Saturday, September 21, 2013


The Journey continues.....

     Theodore Sawyer created a document that served to give a picture of the areas we know today as   Back Cove, East Deering and North Deering, previously part of the large territory of Old Falmouth, and to lay out the trail of his progenitors.   I could, in no adequate manner, give attention to,  or do justice to all the material in his book.  I will encourage anyone who has the interest and seriousness,  to pursue the trail he laid out in Back Cove to Quaker Lane. 
     My purpose in writing this blog is to share the little I've learned as a result of this project, and to inspire readers to want to know more about the people laid to rest at the Grand Trunk Cemetery; to attempt to create a picture of who they were, where they lived and how their lives contributed to the growth of what we now call, Portland, so that the remnant of the Grand Trunk Cemetery that exists today will continue to be cared for and revered by us and future generations.

     I am a visual person and I wanted to attempt to create a picture for myself of the places to which Ted refers when following the trail of the land purchases and sales by his relatives and others in the East Deering(Back Cove) area. This is where they settled on family farms to raise their children, attend church, defend their homes. 

     My vision was blurred and narrowed by my adherence to what exists there now, in 2013.  So, I hopped in the car and followed the trail using reference I received from Mike Sawyer to give clarity to what I read in Ted's book.  By the way, I traveled a radius of about 8.7 miles.  I started measuring mileage from about Bates Street, drove up Washington,  checked out the Randall Street, Johanson references, took a left down Ocean Ave to Read Street until I could drive up Forest Ave to Allen's Corner, at the intersection of our  Allen Ave and Washington, I noted this is where the Falls Road met the Meadow Road, drove straight down the Avenue to Ledgewood Dr. to Presumpscot Street, down Washington to Veranda across to Martins Point and turned around and stopped again at Bates before going home.  It helped me to use my imagination!


provided to me by Mike Sawyer for my clarification.

OLD BACK COVE ROAD is our present Ocean Avenue
THE MEADOW ROAD is Washington Avenue, but north of ALLEN'S CORNER, it was known      as  QUAKER LANE
FALLS ROAD is the present Allen Avenue
THE MEADOW (referred to sometimes as the GREAT MEADOW, is the area north of              Ocean Avenue, bordered by Allen Avenue, Read Street and about Ledgewood Drive.
This is the area where most families lived on family farms.  

HANSON'S CREEK AND MARSH CREEK were tidal inlets from Back Cove which served to define the lot lines of the properties purchased by Col. Joseph Noyes and Major Isaac Illsley.
     Hanson's Creek crossed the Meadow Road at about today's Johanson Street and met     Marsh Creek, which until recently, still existed at the foot of Dalton Street.  Apparently it ran from Randall Street until it met the other creek, crossing the Meadow Road (Washington Avenue).  Veranda Street didn't exist yet.

     I mention Marsh Creek particularly because it is referred to later in the layout of plot lines which defined the area of our Grand Trunk Cemetery.  I am going to include a portion of a map from 1871 which includes the names of property owners and the location of their homes.
    This came from Mike Sawyer and helped me to visualize some of Ted's points of reference. Many of the names refer to relatives of Anthony, Zachariah and Thomas Sawyer.  Anthony Sawyer is buried at the Grand Trunk Cemetery, and some are family members who still lived in the area around what would have been Anthony Sawyer's farm.

Looking north of the corner of Meadow Road and Ray Street, you will see"S. Sawyer" across from"G. Sawyer".  These are Simeon and George, grandsons of Anthony who lived in the general area of the old Anthony Sawyer farm. +Deering++East++Deering

   Looking through some of Theodore Sawyer's accounts of land purchases, and reading the language of the deeds as they were written in the 18th century,  is an adventure in itself. Today we are a bit dumb-founded by the references to creeks, boulders and trees which marked property boundaries, but were certainly comprehensible to the citizen of that era.

    Another complicating factor, is the use of the same first name like Isaac, Thomas or Benjamin.  An example of this is when we  needed to ascertain which Joseph Merrill served in the Portland Rifle Company and who he was descended from.  This was a major feat of genealogical detective work.

  I've also learned that the suffix, Jr. did not necessarily refer to a son who was named for his father.  If for example, there were three men of the same name: say 'Benjamin',  each from fathers who were brothers or cousins, I learned that the youngest Ben would receive the title of Junior to lessen the confusion in the village.


     You will remember that James Sawyer was the first of the Sawyers to emigrate to the colonies settling in Gloucester, Massachusetts from England.   Three of his sons moved up the coast to the district of Maine in or about 1725:  John, Isaac and Jacob. 

     Jacob moved to Old Falmouth with his wife, Sarah Wallis and several children.  He died in Cape Elizabeth,  before February 25, 1767.

    John Sawyer is reported to have married Rebecca Stanford and may have moved to Milbridge, Maine. I have no other information about John. 

     Isaac Sawyer, Sr. is reported by Ted Sawyer to have purchased a farm from John Wass of Boston  of about 100 acres and six acres of marsh.  The farm was apparently located east on the Old Back Cove Road (to be). 
 "It was formerly owned by various members of the 'Skillions' family and is bounded by land formerly of George 'Ingersons' and John 'Weakly.'" 
 I believe I have seen these names in other documents and maps.

     Isaac Sawyer, Sr. was born in Gloucester on February, 14, 1684 and died in Falmouth on February 13, 1772.  He married Martha Bond on June 3, 1705 in Gloucester.  She died before his move to Maine on August 20, 1724.  They had eight children, all born in Gloucester.  The oldest son was Isaac Sawyer, Jr., the father of Anthony, Zachariah and Thomas Sawyer who are important to our story of the Sawyers buried in the Grand Trunk Cemetery.

A sad note:

     All that remains of this Sawyer family is  one original stone ; that of Thomas Sawyer, Jr.  There are small flat stones with brass pins  which probably housed a small fence marking a family plot. 


In 2012, we were able to honor three Sawyers with the Dedication of their replacement markers for their service during the War of 1812.
I need to leave off here, but Part III will follow soon.