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.

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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 Rte. 189 and Chapel Hill (Timber Cove) 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.

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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.

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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               1838                  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.

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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.

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“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.).

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“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.

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United States Census, Trescott, ME, 1880.

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Old, Old Photo Albums. Circa late 1800s. Part II.

There are four old, old photo albums I found in the attic of my great grandparents home where I grew up. This album, with the beautiful leather cover embossed with bright-colored flowers, has the name of the owner on the first page: my great grandmother’s eldest sister, Mrs. G.W. Flynn, Thirza Getchell Flynn.

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I sit and search through this beautiful album, looking for photos that I recognize.

The first photograph in the album is a handsome man I do not recognize. Perhaps he is Thirza’s husband, George W. Flynn. It is also possible he is one of the Getchell men.

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This man’s photo was taken at Edouart & Cobb, a studio located at No. 504 Kearny Street, in San Francisco, California. In 1869, Alexander Edouart joined David Cobb and opened a studio on Kearny Street. Their partnership lasted until 1881. Thus, this photo dates between 1869 and 1881.

On the next page, there is a beautiful child holding a doll. This is one of two photos with a name written on the back. Sophie Palmer, age six years, 1882.

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I search for a connection between the Getchell and Palmer families. I find that my great great great grandfather John Getchell had a sister, Olive Getchell Palmer, born in 1810. Perhaps Sophie is her granddaughter.

On the next page, I find this man and woman. I have seen her before among the Getchell/Means family photos. This couple may be Thirza’s mother and father – my great great grandparents, Marshfield (1821 – 1892) and Martha Jane Holmes Getchell (1825 – 1913). I have Martha Getchell’s linens, blankets and quilts in my home.

I run upstairs and carefully sort through the family photos stored in my great grandfather’s secretary and find two remembered photos of her, one is with a family, likely her son, Lysander or Osgood, his wife and child.

As I search through the secretary, I discover a color tintype photo that resembles this woman at a much younger age.

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I turn the page of the photo album. There is a baby, photographed by Ezekiel Vose in Machias, circa 1870s.

On the same page, there is a photo of young child, the name “Thirza” written on the back.  Unless there are two Thirzas in the family, this may be Thirza Getchell Flynn as a child. Thirza was born in 1842 making that photo pre-1850. Is this even possible? It will take more research to figure this one out.

A young girl photographed with her doll at E Vose in Machias is dressed regally!

Then, I see my great grandfather William when he was young, age 21. I have seen this photo before in his autograph album. William Means was Thirza’s brother-in-law. He married my great grandmother Nellie Getchell Means.

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The rest of the photos in the album are a mystery. These men, women and children could be from the Getchell, Flynn, Means or Holmes families. It strikes me how most of these photos are not stern, instead artistic. I find the clothing, poses and photo settings fascinating!

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Related posts:

Old, Old Photo Albums. Circa Late 1800s.

Old, Old Photo Album. Part III.

The California Branch of the Getchell/Berry Families.

Tintype cartouche cards are in this old photo album. Circa 1860s 1870s.

The Means and Getchell Families.

My great grandparents secretary today.

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10 Survival Tips That Kept Your Great-Grandparents Alive

Written by: Kathy Bernier Extreme Survival [ repost: http://www.offthegridnews.com/extreme-survival/10-survival-tips-that-kept-your-great-grandparents-alive/ ] Unless you are fairly young, chances are your great-grandparents already have passed on. But if they were around in today’s tenuous times, our great-grandparents might have a few words of advice for us. Survival was something most of our ancestors did well, and a few […]

via 10 Survival Tips That Kept Your Great-Grandparents Alive — How to Provide

Repurposing My Ancestors’ Boot Box

I found the wooden box in the barn of my great grandparents home where I grew up. It was covered with faded and frayed upholstery fabric. I stored it for seven years. When I moved into my home, I began to work on it. I tore the fabric off and removed the stuffing of straw and old coats of children from under the top.

Underneath the once pretty upholstery material, I found brown burlap with a unique embroidered pattern in red.

I had red burlap in mind for a cover.

I realized I should have been documenting the process. The embroidery pattern was a part of family history. My ancestors were making use of whatever they could lay their hands on, more than once. They needed storage and another place to sit. I did too.

I began to take photos of the old burlap, decided to hang it in my shed for contemplation. Then I discovered the box was originally used to ship boots from Boston to CW Vose and Sons in Machias, Maine. I expect my ancestors bought their boots there, then put the box to use in their home, more than once.

Now the boot box sits in my living room next to a child’s rocker of my great grandparents and a lamp as old as I am. The box contains material for sewing projects that I want handy for use. And, it’s another seat on metal wheels that are in remarkably good condition. You won’t find metal wheels like that anymore.

