Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Native Americans – Part 4

Early drawing – An Indian Campsite At The “Rips” On Cobbossee Stream, Maine, Circa 1750.

by Mary Grow

East side of and away from the Kennebec

Last week’s article talked about Native American sites along the Kennebec River between Fairfield and Sidney on the west bank, but the east bank between Ticonic (Winslow) and Cushnoc (Augusta) was skipped for lack of space. This week’s article will remedy the omission by talking about Vassalboro and about sites inland on the east side of the river (as was done for the west side last week).

Vassalboro either was popular with the Kennebec tribe or has been more thoroughly explored than other areas (or both), because various histories mention several areas connected with Native Americans, including at least one Native American burial ground on the Kennebec.

Alma Pierce Robbins, in her Vassalboro history, quoted a historian of the Catholic Church in Maine who claimed Mount Tom was an “Indian Cemetery.” Mount Tom is now in the Annie Sturgis Sanctuary a little north of Riverside, on the section of old Route 201 between the present highway and the river named Cushnoc Road.

Charles E. Nash, in the chapter on Native Americans in Kingsbury’s Kennebec County history, reported a large burial ground north of the mouth of Seven Mile Stream (or Brook), which runs from the southwest corner of Webber Pond to join the Kennebec at Riverside.

Kingsbury himself, in his chapter on Vassalboro, suggested that Robbins’ source and Nash were talking about the same site. Kingsbury wrote that the burial ground was the south side of Mount Tom, “sloping to the brook, on the Sturgis farm.” Artifacts and bones were still “plentiful” there in 1892, he said.

Nash wrote that the Native American name for Seven Mile Brook was Magorgoomagoosuck. James North, in his history of Augusta, spelled it Magorgomagarick.

The pestle was used against the mortar for crushing and grinding and were commonly used for meal preparations such as reducing grain and corn into wheat and meal. Mortar and pestles would have also been used in the preparing of medicine as well as the manufacturing of paint.

An undated on-line copy of a University of Michigan document titled Antiquities of the New England Indians includes descriptions and photographs of a variety of artifacts, including knives, axes and mortars and pestles. The writer explained that mortars and pestles, either wooden or stone, were essential for crushing dried corn kernels.

One pestle that the writer particularly admired came from Vassalboro, and when the description was written it was owned by Kennebec Historical Society. It is now in the Maine State Museum, according to KHS archivist Emily Schroeder.

The pestle is described as 28.5 inches long, made of green slate, topped with a small human head. The illustration shows an almost round head, with oval eyes, a nose indicated by two straight lines with a connecting line at the bottom and a pursed mouth. The writer said the lower half of the pestle was found near Seven Mile Brook; the upper half was found a few miles away four years later, and “The two pieces fitted perfectly together.”

The pestle was broken intentionally, the writer asserted. He wondered whether the destruction of what could be seen as an idol was related to the nearby seventeenth-century Catholic mission.

There are also references to a Native American site farther north along the river, on the section of old Route 201 called Dunham Road.

Robbins wrote that many artifacts had been found on the shores of Webber Pond – so many, she said, that cottages built around 1900 used them as trim around fireplaces.

The major Native American site in Vassalboro located and partly investigated to date was at the outlet of China Lake in East Vassalboro, partly on property on the east side of the foot of the lake and the east bank of Outlet Stream owned for generations by the Cates family. The Vassalboro Historical Society museum in the former East Vassalboro schoolhouse has a room dedicated to information about and artifacts from the site.

According to the exhibit, the area was occupied at least sporadically from 10,000 years ago until Europeans displaced the Native Americans. Different types of tools, weapons and houses are displayed or illustrated and explained. Alewives were harvested at the China Lake outlet 5,000 years ago.

Correspondence on exhibit shows that the Maine Historic Preservation Commission listed the Cates farm site as a protected archaeological site on the Maine Register of Historic Places in the fall of 1989, as requested by George Cates.

The part of China Lake that is in the Town of China was also frequented by Native Americans. The town’s comprehensive plan says the Maine Historic Preservation Commission has found prehistoric sites on two islands in the lake, Indian Island in the east basin and Bradley Island in the west basin (plus one at the north end of Three Mile Pond, and an accompanying map shows a fourth site on Dutton Road). Commission staff think it “highly likely” that there are other sites in town, especially along waterways.

