ancestryink fisherman

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Witch, or Beloved Wife??

In the Old Burying Yard in front of the First Parish Church of York, Maine stands a grave stone marking the resting place of Mary Nasson who departed this life in 1774.

Behind this beautifully carved stone with benevolently smiling portrait, a heavy rectangular stone lies horizontally over the grave, marking the place where 29 year old Mary lies beneath.

Why the extra stone?? 

With Halloween upon us, let's go with the popular, haunting version:  The stone slab was supposedly put there to keep the "witch from leaving her tomb."

Here is the real story, though:

Click for larger version - plaque outside cemetery walls.

In truth, Mary Nasson was just a well-loved wife and mother.  The Old Burying ground lies at the center of York Village, a place traditionally used in old New England towns as grazing and marketing grounds for livestock of local farmers.  Mary's considerate husband simply sought to spare her the indignities of roving sheep and cattle stomping about her final resting place.

With Hurricane Sandy upon us, I thought I would include this photo of the cemetery and the First Parish Church behind it, from yesterday - a truly gorgeous Fall day.  Probably the last view of colorful foliage, before the leaves are unceremoniously ripped from the trees by Sandy's high winds.

Be safe, all.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Whalemen's Shipping List

The Whalemen's Shipping List, Merchants' Transcript was published in New Bedford, Mass. during the 1800's, and is a fascinating, fecund, briny source of information regarding arrivals and departures of whaling ships, masters, owners, tonnage, barrels of whale oil - and detailed descriptions of far flung destinations and adventures/misadventures on the high seas.

$1.00 / year, payable in advance, would give you six copies for 12 months.  The masthead states in fine print:  "This paper contains a complete list of American Whaling Ships, with the latest report from each."  And it certainly does deliver just that. is a good online repository for this paper.  You can enter names, date parameters, and include, and exclude, keywords. "Keywords" allows you to enter a ship's name, for instance.  Very helpful.  You need a subscription, but it is well worth it. 

The Whalemen's Shipping List is a very beautiful newspaper. Someday, I would love to actually hold one in my hand.  I am sure the New Bedford Whaling Museum has archives of these papers.  And while we are speaking of New Bedford, the New Bedford Public Library began a project some years ago to give access to information about whaling expeditions on their webpage.  Here is a link to this other very valuable, searchable resource.

Click for close up detail of ads and text

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

New! U.S., Navy Casualties Books, 1776 - 1941

Many mariners, sailors, Navy enlistees, schooner captains, PIRATES, in your family? has released this new database of U.S. Naval casualties to help you find them.  Man Overboard... This is exciting!!

Click on the image to be taken to the page

Now, remember.  These are "casualties."  Here is an example of a WWII listing you might come across. My search resulted in this particular page:  "Combat Naval Casualties, World War II, (AL-MO)"

U.S. Naval Casualties - Dead
Click here to read the's description of the Naval database.

I will be very interested to discover what "misadventure" means!

Monday, October 8, 2012

A Very Grave Matter

Today, I have to pass along news that I really wish was not necessary.  However, I hope in the sharing, the work of this devoted young woman will be appreciated anew.

Jenn Marcelais: image credit see below

Jenn Marcelais of Portsmouth, NH, who is the tireless researcher, designer, and author of the website "A Very Grave Matter," passed away at the age of 39 last month.  Her contributions to genealogical research are immeasurable.

My own discovery of her website predated my knowledge of, another fine cemetery site.   Much of my New England cemetery research took place right there on her site, and with much success,  and forwarded my own genealogical endeavors.

Visiting the site today, I notice that all the many photographic images posted there are unattainable.  However, the town-to-town list of names for each cemetery included (in Maine, NH, and Mass.) are still viewable.  Also, the reports of individual cemetery conditions, the short summaries of the local town history included in the right hand side bar of the pages is also still viewable.  As an historical resource, the website lives on as a tremendous aid to researchers.

Please honor and appreciate Jenn Marcelais' work by visiting her website today.

(Photo credit for above image: courtesy of Portsmouth, NH

Monday, October 1, 2012

Wedding Cake House of Kennebunk

The Wedding Cake House of Kennebunk has only been open to the public three times. The last time was as a benefit for Katrina victims.  This time the owner, Roger Barker, story teller extraordinaire,    has opened the house from mid-September to mid-October to benefit the local food pantries.

After three days of rain, this beautiful Fall day seemed like the perfect time to head over for a tour.  Volunteers for the Food Pantry organization lead the tours through this unique house with its eclectic collection of original furnishings, contemporary artwork, an incredible curved hallway, even the owner's beloved spaniels are present. It's all very relaxed, fun, and takes about 30 minutes.

The woodwork detail is the best part.   Edward Bourne, the original owner worked with a local shipbuilder to create the beautifully ornate decorations outside the house (by hand), and stunning trim work and mouldings around doorways, fireplaces and ceilings. 

Here are a few photos:

Wedding Cake House   Kennebunk

Side and attached carriage house

Painted mural of old Kennebunk. Panels next to staircase are trompe l'oeil

The Wedding Cake House tours will continue another two weeks. If you are in the area, grasp this rare opportunity to see this well-known Kennebunk historical home, while donating to the Food Pantry - a great cause.

The Wedding Cake House on Summer Street, Kennebunk, is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily for $10 a person.

(All photos courtesy of AncestryInk. Copyright restrictions apply.)