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
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
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
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
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
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!
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.
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