According to the China bicentennial history, the lake was part of one of the Native Americans’ routes inland from the coast in the fall. After final seafood feasts, people would paddle up the Sheepscot to a place about two and a half miles south of China Lake, portage to the south end of the lake and paddle northwest to the outlet in Vassalboro. From there Outlet Stream carried them to the Sebasticook and then to the Kennebec at Ticonic.

The Kennebecs left behind on the west shore of the southern part of the lake’s east basin a heart shape carved into a boulder. World-famous Quaker Rufus Jones, of China, told a story about this carving several times, including as a chapter in Maine Indians in History and Legends.

Jones began by warning readers that his version of The Romance of the Indian Heart is part history and part imagination. He refused to say which was which.

The legend features a Kennebec brave named Keriberba, son of Chief Bomazeen (or Bomaseen, mentioned in the June 9 article in this series), from Norridgewock, and his wife Nemaha, from Pemaquid, whom he met at one of the annual seafood feasts at Damariscotta.

Coming home from the coast, Keriberba, Nemaha and their companions stopped to roast and eat the last clams on the west shore of China Lake’s east basin by “a large sentinel granite rock” from the glacial age. They continued to Norridgewock, where Father Sebastian Rale married them beneath a picture of the Sacred Heart that hung above the altar.

Nemaha immediately organized a group named “The Sisters of the Sacred Heart,” Jones wrote. The women took lessons from Father Rale and hosted an annual feast.

When the British soldiers made their final and successful attack on Norridgewock in August 1724, Keriberba and a few other young men “escaped across the river.” Nemaha grabbed the picture of the Sacred Heart from the church and with others of her sisterhood ran to a secret hiding place in the woods.

The next morning the two groups reunited. After burying Bomazeen, Father Rale and others, they gathered up what the British had left of their belongings and went back to settle at the feasting spot on China Lake.

Jones described the 300-year-old pines that sheltered their wigwams, and the shrine they built for the Sacred Heart picture that became “the center of their religion.” The importance of the picture was reinforced when, one evening, Keriberba called across the lake, “Le sacré Coeur,” (“the sacred heart” in Father Rale’s native French). His words echoed back to him across the water.

Jones wrote that he too had experienced the echo, from the place on the shore that repeats whole sentences. But to the Kennebecs, it seemed to be the voice of the Great Spirit. From then on, Keriberba called every evening and they were comforted by the reply.

Jones described years of living in peace, traveling to Norridgewock to grow corn (because they could not clear enough land by the lake), hunting deer, moose and an occasional bear, importing clams that fed muskrats (both edible), netting and smoking alewives. As children were born and grew up, the group became larger.

One night, a storm destroyed the Sacred Heart shrine and blew the picture into the lake, where it turned to pulp. The next day, Keriberba began carving a recreation of the sacred heart into the granite rock.

When his picture was finished, the group feasted and danced until late at night. Before they went to bed, Keriberba stood beside his carving and shouted, “Le sacré coeur” – and the words came back just as they should.

There is a little more to Jones’ story; it will be continued next week.

* * * * * *

Your writer has found only bits and pieces of information about Native Americans in the areas now included in the towns of Albion, Clinton and Palermo, and nothing from Windsor.

The 2004 report on the archaeological survey around Unity Wetlands and along the Sheepscot River, reprinted on line and mentioned last week, cited a person named Willoughby who, in a 1986 publication, described one pre-European relic from Albion. The reference is to “an isolated Indian artifact recovered by a farmer in the town of Albion – a ‘mask-like sculpture’ of sandstone with pecked and incised eyes, mouth, and other facial lines. It is unclear if the portable rock sculpture was found within the Unity Wetlands study area or simply nearby.”

A photo of what is almost certainly the same sculpture, described as “found while digging potatoes in Albion, Maine” appears in the on-line Antiquities of the New England Indians. The writer described the head as sandstone, about 10 inches long by two inches thick at the thickest point.

