Saturday, August 31, 2013

Surname Saturday - Ackley of Boston

On March 20, 1760, a great fire swept through the city of Boston. According to this site, the 1760 fire was called the "Second" Great Fire of Boston. It destroyed 349 buildings and left 220 families homeless. Many businesses were lost and the Quaker Meeting House on Congress Street was consumed by the flames. It even destroyed some ships in the harbor. My 6X great-grandfather, Francis Ackley was among those who unsuccessfully petitioned the House of Commons for relief after the fire.

Francis Ackley participated in the Boston Tea Party. There are several online accounts that say Francis Ackley was killed in the Battle of Bunker Hill but I have not seen enough proof to elevate this story out of the realm of folklore. If anyone has a source for this information, I would appreciate hearing from you.

Francis married Tabitha Bull on June 8, 1751. They are the parents of Samuel Ackley. He was born on July 17, 1763.

Samuel Ackley served three years in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. He enlisted in Boston on the day he turned eighteen and joined his regiment at West Point and served until the army was disbanded and he was discharged, again at West Point. His pension was filed while he was living in Halifax, Vermont but in 1830, he moved to Rumford, Maine and was still living in 1855, aged 93. Samuel married Elizabeth Moody on November 18, 1791. They were the parents of William Ackley. 
William Ackley married Deborah Capen on March 4, 1814. They were the parents of Sarah Ackley. Rumford, Oxford County, Maine: Town History [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2001. 
Sarah Ackley married John Abbott and they were the parents of Mary Jane Abbott. Mary Jane married Edward Abbott Capen and they were the parents of Fannie May Capen - my great-grandmother. Fannie married Edward Mellen Carter and they were the parents of my grandfather, Thomas Richard Carter.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Centennial Hymn - Bethel, Maine

Celebrating the first 100 years of my hometown:
From Report on the Centennial Celebration at Bethel, August 26, 1874
Composed for the occasion by Geo. B. Farnsworth, Esq., to the tune of Old Hundred

Centennial Hymn
As, - when to Jacob it was given
To see, mid Eastern deserts lone, 
A ladder reaching up to Heaven
Along whose steps the angels shone, - 

He knew the Lord was, surely, there, 
And what had seemed but wilderness
Now God's own dwelling did appear, 
And "Beth-el," thence, he named the place:

So, when our fathers, eastward led, 
Chanced to this lovely vale to roam, 
Seeing its emerald floor outspread
And spanned by yonder crystal dome, 

Into whose depths the mountains soared
Like heavenly ladders angel-trod, 
They said, "Here, surely, dwells the Lord!"
And named their home the "House of God."

And here, from youth to age, they strove

Their goodly heritage to keep
For Freedom, Knowledge, Virtue, Love - 
Now in the dust all, silent sleep!

May we, their children, aye defend
The heritage they loved so well;
This heir-loom from the Past descend
To children's children, nobler still;

A place for homliest labors meet; 
Ever of manly worth the abode; 
And aye a place of worship sweet, - 
A temple high, - a "House of God!"

Dwell with us, Thou! And when the stone
Shall be, at eve, our resting-place
Heaven's ladder be to us let down, 
And may we see Thee, face to face!

Photos courtesy of the Bethel Area Chamber of Commerce.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday - Edward Augustus "Gus" Carter

Edward Augustus Carter, son of Edward Mellen & Fanny May (Capen) Carter, was born on August 22, 1911 and died December 27, 1997. He was my grandfather's brother. He is buried in the Middle Intervale Cemetery, on Intervale Rd. in Bethel, Maine. This cemetery is located behind a meetinghouse built in 1816. For much of my life, the meetinghouse was in the possession of the Carter family. When the upkeep became too much, the family donated it to the Middle Intervale Meetinghouse Association. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1998. 

I have many fond memories of Uncle Gus from my childhood. He lived just a short distance from my grandparent's farm in Bethel on the Intervale Road. My sister and I loved to go visit him because he always gave us a snack - usually milk and cookies and we would listen to his stories...the Carter men are well known for their storytelling ability. Uncle Gus was divorced and his grown children lived in California. He saw them and his grandchildren on visits but between visits, my sister and I filled in for them. Uncle Gus worked for the town of Bethel on the road maintenance crew until he was forced to retire at the age of 70. 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Obituary Sunday - Augustus Mellen Carter

The Carter Farm - Middle Intervale, Bethel, Maine
On August 17, 1923, my 2nd great-grandfather, Augustus M. Carter, died at his home at the age of 83. His son, my great-grandfather, Edward M. Carter, had been hit by a car and killed just a few weeks before. It must have been hard for my great-grandmother, Fanny (Capen) Carter to lose her husband and then her father-in-law in such a short time. I found two entries from the Google News Archive in the summer of 1923. The first notes that Augustus had fallen and broken his arm and the second is his obituary.

