Lamoine is an affordable place to stay while exploring Acadia and getting some serious ancestor research done. Like in many historic towns in New England, the nearby Ellsworth, Mount Desert, Bar Harbor & Southwest Harbor Libraries are stocked with tons of material covering family history. Local Historical Societies are ready to help. Researching my family history has become a passion in the past year, and I’ve made great progress. That’s fourth great grandma Sarah Root on the left (you could say I’ve been finding my Roots). Much history can be revealed when you simply read the census reports of your ancestors. If they were farmers (almost everyone before 1880!) you will notice huge families, unrelated farm help and often early mortality, especially infants and young mothers. I have one great great granduncle who had 18 kids with two wives, the last one born after he died at 65! His name was Joseph Sterling Gillet, and I think just about every Kansas Gillet(te) is descended from him.
The other amazing part of tracing your family history is that if you can get back to colonial times, you will undoubtedly begin to find family connections to famous people of all eras. Civil War and Revolutionary War soldiers, actors, even presidents and their spouses are in my family tree and probably in yours if your people emigrated early enough. But the most startling revelation is that all these people survived, often against outrageous challenges, to give you life. All of us represent millions of years of evolutionary struggle and success. Maybe that’s why ggg grandfather John Hillman looked so tough.
While most of my ancestors came to the East Coast from England in the 17th and 18th centuries, John Hillman moved straight from Somerset, England to Farley, Iowa, arriving in November of 1848, at the age of 55. He was disgusted with the English system of tenant farming and was resentful of the fact that he was obliged to pay rent to the Church of England, the landlord. He bought 160 acres of land about 4 miles north of Farley for $1.25 an acre and farmed again for many years. Soon his 4 sons who made the trip with him were established on farms in the vicinity, the daughters were all married and on nearby farms with farmer husbands. One of his four sons, Albert Luke, moved to Michigan. His daughter married my great grandfather Rev. George Gillett, who had recently moved from New York and sooner or later I was born.
Maine is a great place to search for family history if your ancestors ever lived here. The first European settlers arrived in the early 1600’s to tap the rich fishing grounds and timber resources. By the 1760’s the Midcoast was settled and soon after, Ellsworth and Lamoine. Acadia has a slightly different story. While permanent settlements came later, many islands along the coast had been visited by european fishing fleets for centuries. They came to collect rocks for ballast, trade with Native Americans and dry their catch in the summer sun. But this is a subject for a future post…