Visiting the Gravesites of My Great and Great Great Grandfathers

James Keegan Sr (1812 – 1879) and his son James H Keegan Jr. (1847 – 1927) were laid to rest in Chapel Hill cemetery in Trescott, ME. James Sr. immigrated to Trescott from Ireland in 1836. I had seen their gravestones on the findagrave.com website but I wanted to go there myself. I had hit a roadblock in tracing James Sr in Ireland. My cousin Teresa had visited Ireland and requested information about him from the Meath Heritage & Genealogy Centre in Trim, Ireland, County Meath. The Centre found one listing for a James Keegan born March 27th, 1812 to Pat Keegan and Elizabeth Keating. But the birth date for this James did not match the birth date on his gravestone (October 6, 1812). I noted that County Meath was misspelled on his gravestone as Meade, perhaps the date of birth was not accurate either. The Centre’s search covered 1812 +/- 5 years and found two other James Keegans:

(1) 8th November 1814 – James born to John Keegan and Elizabeth Camble (Oldcastle).

(2) 25th July 1816 – James born to Thadeus Keegan and Mary Newman (Kildalkey).

With no other information to go on, such as James’ parents names etc in Ireland, the Centre wrote that there was no way to know which James Keegan was our ancestor. It occurred to me that I did not know the name of James’ wife and emigrating from Ireland in 1836 at the age of 24, he may have been married in Ireland. If I visited his gravesite, perhaps I could find his wife and her name there too.

I strolled around Chapel Hill Cemetery looking for his gravestone. It is a small and beautiful cemetery nestled against the woods, now bright with the reds, yellows, golds and greens of Fall.

chapelhill

Among a carpet of red cranberries and green moss were stones that marked the graves of many Irish/Scottish immigrants and their descendants: Sullivan, Murray, Kelley, McCarty, McQuaige, McCurdy.

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I found James Keegan Sr.’s gravestone in the front corner close to the corner of Rte. 189 and Chapel Hill (Timber Cover) Road. I was so pleased to find it, followed by disappointment that there was no other stone close by, nor his wife noted on his gravestone.

james.sr

Beside this gravestone was that of his son James Jr. There were no other Keegan gravestones or markers. Engraved on the front of this stone was his date of birth , no date of death, his wife Margaret (1857 – 1897). Their daughter Winnifred, born in 1887 and died in 1918 (the year of the great flu pandemic) at the age of 31, was buried with her parents.

james.keegan.jr.grave

Then I looked at the back of James Jr.’s stone. Names were engraved there, difficult to see under the lichen and moss, but I knelt and read:

James                  1812                  1879

Elizabeth            1809                  1889

William               1836                  1880

Anne                    1841                  1897

The birth date on the back of the stone of James Sr. looks like 1814 but closer inspection reveals 1812. Elizabeth is likely James Jr.’s mother, William and Anne, his brother and sister. James Jr. had a brother named Thomas who lived in Lubec with his family in 1910. He must be buried elsewhere. I don’t know the names of the rest of the family.

The photo of the back of the stone is not very clear but I will try another day in different sunlight.

gravestone.james.keegan.jr.back

Back home on the computer, I began to search for Maine vital records about James Keegan Sr. and his wife Elizabeth. I hadn’t found much about him before, except a photo of his gravestone and the record of his US naturalization in 1843.

An entire page of records popped up on the computer screen.

The 1840 census didn’t hold much information, just the name of heads of households, the number of individuals in the house and their age range. His name is spelled James Kegan, male between 20 and 30 years of age. One female between 20 and 30. One male child and one female child under the age of five. If I am reading this census correctly, the household consists of James Sr. (about 28 years old), his wife Elizabeth about the same age, a son and a daughter under the age of five.

The 1850 census yielded more information. Since arriving in Trescott in 1836, James Sr. and Elizabeth had seven children.

James Kegan, age 41, a farmer, value of real estate 300″ (?), place of birth, Ireland.

Elizabeth Kegan, age 40, place of birth, Ireland.

William, age 12, born in Maine and attended school in the last year.

Mary, age 10, born in Maine and attended school in the last year.

Ann, age 9, born in Maine and attended school in the last year.

John, age 8 and attended school in the last year.

Eliza, age 6.

James, age 3 (my great grandfather).

Catherine, age 1.

1860 Census. The spelling of Kegan is now Keegan. Mary, about 20 years of age that year, is no longer in the household and their last son Thomas was age 9.

James Keegan, age 48, born in Ireland.

Elizabeth Keegan, age 48, Ireland.

William Keegan, age 22, born in Maine.

Anne Keegan, age 18, Maine.

Elizabeth Keegan, age 18, Maine. (Eliza in 1840 census).

John Keegan, age 16, Maine.

