read described him as “a man so illiterate he could not write his own name, but one of strong personality, whose ministry wrought a great improvement to Otter Creek.” His arrival in the area took place in 1872, soon after his ordination.

Hannah Howard Gray may have been related to Cynthia Howard Bracy.

Elizabeth Gray Grover was one of the Rev. Andrew and Hannah Gray’s children. She is buried beside her husband, Gideon. Her marker is one of the most intricate in the cemetery and strikes a chord since she was only 20 when she died.

Elizabeth Gray Grover was 20 years old when she died and already had a daughter.

Elizabeth married Gideon Grover when she was in her teens. She had their daughter, Elnora, in 1875. She died three years later for unknown reasons. Gideon died 21 years later in 1892 at the age of 48. I don’t know if he ever remarried.

Three little graves grouped together were the children of Captain. William Bunker and his wife, Mary Bracy Bunker. She was also one of Capt. David and Hannah Bracy’s children. Hattie Belle, Lewis A., and an unnamed infant all died between 1880 and 1882.

The three Bunker children all died within two years of each other.

William and Mary’s final child, Alberta, was born in 1888. She did not share the same fate as her siblings and lived a long life. She died in 1975 at the age of 87.

Our Maine adventure is nearing its end but there are still two cemeteries to visit on our journey. Come back next time for more from the Pine Tree state!

Our nature walk during our visit to Wild Gardens of Acadia.

In Memory of Eden’s Sons: Stopping By Bar Harbor, Maine’s Mount Desert Street Cemetery

The final days of our Maine adventure were devoted to exploring Bar Harbor/Acadia National Park. On our way from Camden, we made two stops. The first was the Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory in Prospect. It’s one of only four bridge observatories in the world, the others being in China, Thailand, and Slovakia. Taller than the Statue of Liberty at 420 feet high (42 stories), it offers amazing views of the Penobscot River and surrounding area.

Completed in 2007, the Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory replaced the Waldo-Hancock Bridge built in 1931. You take an elevator all the way to the top. That’s my husband and son at the bottom.

Only a short walk away is Fort Knox, a must see since we visited Henry Knox’ grave just the day before. Fort Knox was established in 1844 to protect the Penobscot River valley against a possible future British naval incursion following the War of 1812. Troops were garrisoned there in 1863 to 1866 and briefly during the Spanish American war in 1898, but Fort Knox never saw military action.

Built in 1844, Fort Knox was designed by chief engineer Joseph Totten and a number of other engineers serving as superintendents, including Isaac Ingalls Stevens and Thomas L. Casey.

I didn’t glimpse another cemetery until later in the day after we’d arrived in Bar Harbor and had taken a bus tour of much of Mount Desert Island/Acadia National Park. My husband had to park the car some distance from where we caught the bus because in late June, Bar Harbor is packed with tourists.

On our walk back to the car, we stopped at a cemetery nestled between two fine looking churches. One is St. Saviour’s Episcopal Church (established in 1877) and the other is the Bar Harbor Congregational Church (established in 1883). St. Saviour’s boasts some beautiful Tiffany stained glass windows that I glimpsed from the cemetery.

Mount Desert Street Cemetery has about 240 marked graves.

The land was donated for the purpose of being a cemetery by Jonathan Rodick. Previously called the Rodick Family Burial Ground, it is now known as the Mount Desert Street Cemetery. A sign on the property refers to it as the Village Burying Grounds. Burials were taking place here before 1790 and many are unmarked.

While Mount Desert Street Cemetery isn’t very big, it packs a punch for taphophiles like me.

The largest object in the cemetery is the Union monument dedicated in 1897. It was designed and built by the firm of Cook & Watkins of Boston, with granite supplied by N.H. Higgins of Ellsworth, Maine. It cost $4,500, with $4,000 paid by the Town of Bar Harbor and $500 from public subscription.

Bar Harbor was originally called Eden.

You’ll notice that the monument says “In Memory of Eden’s Sons Who Were Defenders of the Union.” First settled by Europeans in 1763 by Israel Higgins and John Thomas, Bar Harbor was incorporated on Feb. 23, 1796 as Eden. It was named after Sir Richard Eden, an English statesman. I couldn’t find when exactly Eden became Bar Harbor but it’s possible it happened before Maine became a state in 1820.

While this cemetery is a small one, it drove home something that I hadn’t really thought about before. Mothers of this era were painfully aware that their children might die in infancy or childhood due to a variety of illnesses, as the gravestone below testifies. But the mother of a sea captain had to worry that while her infant son may have avoided diphtheria, he could easily be dragged to a watery grave in his 20s.

A nameless infant among the stones.

Probably the most eye-catching marker in the cemetery is for Captain James Hamor. I’d now seen quite a few monuments featuring sailing ships, but this one has to be among the best I’ve seen. The detail is quite intricate.

The Capt. James Hamor monument demands a closer look.

Unlike many of the mariners’ markers I saw in Maine, this one was not for someone lost at sea.

Born in Bar Harbor in 1794, James Hamor was the son of David and Experience Thompson Hamor. The land upon which the current Bar Harbor Congregational Church building now sits was once owned by Capt. Hamor. He donated it with the purpose of the town using it to build a school on, which it did.

James married Clarissa Rodick in 1822. I’m not sure if they had any children. He served as postmaster at different times throughout the 1850s and 1860s.

