Sunday, August 14, 2011


Prior to attending the Ellingwood Reunion in Norway, Me. today, Cheryl
and I took a swing through Upton Maine on business pertaining to the
West side of the family. As we drove along Route 26 Cheryl pointed out a small
cemetery we passed in or near Newry, Maine, but we didn't have time to stop
at the moment  and I didn't think there were any relatives buried there anyway,

Our business required us to keep going west on 26 through the Grafton Notch
State Park which has several natural attractions such as Screwauger, Moose Caves
and Mother Walker Falls but again, we didn't have time for sightseeing. We ended
up going straight through the park to Upton, then over the state line into Errol, N.H
before we started back Route 26 towards Norway.

O.K. Cue the Twilight Zone music now.  

 Cheryl was having trouble getting the GPS to program  the route to the reunion
and looked for a spot to pull over to fiddle with it. It just so happened that we
stopped on the side of the road next to that cemetery we saw earlier and Cheryl
suggested I get some pictures of it while she worked on the GPS. So I got out and
the first thing I saw was the grave of Drusilla Walker, the "Mother Walker" the
falls are named after. There were other gravesstones, mostly from the Wight,
Russell and Bennett families.

But then I saw these two headstones:

Yep. They're from my family.

Caleb Barker was my 3x great granduncle, a son of 4x great grandparents Jonathan
Barker and Nancy Swan, and brother to my 3xgreat grandfather Nathaniel
Barker! His wife's full name was Alice Rowe. Of course at the time I took the
photos I just knew he was most likely related to me. After we got home I looked him
up on my database, Then I went looking for the name of the cemetery and found out
on a website for Newry written by my cousin Mitch Barker that it was named the
Wight Cemetery.

I also found out that not only had Caleb Barker owned and then donated the land for
the cemetery, he was its first sexton!

So: what are the odds that of all the places we stop and I get out to take a photo
it's at that small cemetery that just happens to have more relatives butied there?

I'm gobsmacked yet again!

((You can see more pictures of the Wight Cemetery over on my other blog, The Old
Colony Graveyard Rabbit))


Chris said...

The maiden name of Caleb's wife was Alice Rowe. Their marriage record of 17 July 1827 identifies them as Caleb Barker "of Homes or Newry" and Alice Rowe of "Andover Surplus." (Holmes was an early name for Grafton Township; part of Andover West Surplus, which lies east of Grafton, was annexed to Newry in 1837.)

Alice was the daughter of Joshua and Mary (Ayer) Rowe of Danville, Maine (now defunct). Alice's mother came to Newry, and was buried in the cemetery that you visited. She collected a pension as Joshua's widow, and Caleb Barker witnessed some of the documents found in the pension file.

Carol said...

You write:

So: what are the odds that of all the places we stop and I get out to take a photo it's at that small cemetery that just happens to have more relatives buried there?

I answer: Very, very good odds, it was time for you to know where they were buried and to share some time with them.


Lynn Palermo said...

What a great story, I would say those ancestors were pulling you there, daring you to find them.

Ruth said...

That's pretty awesome! And congrats!

Maybe the GPS wasn't messing up after all...

Ruth Stephens
Ruth's Genealogy

Bill West said...

Chris, Thanks for the info! Correction made. :)

Michelle Goodrum said...

I can hear Twilight Zone music playing in my head as I read this. I'm glad you stopped!

Greta Koehl said...

Happy to see that the genea-stars aligned so that you could make this great discovery. Also happy that someone else besides me uses the word "gobsmacked."

Martin said...

Ask the opposite question: What are the odds of being in rural Oxford Co. Maine, where your ancestors lived for 100-200 years in several different branches, and finding a cemetery where NO RELATION was buried. that would be the odd thing.

Midge Frazel said...

Yup. This what gravestone work is like! They called out to you.

Heather Rojo said...

I think Martin is onto something. There are places in Essex County, and parts of Rockingham County, where if I DON'T run into an ancestor or ancestral name I'm surprised! Bill, you were right where you belonged!

Apple said...

A lucky find indeed! Not only because you weren't expecting to find them but also because from the other pictures you took, it seems many of the stones in the cemetery are long gone.

Anonymous said...

Okie Dokie, Bill...
It's time you started to write a book about all this stuff...even though we all love reading your online material :)