The Lewiston Daily Sun - Jun. 13, 1923
...Augustus Carter of Middle Intervale had the misfortune to fall and break his arm last Friday...

The Lewiston Daily Sun - Aug. 20, 1923
Bethel, Aug. 19 - Augustus Carter passed away Friday afternoon at his home on the Middle Intervale road. He had been in ill health for some time. He was 83 years of age. He has been quite a prominent lumber man having had charge of the buying for the Berlin Mills Co., for nearly 40 years, and had also done some logging for himself. He married Mary F. Stanley and to them two children were born, Edward M., and Frances A. Carter. The son, Edward, was hit by an auto a few weeks ago and died from the injuries. The daughter Frances has cared for her father during his long period of ill health. He was a member of the Baptist church. He is survived by his daughter, Frances, one brother, Herbert Carter, a sister, Mrs. Mary Wiley, five grandchildren, and several nieces and nephews. The funeral was held from his late home Sunday afternoon, interment in the Middle Intervale cemetery.

Our family is fortunate to have a number of items belonging to Augustus Mellen Carter. I have written about his surveying work before. He also served in the Civil War and my connection to him is that I used his saddle when I was first learning to ride a horse.

Augustus Mellen Carter married Mary Frances Stanley.
Edward Mellen Carter married Fanny May Capen.
Thomas Richard Carter - my grandfather

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

"We Consider Her Very Dangerous"

On August 5th, I received two letters written by my 3rd great-grandfather, Elias Mellen Carter. One was written to his brother, Timothy Jarvis Carter in 1832 and the other was written to Timothy's widow, Arabella (Rawson) Carter, daughter of Samuel & Polla (Freeland) Rawson in 1844. Timothy Jarvis Carter died in 1838 while serving in the House of Representatives. He had gone out of his mind when his close friend was killed in a duel just eighteen days before. You can read the news accounts of his decline and death in this post that I published in November 2012. This second letter sent me scrambling to figure out the identity of several people mentioned and added some detail to my family story. I have transcribed it as written - with the abbreviations, grammatical errors and misspellings preserved. Elias was known for his beautiful penmanship and hopefully you can see some of that in the photos of the letters.
Folded letter showing address
Text of letter
Close up of signature and handwriting
Outside of letter unfolded
Outside of folded paper
Ea Bethel Me
Nov 28

Mrs. Timo J. Carter
Paris Me

Inside of folded paper
East Bethel Nov 27 1844
Dear Sister Arabella,
I take a few moments this eve to inform you of the health of the friends in this neighborhood. As to Mother she is no better but is still runing down, and it is very doubtfull whither she ever gets well, the rest of Father's family are as well as usual, Sister Harriet and Octavia are still at my house, Harriet's helth is very good, you proverbly learnt something of Octavia's sickness from Mr Brown. We did not think her much sick until Sunday, and then she sat up some 2 or 3 hours but on her going to bed again she grew worse, and now we consider her very dangerous, so much so that I should not be surprised if she did not live till morning, the Docts think there is but a little chance of her recovery, and it is very uncertain whither Mother ever gets up again, but still she may. My family are in as good health as usual - in haste.
Your Brother
E.M. Carter

The first thing I had to explain was the reference to "Mother" because the mother of Timothy & Elias, Frances (Freeland) Carter, died in 1815, when Timothy was ten and Elias was just five years old. However, their father, Dr. Timothy Carter, remarried in 1818 and had five additional children. Both Dr. Timothy and his second wife, Lydia (Russell) Carter were still living in 1844. As seen in the letter, Lydia's health was failing and she passed away on December 5, 1844. Dr. Timothy would also pass away that winter on February 5, 1845.

Next , who were "Sister Harriet and Octavia"? I started tracing the siblings of Elias and Timothy Jarvis to find the answer. The answer was found in the family of their older brother, James Freeland Carter. James married Harriet Rawson, daughter of Ebenezer & Elizabeth (Taylor) Rawson. I haven't traced the Rawson family enough to find the connection between Arabella, wife of Timothy J. Carter and Harriet, wife of James F. Carter but I assume they are related in some way. James and Harriet had a daughter, Harriet Octavia Carter. She was called Octavia to distinguish her from her mother. James Freeland Carter died October 30, 1840 and his widow and daughter appear to be living with or on an extended visit to Elias Mellen's family.