Capt. Hamor’s epitaph reads:

He’ll ride no more the billows
Nor o’er the rolling wave
He has performed life’s final voyage
And anchored in the grave.

Capt. Hamor died at the age of 79 in 1873. Clarissa, who is buried beside him, died in 1888 at the age of 85.

The Higgins name features prominently in Eden/Bar Harbor history. According to Find a Grave, there are close to 70 people with Higgins in their name buried at the cemetery.

Son of town founder Israel Higgins and Mary “Polly” Snow Higgins, Capt. Israel Higgins, Jr. shares a stone with his wife, Mary “Polly” Hull Higgins. They had seven children, of which three lived well into adulthood (Stephen, Royal, and Sophia). Although Israel was lost at sea, there is no ship on his marker. Instead, it is topped by a winged hourglass and decorated midway down with two clasped hands.

Israel Higgins, Jr. died far from home in 1823.

The inscription notes that the stone was erected by Capt. R. G. Higgins and S. Higgins. I assume this was Israel and Polly’s son Royal Grant Higgins and his first wife, Sarah.

Israel was considered a master mariner and served as an Eden selectman in 1802, 1803, and 1809. He was in command of the schooner Julia Ann (his son Seth was also aboard), thought to be the first ship built in Bar Harbor in 1809. Israel and Seth died at sea on March 29, 1823 about 25 miles south of Sandy Hook, N.J., which is about 600 miles south of Bar Harbor.

Another of Israel and Polly’s sons, Capt. Stephen Higgins, is buried nearby. While there is an anchor on his marker, nothing indicates that he died at sea. I could find out very little about him. Son Jonathan did die at sea in June 1824 aboard the brig William on a voyage from Havana, Cuba to Portland, Maine. He was 24 years old.

Capt. Stephen Higgins’ monument has probably been repaired more than once.

This came less than a year after the death of his father. Polly had died before these two heartbreaking events took place.

Amid all the white stones, I did find a traditional slate one that was similar to many I saw at Eastern Cemetery in Portland. The son of Moses and Mary Day, John W. Day was 24 when he died in 1848. It features the familiar weeping willow and urn at the top.

John Day’s death records do not list a cause of death.

The rain was conspiring against us so we headed on to the car, but my thoughts of that cemetery stayed with me. So many modern comforts have come to Bar Harbor since that seafaring era. Cell phones, fast food, fast cars. News came much more slowly then, such as word that someone’s ship had been torn apart in a storm or was splintered against a rocky shore in the darkness.

Weeping and sorrow surely followed as families prepared caskets and attended funerals. But alongside that grief must have rested a stoic acceptance that while the sea often swept some of Eden’s finest sons away, it kept the town alive and thriving. To stop accepting the challenge the ocean waves offered would deny their only livelihood, despite the fact she was often a painfully harsh mistress.

I’m not done with Bar Harbor just yet. There’s much more to come.

Visiting Thomaston, Maine: A Duel, A Shipbuilder, and a Little Boy, Part III

“One hour we saw him in full life, standing in the midst of us in the pride and vigor of manhood; the next, a helpless, inanimate corpse.”

— Rep. John Fairfield, Feb. 26, 1838, The Congressional Globe Index

This week, I’ve moved over to Elm Grove Cemetery to complete my series on these two Thomaston, Maine cemeteries. While Elm Grove has far fewer burials than Thomaston Village Cemetery, the stories there are just as amazing.

You’ve probably figured out that I often do my research when I’m in the process of writing a blog post. Not right after a cemetery visit. So it was with much surprise that I found out this week that one of my subjects had died fighting a duel.

The most famous (or rather infamous) person buried at Elm Grove is the Honorable Jonathan Longfellow Cilley, who served as a Congressman. That alone is noteworthy. He was only 36 when he died, his life snuffed out by a duel that set Washington, D.C. in an uproar for months afterward.

Jonathan Cilley was on the wave of a brilliant political career that ended in a disastrous duel. (Photo source: Maine State Archives)

A native of New Hampshire, Cilley studied law at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine as a member of the class of 1825 with fellow students Nathaniel Hawthorn and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. He was also close with future President Franklin Pierce, who was a year behind them.

After college, Cilley decided to further his law studies in Thomaston with John Ruggles (who would later become known as the “father of the U.S. Patent Office”). He was admitted to the bar in 1828 and began practicing law on his own.

While boarding at the home of Hezekiah Prince, Cilley met and fell in love with his landlord’s daughter, Deborah. They married in April 1829 and would have five children, three that would live to adulthood.

Deborah Prince was 21 when she married Jonathan Cilley.

Cilley also edited the Thomaston Register from 1829 to 1831, getting a taste for politics. He eventually represented Thomaston in the Maine House of Representatives from 1831 to 1836, serving as Speaker during in his final two years. His friend John Ruggles also served as a state representative from 1823-1831.

Cilley was elected to the 25th Congress as a Democrat in 1836 and began his duties in March 1837. During this time, majority Democrats were fighting with minority Whigs about the response to the Panic of 1837. Beneath this conflict was bitterness over President Martin Van Buren’s predecessor, Andrew Jackson, who chose not to recharter the Second Bank of the United States.

Whig editor James Watson Webb, at the helm of the New York Courier and Enquirer, was much disliked by Cilley, who thought Webb’s Congressional coverage was biased. While speaking on the House floor, Cilley indicated that Webb’s change from opposing to supporting the rechartering of the bank came about because Webb received loans from the bank totaling $50,000.

