ancestryink fisherman

Sunday, March 25, 2012

How did they meet? Graveyard marriages of the 1800's

The Applebee Cemetery sits quietly distant at the back end of a wide, flat field in the Berwicks of Maine. I was fortunate to come across this peaceful plot surrounded by thick stone walls yesterday, during an afternoon drive through acres of rolling farmland. (And yes, I'm afraid I did hike quickly, but respectfully! across someone's field.)

Within,  the usual mix of several surnames - families, in-laws, children.  Here interred:  Prays, Applebees, Harmons, Clements, and a Fixx.

Revolutionary War plaques honor several of the men.  Another, a Civil War veteran.
One stone indicates "Sarah E" is wife of "Nelson Harmon," died in 1863. Another nearby stone for "William H.," son of "Alexander and Sarah Pray" catches my eye...  William H. died at 20 in 1867.  What were the connections here?    (The Pray name in this area of Maine connects to extensive research I have done on the Cummings family. My curiosity was piqued - again.)

I decided to look up the Census records for William H.  The most relevant one I found for him was the 1850 U.S. census (since he died in 1867, I assumed this one would hold the most information regarding his birth parents and home.)  There he was, William H. Pray (erroneously indexed as "Pry") in his father's household: Alexander (Pry) Pray.  William H. is 9.  His father Alexander is 54, a farmer - but the next female listed in the household is "Sarah E." age 18.  It appears that Alexander is a widower, and Sarah E., his eldest daughter.  Interesting, and all making sense.  Good.

However, right above Alexander's name, I find the name "Nelson S. Harmon," age 20, a shoemaker!   He is listed as living in the Daniel Perkins household, next door neighbor of the Prays.

Clearly, being neighbors, Nelson met Sarah.

And Nelson and Sarah being of the same age, a marriage was made.

And Sarah being the sister of William H. is now buried alongside him in the family burial ground.  (The Applebee connection is yet another marriage connection.)   And another nearby stone marks a child of Sarah and Nelson - "Mary A. Harmon" - who died at age 3 in 1856. And Sarah herself, at age 30, in 1863.  Family connections over many years.

Neighbors: a marriage: children: and death... It does not happen in quite the same way or the same place, for most of us today.

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