Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Great Miramichi Fire

The following article is from Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter and is copyright by Richard W. Eastman. It is re-published here with the permission of the author. Information about the newsletter is available at

File this article under “history.” It also may explain why your ancestors left New Brunswick in the late 1820s.

We often forget just how difficult life was for our ancestors. Oh, we may talk about their "trials and tribulations," but what does that mean? Just how tough was it? For thousands of residents of New Brunswick, Canada, the summer of 1825 and the succeeding years were indeed terrible. I had ancestors in Miramichi, New Brunswick, at that time, and apparently so did tens or even hundreds of thousands of today's citizens.

Miramichi is the name of a city, a river, and an area, all in northern New Brunswick. In 1825 the town was called Newcastle, but the name was changed to Miramichi some years later. (Miramichi is pronounced Mir-ra-mah-SHE' with emphasis on the last syllable.) What is now the city of Miramichi is the terminus of the Miramichi River at the point where it empties into Miramichi Bay in the St. Lawrence River. The surrounding area is known as the Miramichi Region.

The thin, acid soils of the Miramichi are not conducive to agriculture; thus, the lumber industry and Atlantic salmon fishery were the region’s mainstays in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Overseas lumber exports became the predominant industry, and the Miramichi Region was well known for supplying straight, tall masts for the British navy. All that changed on October 7, 1825.

The summer of 1825 had been dry and warm, and the crops did well. No rain fell from July until October 8. On September 19 a fire had broken out in Government House, Fredericton, and burned the whole place to the ground. Fortunately, it took place in daylight and caused no loss of life. Other fires broke out in the forests and sometimes burned many acres, but they seemed to avoid the populated regions.

While the land in the Miramichi Region was not suitable for large scale farming, almost every family had a garden, and their crops were generally good that year although the lack of rain meant smaller vegetables than normal. Much of the farming centered on cattle: both dairy farms and beef cattle. Many of the crops and almost all the cattle feed were stored in dry, wooden barns.

As autumn advanced, the leaves turned brilliant colors and then dried. The woods were tinder dry, and the dried leaves on the forest floor were waiting for a spark. The spruce budworm, a periodic pest that, like locusts, visits every few years, descended on the region in 1825. The worms attack the spruce trees, which then die, become dry, and thereby provide perfect tinder for a fire.

Nobody knows the cause of the fire that started on October 7, but everyone soon knew of it. The forest was quickly ablaze, and the flames moved forward with the wind at an estimated one mile per minute. That's sixty miles per hour. The telegraph, telephone, and two-way radio had not yet been invented, so there was no way of warning residents of the impending danger.

The flames engulfed the northwest Miramichi area, first killing twenty-two people. A gentleman named William Wright worked in the woods and was the first to warn of the fire. He ran into Newcastle and warned the people by beating a drum. Unfortunately, no one listened; they all thought it was a rain storm. Because the flames were not seen by the townspeople, no one worried. By ten o'clock in the morning, the flames had burned the whole north side of the Miramichi River. Newcastle, a town of one thousand people, was burned to the ground in less than three hours. Out of two hundred and sixty buildings, only twelve were left standing.

Miramichi_Map At one point, the wall of advancing flame was believed to be fifteen miles wide and advancing at one mile per minute. Wooden ships anchored in Miramichi Bay caught fire as the crews desperately tried to weigh anchor and escape the flames. They were unable to hoist sails because of the flames and high winds, so the burning ships drifted with the wind, spreading the flames to the other side of the river. Soon the houses, crops, and forests on the opposite side of the river were burning as fiercely as on the original shore.

The tales of human suffering are immense. Those who were lucky enough to be near a river walked into the water, often trying to coax their farm animals with them. Most of the domesticated animals were confounded by the smoke, the flames, and the confusion, and refused to enter the water. Most farm animals perished.

On the other hand, the wild animals had no such fear of water. The humans in the river found themselves surrounded by wildlife, including raccoons, deer, bears, and even large moose. All the creatures seemed to cooperate with one another, fearing the common enemy: the flames. Even the bears left the other creatures alone.

Due to the extreme heat, the humans stood in water up to their necks and frequently put their faces into the water to keep cool. Temperatures above the water were estimated to be 140 degrees or higher while the water itself in October was probably quite chilly. At least ten people drowned. The flames passed, and most of those who sought refuge in the icy rivers did survive.

Those who were not near a river typically were not so fortunate. Every town lost fifty or even one hundred citizens that afternoon. Larger towns lost more. The prisoners in the Newcastle Jail all perished as no one nearby had a key to let them out. The jail was made of stone and did not burn. However, it became a stone oven, and nobody survived.