The writer continued, “Its natural smooth surface was used for the face, and the rougher fractured surface of the back was smoothed by pecking.” The face tapers to a chin; ears round out on either side; two small round dark eyes each has a circular outline; a smaller dark circle represents the nose; and parallel horizontal lines make a slightly off-center mouth.

The writer described traces of red pigment on the front and yellow pigment on the back. He surmised the effigy came from a grave.

Clinton’s 2006 comprehensive plan says the Maine Historic Preservation Commission had found four prehistoric sites within the town boundaries, one on the Kennebec River, one on the Sebasticook River and two on Carrabassett Stream. Commission staff suggested waterside archaeological surveys. The 2021 plan gives no new information.

Palermo historian Millard Howard doubted there were permanent Native settlements within the boundaries of present-day Palermo, either before or after 1763, because, he wrote, most settlements were on rivers like the Kennebec or the lower Sheepscot.

Kerry Hardy’s map of Native American trails converging on Cushnoc shows one from the coast near Rockland that crosses the east branch of the Sheepscot River a little north of Sheepscot Pond, about where Route 3 now runs east-west a bit south of the middle of town.

Linwood Lowden began his history of the Town of Windsor with the first European settlers. Because the Sheepscot River running out of Long Pond is in southeastern Windsor, including the junction of Travel Brook, it seems likely that parts of the town would have been at least a Native American travel route, if not home to settlements.

Main sources

Grow, Mary M. China, Maine Bicentennial History including 1984 revisions (1984).
Hardy, Kerry, Notes on a Lost Flute: A Field Guide to the Wabanaki (2009).
Howard, Millard, An Introduction to the Early History of Palermo, Maine (second edition, December 2015).
Kingsbury, Henry D., ed., Illustrated History of Kennebec County Maine 1625-1892 (1892).
Maine Writers Research Club, Maine Indians in History and Legends (1952).
Robbins, Alma Pierce, History of Vassalborough Maine 1771 1971 n.d. (1971).

Websites, miscellaneous.

Transfer station committee shares updates

by Mary Grow

China’s Transfer Station Committee members held a short June 17 meeting to share updates on various projects, with acting committee chairman Mark Davis (former chairman Lawrence Sikora has resigned from the committee) presiding virtually.

One job is done, Palermo representative Robert Kurek reported. He and China Town Manager Rebecca Hapgood updated the contract between the two towns that lets Palermo residents use China’s transfer station; China select board members approved it; two of Palermo’s three select board members did the same, and he expects the third, who was absent from the meeting, to have no objections (see The Town Line, June 16, p. 3).

A second project, making more use of information obtained from the Radio Frequency ID (RFID) tags issued to transfer station users, is about to get a boost, Director of Public Services Shawn Reed said. Former town employee and committee member Ashley Farrington plans to see what can be done to make the tags more useful.

Palermo member Chris Diesch, who has compiled information from RFID records, plans to share her results with Farrington. Committee members again emphasized that RFID data do not identify individual users.

Reed said he is making progress toward buying the new Volvo loader that select board members authorized. He has a locked-in price – higher than when the select board acted – and might get the machine this fall.

The loader will come with a bucket. Reed said he is looking for reasonable deals on two other attachments discussed with select board members, a snow pusher and a grapple, the latter to help pile brush, metal and similar materials. Kurek endorsed investing in a grapple – very useful, he said.

Reed reported no progress on siting a new concrete storage pad; codes officer Jaime Hanson resigned before he finished advising on possible locations. Davis reported no progress on finding a cover for the second compactor.

Prices for recyclables remain low, Reed said. China’s transfer station currently accepts number two plastic, clear and colored; cardboard; and magazines and newspapers.

Committee members do not plan to meet again until September, with the date to be determined.

LETTERS: Smith will help regenerate businesses

To the editor:

Please join me in voting for Katrina Smith as State Representative on June 14 in the primary elections. The representative area will be District #62, which includes China, Palermo, Somerville, and Windsor.

When asked what she perceives to be our state’s greatest challenge over the next ten years, she replied, “The greatest challenge to Maine is rebuilding our economy after the loss of thousands of businesses throughout the pandemic. The state has one of the worst business environments in the country and, without improving it, we will not keep the next generation in Maine and will not see prosperity for our people but only further dependence on state resources.” (https://ballotpedia.org/Katrina_Smith).

