April 08, 2020

Search cemeteries well, safely

Sure I knew where Nana and Granddad were buried – in Clinton. I’d been there 30 years ago when great-uncle Harry died.

Driving home from Augusta one Saturday afternoon seemed the perfect time to “stop by” Clinton and look for the graves.

Which cemetery? Well, the old one, I presumed. Granddad was born in 1875 and died when I was a baby.

I pulled off the road to the driveway into the village cemetery and proceeded to walk through the likeliest part of the graveyard, where the headstones were newer, but not too new. No luck, though I did notice stones with surnames of several families who had married children and grandchildren of my Harry and Thressa Steeves.

But the cemetery didn’t look quite the way I remembered it, so off I went. And wouldn’t you know, across the road was the newer Greenlawn Cemetery.

Didn’t I have it written down which cemetery they’re buried in? Sure, the burial places were listed on Nana and Granddad’s death certificates – in a notebook, at home. The only info in my head was the years of birth and death, 1875-1952 for Harry and 1879-1972 for Thressa.

This cemetery was too big for me to check every stone, so I stuck to the driveways, keeping an eye out for surnames that “clicked” with me. There may be Steeves families on this continent who aren’t descended from Heinrich and Rachael (originally Regina) Stief of Germany, but I haven’t met any yet. And those I found easily were certainly “mine.” The first lot I came upon was for a first cousin once removed, Willard, who is still living, and his son Woody, who has passed away. I was in the right cemetery, I decided.

In the next section over, I spied a Steeves headstone next to one marked Clukey. If I were lucky, that meant Nana and Granddad were buried next to their daughter, great-aunt Amalie. Sure enough, Thressa and Harry Steeves were in one lot, Amalie and Guy Clukey in the next.

The key to a successful and safe visit to a cemetery is preparation – none of which I did, but have promised myself I’ll try to do in the future.

Footwear matters. Walking up and down the rows, in somewhat squishy grass, in sandals, was a bad idea – a good way to turn an ankle. Athletic shoes would be good, or even better, some type of hiking boot with ankle support.

Take someone with you. It’s more efficient, not to mention enjoyable, to peruse gravestones in pairs – you take this row and I’ll take that. If uneven ground throws you off balance, at least you won’t be stranded.

Know where to search, if possible. Death certificates often list the name of the cemetery. A call to the town or cemetery corporation may give you directions to the plot you’re seeking. I can “walk” the village cemetery in Sangerville, but I wouldn’t search Mount Hope in Bangor without a clue as to section of the cemetery because it’s so large.

You also may find your ancestors by cemetery by looking through Maine Old Cemetery records, such as those on microfilm at University of Maine’s Fogler Library in Orono. These records say where each cemetery is.

Check records online, too. Mount Hope’s are at www.mthopebgr.com, and Sangerville cemeteries are on www.sangerville.lib.me.us/cemfiles/cemnamess.html

Take a camera. In many cases, you can take photographs that will make the inscriptions readable after you get back home. Of course, writing down the inscriptions is a good idea, too. If two family plots are adjacent, take a “group” shot of the stones in addition to individual pictures.

3378. WASHBURN-DUNHAM. Seeking information on Ephraim Washburn and his first wife Rebecca Dunham. Ephraim Washburn born Jan. 21, 1760, Bridgewater, Mass.; died April 17, 1836, Bangor. Married 1) Rebecca Dunham, Feb. 12, 1785, Bridgewater. She died. Ephraim married 2) Janett Thompson, Jan. 1834, Hebron, Maine. Ephraim served in Revolutionary War, received pension. An

article declaring him insolvent appeared in the Bangor Daily Whig and Courier on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 1838. Ephraim and Rebecca had: infant; Lucy June; James, May 6, 1790, Hebron, d. Dec. 19, 1868, in Parkman, married Betsey Bonney (my line); Abigail Waterman; Ruth; Sarah; Abraham. Seeking where Ephraim is buried, where Rebecca died and is buried, and who her parents were. Any help greatly appreciated.

Bess Antes, 514 Forrest Drive,

Sanford, N.C., ronbessantes@earthlink.net

Send genealogy queries to Family Ties, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor, ME 04402; or familyti@bangordailynews.net.

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