A man from Bushville who thought St. Paul's Church would burn rushed to the church to see what he could save. In fact, the church did not burn. When he returned home, he found that his house had been destroyed and all his family members had perished in the flames.

New Brunswick was in the midst of a typhoid fever epidemic at the time, and many people were at home, sick in bed. Many perished by not leaving their beds. There were many similar stories that day.

During the flames, the winds reached hurricane force (70 miles per hour or more). It was October, and the air had been cold but now became super-heated. Once the wet people crawled out of the rivers, the temperatures dropped below freezing that night, and people in wet clothes with no place to go suffered from exposure. Many stood by still-burning buildings and trees for the warmth.

Lieutenant Governor Sir Howard Douglas drove through the blackened and devastated area in the following days. He wrote, "Any poor soul who was caught in the forest and could not reach the Miramichi River in time, was doomed to death."

The fire was felt far out at sea in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The master of a sloop that traded along Northumberland Strait, between the New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island coasts, reported that, while he was running before the gale, the heavy fall of ashes and cinders caused the sea to hiss and boil around his deck, while the smoke on his deck was so heavy and thick as to affect both his sight and hearing. He had great difficulty in saving his ship.

About one fifth of the province of New Brunswick was damaged. An exact count was impossible, but estimates place the loss of human life at more than 300 with approximately 600 buildings destroyed and 875 cattle lost.

On the night of October eighth, it rained hard, and this helped to douse the fire. Most of the trees had burned by that time, so there was no where for the fire to go. In the following days, the surviving residents often trudged through deep ashes as they went about their lives. The ashes landed in many far off areas of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and even as far away as Bermuda! The ashes also fell into the water, killing many of the fish. The crops had been destroyed, and even wildlife had been decimated, making hunting and fishing for food very difficult for several years. In a single day New Brunswick lost "nearly four million acres of the best lumbering region of the province" along with most of its food supplies.

At Douglastown, only one house escaped the flames and remained standing. Strangely, that house contained the body of a person who had died the day before the fire and had not yet been buried.

As bad as the flames were, perhaps the cruelest fate still awaited the survivors. Many covered the cellars of their burned homes and crowded into them for shelter. All the crops and all the seeds for the next year's crops had been "safely" stored in wooden barns, but most of the buildings were destroyed, along with their contents. Many families lost their homes as well as their barns, their livestock, their food, and even the seeds for the following spring planting. It was late October, and winter would soon arrive. In 1825, there was no Red Cross, no Salvation Army, and no other relief organizations.

For a few days the local residents had food in the form of baked potatoes. The potatoes were still in the ground but had been baked by the heat of the fire. The locals were able to dig up the potatoes and eat them immediately. However, this supply ran out within a few days. In the following months, many people starved to death or died of complications caused by malnourishment.

The Mik-maq Indians in the area thought that the fire had been sent to kill the white man. Alexander Rankin had been a good friend to the Indians, and they surmised that this was why his home did not burn. After the fire, Alexander Rankin opened his home to those who were in need, Indians and whites alike. He was a good friend to one and all in the Miramichi Region. His house still stands today and now contains a museum of the Great Miramichi Fire.

Rankin led a group of fifteen men who set out to build houses and perform other acts as needed. Sir Howard Douglas arrived on the scene from Fredericton to offer his help. The town of Gretna Green, now Douglastown, was named in his honor. Sir Howard called on England, the United States, and other parts of Canada to come to the aid of the people. He later became the Lieutenant-Governor of Canada. Money, food, and clothes began to arrive by ship and by land although transportation required weeks. Winter and deep snow were upon the survivors before the first goods arrived.

Construction began with the people using what was left of the burned trees for wood, supplemented later by the newly arrived lumber from distant locations. One year later, the towns of Newcastle and Douglastown had been rebuilt.

Food was still in short supply. Although the following year saw mild weather, the fire had parched the land and burnt the plants that provided nutrients to the soil. Seeds were in short supply although some seeds were shipped in by the government. The surviving citizens did manage to grow some crops the following summer.

My ancestors left Miramichi a couple of years later and moved to Maine. I do not know of any family stories handed down over the years about their move, but I suspect their reason was related to the fire and its aftermath.

In all, the fire destroyed more than five hundred buildings (an exact count was never made) and also destroyed millions of acres of woodlands and settled towns and villages alike. Of the hundreds who perished in the fire, their bodies were mostly buried where they were found. There are almost no tombstones for the people who died in the fire as local tombstone carvers were either overwhelmed with work or perhaps also perished in the flames. In later years, many sad memorials were erected in the burying grounds along the Miramichi.