We have seen so many small businesses forced to close because of COVID restrictions. We need to help regenerate small businesses, again. I believe Katrina is the person to help us do this. Katrina lives with her family in Palermo, and she says she loves the hardworking people who believe in the way life should be. Please join us at the polls and make a positive change for Maine!

Bonnie Hunter

Elvis in the garden: a neighborhood garden competition in Palermo

The Palermo Community Garden in summer. (Contributed photo)

by Jim Metcalf

The air smells warm and fresh. The leaves have that bright new green color, only seen at this time of the year. The grass is soft to walk on as we move over to the garden that we left bare last fall. We all hear the call for planting again this year. But this year things are going to be different. Our garden is going to be a showplace with arrow straight rows, bushels of the tastiest vegetables and not a weed within a hundred yards of the garden.

This year our garden will easily win the Best Garden of the Summer award. Every August for many years an unknown judge has always placed a blue ribbon tied to a stake at the edge of one of the gardens in Palermo, noting that garden as the best of the summer. No one ever saw or knew who awarded this prestigious prize, but as years went by the competition became more intense. No longer were weeds allowed to grow and rows became straighter and freshened up with frequent hoeing. Hilda and Lloyd Leeman on Leeman’s Arm spent an hour or two in their garden every morning. As a result of their work, they found the blue ribbon hanging on a post among their rows on more than one occasion.

Hilda and Lloyd’s Garden was back of the red barn at the old house on Leeman Arm. Their garden, full of corn, tomatoes, greens, peas, beans, carrots and other root crops was right out of a photograph in a farm journal magazine. The garden provided them with fresh vegetables along with plenty of stock for making the best sauerkraut and canned vegetables to last all winter.

As generous Mainers they always canned and froze more than they could use in case other families were in need during the winter. All summer they put a box at the edge of the camp road. The box was filled every morning with fresh vegetables for campers and anyone else who wanted to enjoy the taste of fresh home-grown vegetables. The box never remained full very long.

Just on the other side of the barn, Archie Leeman grew the best corn mostly for his annual corn party on one Sunday afternoon in August. Scores of families, town folk, summer campers and friends would show up with salads, desserts, and drinks, but the main feature was fresh corn. The cooking pots of spring water were heated over an outdoor fire. But only when a rolling boil was achieved did Archie run across to the garden to pick baskets full of fresh corn. It was husked and dropped into the boiling water for just a few minutes then served with fresh creamery butter and salt. Then the corn eating and enjoyment ritual was repeated and repeated until everyone could not eat another bite of this golden yellow treat.

Following in the footsteps of these great gardeners, Gary Leeman started a nice vegetable garden above the old barn in a stony patch of ground. He too produced fine crops of vegetables for summer enjoyment and winter canning. Gary was known as the innovator and experimenter in the garden. He was the first to grow a variety of white skinned cucumbers which looked quite different but were very easy to spot among the green vines. The white cukes had thin skins never needing peeling while tasting great fresh or pickled in the many canning jars he and his wife Sharon put up.

Since Gary’s Garden was closer to a stand of trees, his was the target of birds and other vegetable enjoying creatures. He developed a way to hang white plastic grocery bags on stakes which every breeze would fill with air to scare anything out of the garden. In fact, if anyone wanted to raid the garden on a breezy moon lit night, they might have second thoughts with these white air-filled ghost-like bags moving around the unseen stakes.

Gary like the others competed for the blue-ribbon best garden award. He was a good musician and band member who wanted to add a little instrumentation and unique style to his garden to convince raccoons to stay out of the corn and maybe impress the unknown best garden judge. He designed the Elvis scarecrow who stood in the garden with a guitar hanging on his neck, playing as the ghost shopping bags rocked and rolled around the vegetables. We believe that Gary added music from a portable radio to the Elvis scarecrow. If he did, it would have had to include Blue Suede Shoes and Don’t Be Cruel to plead with the raccoons to stay out of the corn.