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Old, Old Photo Albums. Circa Late 1800s.

The cover detail of these albums is intricate. When I first pulled them from a trunk in the attic of my parents ten years ago, I didn’t recognize anyone. I wondered why no one wrote any names in these family albums. Who did they belong to?

I expect the owner/collector of these photos did not envision a time when no one would know the family members in the photos. It was a reminder not to make the same mistake in my lifetime. Have I written on the back of my memorable photos? Rarely. Are photos collected in my lifetime organized? Not yet. I’m working on it.

This year, I open the ancestors’ albums again while sitting in the old rocker my grandmother rocked me in. I gingerly remove the photos to look at the back. There are no names written there; some have the photographer’s stamp. I decide to investigate one album at a time, beginning with the smallest leather-bound one with the clasp, pictured in the front above.

In this album, I find photos of ancestors I now recognize for I have been immersed in them for a time now. The first two photos are of my great-great grandparents, Otis and Elsie Fuller Berry Means by photographer E. Vose in Machias, Maine. The same photos were in the Grace Means’ photo collection sent to the family in 1924. The next two photos are of a young woman that I cannot identify. I turn the page and find my great grandfather William, nearly the same photo is in his autograph book. The photographer was J.M. Goins, South State Street, Chicago. Was William doing business there I wonder?

Most of the album pages are empty, either never filled or distributed among the family. I do not recognize ten of the photos in the album. Are most of these men, women and babies William and his four brothers and sisters at different ages? Perhaps one of the women is William’s eldest sister Harriet, for she was not included in the Grace Means’ photo collection. Whoever she is, she does not resemble William’s other sister, Francis. The photos of this woman were taken in Boston where Harriet lived, as did William’s eldest brother, Andrew Means. I don’t see his two brothers’ likeness in these faces either, Andrew or Eliphalet. But then, I didn’t recognize William’s younger self in the autograph book at first. The elders in the album may be members of the Berry family.

I ask myself questions, think about the research required to find answers. I suppose it will help to just hold each album in my hands and ask whether I have spent enough time with my ancestors to answer these questions.

From the age of my great-great grandparents in the photos, I estimate the date as 1870s. The photographer, Ezekiel Vose, was listed in the 1876 Briggs’ Maine Business Directory. The photo of my great grandfather William is from 1875 or 1876 as the photographer, JM Goins, was located on State Street in Chicago for those two years. William’s age was 20 or 21 years old at the time, as he was born in 1855. The tintype photo of the baby in the carriage could range from 1855 to 1870s. My grandparents, William and Nellie Means were married in 1880. It seems likely that this one album originally belonged to William’s parents, Otis and Elsie Means of Machiasport, Maine and was handed down and stored in the attic where I discovered four old albums over 120 years later.

I’ve explored and documented one album. What might I discover in the other three?

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My great-great grandparents Otis and Elsie Means; My great grandfather William Means.

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Photos that I cannot identify. Yet.

Related posts:

1913. The Means Family.

The Means and Getchell Families.

A Loving Gift to Dad from his Youngest Daughter. January 15, 1930.

To Dad

Friends may come, and friends may go, the old friends and the new. But through the years I have come to know. That the best of them all is You. Patient, helpful, kind and strong. My teacher, pal and guide. I can’t go wrong while we trudge along. Life’s pathway side by side. 

The back of the picture reads: “To Dad from Elsie. January 15, 1930. 75th Birthday Greetings.” 

Elsie is my grandmother Harriet’s younger sister. Their Dad is my great grandfather William Gordon Means, born January 15, 1855. He died March 25th, 1930, little more than two months after his 75th birthday.

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William Means is buried at the Court Street Cemetery in Machias, Maine. His home was at 24 Broadway, where I grew up.

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My Great Grandfather’s Autograph Book. 1877 to 1891.

I hold the small book in my hand. I’ve sat down with it more than once, staring at the pages, reading the autographs accompanied by a few words, hoping the leather gold-embossed book will tell me its secrets.

The first page has a photo of a man that I do not recognize but must be a younger version of my great grandfather, William Means, age twenty two.

The first entry is a greeting from his father, Otis Means. The page is faded and hard to read. I take out a magnifying glass.

“May Heaven bless you is the wish of your Father.” ~ Otis W. Means. Machiasport, February 10, 1878. 

The next page, his mother Elsie writes: “There is a [no] friend that sticketh more than a mother.” Elsie F Means. Machiasport. February 9. The year is not noted.

I surmise the book was a gift from father to son. But, wait. Half way through the book, I find the earliest signature is that of William’s niece Grace, dated February 16, 1877.

