I love helping Find-a-Grave. So, when I saw a request for a marker at the nearby Dunstan Cemetery I was happy to try to photograph the marker. It was even more exciting because my wife’s favorite beach and the road we live along (Pine Point) were named after that individual, Charles Pine. Charles Pine came to Scarborough about 1702 and died in Scarborough in 1753, so he was definitely one of the early settlers of Scarborough, Maine.
The entry for Charles “The Indian Fighter” Pine on Find-a-Grave was substantial[i]. Not only were his birth and death dates provided but also his children’s names and it indicated that he was buried at Dunstan Cemetery. Dunstan Cemetery is a modest size but still has over 1300 internments so it would be easy to miss a marker. Also, I was afraid that a 260-year-old burial might not still be marked. So, I thought I’d see what the Scarborough Museum (and Scarborough Historical Society) has that might help me. I recently began volunteering there and figured that finding Charles Pine’s marker would be a good little project to help me start learning about the resources at the museum.
Grave of Charles Pine (c. 1925) Grandfather Tales of Scarborough, Page 102,
She also had copies of pages from the 1925 book, Grandfather Tales of Scarborough that included a photo of the stones[iii]. So, now I know Charles Pine isn’t buried at Dunstan Cemetery. The next time I drive up Broadturn Road on a nice dry day, I’ll try to stop and try to get a modern picture of the two Charles Pine grave marker rocks. Hopefully, they are still there and I can find them.
My volunteer time at the Scarborough Museum provided me access to resources that saved me time on my Find-a-Grave volunteering. I also learned a lot about Charles Pine, a definite “Ancestor of Place.” That’s a win-win.
Have you considered volunteering at your local museum or historical society? Not only will it help them, you might find it will help you understand the land better, regardless if you grew up there or if you are “from away.”
[i] http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=131264489 [ii] Henley, T. S., & Bentley, S. J. (1985). Dunstan cemetery records Scarborough, Maine: Stone inscriptions and old records combined and indexed. Maine: T.S. Henley and S.J. Bentley. [iii] Moulton, Augustus Freedom; Grandfather Tales of Scarborough, Katahdin publishing company, 1925.
Reuben Fowler’s Name
On 1927 DAR Plaque
Photo Credit: Mora #48254008
I received a message from Mora, Find-a-Grave contributor #48254008, with six photos attached A couple of the photos are beautiful pictures of Old St. Peter’s Episcopal Church and the Old Van Cortlandtville Cemetery in Winchester County, New York. The significance of those photos is that my 5th great grandfather Reuben Fowler is buried there. Included in Mora’s email were several photos of a Daughters of the American Revolution memorial & plaque that the DAR erected in 1927, “TO THE MEMORY OF THE HEROS OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION 1771-1783 BURIED IN THIS CHURCHYARD.” The plaque names Reuben Fowler among 37 other patriots. Very nice to see. Thank you again, Mora, for sharing. (Another proof that Social Networking can yield amazing results.)
I still need to find the time to do additional research about Reuben Fowler and his service, but here’s a quick bio.
Reuben Fowler (1753-1832)
Born either the 4th or the 9 September 1753 in Yorktown, Winchester County, New York.
He married Martha Drake in 1773.
He served in the Revolution (1776-1783). (By the way, the surrender took place at Yorktown, Virginia, not Yorktown, New York.)
He died on 1 February 1832 at the age of 78.
He is buried in the Old Van Cortlandtville Cemetery See: Marker Here.
I love Find-a-Grave. It is a fantastic resource for genealogy research; and, I really like to do my part in helping the database along. As such, I like to volunteer to fulfill photo requests. It provides a great opportunity to get out into the fresh air, get some sun, and provide a purpose to visit a cemetery. The other thing is I often request photos on Find-a-Grave and think it is only right to take as many photos for others as I request.
Since moving to Maine last year, I really hadn’t had an opportunity to get out for a cemetery walk. The snow was gone, the ground was fairly dry, the temperature was comfortable, no reason not to do my part. I had seen six requests for photos for Gorham Cemetery. (It is also known as South Street Cemetery according to Find-a-Grave and Old Village Cemetery by the local historical society). I saw it was fairly small, 130 interments, the size I could mindfully walk in an hour or so. It was also close enough, about 20 minutes away.
Rather than just looking for the six photo requests that were active, I thought I’d apply the filter of “Names with no grave photos” and print out the list. Then I highlighted the six names that were active requests so I could provide special attention to them. I packed my camera, a mirror, and a whisk broom and headed out.
This is a small cemetery in the center of town, very old (for the U.S.), and well kept. As I walked the cemetery I looked carefully at each marker. As I walked, there were a few that were damaged or worn beyond my ability to read. In all but two cases, I could tell none of them, based upon the information I could read (part of a name, date of death, etc.), were the six requests I was working for. Happily, I never needed the whiskbroom. A couple markers could have used the mirror but they were too far under trees to make its use helpful. (Take the mirror and direct the sun to the marker from an extreme angle to make worn markings more visible.)