I think that Gary’s Elvis scarecrow received honorable mention one year for Best Musical Garden. All the gardeners speculated on who awarded the best garden blue ribbon but the judge has never been exposed. Many of those great and generous gardeners are gone now but their memories remain every time we pass the old barn and grown over gardens. All the children and friends who had opportunities to partake of Archie and Penny’s corn feed or who picked up a few fresh vegies from the box aside the camp road or just admired the straight, neat, well-manicured award-winning gardens wonder if we can ever reproduce these beautiful producing gardens.

The challenge is ours and the judge who awards the Best Garden Blue ribbon could still be traveling around town this summer looking for a place to plant the stake with the Blue Ribbon. Gary is still planting his white skinned cukes and corn, but this year he lost his prime garden space to land development. However, wherever Gary plants this year you will see Elvis, the rock and rolling musical scarecrow, shake and shimmy the vegetables into tasty perfection.

Endicott College announces local dean’s list students

Endicott College, in Beverly, Massachusetts, the first college in the U.S. to require internships of its students, is pleased to announce its Fall 2021 dean’s list students.

The following students have met these requirements:

Alana York, of Palermo, majoring in business management, is the daughter of Cheryl York and Andrew York.

Kristen Dube, of Sidney, majoring in nursing, is the daughter of Sarah Dube and Robert Dube.

Foundation receives two grants totaling $5,340

Submitted by Connie Bellet

Covid brought many changes to Maine’s economy. Among them were a damaged supply chain, social isolation, and an upset in the job market. The Living Communities Foundation and many other nonprofits are working to ameliorate these challenges and help people to adapt to a new economic reality. Local philanthropic organizations such as United Midcoast Charities and SeedMoney.org are also stepping up to help nonprofits address issues such as food insecurity.

The Palermo Community Garden received a SeedMoney crowdfunding grant amounting to $1,665 which is going toward tools, soil amendments, seeds, and supplies. Between 380 and 450 pounds of fresh, organic produce is harvested every growing season, and this goes directly to the Palermo Food Pantry. The Living Communities Foundation provides space at the Palermo Community Center for the weekly Food Pantry, which is supported by Good Shepherd Food Bank and Hannaford.

Palermo is very fortunate that Wild Miller Farm, Bruce Potter, Field of Greens, John Bunker and Cammy Watts, and other small local growers also bring in excess crops for distribution to elders, the disabled, veterans, and those who have lost jobs due to covid. The Food Pantry provides nourishing food for 35 to 50 families per week. The Pantry is open every Tuesday from 11 a.m. to noon.

A steep rise in fuel and electricity costs, plus a breakdown in transportation of the annual produce-based fundraisers has also put pressure on the Foundation. A $2,700 increase in trucking costs halted the annual Vidalia onion sale, but negotiations are still ongoing to obtain New Jersey peaches for August. In the meantime, United Midcoast Charities granted the Foundation $3,675 to defray heating oil and electricity costs to keep the food pantry comfortable and run the refrigeration systems. This grant came at the perfect time, as oil prices were skyrocketing beyond $4 a gallon. The Community Center uses about 500 gallons of oil a year, depending on the severity of the winter, so this grant was extremely appreciated.

The Living Communities Foundation, the Community Center, the Community Garden, and the food pantry are all run by volunteers. Anyone interested in volunteering or serving on the board of directors is most welcome to call Connie Bellet or Phil White Hawk at 993-2294. Your donations of talent, energy, and service to the community are as appreciated as funding, and help our team build a more sustainable network of neighbors. The board of directors extends a big “Thank You” to all of you who continue to support the Living Communities Foundation.

Roger Files graduates from academy

Roger Files

Roger Files, of Palermo, the son of Rachel Files, of Palermo, and Michael Simmons, of Belgrade, has graduated from the Maine Connections Academy, of Scarborough, on June 3, 2022.

Throughout Roger’s high school career he achieved high school honor status and was inducted into the National Honor Society during his senior year. He also attended Palermo Consolidated School, and Grace Academy, in South China.

His interests include playing e-sports, swim team competition (USA) through the Mid-Maine Dolphins, at the Alfond Youth and Community Center, in Waterville, and holds a brown belt in karate through Club NAHA, also located at the AYCC. He also received a Dolphins award.

