Archive for the 'history' Category

21
May
17

Part Two – Ancestor Appreciation Day

Two posts ago, I wrote about one of my ancestors who completed a great feat, at the time. He was the first to take a wheeled vehicle from the Kennebec River to the Penobscot River (Skowhegan to Bangor).

I do not know if this was a 2 wheeled or 4 wheeled vehicle, but it did cause a stir among settlers as he passed by small settlements in the 1800’s, according to reports. It certainly must have been horse or oxen drawn.

I wish there was more documentation – was he alone? what was he transporting? how long did it take (about 50 miles)? what time of year did this take place?

So, today, I had the opportunity to drive this route myself (in my 4 wheeled car! and in the opposite direction). I just wanted to drive the drive and imagine what it must have been like in the early 1800’s.

20170521_104325-e1495410840150.jpg

Most of the area is now farm country so it is nice open fields, but at the time it would have been all wooded (as above), and as I mentioned in my original post, must have certainly needed some trailblazing!

I passed by a few lakes, bridged several rivers and went up and down countless hills! All I could think of was the poor horse(s) or ox(en) that had to work so hard. The modern road is a nice, wide 2 lane highway in very good shape and was a pleasure to drive.

Caleb Shaw must have had good reason to go to all that trouble, or maybe he was just up to a challenge! Some of my Shaw ancestors certainly have been the type to make their own way.

History is wonderful, haunted or not, but always leaves us wishing for more…

27
Sep
16

Ancestor Appreciation Day

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.”

 caleb-shaw-headstone

 

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!

08
Apr
16

Maine Lighthouses

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.

https://msad11.coursestorm.com/course/maine-lighthouse-adventure?search=lighthouse

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!

http://www.mainemaritimemuseum.org/

Hope to see you soon!

08
Nov
15

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.

31
Oct
14

Eccentric

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.

29
Oct
14

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.

25
Aug
14

Research is Fun, but Sharing is Better

I have selfish reasons for this business – I love history and I love research! As fulfilling as intriguing research can be, I’ve found that it really needs to be shared for the best results.

I think of it as a treasure hunt – whether it is genealogy or a ghost story or historical research, once I find that first clue, I’m sucked in. I often can’t devote the time I’d like to continue the hunt, at least for the moment, but sometimes it’s hard to break away. The challenge is to find the information I need, but not get swept away for the whole day!

I have a diary that I’ve been reading. It dates to the late 1800’s – spanning 40 years! I don’t know how many transcribed typewritten pages it is but I’m only on page 70 something and not a third of the way through. It’s at a nearby library, in the reference section, which is probably a good thing. If I could check it out, no one would see me for days!

In my last post I mentioned a new offering coming to Wiscasset. It is an afternoon tour called History & Haunts of High Street. At either end of beautiful High Street are 2 historic buildings that we will tour through, while telling history, folklore and tales of both as well as all the homes in between. We will offer these only once a month June through October. Our first is this coming Friday, August 29.

One of the buildings is a courthouse; the oldest continuously working courthouse in Maine, dating to 1824. The other is “Castle Tucker,” now a museum owned by Historic New England, but once was a private home. It dates to 1807. The other buildings we will see are sea captains’ homes, a painted lady, an old bank with a “jug vault” in the cellar, a duplex dating to 1852 (who knew they built them that early?!) and more.

As I’ve been researching for this new tour, I’ve found myself getting so excited about sharing the information I’ve found! I can’t wait until Friday, and I hope the guests will appreciate the tidbits that I’ve come up with.

Another exiting “show and tell” that I experienced recently was during Boothbay’s 250th Anniversary Celebration. I was fortunate enough to be able to share “Ye Ol’ Burying Ground” with about 50 people. The amount of history found in old cemeteries and graveyards is incredible! Did you know a cemetery is different from a graveyard? A cemetery is not associated with a church, while a graveyard is. We ran into difficulties at this particular burying ground because it is now called a cemetery, but there did used to be a church right next to it. I didn’t know about the church until a local person shared with me during this celebration, so now there’s yet more research to be done – which came first the church or the burying ground?

I had a winter full of research this past year, and now it’s time to share… my husband has written a book, with my assistance, and it is now available to the public! “Haunted Damariscotta, Ghosts of the Twin Villages and Beyond” by Greg Latimer was published by History Press and can be purchased from them online here:

https://historypress.net/catalogue/bookstore/books/Series/Haunted%20America/Haunted-Damariscotta/9781626193055

Obviously, we’re very excited to have accomplished this, but also to share with all of you. Please let us know if you’d like to purchase signed copies from us – we can take care of that for you.

I hope you enjoy these last days of summer – I know I will, peeking out between the pages of that diary!