As I walked I looked to see if the name was on my list of individuals whose markers should be photographed for Find-a-Grave. All together, I took 27 photos of 9 markers that weren’t in the Find-a-Grave entries for the cemetery.
Back home posted 8 of the photos to Find-a-Grave (One of them will need some Photoshop work to make it usable.). I then reported that I walked the entire cemetery and was unable to find the markers to FG.
I wondered if the Gorham Historical Society had anything regarding the cemetery. Sure enough I found their website and on it was a downloadable spreadsheet of “Town of Gorham Cemetery Records.” None of the six individuals requested were on the listing, however, all eight of the markers I did find were there. My inference is that the six requests were based upon entries in Find-a-Grave that were there by mistake. I then went back to Find-a-Grave and indicated for those requests that, “The Gorham Historical Society’s ‘Town of Gorham Cemetery Records’ has no listing for this individual. Please see: http://www.gorhamhistorical.com/vital-records.” I also suggested that their photo request be withdrawn.
As I looked at those records I realized there was no source for the information other than the creator of the memorial. There is a place for general notes but nothing to identify what the entry creation was based upon. I feel that is a major shortcoming of Find-a-Grave. Maybe, now that it is owned/managed by Ancestry.Com, they will add a source field to the data. I think it is a necessary addition that will help volunteers understand the data they are looking at and suggest revisions or removal of incorrect data.
A few notes regarding Find-a-Grave.
Don’t use Find-a-Grave entries as a source. Consider them as clues.
Consider Find-a-Grave entries with photos done by someone other than the creator as confirmed there is a grave with the stone shown. Remember, markers often have errors, too.
Always check and check for a local historical society and see if they might have additional information on the cemetery.
When you do find a problem with Find-a-Grave information, query back to the originator. Be nice, state the facts as you have them including your sources.
Sometimes I just enjoy the search. I like to take a person, plug them into my
process and see what spits out. As a
former Project Manager (PMP), I am all about the process. I thought I’d share a bit of my process here.
Recently, I was talking with my sister
in-law. Well, I think of her as my sister-in-law,
although in reality she is the “wife of my brother-in-law.” (She is my wifes’s
brother’s wife). Anyway, we had a delightful
lunch with her and her husband the other day. As is often the case when I’m involved in conversation, talk moved to
genealogy and family history. As we
chatted, it became clear that she was extremely proud of her parents and their
stories. She knew that one side had been
in Maine for many generations. On her paternal
side she had some Greats that “came from away,” one from Ireland and
another from New York. As we
chatted, I know that I wanted to know much more about her family, and
subsequently more about who her people are and what made the kind of person
that she is. As we chatted she gave her permission to do some research on her
From discussions long ago, I had a couple tidbits
of information. I knew her parents names and where they lived (Auburn, Androscoggin County, Maine). With that information, I started with my basic “getting to know you” process.
My process begins with Ancestry.Com. I have a paid
subscription and I highly recommend having one. If you can’t afford a
subscription, the “library edition” is available at most libraries and at all Family History Centers. I use Ancestry.Com to “pick the low hanging fruit.” I quickly found her father, her
mother, where they were married and then both of them through the 1930 and 1940
censuses. I found her father’s parents names in the 1930 census but could not,
for the life of me, find them in the 1920 census. I found the grandparents in
the 1910 census, but still nothing in
1920. I continued my Ancestry.Com
searches and found many city directories that showed where they lived ever
two or three years from after World War II until into the 1950s.
My next important search location in my process is Find-a-Grave. I used to go there second but now Ancestry.Com searches provides links to Find-a-Grave, so used that feature and easily found
the Find-a-Grave memorials for her parents. Looking at markers, I saw
immediately that her father had been a World War II veteran. Good to know — I’ll look into that more late.
The markers also provided solid evidence for both their birth and
death dates. All the censuses and other
records I found were consistent with that date. Thanks to Find-a-Grave, I also learned
of a brother that was born before my sister-in-law and died that same year as an infant.
I then switched to Family Search – an awesome free
resource. If I didn’t have an Ancestry.Com account, Family Search would be my first place to look. Any records that have images through Ancestry
and not Family search I would save to my “Source Box.” Later at a library or family history center
I’d use that source box records to save image files to my thumb drive.
Anyway, some kinds of searches work really well on Family
Search. I searched for her father’s first
name only, and added parents first names only, leaving the surname blank. I also added the state, Maine; bang there it
was. Severely misspelled surname but the right family, parents the right age,
siblings the right ages, location in the right town and state. Only the surname was off. Not much else on Family Search that I found in
a number of quick searches. A deeper
dive will most likely yield more information.
