Have you ever tried dowsing? Even if you don’t need to find water, you’ll be interested in what Warren Holmquist has to say about dowsing in cemeteries.
The Maine Old Cemetery Association invites the public to attend its fall program 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 29, hosted by the Hiram Historical Society at the Great Ossipee Museum on Main Street off Route 113 in Hiram.
Registration will be held 8:30-9:30 a.m. at the museum, the former Mt. Cutler School.
Holmquist, a professional dowser, will talk about how it can be applied to cemeteries at 9:30 a.m. Then, at 1 p.m., he will demonstrate dowsing at an unmarked grave at the Hiram Village Cemetery.
Jessica Felix will speak at 10 a.m. on “Cemeteries as an Educational Tool.”
The business meeting is set for 11 a.m., and lunch at noon. A tour of Hiram Village Cemetery will be given 1:15-2 p.m., with door prizes drawn at 2 p.m. Must be present to win.
Registration for the meeting is $3, and lunch is $8. Send check for registration and lunch to MOCA, c/o Jane Macomber, 114 North Shore Road, Blanchard Twp, ME 04406-3829. Registration is due Sept. 20. For information, call 876-4125.
Gravestones are an important kind of record, one which may add to the information we have on a particular ancestor. We learn from the words, dates and sometimes symbols engraved on the stone, and also the monument’s placement. Who else is buried in the same plot, or perhaps in an adjacent row?
The Stephen WIlson buried near my Steeves grandparents in Sangerville turned out to be a cousin to my grandfather, Stanley Steeves, back in New Brunswick, and they share the German Stief and Lutz ancestry.
We also we may seek out our ancestors’ resting places to feel closer to them and honor their memory.
September is one of the most beautiful times of year to visit cemeteries in Maine, especially if we keep some tips in mind.
MOCA records, inscriptions written by volunteers for Maine Old Cemetery Association projects, can tell us where some of our forebears are buried. It was an entry in MOCA records for the East Dover Cemetery in Dover-Foxcroft that led my husband and me to go looking for my Gideon Dexter’s grave. We didn’t find the stone, but I found monuments for three of my friends from the Daughters of the American Revolution, Mildred Dow Levensalor, Marion Doore and Marjorie Doore.
While I was disappointed not to find Gideon Dexter, I am extremely grateful to MOCA volunteers for recording the inscriptions for posterity, thus allowing me to note where he is buried. To find libraries that have MOCA records, check URSUS at ursus.maine.edu.
When you go cemetery hunting, do wear good shoes, sneakers or hiking boots — not sandals or flipflops. By their very nature, the paths between rows of stones can be uneven and soft, lending themselves to twisting an ankle.
Just as importantly, go with someone else and take along a cell phone, so that one of you can call for help if needed. Traveling with a companion is safer, not to mention more fun.
Driving home from Auburn a few weekends back, I suggested to my husband that we go through Greene, just in case one of the cemeteries along the way might be old enough to include the burial place of Rachel Comins, whose gravestone is depicted in a Comins genealogy.
I didn’t remember the name of the cemetery, but we were “just looking.” We found a cemetery that looked likely, and I perused the oldest stones. I’m not sure I found Rachel’s, but behind one deteriorated stone was a pair of markers that certainly belong to my relatives.
Silas Harris, who died Jan. 13, 1844, in Greene, and wife Mercy Harris, who died June 21, 1847, in Greene, were the parents of Deborah Harris, who in September 1814 married William Cummings, the son of Rachel and Lemuel Comins.
Mercy Harris, in fact, was born Mercy Haskell, a sister to the Nathaniel Haskell who settled Greenville, where William and Deborah Cummings moved. Mercy and Nathaniel were two of the children of Revolutionary War soldier Nathaniel Haskell.
Hooray! I found ancestors. I went back to the car to grab a camera, returned to the gravestones and used the zoom on the camera to frame the gravestones, just so. Unfortunately, the zoom used the last bit of juice in the battery and I didn’t get a picture. I should have recharged the battery.
Well, Greene isn’t that far. We can go back before snow flies.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.