Category Archives: My Family Lines

Sleuthing, serendipity and magical Maine maps!

A portion of the 1859 map of Penobscot county, Maine

A portion of the 1859 map of Penobscot county, Maine

I love maps. They often hold the keys to learning more about our ancestors. They place these people in context with those with whom they lived. They show a community, give us an idea of of who their friends, family and associates were. They simply make it all “click” for me, connecting the dots in a way nothing else does. Finding those maps, however, can be exceptionally challenging.

Consequently, I’ve spent the better part of the last nine years looking for maps of early Penobscot county, Maine. Specifically, I wanted to see where the families lived who resided in the towns of Chester and West Indian Township (now known as Woodville, and formerly Township No. 2 Indian Purchase).  Imagine my delight a few weeks ago when I finally found the online images for the 1859 map above, clearly indicating my great-great-great-great grandfather, Benjamin Stanwood, lived in North Woodville, just south of the Pattagumpus stream. Continue reading


Madness Monday – Looking beyond the surface leads to missing Uncle Fred

Gravestone for Fred Stanwood and brother Bert Jerome

Gravestone for Fred Stanwood and brother Bert Jerome, Crystal Lake Cemetery, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Uncle Fred.  Unmarried.  That’s the only thing my grandmother had to say about her mother’s older brother.  Quite odd, given that she had photos, stories and other interesting bits of history on her mother’s other five living siblings.   I didn’t think much of it as a new genealogist; after all, Fred didn’t have children.  What was there to research?  As I matured in my techniques and skills, it did not matter that Fred was without descendants who would later care about his life and history.  It mattered to me, as he was part of the family, and his life was important.

In the late 1980s, I snapped the photo above, taken at Crystal Lake Cemetery.  Benjamin Stanwood, brother of Fred and Bert J. Stanwood, purchased the plot for his unmarried brothers.  Bert was buried there; curiously, Fred was not.  Where did he go?  Where did he die?  No one seemed to know.

As the internet advanced and databases became available, more details on Fred’s life emerged.   Continue reading


Wise Wasgatts

Hannah Thomas Wasgatt signature

Hannah (Thomas) Wasgatt’s signature is found in her husband Thomas’ probate record

Last Friday was a genealogist’s dream – I received five deeds and three probate files in the mail.  Of particular interest was the probate record for my 5th Great Grandfather, Thomas Wasgatt, who died 19 May 1820.  Shown above is the signature of his wife, Hannah (Thomas) Wasgatt, who acknowledged in writing her “allowance” from her husband’s estate.   While most of Hannah’s female peers were giving their “mark” when a signature was necessary, she was able to write her name.

Hannah wasn’t the only smarty pants in the family.  Nope, her husband Thomas clearly was a learned man.   I was so tickled to find that the very first item listed in the inventory of his possessions was a desk. Continue reading


Wordless Wednesday

Simpson siblings

Simpson Siblings: Ernest L. Simpson, Susan (Simpson) Weidmayer Barlow Locke, and Frank O. Simpson


Technology and Tracing Thomas

Hannah (Higgins) Higgins

Hannah (Higgins) Higgins, niece of my 4th Great Grandmother, Betsy (Wasgatt) Stanwood. Photo courtesy of Holly Green.

My favorite ancestor is Betsy (Wasgatt) Stanwood.  She was one tough lady.   She was five months pregnant when she married my 4th great grandfather, Benjamin Stanwood, in 1808.  Not exactly politically correct in the early 19th century.  When Benjamin died, she managed the family farm, and was listed as head of house on nearly all subsequent censuses.  When her grown children and spouses moved to Minnesota, she went along for the ride, but came back to her home – Eden (now Bar Harbor), Maine.   She apparently made this trip alone, although she was nearly 80 years old at the time.  I love Bar Harbor – I understand why she came home.

I’ve dabbled in my Wasgatt genealogy throughout the years, but was again inspired to pick  it back up when I saw the Wasgatt family Bible in Bar Harbor last summer.  Armed with this info, and starting from scratch, I’ve been going through generation after generation, adding appropriate sources that I either lacked in my beginning days, or were dropped when moving from one genealogy program to the next.

