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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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!