Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Blogoversary Thank You Card

Digging Down East began two years ago on this date, as a tribute to my father, who had just passed away in April. My first and early posts were an experiment in recalling stories he told, as we tramped through Bridgton cemeteries, and my own recollections from childhood, as I had sat spellbound at the foot of my elders. Call it eldest-child-syndrome, but I nonetheless loved every minute.

My first genealogy blog role models were Heather Wilkinson Rojo of Nutfield Genealogy fame, Bill West of West in New England, and Midge Frazel of Granite In My Blood.  It didn't hurt that they were all from New England either.

That first year was a meandering, floundering one, as I tried to grapple with the wealth of information on my mother's side of the family (all hardy Maritime Canadian stock, and wonderful picture-takers to boot), and the dearth of information of my father's side, coupled with family secrets and a stubborn unwillingness to talk about the past.  As I look back at some of those posts, I have to think they were weak efforts at best.

This second year, however, I felt energized and inspired, and it is with deep gratitude to the greater genealogy community in general and special individual genealogists and family historians, in particular, that I celebrate this second blogoversary.

A Special Thank You to Heather Rojo, Barbara Poole, Russ Worthington, Bill West, Elizabeth Pyle Handler, Shari Strahan, Diane Boumenot, Sara Campbell, Lucie LeBlanc Consentino, Midge Frazel, Liesa Healy-Miller, Marian Pierre-Louis, Michelle Robillard and all the other New England Geneabloggers.That inaugural Bash at Heather and Vincent's marked the beginning of my serious journey.

Doing New England genealogy from the shores of the Ohio presents its own special challenges. As a result, I am always following Facebook and Twitter friends to keep up with genealogy events and programs pertinent to my regional needs. Thank you to all those I have never met face to face but who inspire me with their organizational skills and their tech advice.

I was so excited when NGS came to Cincinnati this year. From the pre-Conference blogger dinner to the closing sessions, I met and got to know so many wonderful genealogy friends.  The knowledge gained and the friendships forged have become invaluable to me in my quest to document my family history. Thank you to all my followers in the genealogy Twitter-verse for your expertise and for your wonderful humor along the way.

I've just returned from my annual Maine vacation/genealogy research trip. With my trustworthy Research Assistant (my 80-year old Mom) to accompany me, I was able to solve another batch of family mysteries and puzzles.  Look for more hopefully illuminating and entertaining posts gleaned from my favorite lifetime endeavor,"digging down east."

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Boyfriend ~ Amanuensis Monday

In February of 1930, my maternal grandmother, Harriet Cheney Smith (1906-1985) lost her mother. She had met her future husband, S. Ross Bustin, and was planning to be married. The couple decided to delay their nuptials until later that year. 

In the meantime, she received the letter of sympathy from an old boyfriend, a young man from Fryeburg, Maine, Gerry Cousins, for whom, in the early 1920's, she obviously had great affection. He wrote:

                                                                                          Lisbon Falls, Maine
                    Dear Friend Harriet:
                          Had a letter from my Mother and she told me of your great
                    loss that came the first of the week into your life, it is certainly
                    one of the greatest of them all, and I certainly trust you will
                    bear up and understand that it must be for the best, and leave
                    it all to the judgment of one who rules the universe of ours.
                    I plan on being at home for over this week end, and will
                    most certainly give you a call, and please give me the 
                    opportunity of being on your list of a friend at any time.


The following pictures from my grandmother's scrapbook are from the heyday of Harriet and Gerry's young romance.

Gerri sporting his Fryeburg Academy Letter Sweater!


Gerri, Harriet, and friend Dottie
Waiting for the train in West Falmouth

"My Darling"

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Knock, Knock, Knockin' on Enoch's Grave ~ Sunday's Obituary

It all began innocently enough. Another grave to find, in another small Maine town. The Falmouth Historical Society proving not only to be the most difficult to locate, but the least helpful of those I visited during this trip, I stopped in at the Falmouth Memorial Library.

Having been a town librarian myself, I have a great love and respect for these enclaves of local lore, and Falmouth did not disappoint. There I found a copy of  Death notices from Town of Cumberland, Maine, Annual Reports 1891-1960, wherein I found the listing for my ancestor:

Leighton, Enoch M.   Apr 4, 1926  Falmouth   8o Ys. 6 Ms 18 ds. 

It was off to the Town Office!

The extremely helpful staff there retrieved the 1926 Ledger from the safe upstairs, and there he was:

But, alas, no record of where he was buried.

So, it was back into the Portland Public Library to check the April 4-6, 1926 Press Herald on microfilm for a death notice or an obituary. BINGO!

