From the community

Veazie soldier’s name on monument at Normandy American Cemetery

Posted Sept. 13, 2012, at 3:14 p.m.

As family historians, we take information we know from personal experience and find in documents to create a living thing from our lineage, adding flesh to the bones of names, dates and places.

Thinking of the many circles of people and institutions that our own lives represent, we look to cross-reference what we know about our ancestors with information from schools, businesses, organizations, town histories, cemeteries, military records and census records.

At 15, Fred Otis Jr. was the youngest child in the 1940 Veazie family headed by Fred L. Otis, 58; and Nina G. Otis, 54. Residents of School Street in Veazie, they told the census taker that five years earlier, they had been living in North Anson, Somerset County.

The question about place of residence in 1935 is a wonderful aspect of the 1940 Census, but I think I would gladly trade it in for important questions about place of birth for each person’s mother and father that were included in censuses of 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920 and 1930, but dropped in 1940.

Further, I must share my concern about the speed with which the 1940 Census was indexed, a volunteer effort of countless people who did their best, but in many cases were indexing towns or cities with places or surnames they got wrong because they probably weren’t familiar with them. The Otis family was indexed as having lived in North Aurora, Somerset County, but when I checked the census image it was obviously North Anson.

Back to Fred Otis. Galen Cole, founder of Cole Land Transportation Museum, brought up Fred’s name as someone who was killed in World War II and deserved to be listed on the monument to “Bangor men” scheduled for installation this fall because he attended Bangor High School.

Indeed, Fred Otis is listed in the Bangor Oracle among former Bangor High students serving in World War II.

Town histories can be a great resource for lists of military veterans. The “History of Veazie, Maine,” written by Jean Hamilton around 1978. In addition to Fred Otis, the book lists four other Veazie men killed in World War II: John Clark, Richard Jones, James Milliner and Waldo Robinson Jr.

I checked issues of the Bangor Oracle at Bangor Public Library and did not find Clark, Jones, Milliner or Robinson in any of the alumni information published in the Oracle by BHS. It’s possible that they went to school in Orono rather than at Bangor High. If you have info on any of those four men attending school in Bangor, do let me know.

Local history librarian Bill Cook at Bangor Public Library reminded me to check on former students from John Bapst High School, in case any of that school’s war dead might have missed being in Bangor Public Library’s Book of Honor because they came from other towns.

I contacted the development office at John Bapst Memorial High School, the name of the private school that was originally John Bapst High School, a Catholic high school. It turns out that John Bapst at this very minute is finishing up a project compiling a list of former students who served in the military, whether they graduated from Bapst or not.

We found the names of 17 former John Bapst students who were killed in World War II: Edward F. Chisholm, Frederick C. Murphy, Eugene J. Ranks, George H. Rogers, Joseph J. Babbain, Harold A. Slager, Charles J. Taylor, Wallace H. McGlauflin, John A. Richard, Leonard V. Ashworth, John N. Budway, Ralph L. Clapp, Thomas P. Kane, John F. Curran, James A. Snodgrass, Bernard J. Cyr and Gerald C. Ryder.

If you know of any other John Bapst former students killed in World War II, the school needs to have that information right away. You may email Jennifer Tower at jtower@johnbapst.org, call 947-0313, ext. 115, or write Jennifer Tower, John Bapst MHS, 100 Broadway, Bangor 04401.

One other possible name we found was Charles Richard, but we have no further information. Interestingly, the 17 names on the John Bapst list are all in the Book of Honor at Bangor Public Library.

As for Fred Otis, I also found his name through Ancestry.com as enlisting in the U.S. Army on April 17, 1944, at Fort Devens, Mass.

Otis is also on the list of World War II and Korean Conflict Veterans Interred Overseas. Pfc Fred Otis was a member of the 264th Infantry, 66th Division. He died on Dec. 25, 1944, during a landing at Normandy, and is listed on the Tablets of the Missing at Normandy American Cemetery. Galen Cole has visited several American military cemeteries in Europe, including the one where Otis is memorialized.

The reference to Otis on the Tablets of the Missing I found on the Maine Genealogy website at archives.mainegenealogy.net, click on Military.

This week offers a couple of outstanding genealogical events in the Bangor area. I expect a good crowd when Steve Burrill speaks on “Mount Hope Cemetery” at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 19, in the Lecture Hall on the third floor at Bangor Public Library.

Besides being the second “garden cemetery” in the country, Mount Hope offers a wonderful resource in its online listings at www.mthopebgr.com. Plug in a surname such as Hamlin in the search box, and it will offer you a list of the Hamlins buried in the cemetery. Included when available are the birth date, death date, burial date and lot number. Use the lot number of the person you’re researching to cross-reference others of the same name who are buried in the same plot.

Steve Burrill and his staff tend the resting places of everyone from Vice President Hannibal Hamlin to gangster Al Brady.

Do come to the Maine Genealogical Society meeting on Saturday, Sept. 22, at Jeff’s Catering, 14 Littlefield Way, off Parkway South in Brewer. Registration is $40 for MGS members, $50 for non-members. Registration will be held 8-9 a.m.. Ted Steele will give the keynote address, “Family Stories: Did It Really Happen That Way?”

The rest of the day will be filled with workshops, two to choose from during each time period. Information and a registration form are available at maineroots.org. More than 130 people attended last year’s meeting. There also will be vendors offering books, maps, other items and information on organizations.

Registration must be postmarked by Sept. 19. Add $15 for lunch. Include MGS membership number if you have one, mail your check to Maine Genealogical Society, c/o Celeste Hyer, 69 Loop Road, Otisfield 04270-6456.

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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