I am always on the lookout for orphan photos for sale online that can be returned to descendants of the people depicted in them.
I was really excited when I came across the photograph of J.S. Bridges of Meddybemps, Washington, Maine, as I have ancestors who not only lived there in the 1800s, but my great grandmother’s niece married into this family!
John Stillman Bridges was born about April 1830 in Charlotte, Washington, Maine, the son of John Bridges and Mary Prescott.
Several Bridges families settled in Charlotte by 1810 when it was called Plantation #3. Given that Charlotte was and still is a very small village, it is likely that all the Bridges families were related.
John and Mary married sometime around 1830, but no record has been found. John Stillman Bridges was their firstborn child and his birth year varies from 1830 to 1832. However, early census records indicate a birth year about 1830.
Knowing the history of an area is important because, when browsing the records, it appears John and Mary moved from Charlotte to the town next door, Meddybemps, sometime between 1840 and 1850.
However, Meddybemps was incorporated as a town on 20 February 1841 and was formed from parts of Charlotte, Cooper and Baring. My Stewart ancestors were neighbors and their new town of residence was also Meddybemps.
John and Mary (Prescott) Bridges were the parents of eight known children:
1. John Stillman, born c1830; died 16 August 1914; married Sarah Amanda Gardner
2. Mary Ellen, born c1834; married Noah Conant
3. Isaac N., born c1837; died before 27 June 1864 in the Civil War
4. Sarah E., born c1839; died after 1860; possibly the Sarah E. Leighton who married Alvah W(illiam) Leighton on 21 December 1875 in Eastport, Washington, Maine. He resided in Pembroke and she in Lawrence, Essex, Massachusetts. They were at home in 1880 in Pembroke, no children. Alvah remarried in 1905 and the record said he had been married and divorced once before. Sarah hasn’t been found in 1900, but she apparently had no children.
5. David Edwin, born c1842; died 20 September 1929, Nevada County, California; married Annie F. Hepler; served in the same unit as Isaac during the Civil War – Company H, 47 Massachusetts Infantry. By 1880, he was a stone cutter in Nevada City, California and spent the rest of his life there.
6. Benjamin Frank, born c1846; died 21 June 1915; married Cora D. Damon
7. Anna L., born c1848; died 1932, Jackman, Somerset, Maine; never married
8. Eva M., born c1852; died after 1870 when she lived at home in Meddybemps with her mother.
John Bridges died on 26 August 1858 in Meddybemps and is buried there at Green Hill Cemetery. Mary applied for a Civil War pension as the mother of Isaac in 1864, as she likely needed the money, being widowed. Mary survived John by many years, passing away on 20 February 1889 in Meddybemps.
Back to the story of John Stillman Bridges and Sarah Amanda Gardner. In 1850, John was an unmarried 18 year old still living at home. By 1860, he was a newlywed with not only Sarah at home with him, but he was enumerated as the head of a household with his widowed mother and all his other siblings, who were unmarried.
The family still lived in Meddybemps and it seems likely that the family lived on land owned by John Sr. and Mary. Given that John Stillman and Sarah spent their whole lives in Meddybemps, it is also possible that the photo above is of the land that had been in their family for almost 100 years!
John Stillman and Sarah Bridges were the parents of seven children:
1. Leone M., born 1861; died 1862
2. Ada L., born 1863; died 1865
3. John N., born November 1866; died 1 January 1919, Bangor, Penobscot, Maine; married Addie M. Chubbick, c1880, but divorced before 1900. They had at least one daughter and possibly two daughters and a son. However, only daughter Annie Belle, born 4 February 1881, who married Ralph Waldo Bean lived to marry and have children. Ralph and Annie were the parents of three sons and three daughters.
4. William Oscar, born May 1870; died 1941, Arlington, Massachusetts; married Caroline V. Shelly, 25 December 1892, Cambridge, Massachusetts. William and Caroline were the parents of one daughter and two sons.
5. Frederick Raymond, born 19 December 1876; died 27 October 1951, Massachusetts; married Mabel Louise White, 7 December 1905, Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts. They had no children.
6. Mary Leta, born 23 April 1879; died 4 February 1967, Springfield, Penobscot, Maine; married Frank Reed Shephard, 4 March 1899, Charlotte, Washington, Maine. They were the parents of four sons.
7. George Edwin, born 7 February 1885; died 31 August 1966, Providence, Providence, Rhode Island; married Ina Mae Stuart, 23 October 1912, Calais, Washington, Maine. George and Ina had no children of their own, but adopted an orphaned Stuart nephew. Ina Mae Stuart was the daughter of Harry Weston Stuart and Nancy Gilman Aldrich, also of Meddybemps. She was also the niece of my great grandmother, Annie Maude (Stuart) Adams (1874-1940).
Therefore, of these seven children, only three have descendants today – John N., William Oscar and Mary Leta.
Because these are 20th and 21st century families, no further details will be included here. However, this 1908 photo postcard of John Stillman and Sarah Amanda (Gardner) Bridges is going home to a great grandchild. 🙂