Portland Press Herald, April 6, 1926, Page Three, col.1

After a brief visit to the Maine Historical Society, it was back in the car to head to Cumberland Center. Having tramped through 3 Falmouth cemeteries last summer, and feeling confident I had not found him there, I walked through the cemetery right where the Tuttle and  Blanchard Roads meet, but to no avail. The graves in there were way too old.  Next it was Moss Side, pictured above, where I again came up empty.  

Then I re-read the death notice from the Press Herald.

Funeral services were at the Universalist Church, Cumberland Center, with interment at Cumberland Center. Could they be referring to the Cemetery, one I referred to as the Universalist Church Cemetery, that I had explored last summer on the Gray Road, where, as it turns out, Enoch' parents are buried?

I never found a headstone in that Universalist Cemetery for Enoch, my Great Great Leighton Grandfather. He may be there with no marker, my hunch about the cemetery could be wrong, or there may be another explanation. But this is not the end of the search!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Gorham, My Gorham ~ Sentimental Sunday

Nearly 35 years ago, I returned to Maine with a newly-minted Master's Degree in Library Science from Illinois, and no prospect of employment. I moved back in with my folks (sound familiar?) in South Portland and started watching the want ads.

It wasn't long before I landed the position of Town Librarian in nearby Gorham, and moved into an apartment over a real estate office. I was the first Librarian ever to be hired who wasn't from Gorham, so, naturally, the earth shivered a little. At 23, I was younger than anyone who worked for me, and I thought I'd died and gone to heaven.

Baxter Library as it looked when I worked there

Baxter Memorial Library 2012

I made many wonderful friends in my two years in Gorham, led a Junior Girl Scout troop (ever tried winter camping and had to be dug out?), and taught Sunday School at the Congregational Church.  

What I didn't realize back then was that Gorham was the home of my Libby and Cross ancestors, and I was walking right by their graves on my way to work.

Naturally, this called for a return to Gorham this past week, and my day began north of the center of town, at the North Street Cemetery, just past Phinney Lumber on the way to Sebago Lake.

Here are buried my 4th Great Grandparents, 
Allison Libby (1757-1816) and his wife Sarah (1760-1849).
This Allison Libby, the middle of three generations of Allison Libbys, 
fought in the Revolutionary War.

Feeling triumphant at discovering these two gems, I drove into town to stop into the Historical Society, where I was met by Brenda Caldwell. She and I had started our professional lives at about the same time in Gorham, Brenda as the Town Clerk (the first female), and me as the Town Librarian. We reminisced and enjoyed several laughs thinking about how the Town has changed, and assisted another Find-A-Grave volunteer who dropped in.

I walked back to my car, which I had parked next to the cemetery just off the main juncture, alternatively known as the South Street Cemetery and, as I prefer to call it, the "Old Burying Ground."  

Here rest some of Gorham's first settlers (the ones that aren't buried on Fort Hill), including my 4th Great Grandparents, Deacon Thomas Cross  (1741-1819) and his wife Lucy (1748-1821).

Here lies
Deac. Thomas Cross
born in Ipswich,
Ms. Nov. 18, 1741.
died Feb. 15, 1819;
having been a Deac. of this
Church 15 years.
Also in the same grave his son,
Capt. William Cross;
born Aug. 21, 1779,
died Feb. 14, 1819.
No passing mortals and surviving friends
Regard....eloquence of death
Who more than...angelic tongue

"Capt. William Cross died Feb. 14, 1819, the day preceding the death of Dea. Thos. Cross, and father and son were borne to the grave on the same hearse."
 ~ McClellan, History of Gorham, Maine.

Here lies
Mrs. Lucy Cross
wife of Deac. Thomas Cross
born at Boxford, Ms. Mar. 16,
1748. Died May 21, 1821.
By her side lie their children
Rebekah Cross,
born Jan. 20, 1774,
died Apl. 11, 1794.
And Harriet Cross,
born Oct. 20, 1790,
died Mar. 14, 1798

First Parish Church (left)
where my 4th Great Grandfather was a Deacon for 15 years,
and where,
159 years later,
I attended church and taught Sunday School

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Poor You Will Always Have With You ~ The Bridgton Town Farm in 1940

Bridgton Historical Society

Very soon after the 1940 Census was released this spring, I started browsing through the census for Bridgton, Maine. I had a couple of surnames to look for, as this was my paternal grandfather's birthplace.  Libby was one of them. What I found was the beginning of my education into a small New England town's role in taking care of its poor.

The last person on this page, Libby, Blanche M., is listed as an inmate.  On closer inspection,  I discovered she was an inmate at the Bridgton Town Farm.  Blanche M. (Seavey) Libby was my great aunt.

A quick Google search on the Bridgton Town Farm gave me an announcement of a presentation given a year ago at the Bridgton Historical Society by Prof. Margaret Reimer of the University of Southern Maine. I made contact with Margaret this spring, and we arranged to meet during my vacation in Maine this summer.