Entire towns were destroyed. Some of them were rebuilt as new towns in different locations that had escaped the flames and provided better soil, including the new towns of Campbellton, Dalhousie, Belledune, and the southern Gaspé coast. It is also probable that some of the displaced persons established a community in the Ottawa Valley formerly known as Miramichi, now known as Pembroke, Ontario.

The cause of the fire remains unknown, but it was probably caused by humans. This was in the day when houses were heated by wood, cooking was done on wood stoves or over open flames, and lumbermen often kept flames burning for cooking purposes or to drive away insects. Open flames were everywhere, and the woods were tinder dry.

A large fire occurred in Fredericton, New Brunswick, on the same day: October 7. Fredericton is more than 100 miles from Miramichi. It is believed that the two fires were not connected, other than by the fact that all of New Brunswick had very dry forests at the time. More than one-third of all the dwellings in Fredericton were destroyed by the flames; but the rest were spared.

For many years after, on October 7th, the people of the Miramichi area did not eat for the day and all shops closed in remembrance. The Great Miramichi Fire ranks among the three largest forest fires ever recorded in North America. Today people still tell stories of the Miramichi Fire as if it happened yesterday.

Windham Maine Online Databases

Kay Soldier of the Windham Historical Society writes to let us know that as of September 24, 2009, the website of Windham (Maine) Historical Society has listings of vital records (births, deaths, marriages) including the Friends Church, some very, very old, some into the early 1900s, along with burial records for all cemeteries up to the year 2000 - there are almost two dozen cemeteries. This is the list for vital statistics:

Marriages by Bride (1906-1944)
Marriages by Groom (1906-1944)
Friends Marriages
Marriages - Town Records by Dole
Family Records by Dole
Friends Birth Records
Records of Death by Dole
Friends Death Records
Death Records 1906-1974

All these records are the same which had at one time been available at and were compiled by volunteers at the society.

Go to the website ( and click on "Link" and follow the subsequent links.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Joseph Crook Anderson II, FASG, Honored

Joseph Crook Anderson II was honored for his contributions to MGS at the Annual Conference held in Bangor, Maine, on September 26, 2009, being presented with the inaugural Clayton Rand Adams Memorial Award.

MGS was honored to have Clayton's widow, Nancy, and his daughter, Sarah, join us for the introduction of this award and the announcement of its first recipient.

MGS President Dale Mower stated -
In considering this award, it seems indeed fitting that the first recipient is Joe Anderson.

Joe and Clayton had a deep respect for each other, which was particularly apparent at conferences and during Executive Committee meetings.

As for credentials, Joe is a Certified Genealogist and a Fellow of the American Society of Genealogists - a true honor as there are only 50 lifetime members. Election to that society is based on a candidate's published genealogical scholarship.

Joe serves as editor of The American Genealogist, joining that publication in 1999.

Where MGS is concerned, the names Joe Anderson and Maine Genealogical Society are synonymous. The list of Joe's contributions to MGS are lengthy.

Joe serves as editor of the Society's scholarly journal, The Maine Genealogist. Beginning as a co-editor in February 1991 when the journal transitioned from The Maine Seine to its current format, Joe became its editor with Lois Thurston in February 1994, and has been its sole editor since August 1998.

As chair of the Publications Committee, Joe also oversees all of the special publications projects. He has transcribed early town records. He has been instrumental in the success of the Maine Families in 1790 series. He joined that project in 1992 as Associate Editor of Volume 3, working with the projects founder Ruth Gray. He was Co-Editor with Lois Thurston of Volume 4, and has been the series sole editor from Volume 5 on. He oversees all the special publications projects -reviewing, editing and working closely with the authors of all the Maine Families in 1790 sketches that are submitted for publication.

We are also fortunate that we can occasionally entice Joe to leave his home in Texas to come up to Maine to give lectures.

But probably the most significant contribution that Joe makes to the society is the inspiration and encouragement he gives to fellow researchers. He knows how to gently push trying to bring out the best analysis and research.
I know that whenever I've encountered a problem, I can rely on being able to bounce it off Joe.

I would also like to mention that all of the contribution that Joe provides to MGS he does out of his love of the state and his generosity. His efforts for the Society are non-compensated and purely voluntary. And he does all of this in addition to his full-time job and family time - and I know that he is very devoted to his family.

