Stopping by St. Lawrence Cemetery: More Adventures in Charleston, S.C., Part I

So I’m still in Charleston, this time at St. Lawrence Cemetery. Located next to the massive Magnolia Cemetery (I’ll be writing about that one later) and just down the street from Bethany Cemetery. There’s a Jewish cemetery to the right, but it was locked up the day I went to visit. Maybe I’ll get a chance at it this summer.

A note of caution. St. Lawrence Cemetery is located in front of a large housing project, not exactly the safest part of town. I advise anyone to do what I do at every cemetery I visit. Leave your valuables at home and not in your car. The day I was there, two police cars were parked across the street from the cemetery entrance as I drove in. When I drove out later, they were handcuffing someone.

St. Lawrence Cemetery is not very big. But it’s definitely worth a stop.

According to Find a Grave, St. Lawrence has about 8,000 recorded burials. As the third Catholic cemetery established in Charleston, it came from the initiative of Ignatius Reynolds, second bishop of Charleston. Prior to establishing St. Lawrence Cemetery, interments were either at St. Mary of the Annunciation burial ground, established in 1793, or St. Patrick burial ground, often referred to as the Catholic burial ground, established in 1831.

Due to overcrowding, Bishop Reynolds purchased 18 acres from Edward Tharin at a cost of $2,500 in 1851. Reynolds officially opened St. Lawrence Cemetery in 1854.

So while St. Lawrence is not exactly huge, it’s worth a look. The variety of monuments and the history they reveal is stunning. Some Catholic cemeteries I visit are often a little dull because they stick to featuring the Saints and that’s about it. St. Lawrence is not like that at all.

When you drive in, you cannot miss the iron cross smack dab in the middle of the drive, which apparently is still a plot. Under it are the remains of German native Christopher Werner and his wife, Isabella. She provided it to the cemetery to use as her husband’s monument when he died in 1874. Christopher had created it himself.

This intricately detailed wrought iron cross was created by the man whom is buried beneath it, Christopher Werner.

A native of Munster, Germany, Christopher came to America sometime in the 1830s and became a citizen in 1839. The son of a blacksmith, he learned the trade from his father. In Charleston, he was known as a blacksmith, carriage maker, wrought iron worker, and a skilled businessman. He married Isabella, a native of England, in 1841 and they had six children together, one dying in childhood.

Christopher Werner is responsible for some of Charleston’s most beautiful ironwork.

With a foundry located on the corner of Cumberland and State Streets, Christopher’s business expanded from carriage making into a large, diverse enterprise throughout the state. He had a reputation for quality work and was sought after for his skill. I was thrilled to learn that some of the beautiful wrought ironwork over at Bethany Cemetery was done by his hand. You can still see it all over Charleston today.

One example of Christopher’s work is the Palmetto Regiment monument that still stands at the South Carolina courthouse grounds in Columbia. He created it to honor the Palmetto Regiment of Volunteers of South Carolina, an infantry regiment that participated in the Mexican American War (1846-1848).

The Palmetto Regiment monument stood on the Capitol grounds until it was shattered by a tornado in February 1939. It was designed by Henry Steenken, who worked in Werner’s shop. The monument was later restored. (Photo source: Brian Powell)

According to a 1907 newspaper report, Werner’s ironwork could also be seen at Mayor R. Goodwyn Rhett’s house on Broad Street in Charleston, now the John Rutledge House Inn (Rutledge built the house for his bride in 1763) when Werner did the wrought ironwork for then-owner Thomas N. Gadsden. You can see it there today.

Now known as the John Rutledge House Inn, the house was owned by Thomas Gadsden when Christopher Werner added the wrought iron work to it. (Photo source: Trip Advisor)

Christopher Werner died in 1874. Father Daniel J. Quigley, a priest from Charleston’s Roman Catholic Cathedral officiated at the funeral. Isabella died in 1894 and is buried with him. According to Find a Grave, when the monumental cross was dismantled to be restored, the remains of both were found.

You may remember last week I featured the monument of Behrend Hollings, a German immigrant turned successful grocery merchant. I found one of his sons, Edward, buried at St. Lawrence. An attorney, he was married to Anna O’Rourke in 1886 and had two children. He died at the age of 39 of malarial fever.

Lawyer E.B. Hollings left behind a wife and two children when he died at the age of 39. The calla lilies on his monument are in excellent condition.

There are several Irish families buried at St. Lawrence. The Darcy monument says “erected by their sister” and I’ve deduced that it must be the latest name on it, Margaret Darcy Sheridan, who died in 1910. A large marker simply reading “sister” is next to it. John, Tim and Patrick are also listed on the other sides. All hailed from Tipperary, Ireland.

The Darcy siblings are featured on this beautiful monument.

I’ve always liked the “angel as scribe” monument style. There’s one in Rome, Ga.’s Myrtle Hill Cemetery.

Tim and John died in their 20s and 30s but Patrick lived into his late 60s, a long-established owner of a shoe and boot store on King Street. He also owned several properties in Charleston when he died in 1906.

Several Italian families are also buried at St. Lawrence, including 24 members of the Sotille family. Descended from five brothers (Giovanni, Nicholas, Santo, Albert, and James) who emigrated to Charleston in the 1880s from Gangi, Sicility, there are still Sotilles living in the area today. Their mausoleum is lovely.

Salvatore and Rosina Albergamo Sottile of Gangi, Sicily, had a total of seven children who emigrated to the United States. Five brothers came first. After Salvatore’s death, Rosina came to America with daughter Marie and son Joseph.

As president of the Pastime Amusement Company, Albert Sotille built what was originally called the Gloria Theater in 1922. With 2,000 seats, the Sotille Theater was the largest of its kind in the state and also served as a vaudeville house. The South Carolina premiere of “Gone With the Wind” was held there with most of the cast present. After closing in 1975, the Sotille Theater was eventually purchased and restored by the College of Charleston. It now hosts a wide variety of performing art events.

The stained glass inside the Sotille family mausoleum.

Another mausoleum for an Italian immigrant got my attention. It’s quite different from the polished Sotille family tomb. This one houses only one person, Rosa Cervetti. She was a native of Chavari, Italy and born in 1834. I don’t know her maiden name but she married Angelo Cervetti in 1870. His profession is listed in some places as a cigar maker or shoe retailer, and as a fisherman in others.

Rosa Cervetti’s mausoleum is in poor condition and looks unfinished.

Rosa died in 1907 at the age of 73. I learned that Angelo remarried to a woman named Nellie. But Angelo’s demise is shrouded in mystery. By doing a search, I was surprised to find a “missing” poster seeking his whereabouts. You can even purchase this notice on eBay or Amazon.

The mystery of what happened to Angelo Cervetti has not been solved as far as I know.

I don’t think Angelo and Rosa had any children and if they did, they are not listed as being buried at St. Lawrence. Angelo is not listed on Find a Grave. So if he ever did come home to Nellie, it was never reported.

The last mausoleum I wanted to share is for the Hunt family. It has no door on it so you can actually walk right in, a rarity in my experience. The last interment was 1982. While it was a treat to be able to go inside, it worries me that the stained glass is exposed to the elements and possible vandalism.

I don’t know what happened to the door of the Hunt family mausoleum.

The son of Massachusetts native Nathaniel and Anne Rivers Hunt, Nathaniel A. Hunt was born in South Carolina in 1842. He married Catherine Goodrich in 1872 and they had at least two children, Florence and Alvah. Like Patrick Darcy, he did well as a wholesale shoe merchant and at some point, was vice president of a bank. Son Alvah was an 1894 graduate of the College of Charleston and also attended Yale.

The last interment in the Hunt mausoleum was in 1982 with the death of Florence Hunt Maxwell.

Catherine died of tuberculosis in 1902 at the age of 52. Nathaniel died in 1918 of kidney disease. Their son, Alvah, died the same year in October of tuberculosis. His occupation is listed as “retired” on his death certificate. His wife, Emily, may have remarried since she is not buried in the mausoleum with him.

Hopefully, the stained glass in the open mausoleum will not be a target for vandalism.

Next time, I’ll share the story of the Sisters of Mercy buried at St. Lawrence Cemetery.

Another Charleston Ramble: Visiting Bethany Cemetery, Part II

Last week, I introduced you to Charleston’s Bethany Cemetery. Many of the city’s German immigrants who found success are buried there. We’ll spend some more time learning about them today. But I’ll also share the tragic story of a not-so-wealthy family who suffered great loss.

Like many Charleston cemeteries, Bethany has plenty of Spanish moss-laden trees lining its paths.

The Hollings monument intrigues me because its main feature is a stack of books.

Grocer Behrend Hollings died in his 40s but wife Catherine lived 30 years after him.

Like Jacob Seebeck (see last week’s post), Behrend Hollings was a German immigrant but he arrived in Charleston many years earlier. He, too, went into the grocery trade. The 1860 U.S. Census indicates he was operating a store with his brother-in-law, Adolf Carstens. Jacob was married to Adolf’s sister, Catherine, and together, they had several children.

I don’t know if Behrend Hollings was especially intelligent or a book lover. But the detail on the stack is quite nice.

Sadly, Behrend died at the age of 44 of pneumonia in 1863. But the Hollings sons went on to run the family business for many years after that. Catherine died of apoplexy in 1893 at the age of 66.

One of the grandest monuments at Bethany is for the Bischoff family. Like the Hollings and Seabeck families, Henry Bischoff had a successful grocery business but his wealth was considerably greater than that of his peers.

Henry Bischoff added to his already considerable wealth by selling patent medicines.

Henry arrived in Charleston before the Civil War and married the daughter of another prominent German immigrant, Jennie Melchers. During the Civil War, he was a Second Lieutenant in Theodore Cordes’ Company, South Carolina Cavalry Militia (German Hussars). In addition to his grocery business, he made quite a bit of money with a patent medicine enterprise selling something called Carolina Tolu Tonic.

According to the 1870 U.S. Census, Henry Bischoff was worth about $90,000 at that time. Not too shabby.

Thanks to an article by Dr. Susan Millar Williams, I learned that in addition to the South American herb for which it was named, Carolina Tolu Tonic had plenty of sugar and whiskey. While it may not have had much of a medicinal impact, those that took it were surely pleased with the effect. Here’s an advertising card from that era promoting the product.

Patent medicine was big business in the late 1800s, even being sold to cure children’s ills. (Photo source: Bottles, Booze, and Back Stories, a blog by Jack Sullivan.)

In 1874, Henry bought three rice plantations along the Edisto River near Jacksonboro, S.C. and renamed them collectively as Rice Hope. I wanted to post a photo of the remaining plantation home that stands but the only photo I could find required written consent to use.

Henry Bischoff was only 56 when he died of “hepatic dropsy” (a form of liver disease) in 1878.

Henry died in 1878, leaving Jennie to manage his fortune. The plantation stayed in the family until 1918. Jennie died in 1906 and is buried with Henry at Bethany, along with several of their children.

The men I’ve featured thus far have been “Switzers” or German immigrants who were from the merchant class when they arrived in the 1800s. But I’d like to highlight a Palatine who shares some qualities with my ancestor Jacob Claar, who arrived in the 1700s in Philadelphia as an indentured servant from Germany. Michael Kalteisen, however, went much further than Jacob ever would.

German immigrant Michael Kalteisen is shown in the uniform of Colonel of Artillery in the Patriot cause. (Photo source: The Moultrie News)

A native of Wuerrtemburg, Germany, Michael was the son of an educated but large family with little money. He arrived as an indentured servant in South Carolina in 1747. In other words, he had to work long enough to repay his master what it had cost to bring him to America. He had few rights and faced a lot of hard work.

After completing his indenture in the mid-1750s, Michael applied for and received 50 acres on Indian Creek between the Saluda and Congaree Rivers. In 10 years, he amassed more than 2,000 acres in the colony and had a spacious home that he and his wife turned into a wayfarer’s inn. He also operated a mule train between Charleston and the settlements of the upstate.

Michael was elected to both Provincial Assemblies in the mid-1770s and was awarded a captain’s commission so that he could coordinate the logistics of war materiel from the fork of the Saluda and the Congaree down to the coast. He acted as an intermediary for German Whigs in their struggle against the Tories in the center of the state.

Fort Johnson, on James Island, was one of the federal fortifications seized by South Carolina after its secession. No trace of it exists today.

Michael was also one of the founders of St. John’s Lutheran Church and first president of the German Friendly Society in 1766, the second oldest German Society in America. He was serving as colonel and commanding officer of Fort Johnson when he died in 1807. He was originally buried in front of the German Friendly Society’s building in Charleston but in 1908 when this monument was installed, his remains were moved to Bethany.

When Michael Kalteisen died in 1807, he was buried in front of the German Friendly Society building. His remains were moved to Bethany Cemetery in 1908 when this monument was installed in his honor.

Kind reader Sandy O’Neale shared this final tragic tale with me via e-mail. She’s done a great deal of research into her husband’s family. It’s the story of a couple who were the children of German immigrants. They were not wealthy like the Bischoff or Hollings families by any means. However, their names were known by all of Charleston when the tragedy was over.

Theodore Knickmeyer and his wife, Rebecca O’Neale Knickmeyer, were of humble means. The son of an orchestra leader, Theodore was a carpenter by trade and a fireman by night.

Rebecca was the daughter of carpenter William O’ Neale, who was also trained as an organist. Her uncle, Thomas, was a respected music professor and organist at the French Huguenot Church. After the 1865 fall of Charleston, Union soldiers dismantled the church’s organ and were loading it onto a New York-bound ship when it was saved by a group led by Thomas O’Neale, who begged the soldiers to leave it in Charleston.

With the staircase destroyed by fire, the Knickmeyers were trapped in their third-floor apartment.

By 1898, Theodore and Rebecca had six children and were living in a third-floor apartment on Church Street. Rebecca’s father and her two brothers, Albert (16) and Caswell (14), were residing with them as well. Theodore had just brought his nephews home from the orphanage they had been living in to get a new start.

In the early morning hours of Feb. 28, 1898, fire broke out in the rear of the front room on the ground floor, spreading rapidly. A couple living on the second floor with their two children were saved, one of their children tossed out a window to a waiting fireman below. Another woman on the second floor was saved. But the fire, which  consumed the stairway that ran up the center of the building, cut off the Knickmeyers and O’Neales living on the third floor.

Nine lives were lost in a tenement fire on Feb. 28, 1898. Almost an entire family died in a matter of minutes. (Photo courtesy of Sandy O’Neale)

In those dark hours, wife Rebecca (35), Josephine (17), Katie (16), Leonora (9), Frances (6), Lillie Mae (3) and month-old Anna all died of smoke inhalation.

After breaking out a window, William O’Neale climbed out onto the roof of a shed to await rescue. But Albert and Caswell perished, too overcome by smoke to follow him.

Theodore, on duty that evening, heard the alarm and arrived at his family home too late to save his loved ones. A fund was set up to pay for their funeral expenses and they were buried together at Bethany Cemetery. Theodore remained a fireman for the rest of his life, moving to Augusta, Ga. for a time before returning to Charleston. He remarried and the couple had a daughter. He died of heart failure in 1920 in Charleston.

Theodore Knickmeyer’s brother, Albert, was also a fireman. He died in a tragic accident in 1910.

A tragic footnote to this story. Theodore’s brother, Albert L. Knickmeyer, was a longshoreman and a fireman with Charleston’s Engine 6. He died on Oct. 6, 1910 when he was running to the scene of a fire and was knocked over by the ladder of the fire engine as it turned the corner. He died two hours later. A widower whose wife had died of tuberculosis in 1902, Albert left behind six children. He is also buried at Bethany, his grave unmarked.

Thank you, Sandy, for sharing this story with me so I could share it with my readers today. It’s one I will never forget.

Next time, I’ll be down the street at St. Lawrence Cemetery with more Charleston stories.

While the metal surrounding this family plot at Bethany is rusted, the detail on the angel’s face remains.

Another Charleston Ramble: Visiting Bethany Cemetery, Part I

Back to Charleston!

Before I dive in, I have a confession to make. The first cemetery I’m featuring is not from my Summer 2017 visit (from which the rest of my posts in this series will come from). It’s from Summer 2016. I posted a lengthy series on the African-American burial society cemeteries from that visit. Somehow, Bethany Cemetery got left out.

That fact nagged at me so when I circled back to Charleston again, I was not going to let Bethany remain ignored! Having uncovered what I did, I’m very glad I made that decision.

This is the best picture I got of the office.

St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church opened Bethany Cemetery in 1856 after its first cemetery (Hampstedt Cemetery) on Reid Street was filled after several yellow fever outbreaks devastated Charleston’s immigrant German population. In the 1930s, the property Hampstedt Cemetery was located on was sold at auction and divided into lots when assessments for a street paving project weren’t paid.

Lo and behold, the Charleston Housing Authority discovered human remains on the property in 1981 whilst preparing to build on it. How they didn’t know seems a bit far fetched to me but nevertheless, close to 500 of those graves were moved to Bethany Cemetery in 2009.

Situated on over 50 acres, Find a Grave lists about 11,300 burials at Bethany. While it started as a Lutheran Cemetery, it is open to all faiths and is home to a large number of Greek burials. When I spoke with the manager, he told me he didn’t know how that happened but that they were happy to have them.

The scrolled metal work can be seen throughout the cemetery.

What was a chapel at one time is now the cemetery office. It is not in the best condition, nor is the receiving tomb beside it. The receiving tomb is now used as a maintenance building to store equipment, it appears.

Nearby neighbor Magnolia Cemetery has a receiving tomb that is about half the size of this one.

Both Bethany and neighbor Magnolia Cemetery have receiving tombs. These are mostly found in the North because snow/ice would freeze the ground, causing delays in burial. South Carolina doesn’t have that problem. But my guess is that like Atlanta’s Westview, sometimes they had long stretches of rain and burials had to be delayed due to muddy conditions. They had to store the bodies somewhere.

There are plenty of monuments to see at Bethany, like this one.

And this one.

Most German-speaking immigrants arriving in Charleston during the Colonial period were from one of of two groups: German-Swiss (Switzers) and Palatines (from upper Bavaria and parts of southwestern Germany). The Switzers tended to be more prosperous, while the Palatines often arrived as indentured servants. I have ancestors who came to Philadelphia in the 1700s that were Palatines and indentured servants, so this makes sense to me.

While many of the colony’s German-speakers sided with the patriots, another sizable group supported the Loyalist cause. In May 1775 Charleston’s Germans formed the first German military company in America, the German Fusiliers, which distinguished itself at the Battle of Savannah.

Charleston’s German-Americans were prosperous in the 1850s, with several German groceries/retail stores, its own newspaper (the Deutsche Zeitung), a firefighting company, several fraternal and sports organizations, six militia companies, and two Lutheran churches. During the Civil War, South Carolina’s German immigrants adopted the values (states’ rights and slavery among them) of their new home. Many Germans fought for the Confederacy, resulting in their almost complete assimilation into South Carolina society.

The marker for Anna M. Seebeck has “My Wife and Children” written at the top, but there are no markers beside her for those children. Her husband, Jacob, remarried and had several children.

Jacob Seebeck was one of those German immigrants who found success in Charleston. A native of Hanover, he arrived in Charleston in the 1860s and worked as a miller. He eventually owned and operated a successful grocery/liquor store that became JHC Seebeck & Sons. He did serve in the Confederacy during the Civil War in Melcher’s Company as part of South Carolina’s German Artillery.

The face of the angel is worn but is still beautiful.

I found little about his first wife, Anna, whose marker was beautifully carved and inscribed in German. She came to America from Germany in 1861 and died in 1869 of pneumonia. Jacob remarried to German native Christine Doecker a year later and they had several children (the eldest buried in nearby Magnolia Cemetery). She is buried near Anna. Jacob died in 1919 but has no marker.

I noticed at the bottom of Anna’s monument was the name D.A. Walker. You can barely see it in the picture. Charleston is one of the few places where I’ve been fortunate enough to find carver names on monuments.