Findagrave provided the rest of the story. I found a picture of the gravestone of James F. Carter and it included the information for his wife and daughter. A quick email to the photographer and I gained permission to share the photo here. As seen on the gravestone, Octavia did die the day after the letter was written, probably during the night based on the concern expressed in the letter. Her condition was correctly assessed as "very dangerous" and within a week, Lydia (Russell) Carter was also dead.
Photo taken by Ken Oliver and posted on Findagrave
Puzzles unsolved - the causes of death of Octavia, Lydia, and Dr. Timothy. I'd love to find a death certificate for Timothy Jarvis Carter. He was only 38 when he died and having delusions that someone had challenged him to a duel (according on one newspaper account). I wonder if he took his own life, had a heart attack, or stroke brought on by the extreme stress after his friend was killed in the duel.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Thanksgiving in Paris?

Last week, I wrote about winning an Ebay auction of letters written by my 3X great-grandfather, Elias Mellen Carter. Here is the transcription and some context for the oldest of the two letters. I have retained the spelling of the original. 
Letter folded - no stamp - appears to have been hand delivered
Main text of letter - one line continued on the inside of the paper 
Wax remaining from seal on the letter
Date & signature of Elias Mellen Carter

Back or outside of paper
East Bethel Nov 19

Timo J Carter Esq.
Paris Me

Bethel Nov. 18, 1832   - Wax from seal

Front or inside of paper
East Bethel Nov 18, 1832

Dear brother,
Yours of the 13 came safe to hand in due time. I received one likewise by the hand of Capt. Hastings from you. As it respects the note for the colt, I called on Mr. Kimball and he got another of his sons to sign, which I suspose to be good for that amount, and I have made inquire and have been informed that the old man's note is good without any other security. I have likewise ben told that Virgin has settled up his affairs and that he is better off now than he was before and I have no doubt but what it is true. Father has not ben to Portland yet & I have not heard him say anything about going, but I should think he would not go till after sleighing.

I have consulted Frances about going to Paris to Thanksgiving and she has concluded to go if I do & if Father is willing and the going will permit I think we shall go, but it is very uncertain but should we not come then I come out before long. We are all well - in haste from your affectionate brother.

Timo J Carter Esq.

Elias Mellen Carter is writing to his brother, Timothy Jarvis Carter. It sounds like this letter is in response to one from Timothy that was written on the 13th of the month. Elias was twenty-two years old and unmarried. Timothy J. Carter was six years older and had married, Harriet Rawson in 1828. They had a young son, Samuel Rawson Carter, born in 1829. Kimball and Hastings are two surnames of families who are among the earliest settlers of this area of Bethel. Virgin is a surname that is commonly found in the Rumford area, only a few miles away. The father of both men was Dr. Timothy Carter and his wife, Frances (Freeland) Carter. Their mother died when they were young and their step-mother was Lydia (Russell) Carter. In 1833, there were still five young children from the second marriage living at home, Lydia (age 10), Sarah (age 9), Abigail (age 8), Theodore (age 6), and Benjamin (age 1). The Frances referenced in the letter is the sister of both men. She was twenty-four and not yet married. She would marry Robert Chapman on March 28, 1833. She and Elias were the youngest children of Dr. Timothy & his first wife. While going to Paris for Thanksgiving sounds very exciting, the Paris referred to in the letter is Paris, Maine where Timothy J. and Arabella lived - a distance of about 21 miles. I wonder if the Bethel family made it to Paris for Thanksgiving.
East Bethel to Paris Hill

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Thankful Thursday - The Williamson Divorce

William Williamson was the brother of my 3rd great-grandmother, Rebecca (Williamson) Carter. He married Alfreda Bean, aka Lydia Alfreda Bean, who was 19 years younger and they had two children. Twelve years after they were married, she was granted a divorce on the grounds that he deserted her and treated her with "unkindness and neglect." I wonder if he was around when the divorce was filed since from 1864-1866 he was acting assistant surgeon with the army in Eastville, Virginia. 

Chris Dunham of the Maine Genealogy Network found this court record of the divorce proceedings on Family Search. I am very thankful for all the help Chris has provided me. I highly recommend the Maine Genealogy Network to any genealogist with Maine connections! 