It’s been written that there was little actual animosity between Congressmen Jonathan Cilley and William Graves (pictured above). But once the duel was set, there was no turning back. (Photo source: Wikipedia Commons)

Stung by Cilley’s remarks, Webb asked Kentucky Congressman William J. Graves to deliver to Cilley a letter from Webb expressing his unhappiness. When Cilley refused to read the letter, Graves felt his own own honor had been insulted and challenged Cilley to a duel. Despite having no personal beef with Graves but rather Webb, Cilley felt honor bound to accept. This would be a deadly mistake.

The duel was set for Saturday, Feb. 24, 1838 at Bladensburg Dueling Grounds, just outside the border of Maryland since dueling was illegal in D.C. An estimated 26 duels were fought there, the most famous being in 1820 between Commodores Stephen Decatur and James Barron in 1820.

Pistols at dawn were usually the order of business in these matters. But because Graves was reputed as being a very good shot, Cilley requested the use of rifles instead of pistols at 80 yards. The time for the duel was 3 p.m., which seemed unusual until I read that Graves couldn’t even find a rifle at first and had to borrow one from his “second”, George Jones.

Daniel Key, son of Francis Scott Key, was killed in a duel at Bladensburg Dueling Grounds in 1836 by a fellow midshipman over a disagreement about steamboat speed. (Photo source: Harpers Magazine 1858)

Cilley and Graves, along with their seconds, arrived at the appointed time. The first time they fired on each other, they missed. The distance was shortened a little before they fired again, missing each other again. That should have been the end of it but during a third exchange, Graves hit Cilley in the femoral artery and he bled to death in a matter of minutes.

The event sent shockwaves through Washington, D.C. The quote at the top of today’s post is from a speech given by Rep. Fairfield the Monday after the duel, one among many given by Cilley’s friends. The duel led to the passage of a congressional act of February 20, 1839, prohibiting the issuing or accepting of a challenge within the District of Columbia, even if the duel was to be fought outside the district.

Cilley was brought home for burial in Elm Grove Cemetery. Sadly, he had not yet seen his youngest daughter, Julia, who was born in Thomaston two months before he died. His wife, Deborah, died only six years later at the age of 36. It was a tragic end to a man whose political career was just reading a high point.

The Cilley monument is a treasure trove of names, dates, and events.

Across the way from the Cilley monument is the O’Brien family plot. You can’t miss it for the large statue of Edward O’Brien on the top. A shipbuilder, O’Brien was one of only seven millionaires listed in America at the time of the Civil War.

Edward O’Brien purchased timber from as far away as Georgia in the 1850s to build his ships.

The son of an Irishman and an American mother, O’Brien was a focused businessman who kept a close eye on his affairs, from accounting to materials. Engaged in shipbuilding since 1825, he built upwards of 100 vessels. A financial crisis in 1857 could have crippled Thomaston but thanks to O’Brien’s financial help, the local bank remained in good standing.

In the 1850s, O’Brien moved his shipyard business from Warren to the area around Knox’s Wharf in Thomaston, becoming one of the town’s most prominent shipbuilders. According to an article on the Maine Memory Network, his ships were known around the world, distinguished by a broad unpainted “bright line, some six planks just below the deck beading kept unpainted and clear varnished.”

James A. Creighton made his fortune in shipbuilding in Thomaston, Maine.

Finally, I’d like to share the story of the Creighton family. James Alexander Creighton was first a ship’s captain, then a shipbuilder and lime kiln owner. In 1874, he married Emily Jackson Meservey of Boston. Together, they would have eight children. Five would live into adulthood and have their own families, but three (James, Lizzie and Arthur) died in infancy/childhood.

Shipbuilder James A. Creighton is seated with three of his grandchildren. (Photo source: Heirlooms Reunited.com)

James, Lizzie, and Arthur Creighton died in infancy/childhood.

These three children have their stones beside each other. The one that hits you right in the heart is the one for James Edwin Creighton.

James Creighton lies sleeping with his dog watching over him.

Photographing little James’ marker hit me hard that day. My own son was nearby, roaming around the cemetery without a care in the world. When I was done, I grabbed him close and gave him a long, painful hug that he didn’t understand.

Emily Creighton was 40 when she gave birth to their last child, Arthur, on Dec. 8, 1870. She would die only 16 days later on Christmas Eve. Arthur died on Feb. 22, 1871.

James Creighton remarried in 1874 to Isabell “Belle” Lewis. He died of heart disease in 1893. Belle died in 1900. He is buried with both of his wives and several of his children in Elm Grove.

After we left Thomaston, we headed up the coast to Camden to find our little seaside cottage at Glenmoor by the Sea. We spent the late afternoon hours hunting for sea glass among the rocks on West Penobscot Bay. This is the kind of family time I treasure.

Join me next time for more cemetery hopping adventures in Maine!

Visiting Thomaston, Maine: The Cole Family and Message in a Bottle, Part II

Last week’s post was devoted to America’s first Secretary of War, Henry Knox. He’s buried in Thomaston, Maine, the town where he and his wife moved to after he retired from his service in President George Washington’s cabinet.

When you visit Knox’ grave, it’s hard to tell which cemetery he’s buried in because Elm Grove is situated next to Thomaston Village Cemetery. Find a Grave has him listed at Elm Grove but when I looked at a map provided by the Thomaston city government’s web page, he’s actually in the Thomaston Village Cemetery.

