WPA SURVEY OF ANCIENT MAINE CEMETERIES
In 1936, WPA volunteers conducting surveys throughout the state of Maine to plot out the oldest cemeteries. Just yesterday, boxes were found in the 4th floor vaults at City Hall and returned to the Cemeteries Office. Elaine Spring contacted me to ask if I'd like to help her sift through the old documents, since eleven charts were among them for the East Deering/Grand Trunk Cemetery. Of course, I jumped at the chance of finding something new to continue to unravel the mystery of the GTC and its history. I'll share what we found, understanding that there are still some valuable pieces of information missing; 347 individual grave forms.
To clarify: the grave forms do not necessarily indicate the number of burials, but rather contain information about the memorials; a description of the stone, inscription, who cut the stone, and the location. This piece is missing and would be a tremendous help to our research.
Apparently, there does not seem to be a map. The map we do have, appears to have been created later. I checked the state archives to see if a map existed from this project. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find one, although there are many from other cemeteries surveyed during this project.
It also appears that the front entrance of the cemetery was on our present Sherwood Street and that there is a portion of the cemetery that might have extended beyond the fence that is now part of the area where the red Daycare building is today; disturbing fact?
You will also note that the report indicates 197 marked graves. To date, we have marked 109. The report also mentions the recorded burial of Susannah Graves in 1793 as the first, and 1893 of Frances I. Boothby as the last. We have since discovered that Isaiah Frank was buried in 1894 at the East Deering/Grand Trunk Cemetery.
Some of the most interesting and revealing documents are hand-written notes and in many instances, drawings of the monuments. There were two handwritten notes regarding possible 'residents' of the GTC. Since they were so hard to read and did not scan well. Elaine sent me the information. More clues to research! Note the early date of death: 1754, and the War Veterans of the Revolution and the War of 1812. New names, new mysteries!
Are there any skilled volunteer map makers out there who would like to take this new found material and plot out a new map for the cemetery?
It's been nearly five years since Samantha Allshouse and Kayla Theriault decided to undertake the reclamation of the East Deering/Grand Trunk Cemetery and appropriately gave the name 'Unearthing the Roots of the Back Cove and East Deering Communities. Nothing has been easy, but every new challenge has been worth the effort and has resulted in surprising discoveries.
I am still grappling with research to verify Joseph Lunt's military service during the Revolution. While there are indications of his service, the facts are inconclusive and I seem to have reached an impasse. I did however, find other interesting information which I will share at a later date.
In the meanwhile, our grandchildren will be coming to Maine for a vacation. I will be returning with the family to Pennsylvania to spend time babysitting the girls while Mom attends a conference. I'm sure it will be fun and I'll be exhausted!
In the fall, at a date to be announced, we will finally install a monument in memory of all those souls interred at the Grand Trunk Cemetery. Look for an invitation!