Page 17 - WCM 2021 Winter
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 Pride in their rich heritage is the inspiration behind many Maine residents’ search for their ancestors’ tales. Old tintypes, photographs, letters, awards, and newspaper articles fill notebooks with an abundance of fascinating history important to both families and local historical societies. Some folks in Maine have been collecting and writing their family histories from generation to generation, and it’s evident in
the excellent records they have produced. You can get some ideas for your own family history from the following three western Maine residents who have traced their heritage in Maine back to their seventh generation. I visited with three residents of Byron, Canton, and Hanover, each with families that con- tributed to the early settling of Western Maine.
Irene Hutchinson, along with her sister Judy Boucher, of Byron have been working on their family history for many years, and are currently writing a book about Byron. Doug Hutchinson, Irene’s late husband, wrote The Rumford Falls and Rangeley Lakes Railroad in 1989, and it contains all manner of correspondence, shipping lists, and telegrams related to the railroad’s existence. Irene has lived all her life in Byron, is a long- time member of the Byron Historical Society, and has always recognized the need to document family his- tory. While I was sitting in her kitchen, Irene shared notebooks full of photographs and stories about her ancestors, their lives, and events where they were pres- ent. One of her ancestors is Civil War Medal of Honor
recipient Captain Augustus Merrill, born in Byron
on October 4, 1843. While serving with Company B of the 1st Maine Veteran Infantry, at only 22 years of age, he was involved in a military action at Petersburg, Virginia that resulted in the honor being bestowed on February 4, 1865. The citation reads, “With six men, captured 69 Confederate prisoners and recaptured several soldiers who had fallen into the enemy’s hands.” That’s only one of many stories they have assembled to share with future generations and others in the town.
The Town of Canton was home to Simon Coolidge, the seventh great-grandfather of Nelson Coolidge
of Dixfield. Simon was born in 1741 in Watertown, Massachusetts and served as a Minuteman during the Revolutionary War. Following the war he was awarded a land grant in Maine, which was part of
the Massachusetts Bay Colony at that time. Simon fought against the British during the Revolutionary War at Cambridge, Massachusetts. His older brother, Joseph, was killed on April 19, 1775 as he led a com- pany of men to Lexington. After his move to Maine in the late 1700s, he became the first settler in an area known as Phipps Canada, later to become Canton. Simon lived a quiet life there with his wife Mary and their three youngest children: daughters Mary and Hepzibah, and their son Moses. It is believed that Simon’s unmarked grave is in the Old Burying Place, along with other early settlers, located on Canton Mountain. Nelson Coolidge saw the cemetery many
Judith Hayes

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