This was further confirmed to me by an 1871 postcard I found of the Thomaston Village Cemetery that stated the land was donated to the town by Henry and Lucy Knox in 1802.

An 1871 postcard shows how Thomaston Village Cemetery looked at the time. (Photo Source: Maine Memory Network web site)

I was excited to see this postcard because among my photos I had this to compare it to now.

This is what Thomaston Village Cemetery looks like today.

From what I can tell, Elm Grove came later in 1836. By 1857, the 39 lots on the northern side had been sold. In 1858, a group of 22 residents agreed to pay $200 for the unoccupied land in the cemetery with a strip extending across Dwight Street, belonging to the Sullivan Dwight Estate. Each of the proprietors was assessed $10 to pay expenses. The by-laws were drawn up and signed by Hezekiah Prince.

According to the agreement, there were 58 lots costing $25 each. You can tell that Elm Grove is the final resting place of the more well heeled Thomastonians by the large size of some of the monuments and the elaborateness of the design.

One of the plots in the Thomaston Village Cemetery that is impossible to miss is for the Cole family. When you see one large marker fronted by 14 individual small ones, you stop to take a look.

William and Mary Cole had several children, but only a few lived long lives.

Born in 1791 in Virginia, William Cole came to Thomaston from Nashville, Tenn. to do business on the Mill River. His brother, John P. Cole, also left Nashville for Maine. Both married and started families there. William married Mary G. Dodge, daughter of Dr. Ezekiel and Susannah Winslow Dodge, in 1825. Mary was 24 at the time. William would eventually move his business to Rockland, Maine, where he died in April 1849 at the age of 59.

Mary Dodge Cole outlived her husband by several decades.

According to the books I found, William and Mary had 12 children but there are 13 names on the monument. Seven of them died in infancy/childhood. Three daughters died in early adulthood and the remaining three children married and lived long lives.

One puzzle amid the children is Willis, whose name appears on one of the small stones and on the family monument. Yet he appears in no genealogical records or in the actual cemetery records as having been buried there.

William built what would become known as the Cole House. It is now the administrative center of the Knox Museum/Montpelier. I didn’t know that when we visited but I saw it on the edge of the property.

Cole House during the Victorian era. (Photo source: Knox Museum web site.)

Susan Winslow Cole, born in September 1831 (although the monument says 1832), married Capt. Artemus Watts, becoming his second wife. According to the 1880 Census, Artemus was a retired shipmaster by that time. Susan’s mother, Mary, was living with them. Susan died in 1915 and is actually buried in another part of the cemetery with her husband.

Sarah Francis Cole and Susan Winslow Cole Watts’ markers are two of 14 lined up in a row.

Brother William J. Cole spent the first years of his life in Thomaston but would eventually move to California where he worked as a commission merchant. He died of tuberculosis in Phoenix, Ariz. in 1904. His death records indicate his body was sent to Philadelphia, Pa. so it’s possible his inscription on the monument is a cenotaph.

While William J. Cole’s name is on the Cole monument, records indicate his body was sent to Philadelphia for burial after his death in Arizona.

Eveline Cole was born in 1837 and married George White in Santa Cruz, Calif. in 1865. She died in California in 1922 and is likely buried there since she doesn’t appear as actually having been buried at Thomaston in the cemetery’s burial records. So hers may be a cenotaph as well.

Five of the Cole children who died in infancy are listed on this side of the monument, along with Eveline Cole White who died in California in 1922. Of all the Cole children, Eveline lived the longest.

As you can see on this side of the monument, Winslow, Rebecca, Garnet, Henrietta and Willis are all listed as having died in infancy.

Sisters Mary Elizabeth, Sarah Francis and Caroline, who all died in young adulthood, share one side of the monument.

It wouldn’t be a Maine cemetery without a sailor lost at sea. That brings me to the story of Captain George Jordan. Thanks to Pat Higgins’ site, the Maine Story, I got the scoop on what happened to him on “the unfortunate Pacific” mentioned on his marker.

Born in 1813, Captain Jordan was married to Betsy Masters and had two children, Octavia and Newell (the first, George, died in infancy). In late 1855, he sailed to Coxhaven, England where he sold his ship. He then booked passage home to Maine on the steamship Pacific and it proved a fateful decision.

Capt. George Jordan’s voyage home was on the “unfortunate Pacific.”

The Pacific was one of four wooden steam-powered ships built with government subsidies by the Collins Company of New York to compete with the British Cunard Line for transatlantic trade. Launched in 1849, it was driven by two paddle wheels on opposite sides of the ship and powered by side lever engines. It carried about 300 people in luxurious accommodations.

Pacific’s final voyage took place on January 23, 1856 in Liverpool, setting sail with 45 passengers (including George Jordan) and 141 crew members. Commanding the ship was Captain Asa Eldridge, a skillful mariner. The Pacific was never seen again.

The Pacific’s crew outnumbered the passengers three to one when it went down. (Photo source: Wikimedia Commons.)

The fate of the Pacific remained unknown until a message in a bottle was found about five years later on the coast of the Hebrides. It read:

On board the Pacific from Liverpool to N.Y. – Ship going down. Confusion on board – icebergs around us on every side. I know I cannot escape. I write the cause of our loss that friends may not live in suspense. The finder will please get it published. W.M. GRAHAM

One can’t help but think of a similar record-breaking ship that would encounter icebergs in 1912. It, too, would meet a disastrous fate.