Aside from his genealogical achievements I have to say that I always look forward to catching up with Joe at a conference. Joe can be summed up as being just an all-around nice guy.

Joe Anderson is pretty much the heart and soul of MGS.

Presented to

In recognition of his ongoing role as author, compiler
and editor of The Maine Genealogist, The Maine Families in 1790
project and transcriptions of early town records
from across the State of Maine.

The Maine Genealogical Society honors his extraordinary
contributions and selfless dedication to the Society
and to advancing the field of genealogy in the State of Maine.

September 26, 2009

Clayton Rand Adams Memorial Award Introduced

Maine Genealogical Society proudly introduced the Clayton Rand Adams Memorial Award at its Annual Conference held in Bangor, Maine, on September 26, 2009. The award was introduced by MGS President Dale W. Mower with the following comments:
As many of you know, MGS lost a true friend back in December, 2008.

Clayton Rand Adams served for many years as president of MGS, he was the driving force in helping shape the Society as we know it today.

Clayton's dedication to genealogical research and publication extended far beyond documentation of his own family lines. As an enthusiastic member of MGS he served as its director for several years, president for 11 years, and a contributing editor to the society's journal. He wrote prodigiously for all of the Society's publications, including nearly 190 family histories appearing in the Maine Families in 1790 series.

I had the pleasure of serving on the Executive Committee with Clayton for a couple of years. He extended a warm welcome to me onto that committee. I must say that I was a little in awe of the man. He was outspoken and witty. He encouraged so many of us to participate in whatever small way we can to help make the Society better.

When he stepped down as President, he indeed left big shoes to fill. I've tried, but I ain't been able to do it yet!

This award will be presented at the Executive Committee's pleasure and will be used to recognize individuals whose contribution to the Society and the community are truly significant. It will recognize those individuals whose outstanding achievement, leadership, ingenuity and superior performance set a model for all of us to emulate.

Clayton set the standard for this award and it is with honor that we announce the "Clayton Rand Adams Memorial Award."

Monday, October 19, 2009

Query: Knight/Hackett, Poland & Minot, Maine

Looking for info re: Cornelia HACKETT, daughter of Levi & Polly HOLLER HACKETT. She m. about 1852-1854 to George W. KNIGHT. Resided in E. Farnham, Quebec. She d. Hackett's Mills, Maine, Sept. 1867; buried in Minot, Maine.

Dave Flewelling, 104 Main St., Orono ME

This query was posted at our Annual Conference held in Bangor, Maine, on September 26, 2009.

Query: Telemecus Ballard

Seeking parents of Telemecus BALLARD, b. Feb. 1803 in Maine, maybe Sidney area or Farmington, New Sharon.
He m. Lydia C. Judkins, 1842, in Charleston, Maine.
He m. Matilda Buswell, 1841, in New Sharon, Maine. Need record of divorce.
He m. Irena Leeman, 1832, need death date (between 1840-1841).

Celeste Hyer, 69 Loop Rd., Otisfield, ME 04270

This query was posted at the Annual Conference held in Bangor, Maine, on September 26, 2009.

Query: Cutler/Witham

Seeking the parents of Olive Cutler WITHAM, b. 1807 in Maine (possibly Auburn), d. May 29, 1886 in Boston, Massachusetts.
Married Eben WITHAM. Lived in Abbot, Maine. Had 7 children. Need divorce record.

Celeste Hyer, 69 Loop Rd., Otisfield, ME 04270

This query was posted at our Annual Conference held in Bangor, Maine, on September 26, 2009.

Query: West/Leavitt

Need parents of Silas WEST, b. 1788-1794, d. after 1860. Lived in Raymond, Maine.
He m. 1st Mary LEAVITT, b. abt. 1784, d. before 1850.
He m. 2nd Lydia A. (?), b. 1799-1801, d. after 1860.

Celeste Hyer, 69 Loop Rd., Otisfield ME 04270

This query was posted at our Annual Conference held in Bangor, Maine, on September 26, 2009.

Query: Mary (Polly) Bennett

Seeking the parents of Mary (Polly) BENNETT; b. Sep. 24, 1780 in Massachusetts or New Gloucester, Maine; d. Jan. 21, 1871, probably Garland, Maine.

She married Jeremiah WITHAM, Jr. Apr. 25, 1799, in New Gloucester, Maine. They had 12 children.

Celeste Hyer, 69 Loop Rd., Otisfield ME 04270

This query was posted at our Annual Conference held in Bangor, Maine, on September 26, 2009.