James Keegan, age 13, Maine.

Catherine Keegan, age 11, Maine.

Thomas Keegan, age 9, Maine.

It is apparent that ages do not exactly coincide between each census.

One year after James Sr. died in 1879, there were four that lived in the Keegan household according to the 1880 Trescott census.

Elizabeth, age 74, mother, widowed, keeping house, born in Ireland. father and mother born in Ireland.

James, age 32, son, single, farmer, born in Maine, father and mother born in Ireland (my great grandfather).

Thomas, age 29, son, married, farmer, born in Maine, father and mother born in Ireland.

Catherine, age 28, daughter-in-law, married, housekeeper, born in Maine, father and mother born in Ireland.

The search yielded two more documents. The records of death for Annie and Eliza Keegan, daughters of James (Sr) and Elizabeth Keegan.

Annie died in Machias on September 15, 1897 at 55 years of age. Place of birth: Trescott. Widowed. Occupation: Housework. Cause of death: Chronic spinal meningitis. Her mother’s maiden name is written as: Elizabeth Morran.

Eliza (Keegan) May died in Lubec in 1920 at 76 years of age. She was a resident of Lubec for 17 years, previous residence Trescott. Date of birth: March 22, 1844 in Trescott. Occupation: Housewife. Maiden name of her mother: Elizabeth Morris. Eliza is the deceased was the wife of James May. Cause of death: Valvular Endocarditis. Duration: Indefinite. Contributing cause: Lobar Pneumonia. Duration: One week.

 

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What discoveries! I found the names of the children of my great great grandfather James Keegan Sr. At last, I know my great great grandmother’s name: Elizabeth. Her surname is either Morris or Morran (Moran?). They were surely married in Ireland as they came to Trescott in 1836 and their first child William was born the same year in Maine.

That should be enough information to search Irish records and go back further in time.

What is particularly precious is that I can begin to see them, envision their lives that began in Ireland and came so far to live off the land and settle in Trescott and Lubec.

My ancestors peek through the mist of time.

Related posts:

My Great Great Paternal Grandfather, James Keegan.

Searching for Grammy Rier’s Parents and Siblings.

References:

United States Census, Trescott, ME, 1840.

trescott.census.1840

“United States Census, 1850,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M6VC-TSD : 12 April 2016), James Kegan in household of James Kegan, Trescott, Washington, Maine, United States; citing family 56, NARA microfilm publication M432 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

trescott.census.1850

“United States Census, 1860”, database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MDHL-7P5 : 26 July 2017), James Keegan in entry for James Keegan, 1860.

trescott.1860.census

United States Census, Trescott, ME, 1880.

trescott.1880.census

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I am a proud member of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR).

My mother, Louise (Johnson) Rier, was a member. I joined in 2012. Last year, my daughter, Monica Snowdeal Stone, became a member. It’s important to pass down our history for generations to come. Our qualifying ancestor to join the DAR was Joseph Getchell Jr.

The DAR is a women’s service organization dedicated to promoting historic preservation, education, patriotism and honoring the patriots of the Revolutionary War. DAR members come from a variety of backgrounds and interests, but all share a common bond of having an ancestor who helped contribute to securing the independence of the United States of America. Any woman 18 years or older, regardless of race, religion or ethnic background, who can prove lineal descent from a patriot of the American Revolution is eligible to join.

The Hannah Weston Chapter of the DAR is located in Machias, Maine. Established in a rural Downeast community, this chapter has over 90 members, second in size only to the chapter in the largest city of the state, Portland. Hannah Watts Weston was a remarkable 17-year old heroine of the first battle of the American Revolution who walked through the woods for 16 miles carrying 40 pounds of household pewter to be melted down for ammunition.

Anyone who grew up in Machias knows that their home town was the site of the first naval battle of the American Revolution that took place June 11 and 12th, 1775.

Joseph Getchell Sr. and his wife immigrated to the British colony of Massachusetts from Hull, England and settled in Scarboro in 1749 (then a part of MA, later the state of Maine). They had three children: Benjamin, Mary, and Joseph Jr, born in April 1757. Joseph Sr. and his family came to Machias in 1869 or 70. In 1776, Joseph Getchell Jr. married Sally Berry. They had eleven children: Westbrook, Abagail, Betsey, John, Marshall, Benjamin, Mary, Simeon, Jane, G. Washington, and George Stillman.

Joseph Jr.’s son John had two children: Marshfield and Thomas. Marshfield married Martha Jane Holmes. They had seven children, their youngest was my great grandmother Nellie Getchell Means.

Joseph Getchell Jr. fought the British in the rebellion for independence of the American colonies to prevent the British from taking their primary resources: timber for ships and their hard-earned money, taxation without representation. Once British demands were made, the residents of Downeast Maine not only refused to comply by providing timber or paying their taxes, they erected a “liberty pole” in the town square. And then, they set out to seize British ships that entered their harbor.

