How often we hear it said — “Seems like the only time we get together is for a funeral.”
That’s too often true, but history will record that in the summer of 2002, the descendants of Harry and Thressa Steeves of Sangerville and Clinton did, indeed, get together for a reunion “at Willard’s house,” where Nana and Grandad lived in Clinton.
There were dozens of us, from Clinton, Maine, to beyond the state’s borders. I, the genealogist, was thoroughly surprised to meet cousins with New Jersey accents!
We looked at photos and genealogy charts, pondered a blank spot here and there, and saw people we hadn’t seen for 20 or 30 or 40 years.
The gathering was a lot of work, and Willard Steeves’ daughters deserve all kinds of credit for bringing it together.
My mother, my sister and I went together, much appreciative of going to a place of happy memories just a couple of months after losing my dad.
Harry and Thressa (Given) Steeves moved from Saint John, New Brunswick, to Maine in 1911, when my grandfather was just 6 years old. So even though it was a large family — Stanley grew up with siblings Harry, Arthur, Roy, Amalie and Randal, plus cousin Ralph — it’s always felt like rather a finite group to me.
When Arthur’s oldest child, Willard, died on Feb. 8 at 87 in Waterville, I thought, “I’m so glad we had that reunion.”
My mother and sister trooped off to Willard’s memorial service — without me, I’m sorry to say, but I sure was thinking of everyone gathered that afternoon at Clinton Baptist Church.
There they remembered the man who was the oldest of 10 children, valedictorian at Sangerville High School, World War II veteran, mail carrier, sportsman, golfer, deacon.
The program my sister brought home to me shows that they sang “The Old Rugged Cross” at the service. Nana would have liked that. The program also included a copy of his testimony, as written by one of his daughters.
It wasn’t until later in life, when his children were growing, and going to Sunday school, and telling ‘what we learned today’ that he thought he had better go and find out for himself what his kids were being taught. It wasn’t but a little while that he asked the Lord to come into his heart.
The account wasn’t long, just five paragraphs, but what a great addition to the service program, and a wonderful memento for family records.
Not everything has to be in the obituary. A program for a funeral or even a graveside service could include something more about a person’s life, and perhaps be sent to family and friends who couldn’t attend.
Come spring or summer, I’ll have no problem finding Willard’s grave — next to that of his son Woody, in the same cemetery in Clinton where Amalie and Guy are buried, and Nana and Grandad.
Clinton will always mean “Steeves” to me.
There is a new edition in the wonderful “Maine Families in 1790” series, a special publication of the Maine Genealogical Society and Picton Press.
Like the books before it, Volume 10 contains comprehensive three-generation studies of Maine families at the time of the 1790 census, with documentation and the addresses of researchers who compiled the material. It is edited by Joseph Crook Anderson II.
Surnames in the volume include: Adams, Allen, Appleton, Austin, Bailey, Barton, Beard, Benjamin, Bennett, Berry, Blackwell, Blaisdell, Blish, Bonney, Boothby, Bosworth, Bowen, Bragg, Briggs, Brown, Came, Cammett, Campbell, Chapman, Clarke, Coolbroth, Conant, Cool, Crockett, Cummings, Cushman, Day, Deake, De-lano, Delesdernier, Dexter, Dingley, Donnell, Drummond, Dunnell, Dyer, Eames, Elden, Emery, Eustis, Evans, Fenderson, Fish, Foster, Frink, Frost, Fuller, Getchell, Gibbs, Goodwin, Graffam, Gray, Green, Grinnell, Haley, Hamlin, Harnden, Har[t]ford, Hayford, Haines, Hilborn, Hoxie, Hussey, Jackson, Jennings, Jewell, Jordan, Kendall, Kimball, Kingsbury, Landers, Litchfield, Lord, Lovejoy, Lowell, Mains, Marston, Merrill, Milliken, Mills, Moore, Morse, Motherwell, N[o]urse, Overlock, Paine, Parker, Partridge, Pelton, Perkins, Phinney, Pierce, Plummer, Preble, Pride, Rand, Reed, Ring, Robinson, Russ, Ryan, Sanford, Savage, Shaw, Sheldon, Skin-ner, Smith, Snell, Soule, Spaulding, Spring, Springer, Stackpole, Stinson, Sturtevant, Sylvester, Taylor, Thompson, Thwing, Tobey, Town[e], Trim, Tucker, Turner, Wade, Walker, Ware, Warren, White, Whitney, Whitten, Williams, Winter, Wyer, Young.
The price for Volume 10 is $65 plus $3.25 sales tax for MGS members, $75 plus $3.75 sales tax for nonmembers. For mailing, add $6 for the first book, $3 for each additional book.
Order from Picton Press, PO Box 1347, Rockland, ME 04841, telephone 596-7766, www.pictonpress.com.
Send genealogy queries to Family Ties, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor, ME 04402; or e-mail queries to firstname.lastname@example.org.