David Walker was one of the sons of master carver Thomas Walker. A native of Scotland, Thomas arrived in Charleston after the American Revolution and worked from 1790 to 1836. He was best known for his “winged soul” markers found in many of the city’s cemeteries. Four of his sons, including David, went into the business and did well. Anna Seebeck’s marker is evidence of their talent.

It did not surprise me to find a number of children’s graves at Bethany because that’s pretty much the case whenever I visit any older historic cemetery. This one is for the Bittersohn children. But in researching their marker, I uncovered a story I was not expecting at all.

Claus Diedrich and Anna Bittersohn died in May 1886 within a day of each other.

Claus Diedrich and Anna Bittersohn (misspelled Bittesohn on the marker) were the children of saloon owner H.F. Bittersohn and Meta Meyers Bittersohn. Claus was 12 when he died on May 18, 1886. His little sister, Anna, was less than a year old when she died the next day. One can only imagine the heartbreak. The motif of a hand reaching down from Heaven is one I have only seen once before in Magnolia Cemetery in Augusta, Ga. for a young woman who died in her 20s. It means a life taken much too soon.

Like Anna Seebeck’s marker, there was a name at the bottom. I was surprised  to learn that Joseph A. Purcell was black. While Charleston was less rigid in its social structure than some major Southern cities for people of color (slave or free), that Joseph not only operated but owned his own stone cutting business blew me away. Yet it appears that this was indeed the case because he appears as early as 1888 in Charleston directories.

Joseph A. Purcell was a rare commodity in late 1800s Charleston — a black man who owned and operated his own stone cutting shop.

Joseph’s age is a bit of a mystery. On some census records, his gravestone and his marriage certificate list him as being born in 1858. But his death certificate says he was born in 1867. He was the son of Joseph A. Purcell (mostly likely white) and a mixed race mother, Laura Huggins. I never found them living in the same household in census records, so I don’t think they ever married.

I do think the Joseph Purcell, Sr. that operated the Mills House Hotel in Charleston in the early 1860s may be Joseph Jr.’s father. According to what I’ve read, “dozens of people, white and black, free and slave, found employment at the Mills House.” So it’s possible that’s where he met Laura Huggins, who may have worked there.

I didn’t know when I photographed Laura Huggins’ grave in Friendly Union Cemetery that her son’s work was in the cemetery across the street at Bethany Cemetery.

In census records, Joseph and his brothers are listed under the name Huggins until the 1900 Census when their last name changed to Purcell. Did Joseph Purcell, Sr. decide to do right by his children and assist them in their career pursuits? How else would his son, Joseph, have gotten the financial backing to open his business or son Herbert get the money to go to medical school?

The 1888 Charleston business directory lists Joseph’s stone cutting shop. Notice D.A. Walker is also listed.

I found very little about Joseph, unfortunately. The 1913 Journal of the National Medical Association notes that he contributed a cornerstone to the new A. Markley Lee Memorial Annex of the Hospital and Training School for Nurses, a facility for young black women. He and his wife, Mary Julia Perry Purcell, had a son and a daughter.

Joseph’s younger brother, Herbert, got his medical degree from the Howard University School of Medicine in 1894. After living in St. Louis, he shared a home with Joseph and Mary Julia in Charleston until he married a woman named Mae sometime after 1930. Brother Arthur worked as a tinsmith.

I remembered the name Laura Huggins because I had photographed her grave that same summer just across the street in the African-American cemetery, Friendly Union Cemetery. Also buried there are some of her children, including Joseph, Samuel, and Herbert. In looking through my pictures, I realized I had unwittingly taken a picture of Joseph’s grave while focusing on Mae Purcell’s grave.

Skilled stone mason Joseph Purcell’s grave marker at Friendly Union Cemetery, behind that of his sister-in-law, Mae Purcell.

When you put it all together, Joseph’s work is standing in a cemetery he could not have been buried in when he died in 1932. The laws back then were against it. Instead, he was buried across the street in a cemetery for the elite mixed race and black business and religious leaders of his time. It was as close as he could get.

More to come next time from Bethany Cemetery.

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.