I didn’t notice until later that Capt. Jordan is buried next to another marker for the Watts family. You’ll recall that Susan Cole married a Watts. Capt. Jordan’s name and “Infant George Jordan” are on the side.

Capt. Jordan and his infant son’s names are inscribed on the side of the Watts monument.

But on the front are the names Betsy B. Watts and Captain James Watts. Widowed Besty Masters Jordan married Capt. Watts in November 1856 after Capt. Jordan was lost at sea. Capt. Watts already had two daughters of his own, Delia and Mary. Together, they had a son named James in 1862.

Capt. Watts died in 1878. Newell Jordan was living in San Francisco, Calif. at the time of Betsy’s death in 1906 while James Watts was in Portland, Ore., according to Betsy’s will. Octavia Jordan married Clarence Leighton and would stay in the Maine area for her entire life.

The Watts monument is buried quite close to the Cole family plot.

Next week, we’ll spend some time next door at Elm Grove Cemetery.

Visiting Thomaston, Maine: America’s First Secretary of War Henry Knox, Part I

After leaving Colonial Pemaquid, we spent the night at the Spruce Point Inn near Boothbay Harbor. It reminded me very much of the old school resorts from the 1950s that I’d read about but never visited. A lovely place but we didn’t have time to linger.

My husband and son enjoyed the view of Boothbay Harbor at the Spruce Point Inn.

The next day we left early to go on a puffin cruise leaving out of Port Clyde. I wish I could say I took some awesome photos but all I had was my trusty iPhone. The photos I am posting here were generously shared by a fellow passenger.

Puffins are plentiful in certain parts of Maine in the spring and summer.

We saw even more seals than puffins.

On the way to Port Clyde, we drove through the village of Thomaston. In doing my pre-trip research, I learned that Revolutionary War hero Henry Knox and his family retired to the area in 1796.

Henry Knox was the the first Secretary of War of the United States. This is the man for whom Knoxville, Tenn. was named, my husband’s hometown. There are actually two Fort Knox-es named for him, the more famous one in Kentucky that houses the U.S. Bullion Depository and another in Maine that we stopped to visit.

After our puffin cruise, we stopped at the Knox estate, Montpelier. Unfortunately, it was closed that day but we were able to ramble around outside before heading back into Thomaston to find the cemetery where the Knox family is buried.

The original Montpelier was razed in 1871.

Knox’s wife, Lucy, had inherited the Thomaston property and the couple built Montpelier after Henry resigned from being Secretary of War in 1795. The original mansion (which had fallen into much disrepair) was torn down in 1871 and replaced by the Knox and Lincoln railway. A replica of the home was built in 1929 and today serves as a museum to Knox’ life and contains some of the original furniture from the first home.

Henry Knox was a trusted friend of George Washington and the first Secretary of War for the United States. Photo source: Portrait by Gilbert Stuart, 1806. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Henry and Lucy were originally buried on the grounds of Montpelier but their graves were moved to nearby Elm Grove Cemetery, which is located right beside the Thomaston Village Cemetery. There’s really nothing to indicate where one ends and the other began. So  I can’t honestly tell you which graves belong to which. Find a Grave claims that Thomaston Village Cemetery has about 6,000 burials while Elm Grove has around 400.

Thomaston Village Cemetery and Elm Grove Cemetery are right next to each other.

A native of Boston, Henry Knox’s father was a shipbuilder who died when he was 12. As the eldest son still living at home at the time, Henry went to work in a book shop. The owner was a father figure to him and allowed Henry to read as many books as he liked as time allowed. Later, Henry would open his own shop in Boston called the London Book Shop.

Interested in all things military in an era of growing unrest, Henry co-founded the Boston Grenadier Corps in 1772 and served as its second in command. He also supported the Sons of Liberty.

Against her parents, he married Lucy Flucker, daughter of well-to-do British Loyalists in June 1774. After Henry and Lucy fled Boston in 1775, Lucy remained essentially homeless until the British evacuated the city in March 1776.

Henry’s military career is too long to adequately share here. But he’s probably best known for coming up with the idea that cannons recently captured at the fall of Fort Ticonderoga and Crown Point in upstate New York could be moved to help the colonists’ cause. With George Washington’s blessing, he began what was known as the “noble train of artillery” by hauling 60 tons of cannon and other armaments across an estimated 300 miles of ice-covered rivers and snow-topped Berkshire Mountains to the Boston siege camp.

Sketch of Knox’s effort to use oxen-drawn sled to bring cannons and armaments to Boston.

Historian Victor Brooks called it “one of the most stupendous feats of logistics” of the entire war. Henry’s effort is commemorated by a series of plaques marking the Henry Knox Trail in New York and Massachusetts.

After the war, Congress appointed Knox the nation’s second Secretary at War in March 1785. The army was by then a fraction of its former size, and the new nation’s westward expansion was exacerbating frontier conflicts with Indian tribes. The War Department Knox took charge of had two civilian employees and a single small regiment. That same year, Congress authorized the establishment of a 700-man army.

Over the next 10 years, Henry would deal with a full plate of issues involving the new nation, from negotiating treaties to frontier friction. Eventually, he resigned his post in 1795 so he and Lucy could head for Thomaston to enjoy their later years.

