Summer’s here! Don’t forget to write!

early 1900s postcard - Take a trip to Gardiner, Me. and forget your troubles

School is out; the weather’s warm; it’s time to hit the road, explore old (and new!) favorite places, and share your adventures and travels with friends and family.  Long before Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat, postcards were the way to drop a line and keep folks up to date.  We have a wonderful collection of Gardiner-themed postcards in our Community Archives Room.  Many of them depict scenes around town, but there are also quite a few that were more generic, novelty cards into which Anytown, USA, could be inserted — and Gardiner was not to be left out of the fun!

Here are some classics that recently entered our collection — Enjoy!  At just over 100 years old, these range from about 1900-1915.

early 1900s postcard - No Time to Write in Gardiner

early 1900s postcard - We are just as happy as can be in Gardiner, ME.

early 1900s postcard - Stirring times in Gardiner, Me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

early 1900s postcard - I'm tied up in Gardiner

early 1900s postcard - The girls snap you up quickly in Gardiner, ME. I was caught the moment I got here.

 

early 1900s postcard - When you are away from Gardiner, ME. Do you have another girl

 

 

 

 

 

 

And don’t forget,

If you’re in search of a happy home, come to Gardiner, Me., this is a classy spot!

early 1900s postcard - If you're in search of a happy home, come to Gardiner, ME. this is a classy spot

 

Happy Summer, everyone!!!

 

Following Clues to Restore an Historic Cemetery (more clues still needed!)

Have you recently noticed a “new” cemetery emerging on Dresden Avenue across from the Common?

What you are actually witnessing is the re-emergence of the oldest identifiable burial ground in Gardiner.  With stones dating back to 1791, the “Old Churchyard” actually takes us back to the days when Gardinerston was known as Pittston, Robert Hallowell Gardiner was just a boy, and Revolutionary War General Henry Dearborn lived where the library now stands.

St. Ann’s Church, between Christ Church and the Gardiner Lyceum, c. 1830. The burial ground contains stones dating back to 1791.

The churchyard was originally consecrated for those who worshiped at St. Ann’s, an Episcopal church established at the behest of Sylvester Gardiner and the first church built in the region.  The history of St. Ann’s, itself, is a colorful story…. including fires, a madman, and various re-buildings and alterations (stop by the Community Archives Room for a full account!)  Many of Gardiner’s earliest and most influential citizens had close ties to the church, as well as with it’s successor, Christ Church (built in 1820) — and many of them (and their loved ones) were laid to rest in the old churchyard.

The known graves in the churchyard span from 1791 to 1892, with most dating from about 1800 to the 1850s. By the end of the century, however, the old churchyard seemed largely forgotten; in 1890, the Gardiner Home Journal noted “One stone was so sunken that the only part visible was the top bearing an urn and weeping willow with the name “Capt. David Lincoln.”  By the turn of the following century, fewer than 10 stones were still standing.

Thanks to a few hardy volunteers (as well as hundreds of hours of labor and a fair amount of research), the churchyard is looking much different today.  Bill King, of Bath, had once photographed a row of his ancestors’ stones on a visit to Gardiner, but when he returned years later, he found stones downed, broken, and moved from their proper locations.  Thanks to only two photographs known to exist, he and Hank McIntyre have been able to re-place about two dozen stones to date.  A few more will be ready to return to their known spaces by next summer.

St. Ann's Churchyard and O.C. Woodman School, c. 1990
This is one of only two known photographs of the the churchyard before restoration. If you know of any others, please contact Dawn in the Community Archives Room!

However, many more stones remain and their proper locations are unknown.  In August, Ground Penetrating Radar identified 40 “anomalies,” or likely grave locations for which no stone was standing.  That number aligned with the list of graves known to exist in the early 1900s.  The exploration even turned up a long-buried (and perfectly preserved) headstone and footstone from 1814.

Ground-Pentrating Radar, summer 2017.
Ground-Penetrating Radar identified 40 “anomalies” in the churchyard.

A trove of over two dozen broken headstones (plus a dozen footstones) still await repair and eventual re-placement, but physical challenges are only part of the concern.

Some of the stones are in many pieces

 

Still others are incomplete

The greatest challenge remains linking the remaining stones to their proper locations.  Researching historical and genealogical records has helped to identify many family connections and relationships among the buried, but without any photographic clues it is difficult to know which stone belongs where.

The “planting” season is over for now and this winter will be busy with stone repair and research.  In the meantime, we still hope that someone, somewhere, might find an old photograph of the Old Churchyard (even if it’s in the background) before next summer.  After all, Maine winters are long and perfect for sifting through old photographs — and any clue might help!  If you do find something (or have questions), please contact Dawn at the library (582-6890 or archive@gpl.lib.me.us).

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An Archival Vacation…

No matter what you have planned (or what may already be planned for you)  you can always take an armchair vacation in the Archives!

Here are some pleasure-seeking snaps from our collection, because wanting to savor every ounce of summer is not just a modern thing here in Maine….

Whether boating or swimming…

Among close friends or with a crowd…

At a lake or on the ocean…

With your special someone or the whole family…

Playing hard or taking it easy…

Catching up on reading or staying ahead of the traffic…

Hitting the open road or plying the open water…

Taking a tour or guiding yourself…

Visiting landmarks or discovering your own…

Creating whimsy or seeking it out…

Appreciating the man-made or Mother Nature’s wonders…

Eating well or feeding your mind…

For an afternoon or overnight…

Planning ahead or taking it as it comes…

Seeking rural outposts or exploring the towns…

Whether on the move or in the comfort of your own armchair…

Enjoy every bit of summer!

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