Permelia, Felicia and Carey Stuart, Lives Cut Short

Meddybemps, Maine is and always has been a small town in Washington County, Maine, not far from Calais and the Canadian border.

My Stewart, later spelled Stuart, family settled next door in Charlotte by 1820. Before the Civil War, my 2x great grandparents, Charles and Elida Hicks Stewart moved to Meddybemps. They were one of the first families I researched because my grandfather, Vernon Tarbox Adams,  was their grandson and my grandmother could tell me about them.

However, there was something important about the family that she didn’t know, nor would I ever discover from vital records (which weren’t kept at that time in that town) or family Bible (which, if they owned has not survived) or from census records because two of the three children were born and died in between census years. The only place I would learn about these little children was in the Meddybemps Cemetery.

According to the 1860 census, Charles and Elida were parents of three children: Wallace, Harry and Melissa. By 1870, they were the parents of four children: Wallace, Harry, Melissa and William. In 1880, they had one more child, daughter Annie Maude, born in 1874. Gaps in the birth years of their children was a clue that some might have died young.

Dave and I visited there about 1981 and this is what we found in the Stuart family plot:

Meddybemps Headstones 1
Carey M., Felicia M. and Permelia M. “Stuard”

It must have been heartbreaking for Charles and Elida to lose their second child and first born daughter, Permelia M. on 22 June 1854 when she was an eighteen month old toddler. I have not found any family record of her cause of death.

Elida was six months pregnant at the time and, in September 1854, she gave birth to Felicia M. However, on 22 August 1861, Felicia died not having quite reached her 7th birthday. Again, no family record of cause of death has been found. Little Felicia was buried next to her infant sibling Permelia, who had died just before Felicia’s own birth.

Son Carey M. was born in November 1866, but died on 18 February 1869, at the age of two years and three months. He was buried next to his two young sisters.

No other gravestones have been found for Permelia and Felicia. Apparently, their burial spots were known to their parents, but if they had been marked, the original stones have been removed. The Stuart family wasn’t wealthy and I doubt that their young daughters had anything except perhaps rocks to mark their burial places.

However, when son Carey also died, Charles and Elida had a somewhat unusual gravestone made as the stone is shaped to look like three grave markers, but is, in fact, one piece of stone shared by the children.

If not for this headstone, Permelia and Carey would have been lost to history. Only Felicia lived to be enumerated in a census.

I wish I knew more about these children, but there is no one left who knows.

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