Hardly “retired” in the traditional sense, Knox participated in many of the emerging businesses in the area. He shipped timber, quarried lime, made bricks, built a lock and canal system on the Georges River, helped establish a local church, and experimented with agriculture, shipbuilding, and land speculation.

I wish more cemeteries had big, helpful signs pointing the way.

Henry and Lucy had 13 children in the course of their marriage, but 10 of them passed away before the couple did. Their only son to live to adulthood, Henry Jackson Knox, is reported to have lived a life of much excess, from drinking heavily to squandering money. Just before he died in 1832, Henry Jackson requested that his remains not be interred with his family but placed in a common burial ground “with no stone to tell where.”

The Henry Knox plot at Elm Hill Cemetery.

Henry Knox’s monument has his name on the front, while Lucy and some of their children’s names are inscribed on the sides. His son-in-law and granddaughter, Ebenezer Thatcher and Mary Thatcher Hyde, are to his left. Grandson James Swan Thatcher has a cenotaph to his right. James was the son of Ebenezer Thatcher and Henry’s oldest daughter, Lucy Knox Thatcher.

Henry Knox was 56 when he died.

Unfortunately, while the front of the Knox monument is easy to read, the sides are not nearly as clear. I could make out Lucy’s name on one side but the rest is nearly impossible to read. It is my guess that Lucy Knox Thatcher is among the names listed.

The story of Henry’s death is an unfortunate one. While dining at the home of a close friend, Knox swallowed a chicken bone, which lodged in his throat and became infected. He died at home three days later on October 25, 1806. He was buried on the grounds of Montpelier with full military honors.

You can barely make out Lucy’s name on the side.

Lucy stayed on at Montpelier for 20 more years, gradually selling off parts of the estate to keep herself afloat. Youngest daughter Caroline took over the house after her mother died in 1826 since Henry Jackson Knox was too irresponsible to do so. Caroline managed to keep things going until her death in 1851, having survived two husbands. Oldest daughter Lucy Knox Thatcher took over until her death in 1854.

Oldest Knox daughter Lucy Flucker Knox Thatcher was the last of the family to live at Montpelier. Portrait painted by Albert Gallatin Hoit.(Photo source: Knox Museum.

Husband of Lucy Flucker Knox, Ebenezer Thatcher was a local judge.

James Swan Thatcher’s death is similar to many young men buried in Maine seaside cemeteries. Born in 1815, James was the son of Lucy Knox Thacther and Ebenezer Thatcher. He joined the Navy and eventually sailed on the USS Grampus. She was the first U.S. Navy ship to be named for the sea animal Grampus griseus, also known as Risso’s Dolphin.

The USS Grampus had a role in the historic Amistad trials. (Photo source: U.S. Government

Grampus played had a small role in the Amistad trials. In late 1839, the U.S. government had Grampus standing by in New Haven Harbor so that in case the court ruled in favor of the slaves’ Spanish “owners,” they could deport the Africans to Cuba before they could appeal.

Because the district judge ruled that the Africans were illegally enslaved and must be returned to their home country, it was the government’s task to appeal on behalf of the slaveholders, and Grampus was not needed. The schooler continued her duties in the protection of shipping in the Caribbean Sea and in the South Atlantic Ocean.

James Swan Thatcher was only 28 when he was lost at sea. This is a cenotaph and not an actual grave marker.

Grampus was last heard of off St. Augustine, Fla. on March 15, 1843. She is presumed to have foundered in a gale off Charleston, S.C. with all hands aboard lost at sea.

Next week, I’ll be back at these two cemeteries to share some more stories from Thomaston, Maine.

Mainely Cemetery Hopping: Visiting Colonial Pemaquid’s Old Burying Ground, Part II

Happy New Year! I took a little break during the holidays but I’m back with more from Maine. When I last wrote, I shared my visit to Colonial Pemaquid’s Old Burying Ground near Bristol.

I don’t often come in contact with the living while I’m meandering through a cemetery but I did here. A gentleman walking his dog came over and asked if I was hunting for family. I told him about my hobby and he confided that he liked visiting cemeteries as well!

Family obelisks can present some invaluable information for genealogists. Sometimes you can find the history of an entire generation on one big marker. Unfortunately, the dates and names may be all you find.

A good example of this is the obelisk for the Geyer family, with information for seven family members on it. The main couple were Captain Thomas Geyer (born around 1814 in Friendship, Maine) and his wife, Nancy (born around 1818, also in the Friendship area). They married around 1835 and settled in Bristol where they had several children.

The Geyer obelisk holds almost all of the information I could find on the family.

The 1850 Census lists Thomas as a sailor living with Nancy and five children. Beyond that, I could find little about him. His marker shares that he died at the age of 39 on March 26, 1855 in “Aux Cayes”, which is now known as Les Cayes, a port city in Haiti. Whether he was lost at sea or died of illness is unknown. The Masonic symbol above his name indicates he was involved in that civic organization.

Capt. Thomas Geyer died at the age of 39 in Haiti. Whether it was at sea or from illness is unknown. Nancy did not remarry and stayed in Bristol.

Nancy stayed on in Bristol with two of her younger children, Arthur and Edward. She died in 1878 at the age of 60. Arthur and Edward both lived long lives.

On another side are listed three of their children: Arthur, Hannah, and Sullivan. Arthur, born in 1850, died in 1927 at the age of 77. But Hannah and Sullivan both died in childhood. Hannah was nine at the time of her death while Sullivan was 10. Edward is buried in a different cemetery in Maine.

