June 24, 2018
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Young researchers’ posters appear in local museum exhibit

By Brian Swartz, Of the Weekly Staff

BANGOR — Courtesy of 26 Bangor High School students, valuable Civil War information awaits researchers at the Bangor Museum and History Center, located at 159 Union St., Bangor.

Last November, the museum, the Bangor Public Library, and BHS students taking a world geography class taught by Margaret Chernosky collaborated in a Civil War mapping project. After researching specific topics related to Maine’s involvement in the Civil War, the students developed digitized maps now on display at the BMHC’s “Women in War: 1861-1865” exhibit.

Emily Brookings and Garrett Johnson formed the team that researched “The Final Post: Civil War Graves in Bangor.” According to Johnson, who is a BHS sophomore, Chernosky and several students walked through Mount Hope Cemetery “one weekend” in November 2011 and “took GPS points of gravestones” of identified Civil War veterans buried there.

“We inputted that data” to ArcMap 10, a software that Johnson described as “a GIS (geographic information systems) program.” Brookings and Johnson scanned a Mount Hope Cemetery map and “overlaid this with the [graves’] GPS coordinates,” he said.

The project “took a few weeks of classroom time” and ended in mid-January 2012, Johnson said. “How many generals were buried in Mount Hope Cemetery, it surprised me.”

The team’s digitized map identifies and locates the burial sites of various Civil War veterans, including a “C. Williams” who could have been a Confederate soldier. Included in the map are images of some soldiers buried in the cemetery.

Robin Murphy and Jon Stanhope researched “Pirates, Sailors, & Shipwrecks! Oh, My!,” which focused on “Maine in the Civil War at sea,” Stanhope said. The digitized map identifies the locations where “88 ships made in Maine were lost or captured in the war,” he said.

Scattered across the world map are red dots, which “are ships made in Maine,” Stanhope said. A researcher clicking on a red dot in the map’s electronic version can read information about the particular ship.

Murphy and Stanhope obtained from the Bangor Public Library a book titled “Maine at Sea,” which “had some coordinate points” for some captured Maine ships, Stanhope said. The student researchers also focused on “the variation in size of the ships,” with the research revealing that more than 50 percent of captured Maine ships “averaged under 500 tons in weight,” he said.

Developed with ArcMap 10 software, the map also focuses on Navy Capt. James Alden, a Portland sailor who commanded the warship USS Brooklyn from October 1862 to January 1865. A smaller map reveals where Alden sailed aboard the Brooklyn.

“The Civil War was to be our first venture into original, data-driven research,” said Chernosky, whose students have researched such historical events as the 1911 Bangor fire. “We immersed ourselves into learning about Maine’s role in the Civil War. We invited guest historians” to speak to the students, who also “studied diaries, maps, and narrative,” she said.

Her students have done other projects since late January. “Currently we are working with James E. Francis, tribal historian at the Penobscot Nation, to map all the Penobscot place names along the Maine coastline and Penobscot Valley, as documented by Fannie Hardy Eckstrom in 1941,” Chernosky said.

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