In 2019, Roger was a CIT (coach in training) for assisting the younger children in swimming. He also worked as a lifeguard at the Waterville Municipal Swimming Pool during the summer of 2021.

Immediately following graduation, Roger intends to enter the workforce.

LETTERS: Smith resilient, compassionate

To the Editor,

Resilient, sincere, compassionate, and bold. These are the words that came to mind the first time I met Katrina Smith and listened to her speak. If you have not already done so, please take an opportunity to see and listen for yourself especially on her website and Facebook page.

Katrina Smith cares and brings an absolute passion with her in whatever she does. As a 21-year military veteran and a member of veterans organizations, I can see that Katrina cares about veterans, as she and her family recently participated in the Walk for Vets, which brings awareness to veterans’ issues.

Katrina Smith is running for State Representative in District #62 of Maine, which encompasses China, Palermo, Somerville, and Windsor. If you want a conservative representative with the qualities I have mentioned and many more, please know that we will be in good hands with Katrina Smith as state representative. The Primary is June 14. We hope to see you there.

Paul Hunter

Files inducted in NHS

Roger Files, a 12th-grader from Palermo, was recently inducted into the National Honor Society at Maine Connections Academy. He is among a total group of 12 students who received National Honor Society membership at the school, the state’s first online charter school. He plans to enter the workforce following graduation.

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Blacks in Maine – Part 1

Headstone of Eliza Talbot and Sarah Freeman, in Talbot cemetery, in China.

by Mary Grow

So far, people in this history series have been almost entirely the group that is still Maine’s majority population: white people descended mostly from inhabitants of the British Isles, plus representatives of other northern and western European countries.

For example, Millard Howard wrote in his Palermo history that early settlers in that town came mostly from Massachusetts or New Hampshire, sometimes via coastal Maine. These settlers’ ancestors, he wrote, had usually been religious dissidents (Puritans especially) who emigrated from Great Britain in the 1630s.

This picture is incomplete. In addition to the Native Americans, who lived here for generations before Europeans arrived, the central Kennebec Valley has had a small Black population for almost as long as the Europeans have been here, and since the 19th century people from the Middle East and French Canada have created distinct minority cultures.

Readily available sources tend to provide only scanty information on these groups, and as readers will soon learn, what information is available is sometimes inconsistent.

An invaluable source on Blacks in Maine is H. H. Price and Gerald E. Talbot’s Maine’s Visible Black History: The First Chronicle of Its People, published in 2006.

(Gerald Talbot is a descendant of the Talbots who lived in the Town of China in the 19th century. He was the first Black member of the Maine legislature, and is the father of current House assistant majority leader Rachel Talbot Ross, of Portland.)

The book lists the following Black families among early China settlers: Brackley, Foy (also Foye or Fay), Freeman, Jenkins, Jotham, Seco, Sewall (also Sewell) and Talbot (also Talbert, Talbet, Tallbet, Tarbet or Tarbot).

Price and Talbot found that China had 24 Black residents in 1820 (of a total population of 894); 15 were men and nine women. In 1830 there were six Black families (headed by Peter Freeman, Enock Jenkins, Calvin Jotham, Ambrose Sewall, John Sewall and Ezekiel Talbot), totaling 29 people.

Other records showed that Abram Talbot and Ezekiel Talbot lived in Gardiner before they moved to China “by the 1840s.” If Abram and Abraham are the same man (as seems likely, but not certain; records show Abraham Talbots in multiple generations in the family), he was born in 1756 and died in 1850.

Abraham Talbot is described as “a former slave who owned a brickyard on the east side of China Lake.”

One man named Ezekiel Talbot was born in 1760, according to Price and Talbot. An on-line genealogy lists an Ezekiel Talbot who was born in Brockton, Massachusetts, on Dec. 21, 1787, and died in China, Maine, in 1879.

His parents are identified in this and other sources as Abraham Talbot (May 27, 1756 – June 11, 1840) and Molley or Mary Dunbar (1758-1850); they married in Bridgewater, now part of Brockton, in September 1787. An on-line site says the couple appears to have moved to China before 1800, “as he is enumerated in a collective district for the 1800 federal census which included Three Mile Pond, areas east of Winslow, and Freetown Plantation [later Albion].”

