Maine Place Names

On a recent “Haunted Lighthouse Cruise” on the Kennebec River with Maine Maritime Museum, we were discussing Maine place names. Most of the ones we were talking about were Native American names, such as Kennebec, Sasanoa, Arrowsic, and Seguin.

Then the discussion led to the strange phenomena that Maine has of having place names of Peru, Rome, China, Naples, Mexico, Poland, Sweden, Lisbon, Denmark, Vienna, Paris, Stockholm, Madrid, Moscow and Norway.

There is also Frankfort and Bremen of German heritage (not Dresden – Pownalborough was renamed Dresden just because the Probate Judge liked the sound of it!). Belfast and Limerick are of Irish background, as well as more, I’m sure.

Many of our place names are of English origin due to the majority of the settlers coming from Great Britain. Maine also has a fair amount of Finnish history, which you might run across.

Of course we also have Union, Hope, Freedom, Unity, Liberty, Friendship, and Harmony which are fairly self explanatory. As are Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson, etc.

I won’t even start on Maine island names – that may be another blog entry!

The point of all this is that we tend to believe that place names came from the name of an early settler or the place that the early settlers came from or in honor of a person or a value.

There are other reasons!

China and Poland were named after songs/hymns that the person in charge happened to like at the time.

Some towns chose their names in solidarity with a country that was having independence conflicts at the time; Mexico and Peru for example. Others chose names out of respect for how the countries handled certain conflicts or battles, such as Moscow and Denmark.

Paris was named such in recognition of France’s help during the American Revolution, as was Camden, after a Lord Camden of England who was sympathetic with the colonies.

I, frankly, am amazed that in the 1700 and 1800’s, Maine people were so aware and knowledgeable of world happenings and felt such sympathy. It’s quite a statement, one that could be said to stand today.


Mount Desert Island, Bar Harbor, etc. continued

Part II – in brief

The first settlers who came to Mount Desert Island were Jesuit Priests who had actually been sent to Port Royal, but were turned away. They found themselves in the fog as they were heading south and ran into the Island. They decided to just stay and establish a mission there.

In the early 1600’s they were fired upon by those who had been told to prevent any French settlements. Several were killed, the others were captured and taken away to be sold as slaves.

The Priests who were killed were buried near a spring, now known as Jesuit Spring and many believe that this now a haunted place. Some say the waters run red at times, others say that white shapes are seen at night. Once an apparition of a man in a brown robe with a cross was seen in a boat, and splashing oars have been heard. Sometimes there are claims of hearing voices in French, praying.

As with most ghost stories, there are many differences, but some similarities. If you go to Jesuit Spring, please share with us what you hear or see!


Bar Harbor, Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island, Acadia National Park

I spent the day today at the above places – some of which overlap. It was a hot August day, but there was also some fog and lots of sunshine. Here – one of the Porcupines, engulfed at 3 pm.

Bar Harbor fog over Porcupines

Those of you who’ve been here know that it’s a magical place. It also can be considered a mystical place. In some cases it can be considered a haunted place. No debate that it’s a beautiful place. It’s special to me for many reasons – I’ve been traveling to the area for 40 years, my daughter was married in Bar Harbor, my family lived in Southwest Harbor for 4 years and therefore the area holds many memories for me.

There are scenic vistas, beaches, kayak trips, rocky shores, cliffs, shops, islands, mountains, lobster/crab rolls, bike trips, carriage trails, woodlands, boat trips, lakes/ponds and oh so much more.

I was here today to experience as much as possible of the above, but mostly to spread the word about our new evening Haunted History Tours in Bar Harbor. I think I hit at about half of the above list in just one day, so I’m happy! Those of you who’ve been to the area know that just one day is not enough to experience all that MDI has to offer. I’m not sure that one week is enough, or even one year.

Over the last 10 months, I have spent quite a bit of time in the area as we researched, interviewed, planned and readied the opening of our newest tour. We opened at the beginning of July, with 2 wonderful associates to lead our tours. Of course, our tours are only in Bar Harbor, but I do believe that the Island/Park/towns cris-cross in most respects.

There are haunts and mysteries across the Island, too – one actually dating to the earliest settlers! Check in tomorrow for Part II and that account.