A group of townsmen met to decide on their plan of action. Once agreed upon at the Rubicon, the brook they jumped across to seal their pact, these men collectively captured the British ship Margaretta and hid her upriver. Among the first men who jumped on board the Margaretta in the assault was my ancestor, 18 year old Joseph Getchell Jr. The captured British ship captain died. His blood remains in the Burnham Tavern where they took him after their assault. The Burnham Tavern is now a museum under the care of the Daughters of the American Revolution, a reminder to future generations never to yield to tyranny.

The Burnham Tavern, beautifully preserved, as it is today.

Burnham2a

This summer, the Tavern will be open from 10:00 AM until 3:00 PM, Monday through Friday, beginning on Tuesday, July 5th and continuing through Friday, September 2nd.  In addition, it may be possible to arrange visits at other times if a docent is available.  Please call 207-733-4577 or e-mail <info@burnhamtavern.com> for further information.

The Foster Rubicon Plaque.

Foster Rubicon Enlargement

Reference: History of Machias, Maine. George W. Drisko. 1904.

Related posts:

Hannah Weston Chapter DAR. Burnham Tavern Open Every Saturday During Summer. 

Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Partnership Agreement With the US National Archives.

 

The Children of Uncle Charlie and Aunt Louise

that I never knew.

Their son was Morton. I had seen Morton Rier, a handsome young man, in Dad’s Lubec 1934 yearbook and had no idea who he was. Now I know.

Today I began to search for more information on the family of my grandfather Frank Rier and his brother, my great uncle Charlie. Their parents were Burpee and Emma (Batron) Rier.

I refined how I search for records on familysearch.org and had more success than usual.

The 1920 census records showed Charles and Louise Rier and their household in Lubec, Maine. There were two children living in the house with Charles’ father Burpee, age 57, widowed. Charles was 31 and head of household; his wife Louise was 28.  In 1920, their daughter Austina H was seven, their son Morton A was four 10/12.

charlie.children.1920.census

Why did I not know about their children? Most likely because they died before I was born. I am learning that the elders did not tell stories about their lost loved ones. And, although I spent much time with Aunt Louise and Uncle Charlie, their children were never mentioned.

I soon learned that Morton died at age 20 in 1935. As yet, I do not have the vital record, but the findagrave website noted his burial in the Corey cemetery in Lubec. I will need to visit his grave site and verify his date of birth and death. It makes sense, why I was never told about Morton. Why talk about grief?

And, there was their daughter Austina, born August 26, 1912. She was married March 21st, 1951 at the age of 38 to Horace G Roman, born in Meridan, CT. Where did they live? Did they have children? As yet, I cannot find where she lived and died. But, I did know my Uncle Charlie and Aunt Louise. When they gave me the family silverware when I was 12 years old, they had no children, or perhaps no children that they were close to? Whether Austina had died by my 12th birthday, or had somehow separated herself from the family, I do not know. If the Lubec library has old High School yearbooks, I might find her photo in one of them, likely 1932. It would be a start.

I will search for more information about Austina Rier Roman and visit the Corey Cemetery in Lubec, where Uncle Charlie, Aunt Louise and their son Morton are buried.

In memoriam:

Charles Purdy Rier. Born September 6, 1888, Lubec. Died July 11, 1971, Lubec.

Louise H Thaxter Rier. Born July 1, 1891, Dennysville. Died January 3, 1982, Lubec.

References:

Maine World War I Draft Registration 1917 – 1919 Index. Digital Folder Number 004390174 Image Number 01067.

Maine Death Index 1960 – 1996.

United States Social Security Death Index.

Maine Vital Records, 1670-1921 GS Film Number 000010181 Digital Folder Number 005011861 Image Number 00245

Maine, Marriage Index, 1892-1966, 1977-1996,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KCNK-4QQ : 27 November 2014), Horace G Roman and Austina H Rier, 21 Mar 1951; citing Marriage, Maine, United States, State Archives, Augusta.

Birth record for Austina Rier.

austina.birth

Update:

My cousin sent me Austina’s obituary, kept by my Aunt Pat. The name of Austina’s husband does not match the vital record I found and there is no date. But, it’s a bit more information about her. She died in Meridan, CT, the place of her husband’s birth.

austina.obit

 

My Great Uncle Charlie and Aunt Louise

They lived in Lubec, Maine in the winter and on Indian Lake in nearby Whiting for the summer. My family had a camp at Indian Lake from the year I was born, so we visited each other often. I have many warm memories spending time with Uncle Charlie and Aunt Louise. Since my grandfather Frank Rier died before I was born, his brother Uncle Charlie was special and so was Aunt Louise. They were my other grandparents, as my maternal grandmother Harriet died before I was born too.

uncle.charlie.IL

 

 

The summer home of Charles and Louise Rier at Indian Lake, circa 1960s.

 

 

 

 

 

When Uncle Charlie and Aunt Louise got older, they stayed at our family home in Zephyrhills, FL for the winter. Every day, Uncle Charlie went to town with other men in the neighborhood, sat, chatted, and watched the morning go by. Chairs lined the sidewalk outside a restaurant, especially for these men. I can see Uncle Charlie sitting there now, smiling in the sun.

The Rier family home in Zephyhills (L) and Uncle Charlie posing for a photo with a man I do not recognize but he may be from Lubec and visiting FL (R).

My family stayed at the “little pink house” for a month each winter from the time I was five years old until my brothers went to college. Mom collected our homework for the month, so there was school time, and lots of fun time. When we arrived, Aunt Louise and Uncle Charlie stayed in a travel trailer in the back yard so we could all be together for that month.

On my 12th birthday, they came to visit at our home in Machias. Uncle Charlie carried a chest to the dining room table. Aunt Louise smiled and said, “This is the family silverware. I want you to have it and take care of it. Happy Birthday, Sherry.”

I picked up the lid of the old chest and looked inside. My eyes grew wide. There was a beautiful antique set of silverware for 12, complete with forks in four different sizes, carving knives, and serving spoons. I thought of objecting to this large gift but knew that Aunt Louise and Uncle Charlie had no children. I was the girl they chose to keep that silverware safe for the future. I was honored. “It’s beautiful! I will always treasure this gift,” I said as I hugged them.

I still treasure that silverware as I am filled with memories of Uncle Charlie and Aunt Louise, and my 12th birthday, when I bring it out for special occasions.

When I researched my grandfather Frank’s family history, I found that Uncle Charlie and Aunt Louise (Thaxter) married in October 9, 1908. She was 17 and worked at the (sardine) factory; he was 20 and a laborer. Charles Rier’s parents were Burpee Rier, a merchant in Lubec and Emma Batron, a housewife there. Louise’s parents were Charles Thaxter, a laborer in Lubec, and Mary Preston, housewife.

I also found that Uncle Charlie and Aunt Louise had a son on October 14, 1910, stillborn. How sad.

I had heard the name of Dad’s grandfather Rier, Burpee, when I was growing up. I thought it must have been a nickname, possibly dubbed on a baby with chronic colic. Evidently, it was his name legal name, at least as an adult, as shown by these records. Months ago, I had searched Maine vital records for more information on Burpee Rier. I could find no birth record, he was not listed in the 1910 Lubec census.

Yesterday, I searched again, but not in vital records of Maine. I found this site, which may or may not be accurate. It lists Burpee Rier’s parents as Ingraham and Mary Rier, both born in Nova Scotia. Dad always told me the first Rier to arrive in Lubec was Ingraham. He used to point at his tombstone in the Lubec cemetery as we rode by. Then there was the family story about the Rier brothers from Germany who fought in the Revolutionary War as Hessian soldiers and “jumped ship.” One brother went to Nova Scotia and one to Lubec. My theory was both brothers went to Canada after the war, along with other Loyalists, soldiers, and servants hired by the British. If this site is accurate, Ingraham came to Lubec long after the Revolutionary War.

Now I had a lead to search Nova Scotia records for the family of Ingraham Rier, that started with this story about Uncle Charlie and Aunt Louise. Very exciting!

And now, there is much more research to be done to track down the Rier ancestors. I am not yet a member of ancestry.com so it will take awhile. I’m also a novice at obtaining census and vital records in the US and certainly in Nova Scotia. Any advice and tips are greatly appreciated!

Related post:

My Paternal Grandfather Frank Rier and the Rier Brothers from Germany.

3 Genealogy Blunders to Avoid — AncestralFindings.com

Genealogy depends on accuracy to maintain its integrity. If your research has mistakes in it, you aren’t getting the real story of your family history. As a genealogist, the genuine story should be the most important objective of your research. There is also the possibility that other genealogists, present or future, may use your research…

via 3 Genealogy Blunders to Avoid — AncestralFindings.com

How the Wrong Information Ends Up in Your Family Tree.

Baptismal record from 1567 where priest has omitted the father’s surname, Onorati.Genealogist Lynn Serafinn discusses 15 common ways we make mistakes in genealogy, and offers tips on how to separate fact from fiction in your family history. It’s easy to get hooked on the act of discovery when researching our family histories. We love finding…

via How the WRONG Information Ends Up in Your Family Tree — Trentino Genealogy | Family History for Trentini Decendants