FAMILY TIES

Town histories a great source for veterans lists

Posted Nov. 06, 2011, at 7:17 p.m.

Carrol H. Gerrish was born in Abbot, but Joseph P. Morse was a Mount Vernon native and Raymond S. Orff came from Brownville. They are among the Abbot World War I veterans listed in “A Centeseptquinary History of Abbot, Maine 1827-2002,” a book that continues to be available through the Abbot Historical Society.

Gerrish, Morse and Orff served in places such as St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne, and all three were wounded in action.

I read about them in the “World War I Veterans” chapter written by Wayne Bennett, who continues to research veterans for the Abbot and Monson historical societies and also is a busy member of the Wassebec Genealogical Society and a Civil War re-enactors group. He is on the book’s list of Vietnam veterans from Abbot, at least a dozen of whom I remember from high school in Guilford.

Two points I want to make. First is that town histories can be a great resource for veterans lists, though they may not be complete. Some county histories offer such lists, including the 78-page “Military Record of Penobscot County” chapter in the 1882 “History of Penobscot County, Maine.”

In particular, lists of Civil War soldiers in that chapter record many officers, noncommissioned officers and infantrymen by name and town. I found my Alfred Hart of Dexter listed under Co. E, 22nd Infantry, even though he was discharged for illness before the 22nd left the Virginia area for Louisiana in 1862-1863. Ned Smith of Holden has written a whole book on the 22nd, which is much more comprehensive, but this county history certainly reminds us to check local sources, especially books in libraries.

New veterans monuments with walkways containing stones honoring some veterans include memorials in Bucksport, Carmel, Hampden, Hermon and Holden, among others. Some of the stones name those who served from a family, thus preserving a genealogical clue.

Wooden honor rolls may become deteriorated or “removed,” only to be lost track of. Abbot this week joins the communities which have erected new honor rolls, with its dedication of a granite memorial set for 2 p.m. Veterans Day, Friday, Nov. 11, next to the Civil War monument on Route 15.

There will be veterans and historical displays beginning at 10 a.m. that day at Abbot Evangelical Free Church in the village, where a reception will be held after the dedication. What a great day it will be to remember the veterans who have gone before us, such as my dad, and those who are still with us, and those still serving.

Second point. The Veterans Day parade, which begins at 10:15 a.m. Friday on Wilson Street in Brewer, then proceeds across the Chamberlain Bridge and down Main Street in Bangor, will mark the 25th anniversary of the parade that celebrated the Veterans Remembrance Bridge on a snowy day in 1986.

Veterans marching and riding on buses on Friday will appreciate every single community member who turns out to applaud them along the route. Ceremonies at 1 p.m. at Cole Land Transportation Museum will feature essay winners from the Veteran Interview Program and a free patriotic concert by the Bangor Band.

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Guilford Memorial Library will sponsor a “Getting Started in Genealogy” workshop, 6:30-8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 15, at the library.

I am so pleased to have been asked to lead the workshop, which will focus on Maine resources.

A 1969 graduate of Piscataquis Community High School and a 1973 graduate of the University of Maine, I have been doing Piscataquis County genealogy for more than 30 years. In recent years, I have given genealogy talks in Sangerville, Abbot, Dover-Foxcroft and Greenville.

I will bring pedigree charts and handouts on genealogy resources for those attending.

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The Southern Aroostook outreach of the Aroostook County Genealogical Society will meet at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 8, at Houlton Regional Hospital Education Center in Houlton. The agenda will include an opportunity for those attending to work with others on their lines. Bring along names and geographic locations to share with the group.

For information on researching family history in Maine, see Genealogy Resources under Family Ties at bangordailynews.com/browse/family-ties. Send genealogy queries to Family Ties, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402; or email familyti@bangordailynews.com.

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