Outdated Crimes and Criminals

This is an interesting blog that I came across today and wanted to share. Some of these very outdated (thankfully) crimes no longer happen due to changes in culture and times.

At least one of these is discussed sometimes on our Damariscotta Haunted History Walking Tour.

Enjoy – here is the link.


Boothbay Harbor Experience

Here is a link to a story that a guest on one of my tours wrote. It is about an experience she had the night after her tour with me in Boothbay Harbor. Maybe some of you who’ve also stayed at Captain Sawyer’s have some stories you’d like to share as well?




Mary Moody Emerson was Ralph Waldo Emerson’s aunt. She spent her whole life taking care of friends and relatives, never marrying. She traveled throughout Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire helping whoever needed help. Mary was just 4 feet 2 inches tall, a frail looking woman with short blonde hair, the short bob being unusual for the times, but quite strong and determined. She didn’t care at all what people thought of her and she quickly became known as quite eccentric.

She was fascinated with death and traveled with her own shroud and coffin shaped bed! At one of her relatives homes she delighted in the coffin shaped shadow that was made by the nearby church steeple. She was so obsessed with death that her friends used a quote from Shakespeare to greet her, “I wish you the joy of the worm.”

One hot summer day she decided to put on the burial shroud she made for herself rather than the heavy skirt, corset, stockings, etc. that were the custom of the day. Mary found her shroud to be so cool and comfortable that she continued to wear it often, to the surprise and shock of many townspeople and her relatives! According to her nephew, she even wore it horseback riding and ended up making several in her later life because they would wear out.

In spite of her wish to die, she lived to be 89 and was laid to rest in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, with this quote of her nephew, “Mary’s body—her “tedious tabernacle”—was finally placed into a cool, sweet grave, freeing her soul to ascend to Heaven. Worms, those most valuable companions, finally would gnaw away the meshes that had trapped her soul on earth, a place where she felt she never truly belonged.”

One of the places where Mary spent a considerable amount of time was Wiscasset, Maine, with her sister, Hannah. Even though Mary was not there when she died, she apparently has chosen Hannah’s home as one of her favorite places in the afterlife.

We were asked by some members of the office that is now in the house to do a light investigation, as they thought there was the spirit of a man there. Also, the office dog spent a lot of time at the bottom of the stairs looking up at nothing they could see.

When we went in, we immediately had lots of EMF activity in several areas of the downstairs at once. We quickly determined that there indeed was a man there, but Mary Moody Emerson was also in the house! They both “spoke” to us by making the EMF detectors go on or off in response to questions. They did not seem to want us to leave as the detectors were still registering as we walked out and we had to remind them to stay there.

Recently, I was by the house, outside, telling Mary’s story, showing some students an EMF detector and explaining what had happened to us inside. When I started talking about Mary the EMF detector started beeping, even though it was in the same place it had been for several minutes without registering anything! We asked if it was Mary and it beeped 3 times in response. I asked if I could tell about her shroud and it again beeped as if in the affirmative. When I mentioned that Mary had been quite an eccentric character, it again beeped. Several different times, the EMF detector beeped in appropriate places or in appropriate response to questions. We had to move along, so the students thanked Mary for “talking” to us and I asked her if she was glad that we had come by, and once again, the EMF detector beeped 3 times.


Mysterious Burial and Unmarked Grave

Some folks think we’re a seasonal business, just during Halloween/Fall season, but we are definitely a year round business!

Our current project is an example of how we work throughout the year. Over 130 years ago a woman was taken from her family under cover of night and buried in an out of town cemetery in an unmarked grave. We’ve been researching this story for years, but have stepped it up recently.

Our goal is to find the Maine cemetery, if not the actual gravesite, by Spring and do some fundraising to give this unfortunate woman a marker.

She did nothing wrong, she was reportedly in a trance, as was common for her, as a medium in her hometown. She was being cared for by her brothers, who assured everyone that she was fine and would come out of it soon.

You can read more about Mary’s story and our efforts here, http://wgme.com//news/features/top-stories/stories/dirigo-stories-missing-grave-mary-howe-24603.shtml#.VFCX-haCV8E.

Our book, “Haunted Damariscotta, Ghosts of the Twin Villages and Beyond” has the original story. Signed copies can be mailed to you upon request. Call 207-380-3806 or e-mail redcloaktours@gmail.com.


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