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Today is Ancestor Appreciation Day – I’d like to appreciate my 4th great grandfather, Caleb Shaw.
During our Haunted History tours people often ask if I’m from Maine – I have to answer no, but I often can elaborate. I do have roots here in Maine, though I was not born here. To many, that means I’m “from away.”
On my father’s side, both his paternal and maternal ancestors were from Maine. He did not know this until just a few years before he passed and unfortunately was never able to visit any ancestral properties or gravesites. I know he would have loved to be able to do this, but I have been able to at least show some of his family members a home, a home town and a gravesite.
Caleb Shaw is the ancestor who I’ve chosen to write about today. He was from New Hampshire originally, but came to Maine in 1801. He died in 1849 at age 80!
He, with his wife Betsy, is buried in Newport, Maine, though they lived in nearby Palmyra. His gravestone says “Who first traveled with a wheeled vehicle from the Kennebec River to the Penobscot River.”
I have not been able to find out a lot about this effort, though it is noted in several publications, one mentioning that “it was a great curiosity, upon which the people along the route looked with wonder.”
I do know that there were not many roads in those days. Most people traveled by river and/or Native American trails. These trails were certainly not wide enough for a wheeled vehicle, so some “trail blazing” certainly had to take place! I can only guess that it might be about where Route 2 is now, from Skowhegan to Bangor, over 50 miles.
I’m proud that one of my ancestors played an important part in the settlement of Maine. Caleb and Betsy had 13 children, many of whom have played their own parts in Maine’s history, as well as their descendants.
The other half of the family is one that I have not had luck with – the Locke’s from Maine who migrated to Kentucky in 1801. I will persevere, though, in my research!
Genealogy can be challenging, but it can also be very exciting and fulfilling!
We’ve been doing a lot lately with Maine Lighthouses. They are so iconic and romantic and full of history! Do you think many are haunted? It seems that may be the case!
We actually do know quite a few tales of haunted lighthouses, in fact one is on the cover of our most recent book, “Ghost of the Boothbay Region.”
Maine has over 60 lighthouses, many of which are open to the public or at least able to be seen by land. Others are visible by short boat trips. Several have museums or informational centers and gift shops. In Rockland, the Maine Lighthouse Museum is open year round.
Next month, on Saturday, May 21, I will be leading a special Lighthouse Cruise that will view 5 lighthouses in the Boothbay Harbor area (weather permitting) and then stop at Burnt Island Lighthouse for an up close look at the tower as well as the outbuildings and keeper’s house.
You’ll learn about the lives of some of the keeper’s – their joys as well as hardships, their routines and their families. I’m sure I won’t be able to resist a ghost story or two, as well!
This is a morning cruise, so you’ll have time for lunch and some exploring in the Boothbay area in the afternoon. The link to purchase tickets is below.
In the late summer and fall, we’ll also be doing some Lighthouse Legends and Lore cruises with Maine Maritime Museum. These will also include much history as well as haunted tales and ghost stories. The link to purchase tickets for these cruises is below, though I don’t think they are listed yet, so keep checking!
Hope to see you soon!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.