A Maine Mystery

In August 2009 I was in Maine with Lauri. We were visiting her family. I took the opportunity to visit the Maine Archives to see if I could find some info on my great grandfather, John F. Marson. I didn’t know much about him. From the census, I knew he was born in 1854 in Pittston, Maine. In 1860 and 1870 he’s still in Pittston but in 1880 he’s in Phillips. In 1920, he’s in Avon, in 1910 he’s in Strong and then in 1920 and 1930 he was back in Phillips. That was the last record I had for him. I didn’t know when or where he died. Then I found a grave transcription at NEHGS for a John F. Marson at Sampson Cemetery in Phillips. That seemed like it could be him.

At the archives I managed to find his death record that said he died on September 5, 1941 in Phillips. This matched what the grave transcription record said so it seemed worthwhile to see if we could find this cemetery.

The only catch was the directions. I had no idea when they had been written so how much had the roads in the area changed? Doing a web search for Sampson Cemetery didn’t turn anything up. But, the directions seemed clear so off we went. We drove back and forth on the main road through Salem, Maine which was supposed to lead to this cemetery without finding it. We spoke to some people, one of whom had been a cemetery caretaker for the area decades ago. He didn’t recall a Sampson Cemetery but said that there was a place that matched what we described and gave us some directions.

We still didn’t find it and gave up and got lunch. During lunch, I pulled out my iphone and started googling. Had I though of those searches before, I’d have saved a bunch of time. John Marson’s grave was listed on A Few Cemeteries in Maine and this showed that Sampson Cemetery was actually Sand Hill Cemetery and gave better directions.

We ended up going back a couple of days later and found the grave. If I’d any doubt that we found the right John Marson it was eliminated when we saw the graves of Verne and Ola Huntingdon nearby. I have photos from the 1930’s of my father’s family at Verne and Ola Huntington’s place including photos of John Marson there. I’m not sure what the connection between the families was but it was clear this was the right John Marson.

Now comes the mystery. John Marson’s grave was off by itself with a fairly large gap between it and other graves on the same row. His grave had flowers that looked fairly recent. The mystery is who left them. It looks like John Marson and my great grandmother Helen split up at some point after 1891 though I don’t know exactly when. Though I know Marson’s whereabouts from the census, I’ve no indication he married again. His grave is solitary with no spouse or children nearby. So far as I know, my grandmother was his only child. Who left the flowers?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: