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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.