Query: Record/Tubbs

Elizabeth Abigail RECORD, b. Hebron, Maine, 15 Feb 1834, d. Whitman, Massachusetts, 25 Aug 1905. She m. Stoughton, Massachusetts, 9 Sep 1852 to Charles A. HARRIS (1833-1883).

Her parents were Perez Tubbs RECORD and Asenath TUBBS.
Need proof of her parentage and her mother's line (Asenath TUBBS, dau. of Asneath SHELLEY, dau. of Joseph SHELLEY & Jemima BRYANT/BRIAND).

Sylvia-Lee Alden, 151 Stillwater Ave, Apt. 2, Old Town ME 04468

This query was posted at our Annual Conference held in Bangor, Maine, on September 26, 2009.

Query: Richard Griggs Munroe

Richard Griggs MUNROE, son of Albert H. MUNROE & Ruby Emily (GRIGGS) MUNROE, born 1 March 1917, supposedly in Brownville Junction, Maine.

Cannot locate birth certificate. Have birth certificate and death certificate for younger sister (Audrey Ruth MUNROE, b. 26 May 1920, d. 13 Feb 1922 in Brownville Junction). The father worked on the railroad. I have visited clerk's office in Brownville and State Archives - no luck.

Gene Vogt

This query was posted at our Annual Conference held in Bangor, Maine, on September 26, 2009.

Query: Sherebiah Lambert

Sherebiah LAMBERT was the son of Robert LAMBERT.

Who is Sherebiah's wife "Lydia" the daughter of?

Who are the parents of Robert LAMBERT, husband of Dorothy DILL?

Dennis Prue, PO Box 485, Caribou ME 04736

This query was posted at our Annual Conference held in Bangor, Maine, on September 26, 2009.

Query: Martha Bennett

Who were her parents?

Martha BENNETT born Nov. 1804, probably New Gloucester, Maine. She was in Vermont (Isle La Molte) by 1818, in the 1820 census in Vermont. She married Ebenezer WHITE.

Dereka Smith, 21 Verona St., Northport ME 04849

This query was posted at our Annual Conference held in Bangor, Maine on September 26, 2009.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Query: Nicholas Cane

Who was Nicholas CANE's father? (Charles CANE?)

Nicholas CANE, b. about 1676, York, York county, d. about 1758, Phillipstown (Sanford). He m. Mary PARSONS (b. 13 Oct 1681; d. before 1752, York, Maine).

Any info, please contact:


This query was posted at our Annual Conference held in Bangor, Maine, on September 26, 2009.

Query: Thomas Mitchell of Bath/Leeds

Looking for the parents of Thomas MITCHELL of Bath/Leeds, Maine. He was b. abt 1771, m. Mary LEMONT 1794. Lived in Bath, Maine, until about 1800. Relocated to Leeds, Maine, and lived there until his death in 1849.

Children: b. probably Bath -
William, b. abt 1794, probably Bath, m. Abigail MORSE
James Warren, b. abt 1796, probably Bath, m. Julia GILBERT
Children: b. Leeds -
Betsey Lemont, m. Joshua PHILBROOK
Jesse, m. Elvira KNAPP
Mary, m. David CARR
Benjamin, m. Mary MITCHELL
Thomas, m. Betsy DUDLEY and relocated to Old Town, Maine (there are descendants of this couple in the Bangor area).

Any clues? We are stumped. Thank you,

Christine M. Smith, 12 Lookout Lane, Windham ME 04062

This query was posted at our Annual Conference held in Bangor, Maine, on September 26, 2009.

Query: Thomas McLaughlin

Seeking information about Thomas McLAUGHLIN, b. Salem, Massachusetts, d. 1834 St. David's Parish. He lived in new Boston, New Hampshire.

Cynthia Rump, 323 Husson Ave #20, Bangor ME 04401

This query was posted at our Annual Conference held at Bangor, Maine, on September 26, 2009.

Query: Henry & Sarah Bell

Seeking information about Henry & Sarah BELL, b. about 1809 in Ireland. Had a son Robert, b. Ireland, d. between 1875-78, 2nd husband of Cynthia WEEKS McLAUGHLIN.

Cynthia Rump, 323 Husson Ave #20, Bangor ME 04401

This query was posted at our Annual Conference held in Bangor, Maine, on September 26, 2009.

Query: Sophia Vogler

Where in Germany did Sophia VOGLER come from. She was b. Dec. 1838/9; came to Rockland about 1850-55. She m. Daniel ROSS 1859, then moved to Presque Isle, May 1860.

Rita C. Barbieri, 32 Melcon Dr., Southington CT 06489

This query was posted at our Annual Conference held in Bangor, Maine, on September 26, 2009.