To the Hon. Justices of the Supreme Judicial Court
to be holden at Paris within and for the County of
Oxford on the third Tuesday of September AD 1866.
            The undersigned, Alfreda L. Williamson
wife of William Williamson of Bethel in said County
respectfully libels and gives this Court to be informed
that she was lawfully married to the said William
Williamson at said Bethel on the twenty fifth day
of August AD 1854 and that they lived together at
said Bethel as husband and wife for several
years after their said marriage; that she had by
him two children, one of whom only, Julia
Williamson, aged eleven years, is living;
that she has always conducted towards him as
an affectionate, chaste and faithful wife, yet the
said William Williamson wholly regardless
of his marriage covenant and duty, on the tenth
day of July A.D. 1860 wholly abandoned and
deserted her and has continued his desertion
up to the present time, and ever since their said
marriage has treated her with great unkindness and neglect;
            Deeming it reasonable and proper and conducive
to domestic harmony and consistent with the
peace and morality of society that she should
be divorced from the said Williamson, she prays,
right and justice, and that she may be divorced
from the bands of matrimony between her and
her said husband, and that the custody of the
said Julia Williamson, on account of her
tender years and the neglect of said Williamson
may be committed to her and as in duty
bound will ever pray.
August 8, 1866                      Alfreda L. Williamson

            This libel was entered at the present term and when
the Libellant appears but the Respondent though called
to come into Court does not appear, but makes default.
And now the material facts alleged in said libel
having been fully proved, it is ordered and decreed by
the Court that the bonds of matrimony heretofore existing
between the said Alfreda L. Williamson and the said
Williamson be and hereby are dissolved for the causes
set forth in said libel and that the custody of the
minor child Julia Williamson be intrusted to the libellant. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - Letters of Elias Mellen Carter

Back of 1832 Letter Unfolded 
1832 Letter Folded - Showing Address
1832 Letter Folded - Sealing Wax Still on Letter
1832 Letter Text
1832 Letter Inside Fold - End of Letter and Signature
Inside of 1832 Letter Unfolded
1844 Letter showing handwriting and signature
1844 Letter Address
1844 Letter Text
Back Half of 1844 Letter Unfolded
1844 Letter Completely Unfolded

Friday, August 2, 2013

Follow Friday - Found Heirlooms on Ebay

I started this blog with very low expectations. I'd have some fun writing up the stories for my family and hopefully eventually find a cousin or two. Well, what a surprise! I have accomplished those two things but also much, much more! 

I'm not connected with many of my co-workers or local friends and family on Google Plus but there are a lot of genealogy folks there. One person I follow is Pam Beveridge of Found Heirlooms. The name kind of sums up what she does - she is a buyer & seller of heirlooms and works to reunite them with families. I also connected with Chris Dunham of The Maine Genealogy Network. Chris and I are distant cousins through my Dunham line. He has been incredibly helpful and pointed me toward some great finds like my 2X great-grandparents' divorce records. That made for some interesting blog posts. 

Recently, they teamed up to bring me one of the best finds yet! Pam noticed on E-bay some letters to a Timothy J. Carter in Bethel, Maine and messaged Chris about them. Chris recognized them as belonging to my 3X great-grandfather's brother, Timothy Jarvis Carter. Chris told Pam and she sent me a message. I quickly looked them up and entered a bid. Then I waited patiently, with fingers crossed, praying that the price would not escalate. And then last night, I learned that they are mine! I sent payment and am (not so) patiently waiting for them to arrive.

Upon closer inspection of the letters, I discovered that the letters were actually written by my 3rd great-grandfather, Elias Mellen Carter. He signed one E. M. and the other just Mellen. The seller had read the handwriting as "Miller." I can't wait to have them in my hands and transcribe them! Look for the blog posts soon. 

In the meantime, check out Found Heirlooms and Pam Beveridge on Google Plus and Chris Dunham's Maine Genealogy Network. You never know what connections will be made and what treasures may come your way but you've got to get your name out there to make it happen. 

Elias Mellen Carter and Timothy Jarvis Carter were sons of Dr. Timothy and Frances (Freeland) Carter. 
Elias married Rebecca Williamson - an Irish immigrant
Augustus Mellen Carter married Mary Frances Stanley
Edward Mellen Carter married Fannie May Capen
Thomas Richard Carter - my grandfather