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Day 47 (10.18.07) - Maine Family Roots

Today we looked for information about our ancestors in Poland, Maine - which took us back to the State Capital in Augusta, Maine.

View (Re) Discovering America on jl98584's travel map.

Miles Driven: 69
Weather: Slightly Overcast, but warm (up to 70 F)

Summary: Researched family history in Poland, Maine. Visited a Shaker Village in Sabbathlake, then the State Capital in Augusta, a little bit of museum, then more family history research.

We parked on a side road last night, since all the campgrounds in Maine seem to close down around Columbus Day (except for a few along the coast and Arcadia NP). Nobody bothered us though and it was nice and quiet. I stayed up quite late working on the internet (blog and other things) so had a little trouble waking up. Of course, Mom is a morning person so was up bright and early. At home, this wouldn't be a problem - but in such a small space as in my RV, sometimes our differences are a little more obvious, but we make do.

We drove back towards Poland, Maine to see what we could find out about Mom's maternal grandparents. The first place we stopped was the Library. This is across the street from the oldest church in town, one that was active during the time my great grandmother lived in Poland. I imagine that she probably attended this or at least visited it from time to time.


The people at the library were very helpful and told us that most genealogical information is kept at the Maine State Library up in Augusta. However we were encouraged to look through what they had in Poland and the librarian unlocked a room and some cabinets that had a lot of old records about the town. The librarian also brought out some binders that were compiled by a group called M.O.C.A. Maine Old Cemetary Association - yes, there is actually a group dedicated to the preservation of 'Maine's Neglected Cemeteries'. For our purposes however, what was really useful is that they have also compiled lists of people who were buried in the cemetaries and what the headstone's say about them (death dates, spouses, etc.)

We weren't able to learn anything about Charles Kingsbury Stinson, he is still the big unknown in Mom's ancestry, but we did pick up a lot more information about the Cummings (Mom's grandmother's line) and can now trace it back to Isaac Cummings, who is thought to have immigrated from Scotland to Salem in 1627. We also are starting to develop a new appreciation for how much work Uncle Bob has done to trace our family history as far back as he has. While some things can be done on the Internet, there is a lot of information that can only be obtained by going through old, hard to read books with a lot of incomplete and inconsistent information - and it takes a lot of time just to get an odd piece of information here and there. So, to anyone in our family that likes to know who their ancestors are - be very greatful for Uncle Bob!

After gleaning what we could from the library, we also tried the town hall. I leafed through the only old books they had and couldn't find any records for our family there (the town clerk warned me that there were a lot of holes in their records). I was concerned about what appeared to be a typo on one of the cemetary records so decided to check that out while we were in town. It was fairly large, so we split up and Mom actually located the Cummings family grave site (she, who hates to go to cemetaries, but makes exceptions when the weather is quite nice I guess).

This is the gravestone for Amos Cummings, 1801 - 1872, his wife Louisa (1801 - 1879) and some of their offspring. The light was bad, so it doesn't show up very well (you'll have to take my word for it?).


We couldn't find any records in Poland for James Irving Cummings (Mom's great grandfather), Maude Cummings (Mom's grandmother) and Charles Kingsbury Stinson (Mom's grandfather). Since the marriage records at the city hall were fairly complete for the period in question, I'm pretty sure Maude Cummings was no longer in Poland by the time she got married - so Boston is probably where we'll need to search for more. I did decide to check Augusta first however since we were already in Maine and I didn't expect to get back again soon (if at all).

We weren't quite sure the best way to go from Poland to Augusta and we also are on a general tour, not really a genealogy expedition, so we drove south first. Poland Springs is right next to Poland and our travel guides recommended it for some historical buildings and the resort/spa history in the area due to it's mineral water. However it was closed for the season and they had even torn up the road into the complex, so we crossed it off our list.

Mom noticed that the Shaker Village at Sabbathlake was directly on the route we were taking to get to the turnpike. When we were at the Shaker Village in Enfield, NH we learned that there were only four active Shakers left in the world and they were at Sabbathlake, Maine and she really wanted to visit the place. Since we practically stumbled onto it, we stopped. The store, museum and other facilities normally open to the public were closed down for the winter. The library was open however, so Mom went in and was able to ask a few questions and pick up some additional information. Although the buildings are closed, we could see them from the outside, so I think Mom was content with what we could do.


From there, we jumped on the turnpike and drove back up to Augusta, Maine without incident (other than paying tolls of course). We found the Maine State Library right across from the Capital Building.


The Library building also is the home to the Maine State Museum, which was closing 20 minutes after we arrived. That just left me enough time to browse a few exhibits, but they had some things worth mentioning. This device is called a 'Lombards Log-hauler' and was built about 1920. Alvin Lombard started building these in Maine in 1901, his innovation was the system of moving tracks, which is used today for tractors and tanks.


Another showed a woman cutting sardines to fit into the cans. Old Cal Stinson's canneries probably looked like this before the process was mechanized! I think I'll stick to accounting.


Finally, here is a 'Whitman Premium Horse Treadmill' used in Maine from 1855 - 1875. This was before engines were widely available, so if you wanted to keep your tools running and didn't have access to water (in the winter it probably froze anyway) - you could hook up a belt to this wheel and your equipment and let the horse do the work.


Alas, the museum closed so Mom and I started searching the Library for more information about her ancesters. We spent about three hours going through old books with pages a lot like this one. We were able to learn a few more interesting things about the Fairbanks and Cummings families, but I couldn't find many references to Charles Kingsbury Stinson. We did find a reference to when they were married however:


We left the library when it closed at 8 PM and were both getting tired, so decided to stop at KFC for a bite to eat, then settled in at the local Wal-mart to sleep. There just aren't any campgrounds open around here this time of the year!

Posted by jl98584 20:05 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel

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It sounds like you two are having fun. It is rainy and cold here. We had a relatively major windstorm yesterday, some power went out, not like last year, though. Ours didn't. We're leaving for Sedona AZ Sunday early. I have a conference there, Vivian will be playing and visitng her 94 year old second cousin who was hale and hearty last summer when he came up for a visit, but is quite ill now. We will stop by Raul Jr and Lynette's on the way and probably stay with them next Saturday on the way back to Seattle. Que

by drque

Mom's been complaining a lot about the weather here but it sounds like we've had it pretty good by comparison! Say 'Hi' to Raul & Lynette for us, we should be able to get to AZ by February, maybe.

by jl98584

In my e-mail I saw your request for pictures. I assume you mean of Westmoreland. Yes, I do have some--probably many--but if I have prints, they're buried in the 17 years' worth that got flooded last year after I organized them (but I don't recall seeing any of there). Probably they are all slides, and I could find those pretty easily, but I'd have to scan them all, and I'm not sure I have time for that now. Too bad I didn't think of all that while you were here.

by msj

Not a problem, you had mentioned all the cool stuff you found in NH, and since we won't be able to make it back there I just though if you had any photo's we could add that to the collection. Maybe we can get together again someday and spend a little more time on this family history stuff, or at least share it all (back and forth) by email as we come up with stuff.

by jl98584

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