Query: Mary Ann Leighton

Looking for the parents of Mary Ann LEIGHTON, believed to have been born 29 Jan 1814 in New Castle, New Hampshire. She m. Thomas RUEE on 24 Apr 1834 in Elliot, York co., Maine. She d. 5 Sep 1864 in New Castle, New Hampshire.

Richard Kimball, PO Box 167, Easton ME 04740

This query was posted at our Annual Conference held in Bangor, Maine, on September 26, 2009.

Query: William & Elizabeth (Douglass) Davis

Looking for William DAVIS and Elizabeth DOUGLASS DAVIS who had a son, John DAVIS, b. 25 Dec 1810 in Readfield, Maine. They had another son, William, b. about 1820 somewhere in Maine.

Richard Kimball, PO Box 167, Easton ME 04740

This query was posted at the Annual Conference held in Bangor, Maine, on September 26, 2009.

Query: Wilcott - Childs

Peggy WILCOTT (WALCOTT, etc.) b. abt. 1762, perhaps Weston, Massachusetts. She married Jonas CHILDS (b. 1762, Watertown, Massachusetts) in Boston, 1782.

Hallowell, Maine, printed records say: Jonas Childs m. Peggy Wilcott "whose parents were natives of Germany."

I cannot make a Germany connection to that name to track her parents. Any ideas?

Marsha Douty, 13 Water St., Thomaston ME

This query was posted at our Annual Conference held in Bangor, Maine, on September 26, 2009.

Query: Stephen Parmeter

Enlisted in Army, War of 1812, from Bangor. Had wife Elizabeth and children Stephen and Rosanna in Bangor. He left army1818 in Sackett Harbor, New York, with different wife and child. Elizabeth and children still in Bangor. Same man?

Sandra Burke

This query was posted at our Annual Conference held in Bangor, Maine, on September 26, 2009.

Query: Samuel Norman

Seeking descendants of Samuel NORMAN who lived in York, Maine, in and around 1922 and was in Moody, Maine, in 1924.

Brian Bouchard, 833 Pleasant Hill Rd., Brunswick ME 04011

This query was posted at our Annual Conference held in Bangor, Maine, on September 26, 2009.

Query: Joann Anderson

Seeking the maiden name of Joann; 1st wife of Thomas Means ANDERSON, Capt. of Trenton, Maine. She d. July 19, 1816, aged 38.

Thank you.

Helene Whitehouse, PO Box 703, Searsport ME 04974

This query was posted at our Annual Conference held in Bangor, Maine, on September 26, 2009.

Query: Orrin Dexter

Need parents of Orrin DEXTER, husband of Betsey MILLER. They were parents of Mercy A. DEXTER who was wife of Thomas KNIGHT [Mercy was b. Sep. 16, 1812 in Hampden, Maine].

Thank you.

Helene Whitehouse, PO Box 703, Searsport ME 04974

This query was posted at our Annual Conference held in Bangor, Maine, on September 26, 2009.

Query: Betsey Miller

Seeking parents of Betsey MILLER, wife of Orrin DEXTER. Mother of Mercy A. DEXTER, wife of Thomas KNIGHT. Mercy was b. Sep. 16, 1812, Hampden, Maine and d. Dec. 24, 1892.

Thank you.

Helene Whitehouse, PO Box 703, Searsport ME 04974

This query was posted at our Annual Conference held in Bangor, Maine, on September 26, 2009.

Query: Mary Crabtree

Seeking parents of Mary Crabtee, b. ca. 1804 [Vinalhaven, Maine?], d. Jan. 29, 1887, Deer Isle, Maine. She married 1829 Joshua H. SADLER.

Thank you.

Helene Whitehouse, PO Box 703, Searsport ME 04974

This query was posted at our Annual Conference held in Bangor, Maine, on September 26, 2009.

Query: Hannah Noble

Seeking parents of Hannah NOBLE. She was b. abt. 1770, Waterboro, Maine; d. Aug. 15, 1805. She married Oct. 16, 1793 in Lyman Twp., York co., Maine, Thomas KNIGHT.

Thank you.

Helene Whitehouse, PO Box 703, Searsport ME 04974

This query was posted at our Annual Conference held in Bangor, Maine, on September 26, 2009.

Query: Gammon family

I have been working on the GAMMON family for a little over a year and have searched every which way with no ancestors found beyond what I will list.

