Tag Archives: Meddybemps ME

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.

Life of Elida Hicks Stuart in late 1800’s Meddybemps

Last year, I took the lazy way out and just posted some jpgs of a biography written about the daily life of my 2x great grandmother. Recently, I read a post from a blogger who wished that more journal and diary entries could be shared by bloggers because they are a resource that is difficult to find for most families. I don’t have any long journals or diaries, but I do have that one biography.

I decided that I had done a disservice to Bertha Stuart Eldridge, who wrote about the daily life of her grandmother, and my 2x great grandmother, Elida A. Hicks Stuart. Bertha passed away at the advanced age of 95 years in 1987, but she had written this short biography many years before that and shared a copy of it with me.

If you have roots in the Calais, Maine area and your family lived outside of the “city” in the late 1800’s, this is probably an excellent reflection about your ancestors, too.

The Biography of Elida Stuart – Grandmother

I have promised for a long time to write about what a remarkable and inspirational character my grandmother, Elida Stuart, was. I lived with her from age 22 months to 5 years when I had to return to my own big family to start school. Considering my tender age I must have been very observant and possessed an almost photographic memory, for to this day I can see her performing the thousand and one tasks that were demanded of a farmer’s wife.

After the cows were milked, I can see her pouring milk into shallow pans and putting them on open shelves in the cellar. Cream would rise to the top overnight which she would skim off and place in cans in the spring house, where it would keep sweet and clean ready for her to churn into butter in a day or so. The spring house was a bubbling icy cold spring housed over to serve as a refrigerator for dairy products. The skim milk was fed to hogs and even chickens and some was put way on the back of the iron cook stove where in time, it became curds and whey.

To get farm products ready to take to market, there would be a chicken killing day. Somehow it didn’t bother me a bit to watch Grammie cut off the heads of the chickens and hang them upside down on the outside shed door to bleed. Next she would plunge them into boiling water to loosen the feathers and pluck them clean as a whistle. With the chickens killed, she would have butter, eggs, and chickens to take to market to exchange for tea, coffee, sugar and flour.

I mustn’t forget the soap making day. She had a big iron kettle like a cannibal kettle under which she would build a fire outdoors. Into it she would put dryed (sic) out fats she had saved for months. She added lye in the right proportion and boiled it all to the exact minute. This boiling concoction was ladled into pans spread out on the ground to cool and I was cautioned to keep strictly away from them. When the pans of fat had congealed to the precise stage, they were cut into bars and put away for drying to be used through the year for washing clothes and for hard cleaning.

Some months in the Fall, there was the apple drying ritual to have apples all ready to make pies and other recipes. Apples were pared, cored and cut into eighths. They were then strung on strings and stretched clear across the kitchen ceiling out of the way. Apples that would ordinarily rot before getting used were preserved in this fashion.

I used to look forward to the huge kettle of hulled corn she would make. For this she used the big kernels of corn usually fed to horses and cows. This corn was cooked all day with a bag of wood ashes. The lye in the ashes softened the hulls so they would rub right off between the hands.

Then there was jelly and preserves to be put up. the berries needed were all at hand: strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries, currants, etc.

She was the family doctor and short trips were made into the pasture and fields gathering herbs to be dried for winter colds, rheumatism and sprains. I can so well remember seeing her gather mullen, pennyroyal, tansy, checkerberry, etc., bringing them home and placing them close to the brick chimney in the attic to slowly dry. On hand, there were cans of lamb tallow for sore chapped hands, goose grease to rub on for chest colds, and believe it or not, bear grease perfumed to use on hair and scalp.

When Fall came, it was hog killing time and she was fit and ready to undertake the task of making use of every part of the hog. She would smoke hams, make hogshead cheese, pickle the feet and even the curly tail was put in the grate in front of the stove to get all crisp and tasty for me. That left only the squeal and with that she could do nothing.

In spite of all this hard work, Grammie was a lady. She took great pride in her slender form and her narrow shapely feet and hands. Every night, her hair in the front was woven on large hairpins and in the morning she had waves resembling marcel waves.

Each week an afternoon was reserved for visiting. She would be dressed in her best dress and there were lace mitts to finish off the wardrobe. There was an open carriage, a dressy robe and a driving horse just cleaned and curried out of this world. I almost never was taken into the house she was visiting but would sit in the wagon and wait. The flies would drive the horse and me almost crazy.

She loved to read – not classics, but good old rousing love stories which she said rested her after a hard day’s work. She would often sit up most all night reading.

I suppose I might include here how she was left alone to manage that huge amount of farm work. On stormy days when there was no outside work to do, the men folk would work in the barn mending wagons and harnesses. On this particular rainy day, Grandpa came in from the barn to lie down saying he didn’t feel good. Pretty soon, he made another try and went out again. In a short time, he was in again and while approaching the couch, fell dead on the kitchen floor. I was just little and didn’t realize the enormity of it but I can remember Grammie half-lifting, half-dragging him to the couch. She tried to revive him by pouring liquor down his throat, but all to no avail. He was dead.

Well, a son, Uncle Will Stuart, came home and took over with her to run the farm and to my young mind, things went on as before. I can realize now what a blow that all must have been to Grammie. After a while, Uncle Will got married and another family of Stuarts was raised in the old farm house.

