Thursday, August 03, 2006

Phippsburg Cemetery: Stories & Mysteries

The Working Waterfront/Inter-Island News had a great article by Muriel L. Hendrix on the terrific community-based restoration project ongoing at the cemeteries in Phippsburg, Maine. Click here to read the whole article and see a photo of some of the stones.
When they cleared out and reset the stone of Sarah Wallace’s solitary grave, dated 1872, near the entrance to Sebasco Resort beside the golf course, a Phippsburg resident told them his father had cautioned, “You always tip your hat to Sarah when you’re golfing.”

As they worked on the Darling Cemetery at Black’s Landing, they discovered that many broken pieces of headstones were missing because in the past, lobstermen had used them to weight their traps. While clearing out one of the next sites, the Gilman/Lewis/Sprague Cemetery, a member of the Gilman family told them about the sad fate of Katie Gilman, age 1 year, 11 months, who was scalded to death when she climbed up on the kitchen counter on washday and fell out of the window into the wash water.
...the students and the Varians, who continue to ask Phippsburg residents whose ancestors are buried in the cemeteries to relate stories handed down in their families, have discovered other pieces of Phippsburg history. One is the sad tale of the Blethen family members who lived on Hunger Mountain, now known as Merritt Mountain. After a fire left them destitute, they were given barrels of food, which turned out to have been contaminated by rats that carried a form of plague. All family members died.
Great work, and a model project. Funding for this type of work is hard to come by, and most of the resources and elbow grease are donated by helpful folks in the area. Thanks to the newspaper for giving such excellent coverage and recognition to this group! Photo by Muriel Hendrix.

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