The last Gammon in my family was Lois Emmer GAMMON (5 Jan 1855 Portland, ME - 1923 WI). Her parents were William Whitney GAMMON (23 Apr 1812 Paris, ME) and Phebe Ann CHAMBERLAIN (6 Apr 1823 Waterford, ME). William's parents were Moses GAMMON Jr (1780 Paris, ME) and Abigail GOSS (1783 MA). Moses Jr.'s parents were Moses GAMMON Sr (abt 1750 MA) and Silence. I have no other information about her. I know that Moses Sr. was in the Revolutionary War and received a pension.

I am hoping to find Moses GAMMON Sr's parents and possibly the maiden name of his wife Silence.

Thank you for your time and help.

Kim Slaughter

Pejepscot Genealogy Society's November Meeting

Pejepscot Genealogy Society will meet on Sunday, November 8, 2009 at 2 p.m. at the Curtis Memorial Library (Middle Street entrance), Brunswick.

Dave Barber, a resident of Bath, will give a presentation that traces the travels of a piece of his grandfather's furniture back to England.

Please come early for a social time with your relatives and friends!

For more information, please call 207.833.7371.

Vital Records of Cape Elizabeth

Maine Genealogical Society Special Publication #63 is now available. The Vital Records of Cape Elizabeth, Maine has been compiled by Anne M. Diehm, edited by Joseph Crook Anderson II, FASG, and Marlene A. Groves.

Cape Elizabeth is located in the county of Cumberland and is five miles from the county seat of Portland. The original town formed a part of ancient Falmouth and was settled about 1630. Cape Elizabeth was incorporated as a district in Maine on 1 November 1765. It was later incorporated as the 34th town on 23 August 1776. In 1852 part of the town was set off to form a new town called Westbrook, and on 15 March 1895 the southern portion of the town was set off to form a new town called South Portland.

The Cape Elizabeth vital records include births, deaths, marriage intentions and marriages recorded by town clerks with this transcription containing those prior to the year 1892. Some of the early volumes of town records are located in the town of Cape Elizabeth and other volumes are located in the town of South Portland.

640 pages, hard cover, 28,235 entry Every Name Index. 2009

The book sells for $79.50, but MGS members pay only $69.50! For more information or to place an order, please visit Picton Press, official publisher of Maine Genealogical Society Special Publications at

To learn about other MGS Special Publications visit our website at

Membership number required to receive the MGS member discount.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

MGS Honors Gerald & Janice Gower

Maine Genealogical Society announced at its annual conference held in Bangor on September 26, 2009, that Gerald F. & Janice D. Gower were the recipients of its Award of Excellence in Genealogical Research.

Joe Anderson, chair of the MGS Awards Committee, reported that consideration was given to presenting it to just one of them, but the Gowers very much work as a team and honoring one and not the other would be a bit of an injustice.

Jerry and Janice have been invaluable in their support of the Maine Families in 1790 series, having contributed 215 families for the last 6 volumes and many more for the upcoming Volume 11. Not only have they contributed families, they have led workshops encouraging and teaching various genealogical groups around the state about the 1790 project and they have taken a number of individuals under their wing to help them work up their first submissions to the project. Both have also contributed over the years numerous articles and source material for publication in The Maine Genealogist and have served as Contributing Editors of the journal for several years.

Congratulations to Jerry & Janice!

presented to
In recognition of their outstanding efforts and scholarship in support of the Maine Families in 1790 project and The Maine Genealogist, and for tirelessly helping and encouraging others to contribute to MGS publications.
The Maine Genealogical Society honors their extraordinary contributions to the field of genealogy in the State of Maine.
September 26, 2009

MGS Honors Valdine Chalmers Atwood

At the 2009 Annual Conference held in Bangor on September 26, 2009, Maine Genealogical Society presented Valdine Chalmers Atwood with its Award of Excellence in Genealogical Service.

Valdine Chalmers Atwood has long been recognized as the authority on the history and genealogy of the families of the Machias area specifically and Washington County generally. She has been a member of the Washington County Genealogical Society since 1993, in which year it was established, and has served as its Secretary since 1995, its Program chair since 1995 and as its Newsletter editor since 2005.

Val is indefatigable in sharing her knowledge and resources with others. She has participated as a lecturer at two week-long and one day-long genealogical workshops held in Washington County, was a speaker at the MGS 10th anniversary conference in Augusta and at the annual meeting /fall conference held in Ellsworth, was a presenter in the research room at the MGS conference in Machias, has participated in most of the 17 annual genealogy fairs hosted by the Alexander-Crawford Historical Society and the more recent annual fairs of the Charlotte Historical Society, and will be a participant in the genealogy fair to be held in August in conjunction with the bicentennial celebration of Calais. Val has contributed four sketches to the Maine Families in 1790 series, was co-compiler of the vital records of East Machias, which appear as a printed volume in the Maine DAR Miscellaneous Records series, and has made an informal transcription of the Machias vital records.