This Abraham Talbot was a Revolutionary War veteran, and he was living in China when he applied for his veterans’ pension on April 18, 1818.

Abraham and Mary Talbot had eight children, according to an on-line family history. Their births are recorded in Fairfax (now Albion), indicating that they lived in the area that was added to the north end of present-day China in 1816 and 1818.

The reference to the 1800 census cited above says: “Due to his status as a free black, the census record only gives the number of persons in Abraham’s household, which totaled 6 persons. As the couple had six children born by 1799, it would appear that two of their children died at an early age.”

Abraham and Mary’s oldest son was Ezekiel (also called Eschiel Tarbet), who was born Dec. 21, 1787 (in Massachusetts, or Maine?), and died in China in 1879. The third son was Abraham, born Feb. 28, 1792; the website says he married Edith Griffin Freeman, in Gardiner, in 1818. He was buying land in Portland in the spring of 1847, in partnership with William Jones; the two are called “mariners.” There is no evidence that he returned to China; he “was buried on 25 January 1862, in Portland.”

The Ezekiel Talbot who was born in 1787 married Eliza or Elizabeth Seco (see below for more about the Seco family). He was a farmer and a landowner; on-line sources list records of land transfers.

One source says Ezekiel and Eliza had three sons (Abraham and Mary’s grandsons), all born in China: Charles C., born in 1814; Alvin Austin, born in 1836; and Henry H., born in 1839. Another source adds a daughter named Sarah, and a son William appears in the 1850 census.

A 1984 Waterville Sentinel article says Ezekiel Talbot was a China resident in the 1830, 1840 and 1850 federal censuses. In 1850, the household was listed. Ezekiel was 65 years old and Eliza was 64. Alvin A. and William C., aged 19 and 17, were farmers; Henry H. was 10 years old; Sarah D. Augustine was 28, a sailor named Homan L. Augustine (Sarah’s husband) was 24 and Eliza J. Augustine was four years old.

On Nov. 5, 1852, the family history compiler found that Ezekiel sold a 50-acre lot bounded on one side by the Palermo town line to his son Alvin, for $200.

Charles C. married Margaret Crossman and moved to Aroostook County.

Alvin Austin, born about 1831 and in China in 1850, married Lucy Peters, in Boston, Massachusetts, in March 1855. The writer of the on-line family history surmises she must have died almost immediately, because the 1860 census listed Alvin as a laborer again living with his parents, in China.

Alvin also moved to Aroostook County, where he married his second wife, Georgia Ann Cornelison, from New Brunswick. He worked as a barber in Houlton and Bangor; the couple moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he died Dec, 22, 1901.

Henry H., born in or around 1840 (according to the on-line family history), spent his life as a farmer in China, never married and died of liver cancer Oct. 2, 1915.

Enough Talbots died in China so there is a Talbot cemetery, a small graveyard east of Yorktown Road on the China-Palermo boundary, just south of China’s Thurston Park. A legible stone marks the graves of Eliza Talbot and Sarah A. Freeman – although the dates do not match exactly, they are probably Ezekiel’s wife Eliza and her daughter Sarah (Augustine) Freeman. There are remains of three other stones in the same row, and two others separately (that might be footstones). Henry H. Talbot was reportedly buried “in a private cemetery,” perhaps the Talbot cemetery.

* * * * * *

Another Black cemetery is on the east side of China’s Pleasant View Ridge Road, west of the Talbot cemetery. This one holds graves of the Sewall and Seco families.

Among those buried there are Ambrose Sewall (1787 – Jan. 22, 1851) and his wife Mary (Shay) Sewall (died in 1849). Nearby is the grave of Griffin Sewall, son of Ambrose and Mary Sewall, who died Nov. 29, 1818, at the age of 17. (Another source gives Griffin Sewall’s dates as 1831 to 1848.) There are at least three more stones that appear to be from the same family.

Ambrose Sewall was a son of Elias and Amee Dunbar Sewall. Elias, born Aug. 1, 1751, in Bridgewater, Massachusetts, was a Revolutionary War veteran; an on-line source says he was listed in Harlem (now China) census records in 1800 and 1810, and died in China, date unknown.