“Grace A Means. South Boston. Celebrated Case,” she writes. Perhaps the book was her gift to her beloved uncle for she was raised as his little sister. Grace had a habit of giving gifts to document family history. And by now, I know she had a sense of humor.

A few blank pages before this entry, I find a mystery, a conundrum. It is the signature of Grace’s mother, Francis Adele Means. The Grace Means collection of ancestors’ photos and written documentation of family history clearly states that her mother Francis died in 1871 when Grace was small. Grace produced that collection and distributed it to family in 1924. She was likely in her 50s or 60s. Could Grace have made a mistake in her mother’s date of death? Anything is possible. It’s unlikely there is another Francis A. Means in the family at the time.

So it is possible that Francis Means lived at least seven years longer than I previously thought. I will need to do a search of death certificates.

Francis writes in her brother William’s autograph book:

“I’ve looked these pages through and through. To see what others have written to you. And now I write to thee. These simple words. Remember me.” Francis A. Means. February 28, 1878.

Her words sound prophetic to me, for I know Francis died young, leaving her daughter Grace to be raised by her parents, Otis and Elsie Means.

William’s eldest brother Andrew signed : “What’s in a name? Your Aff Bro.  AF Means. His sister Harriet Means Putnam wrote: “Honor Thy Father and Mother.” Your Aff Sister, HE Putnam. South Boston. February 24th, 1878.

By 1877, many of the entries in the book are to William and Nellie, my great grandparents who married on July 1st, 1880. Nellie’s brother Deola C Getchell writes:

“Nellie and Will. I hope the change that you are to make will be for the best.” Your brother, DC Getchell. Marshfield, 1887.

That entry sounds as though William and Nellie have announced plans to marry and her brother is not all that convinced about the impeding marriage. Or, I am unfamiliar with language from 130 years ago.

A few pages before these words, I find the writing of Nellie’s mother and father, my great great grandparents, Marshfield and Martha Getchell:

“In my Father’s house are many mansions.” Marshfield S Getchell. Marshfield, Maine. March 1887.

“When rocks and hills divide us. And you no more I see. Remember it is – Mother. Who wrote these lines for you.” Martha J Getchell. Marshfield, Maine. March 16, 1887. 

On other pages, I see the signatures of Nellie’s sisters: Thirza Getchell Flynn, and Dora Getchell Flynn. Sisters married brothers, not uncommon. I know that Thirza had a millinery shop in downtown Machias and made women’s hats. By the early 1900s, Dora lived in Brewer. She was watching over my grandmother Harriet, just before Harriet eloped in 1908 without telling her family. Other members of the Flynn family and numerous friends also wrote greetings. They were from Machiasport, Cherryfield, Columbia Falls, and Pembroke, Maine, and as far away as Boston and Jamaica Plains, Massachusetts.

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A list of friends’ signatures from near and far:

“Ain’t she horrid.” Katie L Farrell. Columbia Falls, Maine

“Little Man.” Amy H Johnson. Machiasport, Maine. Feb 8,1878

“May you always be as happy as you are now is the wish of your true friend.” Fannie F. Crocker. Machias, Maine. Aug 22, 1881

Edward L. Lincoln. Jamaica Plains Mass [in] Machiasport. Sept. 22nd ’77

“Remember the clock winder.” Lizzie E. Tobey  1877-10-21

May there be just clouds enough in your life to make a golden sunset.” Your friend, Emma G. Nash. Cherryfield, Maine. February 24th 1880.

“Great thoughts, noble deeds, a life true and holy. Charity open-handed, constant and brave. Good to your fellows, kindness to the lowly. Is the mission of man this side of the grave.” Lydia Bradbury. Machias, Maine. December 22nd ’77

Your friend, Stella A Tarbell. Feb 6th ’91

“Remember me as your friend.” Mrs. OS Lowe. Machias 2-6-91

W. O. Merrick. Boston, Mass [in] Machiasport. Aug 3/79

Edward Merrick. Boston, Mass [in] Machiasport. August 3, ’79

W.E. Tarbell. Meddybemps, Maine.

Emma B. Stewart. Machiasport. Oct 27, 1877

Sarah E. Tobey. Machiasport. Sept 27th, 1877

Your cousin” Georgia J. Robinson. Machiasport, Maine. Feb 9 1878

“Sincerely your friend” Ida F. Warde. Machiasport, Maine Sept. 20, 1877

“That you many aspire to that which is pure and noble. Is the wish of your sincere friend.” Abbie A Grant. Machiasport, Maine. Sept. 17, 1877

Peanuts are nice.” Annie M. Thompson. Machiasport, Maine. Feb. 5, 1878