Posts Tagged ‘kennebec

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
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.