A search of Google News found their marriage
announcement. In it several other bits
of information were provided. Where her father and mother graduated from High
School. Where her mother went to college, what their occupations were. Even info about other relatives that attended
the wedding. Those are really good bits
of info to know and I input everything into my records. Sometimes just knowing that a person was
alive, still unmarried, and living at a specific city can lead to marriage and
Then on to my newspaper resources. My search in Genealogy Bank found a French language article about her father from 1939. Thanks to Google Translate, the
Two dogs Eskimo, owned by xxxx xxxxxxx, of Fletcher Street,
Kennebunk, harnessed to a sled, made the trip entire Biddeford and Kennebunk in
I’ll bet a native French speaker can tell me if “firent le trajet entre” means round
trip or one way – Google’s translation is unclear but it is a good first cut on translating
almost any language into almost any other language. That the article was in French was interesting as well. It made me
wonder if he was bilingual. I know his wife spoke both English and French.
I didn’t find anything on Newspapers.Com or through
Elephind.com regarding the family
Because of my findings on Find-a-Grave, I went back to Ancestry
and searched for military records for my sister-in-law’s father. Sure enough,
several documents were there. I learned he enlisted in early 1941 long before Pearl Harbor. I also found
the document where his widow applied for a veteran’s marker. That was cool because there was a color copy
on-line and the form was clearly in her mother’s hand.
Bates College students burying a stuffed bobcat to
Commemorate the demise of the Bates humor
magazine: The Bobcat
Photo Courtesy: Bates College
I wondered if the Maine State Archives had a copy of the
wedding certificate on line. No such luck,
but it did confirm the date and provided instructions on how to order one from
the state. (I think I’ll ask my sister-in-law to do that.) The wedding announcement mentioned that my sister-in-law’s mother had
attended Bates College. Hummm. I
wondered if a yearbook might be available on line. Yup.
Archive.Org had a copy on line. I REALLY love Archive.Org. They are high on my list of places to search
for people and documents. Of course
“mom” was there, a graduation photo and it showed her involvement and interests
in school life. She had earned an
apprenticeship in French, she was a member of the French Club, and the Glee
Club, and much more.
In just a few hours I found 18 sources of information about
my sister-in-law’s father and just a many regarding her mother (there is
substantial overlap). Actually, I found the information in an hour or two, documenting it took several times longer than finding the information.
I could do a lot more to get to know my sister-in-law’s
parents. But this is a good first beginning to get to know my sister-in-law’s people.
My process includes doing general searches using:
Ancestry.Com(Find the person in
every census they were alive for.)
Family Search and
Genealogy in Time
(which is really Google but more focused)
Finally I do focused Searches based upon previous findings
which generally include
Google News Archive.Org and various
That is kind of the start of my process. I think that it provides enough information to know a bit about a person. Enough to begin to ask more questions and focus my further research.
Note: Due to privacy
issues, I have intentionally left out names and personally identifying
information in this article/blog. As matter of policy, I do not publicly write about the
specifics of individuals or couples who have been dead less than 25 years.
I regularly volunteer to fulfill requests with Find A Grave. I love them and what they are doing. They are a great resource for unofficial death records. They provide a great place to remember people who have past, and, most importantly, they are a source for photos of the markers of your ancestors. If there is not a photo there, you can request one and a volunteer, like me, will go to the cemetery, take a photo of the marker, and upload it to the website.
Some time ago I volunteered to photograph a marker. I walked the entire cemetery and couldn’t find it. I put it back into the queue figuring someone else would find it. Another person tried and marked the memorial that he couldn’t find it either. Every time I went onto the Find A Grave site looking for markers that people want photos of there it was, staring at me. Then I had an idea….
The Smyrna Historical and Genelogical Society has a small research library filled with books of genealogical interest. Among the many books and magazines I found a book on Cobb County Cemeteries. Back in the 1980s, surveys were taken of the various cemeteries in Cobb County. This individual died in 1922 so she should have been listed. She was listed as being in plot 12. I also found that the other people in plot 12 were N.C. Meadows and Mattie Meadows. Also in the plot were Catherine Loveless and Lula West. It is not a huge cemetery, but it isn’t that small either. I wondered where plot 1 was so I could find plot 12 easily.
I figured that with that information, I could find any of them and figure out the numbering scheme.
I went up to the cemetery, drove slowly through the cemetery and didn’t see any of the names. I figured that meant that the numbering didn’t go horizontally across but rather from one corner away from the road. I parked the car near one of the corners and started to head to the corner. On the way I saw the Rakestraw marker and made a beeline to it. Yup. It looked about six plots away from the road. Three more markers up the hill was a Brown plot, I was getting close. There they were, N.C. Meadows, Mattie Meadows, and a small unreadable marker. Getting close to it I could just make out “AT REST”. It was knocked partially over (down to about 30 degrees). I gently reached behind it and could feel lettering. I carefully lifted the marker upright and could see it was the marker I was looking for. I photographed it and set the marker back to vertical. It still faces out of the cemetery. I figure that is what the family originally wanted. So, little infant Pauline remains “at rest” but a photo of her marker is now on Find A Grave.
The Cobb County Cemeteries Book at the Smyrna Museum is one of many books that that can be of great assistance to your genealogical and volunteer activities. Stop by during normal hours of operations and someone can assist you in the reference room. Stop by on a Tuesday morning (when I volunteer) and I’ll give you a brief tour.