Tuesday, January 7, 2014

New Year! New Discoveries at the Grand Trunk Cemetery

The Grand Trunk Cemetery is but a remnant of what it once was....

a final resting place, a burial grand for pioneers and patriots who settled in Ancient Falmouth and resided in East Deering Village. 

Here is an opportunity to share a bit of history; incomplete, and much of it is, lost to the ravages of time, still, what does remain is worth preserving. 

The purpose of this blog -

To pass on what research and tenacious curiosity reveals to interested readers and advocates of history, 


To gather what readers wish to pass on so that the remnant can be preserved. 

A New Year Begins..the work continues!

     It seems appropriate to re-state the reason for writing this blog, and to invite those who take the time to read it, to leave comments, share insights and contribute any relevant information which will aid in the preservation of the history of the Grand Trunk Cemetery and its inhabitants

     In November, when gathering information about the Sawyers, I came across the website: 'Find A Grave.com' with a listing for the cemetery.  I was amazed to find a listing of 134 burials with most of the stones destroyed without names of the interred, save for the extant list of the forty two names at the Portland Cemeteries office;  those which I previously posted in this blog. 

     Yet another surprise; a new name I didn't recognize (at first); that of Isaiah L. Frank, date of death May 27, 1894.  I contacted the individual who added his name and this led to a wonderful discovery of a new contact: Thomas W. Frank, a military officer stationed over-seas  who would contribute some valuable additions to our knowledge of 'Who's buried' at the Grand Trunk Cemetery?  Tom provided me with information and a direction to pursue some genealogical detective work.  I found out that Isaiah Frank was married to Elizabeth Ann Sawyer and that she had a brother, Benjamin Sawyer who lived with the Franks until his death in 1878.

The Sawyer Connection

     The light dawns!  

    I remembered I had seen a reference to Isaiah and Elizabeth Frank in Theodore Sawyer's book; 'From Back Cove to Quaker Lane' in his discussion about the three Benjamin's.  "Thank you Ted!  Your work continues to be so valuable."

The underlined sections refer to Benjamin Sawyer, his sister Elizabeth Ann Sawyer, wife of Isaiah Frank.
 (side notes are my own.) 
   Of course this raised a number of questions as to "Who was Zebulon Sawyer?" " How might he be related to our Sawyers buried at the GTC?"   "Is it possible that these three people might also have been buried here and are among the unknown?"
     I was on a quest to find answers to this new mystery so I consulted my source for all things related to the Sawyers, Michael Sawyer.  I was sure he's set me off in the right direction.  I also connected Mike with Tom Frank and this proved a good connection for all of us.  Mike sent me information from Eleanor Grace Sawyer's work, "The Sawyers of New England."  Here is what I found:
     Zebulon Sawyer was the son of Benjamin Sawyer, the brother of our Anthony, Zachariah and Thomas Sawyer, sons of Isaac Sawyer, Jr.  Zebulon and his wife, Rebecca Ford Sawyer had a number of children; among then Benjamin, the ship's carpenter, born c. 1805 and his sister, Elizabeth Ann Sawyer, born c. 1820 on Mackaey Island; today, Mackworth Island.  Apparently, Benjamin was not in good health and sold his property to his brother-in-law, Isaiah Frank.  Benjamin resided with Isaiah and his sister's family until his death on August 22, 1878.

     Elizabeth Ann Sawyer married Isaiah Frank on November 15, 1840.  The couple produced four children:  Seward, Albert H., Orin, and Mary E.  Isaiah was a farmer and the family appears to have lived in East Deering on Lunt's Corner from records we have found.

You'll note there was another family living with the Franks at this time.  East Deering, and the town of Deering were considered part of Westbrook during this period of history.

     It appears that the Franks lived all their married life in East Deering. It seems likely they would have been buried in the East Deering/Grand Trunk Cemetery.

     Benjamin Sawyer resided with the Franks until his death on August 22, 1878.  His death certificate seems to indicate he was buried at the East Deering/Grand Trunk Cemetery.  I am also including the death certificates for Isaiah and Elizabeth.  There was some indication that Elizabeth may have been buried at Eastern Cemetery.  However, there are no records of any Franks having been buried there.  It seems unlikely that husband and wife would have been separated, and it's more probable that Elizabeth Ann (Sawyer) Frank and her husband, Isaiah Frank are among those interred in the Grand Trunk Cemetery.
You will note the clerk's signature from the town of Deering, and a signature of the attending doctor.

You will note that the reverse page lists the cemetery as Eastern.  However, there are no Franks buried there and could have been a mistake in transcription from an old document.

 Although so much of the Grand Trunk Cemetery was lost over time and through poor treatment at the hands of vandals, we are always amazed at how the little strings of the past can be woven together and connected.  When I took on this writing to keep the reclamation project of two Girl Scouts alive, I had no idea where it would lead and what discoveries could be shared.  I'm glad for the challenge!

A Final Note

In the spring, we hope to have a new fencing project begun at the GTC.  A group of Junior Girl Scouts is interested in taking on a project at the cemetery.  For the last three years, they have been faithfully participating in our annual bulb planting party.  Good for you girls!

We have requested historical street signs and an engraved marker dedicated to all those buried at the Grand Trunk Cemetery.  So, the work continues to preserve the Remnant!