Sharing the graveyard are at least seven stones that probably mark the graves of members of the Seco family. Between the two areas, the Waterville newspaper article says, in 1964 there appeared to be remnants of one or two more rows of graves.

According to the article, the Secos seem to have come to China in the 1850s (but Eliza Seco must have connected with Ezekiel Talbot earlier than that). Various other sources, including the 1860 census, describe two Seco families in China. One consisted of William, age 67 (born about 1793, in New Hampshire, and by 1860 blind), his wife Almira (Sewell), age 50 (born about 1809 or 1810, in Maine; one on-line source says she was the daughter of Ambrose and Mary Sewall) and seven children.

The other family included William Seco, Jr., age 30, his wife Elizabeth, age 27, and living with them seven-year-old Anna Talbot.

William, Sr., and Almira were married in December 1825 or thereabouts. An on-line source says he died Sept. 5, 1866, and she died March 23, 1879; both are buried in the Seco cemetery.

Fifteen Seco children are listed, born between about 1827 and 1850. William W. (the one who was still in China in 1860) was the third child/second son, born about 1830, in Waterville, died after 1879 in Michigan.

The oldest son was Charles L., born March 18, 1830, in Fairfield, and died about July 12, 1916, in Winslow; his grave is in Winslow’s Fort Hill cemetery. His first wife was Eliza Sewall, whom he married in Boston in 1852; his second wife was Olive E. Williams, whom he married in 1865 in Winslow.

Hiram was William and Almira’s fifth son, born about 1838. A 2015 story from the Bangor Daily News, found on line, says Hiram was described as a blacksmith in the 1850 census (though if the birthdate is anywhere near right, he would have been a very young blacksmith). Most of the other adult males were listed as farmers, the article says.

On March 29, 1863, Hiram Seco and Lydia Perkins were married in Gardiner. Lydia was born, in Brunswick, on March 18, 1838. The couple had five children, born between about 1865 and 1873; they named their sons Hiram, William and George and their daughters Lydia and Mary, in honor of older family members.

Lydia Seco (the mother) died Oct. 24, 1901, and is buried in Brunswick. Hiram died sometime after 1910, probably in Brunswick, and is the only one of William and Almira’s children specifically listed as buried in the Seco cemetery.

George W., William and Almira’s sixth son, was born, in Waterville, in May 1841. He apparently spent his life in China, because the newspaper article quotes a China town report: George Seco, widower, age 67, died Feb. 17, 1909, “and was buried in a private cemetery in the town.” Also buried in a private cemetery was four-month-old Alton W. Seco, who died Aug. 2, 1904. This “private cemetery” might well have been the Seco cemetery.

Ellis Island and Castle Island

April 17 has been designated National Ellis Island Family History Day. The web explains that the designation “encourages families to explore their ancestry and discover family who immigrated through Ellis Island,” which was the busiest point of entry into the United States from 1892 until 1924.

During those years, the website says, about 12 million immigrants came into the country through Ellis Island. One million arrived in 1907 alone; on April 17, 1907, the center processed 11,747 people, the busiest day on record.

After the first world war, the web says, the United States established consulates all over the world. One of their functions was to process immigrants, so Ellis Island was no longer essential. After 1924, the web says, the facility became a detention center for illegal immigrants, then a World War II military hospital and a later a training center for the Coast Guard.

Apparently there was a residual immigration center there, too, because the web says the last immigrant was processed on Nov. 12, 1954, the day the federal government closed Ellis Island. He is identified as “a Norwegian merchant seaman named Arne Peterssen.”

New York’s first immigration processing center was Castle Island, which was jointly run by New York City and New York State from August 3, 1855, to April 18, 1890. Some 11 million immigrants are recorded as coming through Castle Island.

When the federal government took control of immigration in 1890, Castle Island center closed. The web says a temporary site at the U. S. Barge Office “on the eastern edge of The Battery waterfront” was used while the federal Office of Immigration built the Ellis Island center.

The web lists castlegarden.org and ellisisland.org as on-line resources for lists of names and other information from each center.