Elida Ann Hicks was born in 1833 in Buctouche, Kent, New Brunswick, Canada. At the age of 17, she married Charles Stuart, her first cousin, in Calais, Maine. They first lived in the next town over, Charlotte,  and even lived for a short time in nearby Princeton, but the “old farm house” was in Meddybemps. Charles was born on 1 July 1822 in Charlotte and the rainy day on which he died was 24 November 1894. Elida survived him by quite a few years, passing away in Calais on 20 February 1914.

Amanuensis Monday – Elida A. Stuart, et al. to Nancy G. Stuart, 9 July 1903

I treasure this land deed because it is an original created at the time of the event and it is signed by my great great grandmother, Elida A. Stuart, my great grandparents, Charles and Annie Maude (Stuart) Adams and Annie’s sister, Melissa Stuart Findley. Bertha Stuart Eldridge, daughter of Nancy G. Stuart, who gave it to me said it was just an old piece of paper and if I wanted it, I could have it! I couldn’t say YES fast enough.

ElidaHicksDeedTitlePageElida A. Stuart to Nancy G. Stuart, Warranty Deed

Know all Men by these Presents That we Elida A. Stuart, Annie M. Adams both of Calais in county of Washington and State of Maine and Melissa E. Findley of Boston in county of Suffolk and Commonwealth of Massachusetts in consideration of one dollar and other valuable consideration paid by Nancy G. Stuart of said Calais the receipt whereof we do hereby acknowledge, do hereby give, grant, bargain sell and convey unto the said Nancy G. Stuart her heirs and assigns forever, a certain lot or parcel of land in Charlotte in said Washington county containing three hundred acres more or less and bounded as follows, viz: Northerly by the town line between said Charlotte and Meddybemps easterly from said town line to Tom Meadow brook, so called, by the easterly line of lots number thirteen Ranges VIII and VII according to Putnam’s plan of survey southerly by said Tom Meadow Brook from said Easterly lot line to Denny’s river, westerly by Denny’s river from the mouth of the Brook to the town line before mentioned reserving the right to flow said land for river driving purposes wherever deemed necessary; also one other certain lot or parcel of land situated in Meddybemps containing two hundred forty acres more or less being the lots marked thirteen in the ninth range and number thirteen in the tenth range on the plan of the town of Charlotte bounded southerly by the South line of said Meddybemps; easterly by the lots number twelve in the ninth range and tenth ranges, on said Charlotte plan and westerly and northerly by Dennys river said lots having been  set off from the town of Charlotte to the town of Meddybemps; also one other lot or parcel of land, being a strip of land in said Charlotte running along the Meddybemps line and bounded on the North by Meddybemps line on the east by the county road, on the South by land of Otis L.B. Mahar and on the west by the Lincoln lot, so called and known as the

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Meadow land; also a right of way for teams and pedestrians twelve feet wide and running over what was known as the “Old Original Road” leading across the homestead lot from the county road to the Young lot above described and across said Young lot to the meadow lot so called said right of way being confined strictly to said old original road.

To have and to hold the aforegranted and bargained premised, with all the privileges and appurtenances thereof, to the said Nancy G. Stuart her heirs and assigns, to their use and behoof forever.

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 And we do covenant with the said Grantee, he heirs and assigns, that we are in lawfully seized in fee of the premises; that they are free from all incumbrances; that we have good right to sell and convey the same to the said Grantee to hold as aforesaid; and that we and our heirs, shall and will warrant and defend the same to the said Grantee, her heirs and assigns forever, against the lawful claims and demands of all persons.

In Witness Whereof, we the said Grantors and Charles E. Adams, husband of the said Annie M. Adams joining in this deed as Grantor, and relinquishing and conveying his rights by descent and all other rights in the above described premises, have hereunto set our hands  and seals this sixth day of April in the year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred and three.

Signed, Sealed and Delivered in Presence of: Chas.A. Feyhl and Reed V. Jewett to A.M.A., C.E.A., E.A.S.

Signed by:

Melissa E. Findley, first, followed by Annie M. Adams, Charles E. Adams, and Elida A. Stuart

Below is added:

State of Mass., Suffolk, ss. May 22, 1903. Personally appeared the above-named Melissa E. Findley and acknowledged the above instrument to be her free act and deed.

Before Me, Chas. A. Feyhl, Notary Public, Comm expired Apl 6, 1905

State of Maine, Washington, SS, May 29, 1903 Personally appeared the above named Annie M. Adams and Elida A. Stuart and acknowledged above instrument to be their free act and deed. Before me Reed V. Jewett, Justice of the Peace.

I learned something from this land deed. Charles Stuart, Elida’s husband, had passed away in November 1894. They are found in Maine census records between 1850 and 1880; it looked like they had moved from Charlotte to Meddybemps. However, this is Charles’ and Elida’s homestead being sold and the description notes that “said lots having been  set off from the town of Charlotte to the town of Meddybemps.” I don’t think they moved at all. The land became part of the town of Meddybemps and they lived on the town line.

This deed is interesting for another reason. It was sold to Nancy G. Stuart for the sum of one dollar. Nancy was the wife of Elida’s son, Harry Weston Stuart, who was alive and well at this time. I wonder why the land was sold to her and not to him? He wasn’t a spendthrift – he was actually a successful store owner. Also, Elida’s son, Wallace, died in 1881, but had a wife and son, has no mention of his heirs. If this was Charles’ land, why are they not mentioned? There was yet another son, William C. Stuart, who was not part of this deed conveyance either. Will Stuart and Wallace’s widow perhaps received some other compensation, but it still doesn’t answer why Harry wasn’t part of this transaction.