One really cool thing about retracing your steps after so many years is that there are a lot more resources available online to assist.   Continue reading


Chronicling America – and Stanwoods too!

Melvin S. Stanwood and the Tri State Telephone Company

Melvin S. Stanwood and the Tri State Telephone Company

This photo has always intrigued me.  Knowing my grandmother’s uncle, Melvin Stanwood, made his way from city to city, town to town, bringing telephone lines to local citizens, it seemed highly probable this picture was somehow related to him.   Thanks to the Library of Congress and the Chronicling America project, I now know for sure.   This evening I downloaded the following article (Princeton Union [Princeton, MN] 12 Oct 1905) from http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov:

Princeton Union - Melvin Stanwood takes charge of Tri City Telephone

Princeton Union - Melvin Stanwood takes charge of Tri City Telephone

Most cool, is after scanning the photo in on my Flip Pal scanner and blowing it up, I now see that the gentleman in the center in the suit is Uncle Melvin himself!  How did I miss that before?  Moral of the story – keep revisiting web sites, keep searching – you never know what’s gonna turn up!


Maine’s move to digitize deeds – oh yeah!

Hancock Co, ME deed, 22:422: Thomas Wasgatt, Jr. deeds 1/4 share of mills to son Thomas Wasgatt, 3rd

Researching deeds has always felt cumbersome to me.   Unless you live in the area where your ancestors resided (not me), or visit the courthouse in the county where they lived (not feasible to do routinely, if, like me, you live on the opposite coast from your forebears), the easiest way to research deeds is to first order the microfilmed index from the Family History Center, determine the book and page where your ancestor’s deeds are recorded (if any), and then order the corresponding films.

Hancock County Maine Registry of Deeds

Official Website of Hancock County, Maine (with portal to Registry of Deeds)

Well, the State of Maine has made the job of locating your ancestor’s probate records and deeds MUCH easier!  Continue reading


Grandparents make the world a better place – a tribute to my Grandmother, Goldie Simpson Edwards

My grandmother, Goldie (Simpson) Uphouse Edwards

My grandmother, Goldie (Simpson) Uphouse Edwards, about 1974

In the era when families are spread through the U.S., I suppose my family was quite an anomaly. So much so that in later years my grandmother would often remark, “I must have done something wrong – I just can’t rid of you kids!” Of course, all of us “kids,” now well into adulthood with families of our own, knew she was fiercely proud of her loyal brood of children and grandchildren. Her life had been spent raising her three daughters, and then, spending her mid-life and senior years doting on her six grandkids.

Reflecting back, I now realize I took my childhood for granted, and assumed that all kids had wonderful grandparents and extended families. Continue reading


Why Genealogy? And the pictures that started it all!

Last night I went to the Family History Center just long enough to order the microfilms I needed for Somerset County, PA – taxes, naturalization records, church records, etc. Yup, just a brief stop and then I’d head home and start my after-work chores. Well, lucky for me, two of the eight films I’d planned to request were there! I didn’t get any new info, but I was able to confirm info I’d found online at PA-Roots.org. (Needless to say, it is always exhilarating to see the original document, even though it wasn’t “new” information!) While wrapping up for the night, I was chatting with the volunteer who was manning the library. “So what go you interested in genealogy?” he asked.

Who is this handsome man?

Page 22 of Lavina Bursley Stanwood

The thrill of solving these puzzles is what has me hooked and keeps me feverishly seeking answers to my family mysteries. Continue reading


The Gene Bug that keeps biting!

It’s hard to believe that last year this time I was just putting together a sketch of my Uphouse family in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. Using the censuses, I came up with some hypotheses on relationships – and most have proved correct! When Henry Uphouse died, his kids seemed to be spread abroad throughout Somerset and Westmoreland counties, and while I was reasonably certain these kids were my aunts and uncles, I had no initial proof. One invaluable web site to assist in my endeavor is www.pa-roots.com. Last night I found a newly-posted, extracted obituary for William H. Uphouse on there. Actually, they had two of them. A quick email and by mid-morning today I had scanned copies of both! Continue reading


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