Last Friday, I met Margaret at the Bridgton Historical Society, where she dedicated two whole hours to describing the history of the Farm in Bridgton, as well as its place in the New England culture of charitable care of the poor. She generously showed me the evolution of the Farm through its Reports to the Town, recorded in the Annual Reports of the Town of Bridgton.  It was extremely interesting and I learned a great deal. I was thrilled to be given a copy of her presentation, "Bridgton's Town Farm: A Great Idea Gone Wrong." *

By 1940-41, the Bridgton Town Farm, as well as its service to the poor of Bridgton, Maine, was in its waning years.

As the above report reveals, "Mrs Blanche Libby" eventually moved away from the Farm, and ultimately Bridgton altogether.  She ended up in Connecticut at some point, where she died and is buried.

One of her three children, George Dalton Libby, was the first recipient of the Medal of Honor in Korea and is buried at Arlington Cemetery.

* PowerPoint presentation used in a program entitled "Feeding the Poor: Bridgton's Town Farm," given at the Bridgton Historical Society on August 16, 2011 by University of Southern Maine English professor Margaret Reimer.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Bridgton, ME ~ World War I Honor Roll - Amanuensis Monday

This World War I monument stands at the northeast corner of the Portland Road and Main Street in Bridgton, Maine, on Rt. 302.

Bridgton World War Soldiers

Killed in Action

Allen, Leroy A.
Lopeman, Edward

Died in Service

Cross, Robert S.
Davis, W. Wallace
Reynolds, Earl
Stevens, John F.


Abbott, George
Allen, Albion L.
Adams, H. Truman
Banks, Lawrence
Barker, Clarence
Bennett, Lester L.
Berry, Robert S.
Berry, Leroy
Berry, Donald
Blake, John H.
Burnell, Elmer E.
Burnell, Everett
Burnham, Harold N.
Chadbourne, George E.
Chadbourne, Delmar A.
Chadbourne, Clarence A.
Chandler, Perley G.
Cole, Alan R.
Cole, Philip P.
Cole, F. Owen
Childs, Elmer
Clark, Winton A.
Cockburn, David H.
Cockburn, John S.
Corson, Ben B.
Crosby, Leon
Davis, Arthur O.
Drowns, Philip
Douglass, Walter W.
Easton, Harold O.
Edwards, Charles C.
Emerson, Clifton A.
Emery, Charles
Evans, Herbert
Field, Robert L.
Flint, Lawrence
Fitton, Thomas
Fogg, Walter S.
Frisbie, Edward
Gallinari, Lazzaro
Gray, J. Frank
Gray, Robert
Gray, Homer
Gray, Luther S.
Gray, Lee G.
Greene, Melville W.
Haley, Aubrey
Halkett, Thomas
Heath, Maurice E.
Haggett, Russell B.
Hamblen, Maurice W.
Hamlin, James B.
Hamlin, William R.
Hayes, Harry H.
Hilton, Delos
Hill, Walter S.
Howard, Carroll P.
Ingalls, Everett P.
Ingalls, Ralph
Jensen, Christian M.
Kenniston, Frank
Kimball, George E.
Kimball, Ernest
Kimball, John
Knight, Charles F.
Knight, George
Knight, Robert R.
Knight, Samuel S.
Livingston, William T.
Larrabee, Raymond
Lombard, Herbert
Lopeman, Francis J.
Mabry, Irving E.
March, Ralph
Mayberry, Charles H.
Mayberry, Clarence
Mayberry, Ernest
Mead, Franklin
Merrill, Everett
Merrill, Gardner
Murphy, John
Moynihan, C. Leroy
Norton, Albert
Niceros, James T.
Oakley, Harry
Pembroke, William E.
Plunkett, Leo P.
Powers, Owen J.
Powers, James A.
Reynolds, Eugene
Richardson, Roland M.
Richardson, Rupert F.
Ridlon, Clifford L.
Riley, Rayburn
Robinson, Fred R.
Sargent, Roy
Sargent, Albert
Sargent, Edward
Sanborn, Willard C.
Sawyer, Roger
Seavey, Howard*
Smith, Glenn
Smith, Harry I.
Staley, Roy C., Jr.
Steadman, Donald
Stevens, Charles
Stevens, Ernest N.
Stevens, Victor R.
Stevens, Vivian
Stiles, Clifford
Thomes, Lawrence A.
Walker, Ernest
Weeks, Harold M.
Weymouth, Clarence
Weymouth, Charles H.
Weeman, William H.
Young, Oliver

Students Army Training Corps
Abbott, Harold K.
Chadbourne, Lyman H.
Clark, Merlin
Corson, Merton
Dunn, Gerald
Lester, Orlando
Walker, Carleton A.

*My grandfather