I love learning about the colorful history of Lubec. My great great grandparents Ingraham and Mary Rier immigrated to Lubec from Nova Scotia in the 1870s with their four children. My grandparents Frank and Elizabeth (Keegan) Rier lived most of their lives there. Growing up, I visited Grammy Rier often at her home overlooking Johnson’s Bay, and my aunts, uncles and cousins who lived nearby.
My grandmother, Elizabeth Keegan Rier, worked in the sardine industry in Lubec most of her life beginning in the early 1900s into the 1970s. According to my Uncle Barney, she left school after third grade in Trescott and went to work in the Lubec sardine “camps.” She, and many other women from Lubec, have fond memories of their work in the sardine factory. Grammy Rier always said, it was work, but yet, a very social event for the women and a friendly competition every day.
The following is an excerpt from the book 200 Hundred Years of Lubec History, 1776 – 1976 by Ryerson and Johnson, published by the Lubec Historical Society. It is a great reference book to learn more about my family history and can be found at the Lubec Memorial Library.
The last page of this history “Yesterdays Sardine Factory – Today” was written by my Uncle Barney who established a Sardine Museum in Lubec after he retired, which he opened when he felt like it, but mostly he collected and worked on antiques and old machinery.
LEST WE FORGET
This beautiful memorial honors hundreds of men and women for their wartime service. Lubec, Maine is a small seaside town at the easternmost point in the contiguous United States. In 2010, its population was 1359 residents. Despite its size, many sons and daughters of Lubec fought for their country in the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. The memorial also honors those who served their country in Peacetime.
Standing in front of the Memorial, gazing at all the names, I am in awe of the patriotic, brave men and women of Lubec.
The names of my father, James E. Rier, and three of his brothers, Julian V. (Barney), Paul J. and Francis E. (Babe), are inscribed in black granite for their service in World War II.
This memorial is situated in a lovely park, the grounds lined by canons, close to a statue honoring the sacrifices of the Civil War heroes of Lubec. Appomattox was the final campaign of the Civil War that led to the surrender of General Robert E Lee to Ulysses S Grant of the Union Army at the Appomattox Court House in Virginia on April 9. 1865.
Ingraham and Mary Rier. They were laid to rest in the Lubec Cemetery, not far from Grammy Rier’s home overlooking Johnson Bay. My paternal grandparents were Frank and Elizabeth Keegan Rier. Grandfather Frank’s parents were Burpee and Emma Batron Rier. My Great Great Grandparents, Ingraham and Mary Rier, had four children born between 1860 and 1868. Alice, Burpee, Bertha E, and Ida May. Ingraham and Mary were born in Nova Scotia as were their children. They immigrated to Lubec, Maine between 1868 (the date their last child Ida May was born) and 1876, the year Alice died in Lubec. Ida May died there in 1883.
When I arrived at the Lubec Cemetery on a sunny day last week, I was not sure where the gravesite was located. I had memories of Dad driving by the cemetery when I was young, pointing to a tall grayish white obelisk-like stone beside a tree.
“That’s where my great grandfather Ingraham Rier is buried,” he would say. “He was the first Rier to come to Lubec.” In my memory, Dad never said where Ingraham came from and I don’t think he knew. It was a mystery.
I searched the cemetery in quadrants beginning at the far side toward downtown Lubec and toward the front, closest to Rte 189. Many gravestones were hard to read, if at all, but I noticed that there were large family plots. If I could read a few of the stones in a plot and see the family surname, I moved on. About one third of the way across the front of the cemetery, I was almost ready to give up and cover the rest on other days.
As I looked toward a towering tree beside the road, I wondered if my memory could possibly be accurate. Something or someone urged me on.
Then. There it was. The gravestone that Dad pointed out so often in bygone years, stood before me.
“I found it!” I shouted in the wind. I wondered if Dad heard me. I hoped so.
Ingraham E Rier
1840 – 1904
His wife, Mary
1842 – 1915
1862 – 1952
On the side of the stone closest to the tree, the names of their two daughters who died as teenagers were engraved.
May 14, 1876
13 yrs 2 mos
Oct. 26, 1883
15 yrs 8 mos
Dau’s of I.E. and M. Rier
There is an inscription underneath that I cannot read. I will need to come back another day in different light.
There is a discrepancy in the age at death of Alice A. from the Maine death record which listed her year of birth as 1860. I can only guess that this was inaccurate since she was born in Nova Scotia and suspect that her parents knew exactly how old she was when she died, 13 yrs 2 months, not 16. The birth year for Bertha E on the stone (1862) doesn’t match her estimated year of birth from the 1880 census (1865) which recorded her age as 15. It is time to search vital records in Nova Scotia.
My great grandfather Burpee Rier is not here. Perhaps he is buried with his wife Emma Batron. It will take more research to find his grave. There is always more to discover!
It had been a good day. Earlier, I had visited the Chapel Hill cemetery in nearby Trescott and located the gravestones of my great and GG grandfathers Keegan, Grammy Rier’s father and grandfather.
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.
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!
Lubec, Maine, the most easterly town in the US.
Dad liked to build (and fix) anything. When he was 20 years old, he and his best friend Bud McCaslin built a futuristic car in his father’s garage. Dad (R) and Bud (L) posed for a photo beside the car, the garage and Johnson Bay in the background.
How cool is that? Happy Father’s Day Dad!