Of these three Geyer siblings, only Arthur lived into adulthood.

On the other side are two cenotaphs (meaning the person is not buried in the cemetery) for two of Thomas and Nancy’s daughters. Eliza Geyer Perkins died at sea at the age of 19 in 1856, the wife of J.W. Perkins. He is listed in the 1850 Census as a sailor and she was likely with him when she died.

Eliza Geyer Perkins died at sea while her sister, Frances, died in Chicago. Neither are buried at this cemetery.

Frances Geyer Fitch died in Chicago at the age of 29 in 1877. Her husband, Captain J.B. Fitch, served during the Civil War in Companies D and E, 20th Maine Infantry. He died in 1893 in Chicago and is buried in Graceland Cemetery. I’m guessing Frances is possibly buried there as well. They had three children. Son Joseph was a superior court judge in Chicago.

Capt. James B. Fitch married Frances Ellen Geyer in Bristol, Maine but they spent her last years in Chicago, Ill.

The Partridge monument only lists five names. But the family was a key one in the Bristol/Pemaquid area. Born around 1806, James W. Partridge farmed a few hundred acres. He married Sarah Erskine, daughter of sailor Ebenezer and Jane Saunders Erskine. It looks like they had eight children, seven of which lived to adulthood. James died in 1888 at the age of 72 while Sarah died at the age of 78 from “dibeatus” in 1900.

James and Sarah Partridge raised their large family in Bristol, Maine near Pemaquid.

Henry, whose name appears by itself on one side of the monument, probably never married. Born in 1859, he is listed as single on the 1900 Census and is living with older brother James E. Partridge and his family. When he died at the age of 58 in 1919, the cause of death was listed as “cerebritis” with “melancholia” as a contributing factor. He may have suffered from lupus. In his father’s papers, in which James made certain his wife and children were all remembered, Henry is listed as the executor of his will.

Henry Clarke Partridge may have suffered from lupus.

Two names are listed on another side of the monument. Eben Howard Partridge, who may have been James and Sarah’s first child, was born in January 1844 and died in October 1846. Listed at the bottom is their second child, Jennie Partridge Lewis. Born just a few days before her brother Eben died in October 1846, Jennie was possibly Bristol’s postmistress at one time.

Jennie married Nathan Lewis in 1868 but it doesn’t appear they had any children. She died in 1895 of typhoid fever at the age of 48. Nathan, who is buried elsewhere, died in 1911 of a cerebral thrombosis.

Jane “Jennie” Elizabeth Partridge Lewis died on typhoid fever in 1895.

There was one more surprise left at the Old Burying Ground. Many weeks after I had visited, I discovered there was someone famous buried there. It wasn’t until I pulled up Find a Grave that I found out. And somewhere amid all my photos, I had managed to get a picture of his marker (albeit off to the side).

Actor Paul Reed is buried with his wife, Judy.

Born in June 1909 as Sidney Kahn in Highland Falls, N.Y., Paul Reed was one of seven children born to Russian-Jewish immigrants. As a teenager who lost his father early in life, Paul had to work hard. While selling gum in vaudeville shows, he settled on an acting career and worked first as a radio singer. He took his first Broadway bow at age 31 in a 1940 revival of the musical operetta “The Gondoliers.” Paul had parts in the operettas “Trial by Jury” (1940) and “La Vie, Parisienne” (1942), as well as “Up in Central Park” (1945) and “Carnival in Flanders” (1953).

It was his participation in four Broadway musicals, “Guys and Dolls” (1950), “The Music Man” (1957), “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” (1961) and “Promises, Promises” (1968), that got him attention.

However, Paul is best known for his role as Police Captain Paul Brock in the hit TV show “Car 54, Where Are You?” during the 1950s and early 1960s. He was praised for his trademark “slow burn” in which he gradually went from slightly irritated to exploding with anger.

That’s Al Lewis on the left (later known as Grandpa on “The Munsters”) with Paul Reed, who starred as Captain Paul Brock on TV’s “Car 54, Where Are you?”.

Although Reed retired from acting in the 1970s, he could still be seen in commercials well into the 1990s. He died in 2007 at the age of 97 in Greenwich, Conn. His wife, dancer June Reed, died seven weeks later and is buried beside him. They had one son, Paul Jr., a professional jazz and rock drummer who’s also written music for Broadway shows.

Next time, I’ll be further up the coast with more cemeteries from Maine. I hope you’ll come back to join me.

Mainely Cemetery Hopping: Visiting Colonial Pemaquid’s Old Burying Ground, Part I

Last week, I finished up my series on Portland, Maine’s Eastern Cemetery. That one was hard to say goodbye to!

The next day we traveled up to Bath to visit the Maine Maritime Museum, then moved on to the Pemaquid Point Lighthouse. I love lighthouses of all shapes and sizes, and this one is top notch because you can actually go up into it. Not all of them are in such good shape or have full public access. My husband, son and I also spent a good bit of time climbing all over the rocks above the crashing waves.

The original lighthouse was commissioned in 1827 by President John Quincy Adams and built that year. Due to poor construction, it was rebuilt in 1835. The keeper’s house was added later.

However, I knew I had a good chance of stopping by another cemetery on our way back up the Pemaquid peninsula. I persuaded my husband to drive over to Colonial Pemaquid so  I could get a good look at the Old Burying Ground (that’s what they call it). We were hopeful we could find a place to grab dinner afterward.

