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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Its sad to see how many children some families lost.
The stress of raising a baby after the first several died must
be unimaginable. Good work..CB
Hey, CB! Hope you are doing well. Yes, it’s hard to imagine the emotions these parents went through, losing so many children and many times not knowing why. Always wondering which one might be next. 😞
Your work is fascinating…..I love old cemeterys and their history and beauty. How do you find so much info on the families? You must spend hours on Ancestry or other sites. Thank you for sharing these stories.
I work in a childrens hospital and wonder how many of these youngsters would have lived if they were born in todays time.
Hi, Carol! You are so sweet. I do spend as much time as I can finding any information I can. Sometimes I find a lot, sometimes next to nothing. And yes, I do often wonder about the children. We take clean water and vaccines for granted now but they make such a difference now. Thanks again for you kindness!
I live up the hill from the Ellsworth Olde Cemetery and was looking to see if anyone had the names of people that I couldn’t read. I have so far read this twice… thank you very much.
Thank you for what you do. I am researching my family’s ancestry and Enoch Brown and Julia Ann Mayo had a baby girl the day before Julia died, Carrie E. Brown. Carrie was my 2nd great-grandmother. I can’t find any proof of her birth and her parents, but lots of people on Ancestry.com have documented her. Thank you for opening a window into my family’s past. – Linda
Linda, I hope what I wrote was helpful to you in some way. Thank you for leaving a comment and I wish you luck in your search for Carrie.