Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Family Connections at the Grand Trunk Cemetery

Personal Reflections

Two weeks ago, my husband and I attended the summer meeting of the Maine Old Cemetery Association in Brooks, Maine. On the way back to Portland, I shared with Joel my impression of the day's events and my conviction that smaller Maine communities are good caretakers of their history, reflected in the way they have preserved their cemeteries.  Last Sunday, on a visit to Searsmont where our eldest daughter lives presently, we saw a sign for an historic cemetery on the side of the road in Liberty, Maine.  The sign indicated the cemetery dated back to the late 1700's, the same vintage as our Grand Trunk Cemetery in Portland.  So, of course we had to take the drive up the rather steep road and check it out.  Although the cemetery is divided into a section with more recent burials, the ancient section was well preserved, stones in good shape and even the original iron fencing still standing.  What a lovely sight!

I could not help but think about the condition of the Grand Trunk Cemetery and it saddened me to think of how we and future generations have been robbed of really connecting to a rich past because of the years of vandalism and neglect.  This in no way diminishes the importance of preserving the remnant of that burial ground and any work we do to improve its condition.  Yesterday, I spent some time with Bob McMann, supervisor from the city's Cemeteries Division and his associate placing steel numbered pins beside twelve graves that we found.  To date, we have placed numbered white stones and steel pins at 102 graves.

As you can see these stones are only pieces of the originals and there does not appear to be any readable inscription on either.  The mystery continues!


     If you remember from my post titled 'Who's Buried in the Grand Trunk Cemetery' I noted that Susannah Merrill Graves was the first burial recorded in 1793,  She was the daughter of Joseph and Abigail Blake Merrill.  Susannah was born in old Falmouth and baptized in 1746 at the 1st Church of Falmouth.  On May 2, 1765, she married Crispus Graves at the same church.   Later, and shortly before his death in Westbrook(East Deering)  Crispus would take another wife, Isabella Hutchinson in 1814.
     Crispus Graves was born in 1742, son of John and Elizabeth Bean Graves and died in Westbrook on
March 14, 1818.  The union of Susannah and Crispus produced three children:
Andrew, born in North Yarmouth on May 22, 1774, Abigail, born August 13, 1766 and Tabitha, born December 11, 1776.
     Crispus was quite an accomplished gentleman engaging in a number of land acquisitions and sales, building of a saw mill on the Royal River in Yarmouth and acting as an attorney  for John Bean from Sullivan to "pitch out and lay out" 104 acres of land in Falmouth belonging to his father, Joseph Bean. 
     Our interest in Crispus Graves came out of the process of petitioning for government issued replacement stones for the war veterans interred in the GTC.  Special thanks to our friend Herb Adams who inspired and encouraged us to pursue this path and whose research made possible the acquisition of the six memorial stones that were dedicated last August.
Crispus Graves served as an active duty Lieutenant of the 18th Continental Regiment.  Records show that he was promoted from Ensign(2nd Lieut.) to 1st Lieutenant in the field of duty which took him first to headquarters in Boston and then to Lake George, the Lake Champlain region of Fort Ticonderoga, Fort George and Mt. Independence.  Later he returned to East Deering, than part of Westbrook. 

The Connection to the Sawyer Family

Note:  Until the Grand Trunk Veterans Memorial Dedication, admittedly, I did not see all the connections.
     As you remember three children were born of the marriage off Susannah and Crispus Graves.
Andrew Graves, his son, born and baptized at the 1st Church of North Yarmouth in 1774 married Tabitha Cutter on May 1, 1808.  He died on November 28, 1860 and she on September 7, 1849. 
Andrew and Tabitha Graves had two sons, Ebenezer C. Graves, born c. 1812 and Crispus Graves, born c. 1816.  A census record of 1850 shows that Andrew resided with these sons and two others mentioned:   Susan M. Graves and Andrew M. Graves(I suspect that the M stands for Merrill.) 
     Andrew Graves was a veteran of the War of 1812, serving in the 1st Regiment, Hobb's Massachusetts Militia, Capt. Pride's Company of Infantry, called into service for the defense of Portland.   Andrew and Tabitha's two daughters married two Sawyer brothers. 
Abigail Graves married John Sawyer and Tabitha Graves married William Sawyer, important for several reasons.  When Lieut. Crispus Graves died, his widow at the time, Isabella Graves sold her rights and title to her husband's estate to sons-in-law, John and William Sawyer and to his son, Andrew Graves.  On May 18, 1841, Andrew Graves sold his homestead, farm, farm animals and tools to his son, Crispus Graves(2), but took a mortgage on the property in exchange for life support to be provided by Crispus for Andrew and Tabitha until their deaths.  They were buried together.

Here is where I will leave off for now.  There is so much more to say about the connections to Crispus and Ebenezer Graves, the Sawyers and the War of 1812.  I invite readers to join in with information and historical tidbits you wish to share. 

Andrew Graves, son of Lieut. Crispus Graves, father of Ebenezer C. Graves, Crispus Graves,(probaly) Andrew M. Graves and Susan M. Graves.