Located in New Harbor near Bristol, the Colonial Pemaquid State Historic Site includes the reconstructed Fort William Henry, along with archaeological remains of 17th- and 18th-century village buildings and fortifications. Pemaquid was a colonial settlement dating to the early decades of the 17th century, with a succession of conflicts leading the site to be attacked on several occasions and entirely abandoned twice. The area was used by English and French traders and fishermen on a seasonal basis for some time, and the first documented permanent residence was established in 1628.

Colonial Pemaquid has a museum with artifacts found on the site including musket balls, coins, and pottery. But it was closed by the time we got there. My husband and son were eager to explore Pemaquid Beach next door and we spotted a seafood restaurant where we could dine later. I headed over to the Old Burying Ground.

The tide was going out when we got to Pemaquid Beach.

With a view of Pemaquid Beach, the Old Burying Ground is a lovely place to explore. At the time we were there, the grass had been cut in some areas but not in others so getting great pictures of some of the markers wasn’t easy. But it was still amazing. As it often does, being in such an old cemetery makes me feel like I’m going back to another time and place.

A very helpful sign explained that while the oldest dated cemetery marker comes from 1734, stones from as far back as 1652 have been found in earlier times. Unmarked field stones are plentiful. There’s also a mention of Indian attacks in the village during the 1600s that required mass burials. Currently, there are 200 names recorded of people buried at the Old Burial Ground but there are many, many more that remain anonymous.

The Old Burying Ground has a variety of marker styles represented, from skulls to willow-shaded urns to modern recent ones. The familiar flying skull is on the slate marker of Ann Rodgers, who died at the age of 41. She even has her name on the back, too.

The familiar winged skull adorns Ann Rodgers’ marker.

I’m not sure why Ann’s name is on the back of her marker.

By looking on Ann’s Find a Grave memorial, I found the full inscription:

Here lies buried ye body of
Mrs Ann Rodgers
the wife of Lieut
Patrick Rodgers
Died July 1st 1958
in the 41st year
of her age

There was also a winged face marker (called a “soul effigy”) represented by the stone of Margaret Fletcher, who was married to a sea captain.

Margaret Fletcher was married to a sea captain.

Here lies buried
the body of Mrs
Margaret Fletcher
wife to Capt
Thomas Fletcher
died May 15 1767
Aged 43 years

The sign also noted that like Eastern Cemetery, the Old Burying Ground includes stones from a reputable stonecutter. His name was Joseph Sikes, and he came from a family of stone cutters. Because his work is so similar to that of his son Elijah’s, it is often hard to tell who did what stone. Sometimes Elijah marked his stones with an “E.S.” at the bottom.

While not born in Maine, Joseph probably moved from Massachusetts to the coast of Maine. His work spanned the 1770s to about 1800. It can be found in cemeteries in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Maine.

The Sikes style is almost folk art-esque, giving it a primitive charm. They favored oval-shaped heads, semi-circle eyes, flowers, grapes, vines, moons, hearts, and the words “momento mori” (Latin for “remember death”).

The marker for Morgan McCaffrey is not in good condition due to the poor quality of the stone. The elements have also taken their toll. Fortunately, I was able to find out a little about him.

The marker for Morgan McCaffrey is in poor condition due to the elements, but its folk art motifs are still charming.

According to his Find a Grave memorial, Morgan was married to Anna Little, the daughter of James Little. Her father was killed by Indians at Fort Frederick on Sept. 2, 1747, according to the Massachusetts Archives.

James Little was granted land in 1736 from Great Britain under the Waldo Patent. This was a document granting title to 36 square miles of land in Maine. It’s named after businessman Samuel Waldo, who eventually gained control of the patent. It was previously known as the Muscongus Patent because one of the boundaries was a river by that name.

After James’ death, Anna and her sister Sarah (along with their husbands) inherited and sold this land. Morgan died in 1768 at the age of 35. His daughter, Jennie, is said to have written his epitaph. Jennie had also been recently devastated by the loss of a brother, who drowned in a well near their home.

Behold my dad is gone,
And leaves me here to mourn;
But hope in Christ I have,
That he and I will save.

Thomas and Esther Holden share a marker done by Joseph or Elijah, the long oval faces at the top being a trademark. Had it not been for Find a Grave and a book, I wouldn’t have known their names because the stone is in very poor condition and spotted with lichen.

Thomas and Esther Holden died within a year of each other and share the same marker.

Fortunately, you can still see the faces and the words “momento mori” at the top. It looks like Thomas’ face may feature a mustache. You can also faintly see what looks like two hearts merged into one below the faces.

“Momento Mori” (translated to mean “Remember Death”) was frequently carved on markers from the 18th century.

Their inscription reads:

Behold we are confined to dust,
And here we must remain,
Till Jesus who redeemed us
Bids us rise again.

Thomas died at the age of 75 on May 19, 1784 while Elizabeth died at the age of 64 on Feb. 6, 1785.

It’s believed that Joseph Sikes died sometime around 1801. While he spent his life in the Maine/Massachusetts area, Elijah moved to Vermont then went west. He’s buried with his wife, Lucretia, in Brookfield, Ohio. His own marker is quite plain compared to those he carved.

I’ll be back soon with more stories from the Old Burying Ground at Pemaquid. In the meantime, with Christmas only a few days away, I hope you have a happy holiday season!