Val is a long term member of MGS and of NEHGS. In Washington County she is a member of the Machias, Machiasport, Pembroke and Dennysville historical societies.

In 1999 Val was appointed by the Washington County Commissioners as a member of the Washington County Archives Preservation Committee and has served as chairman of this committee since 2002. The committee was charged by the Commissioners to oversee the preservation of the large collection of Washington County newspapers dating back to 1818 to present day, over 600 volumes, stored in the attic of the court house. The committee has overseen either the purchase or microfilming of over half the collection, which microfilming continues as funds become available. Additionally during her time as committee chairman various boxes containing documents of all kinds dating back to the 1830s were "unearthed" from various nooks and crannies of the attic and other locations in the court house, including such items as coroner's jury reports, county tax and expenditure records, road records, etc. The committee has overseen the inventorying of these records, which in the near future will be available to the public for research.

Val has been a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution for 55 years. She has served as Regent of the Hannah Western Chapter DAR of Machias for 3 years and has served as chapter Secretary for 41 years. In addition, she has been Registrar of the chapter, officially for 2 years and unofficially for 12 years, and has served as chairman of many chapter committees and Chair of the Burnham Tavern Museum, a committee of the chapter, for 38 years.

Val has also served in Maine State Organization, DAR, serving as State Regent 1980-83. In addition, she has served as State Vice-Regent, State Chaplain, and as State Recording Secretary. She has also served as State Chairman of five committees, including Genealogical Records. On the national level DAR Val has served as National Vice Chairman of six committees, as a National Marshall and as National Page.

Val has a large personal library of genealogical materials relating to Washington County which she readily shares with others at the various fairs and at her home. The library was begun by her mother and continues to grow. It contains 17 file draws of data relating to Washington County families, plus 60 lineal feet of notebooks containing vital records, cemetery and historical data for Washington County towns. In addition she has a large collection of published books relating to Washington County, Maine and other New England states, and Canada. Val assists people all over the United States who inquire about their Washington County families. Locally the library, town office and the court house direct researchers to her door so that she can assist them with their family research.

presented to
In recognition of her years of service in the area of society volunteerism, lecturing and writing,
and her tireless efforts to preserve the old records of Washington County.
Maine Genealogical Society honors her extraordinary contributions in advancing the field of genealogy in the State of Maine.
September 26, 2009

October meeting of Penobscot County Genealogical Society

The next meeting of the Penobscot County Genealogical Society will be on October 21, 2009, at the Bangor Public Library in the Lecture Room.

The society is proud to have Mr. Gerry Palmer as their guest speaker. Gerry, being a lifelong city resident and respected historian of Bangor and Mayor, plans to talk about the famous guess at the Bangor House. In addition, some history of Mount Hope Cemetery along with some of the famous people buried there. Also, the story of Seth Noble, how Bangor received its name and Al Brady. If time permits a question and answer period will follow. Overall, a quick snapshot of some of the famous people who have lived and were buried in Bangor.

As always, everyone is welcome and refreshments will be served. We hope to see a large turnout for this historical perspective.

To learn more about the Penobscot County Genealogical Society, please visit their website at

News from Wassebec Genealogical Society

Wassebec Genealogical Society in Dover-Foxcroft recently held elections. Congratulations go out to the new officers:
President - Jane M. Macomber
Vice-President - Wayne Bennet
Secretary - Estella Bennett
Treasurer & Membership - David Dean
Directors - Linda Tozier (outgoing President) Jack Battick (2012) and Deanne Merrill (2013)

Upcoming meetings planned include a tour of the Piscataquis Register of Deeds & Register of Probate on November 12, 2009 and a discussion on how to access information at LDS Centers on January 14, 2010.

For more information, meeting locations and/or directions, contact Jane M. Macomber at or visit the Wassebec website at

Pejepscot Genealogy Society to Meet

Pejepscot Genealogy Society will meet on Sunday, October 11, 2009, at 2:00 p.m. in the Morrill Meeting Room at the Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick, Maine.

Christine Olmstead and Teresa Draves will present programs emphasizing the importance of restoring and preserving photographs. Please feel free to bring a photo in need of restoration.

Come early and chat with friends about summer discoveries and new relatives.

For more information, phone 207.833.7371.