Tuesday, June 21, 2016


                The baptism of Hannah has always played a huge part in the tradition of the Carter family.  As previously stated there is only one known contemporary account of this event thanks to the then 15 year old Eliza Ann Carter Snow’s short journal.  It seems inexplicable that with 11 living family members (not counting spouses of the children) there would only be one account of this event.   The fact is we have one account to draw on.

                Questions arise – most that will never be answered - surrounding this day and event:
1.       What illness did Hannah suffer that brought her neigh unto death?
2.       How did the missionaries just happen to show up at her door – was it inspiration or had someone else sent them (such as Dominicus?)
3.       Who was present that day?  Were the married children around?  Did the married children even know about their mother being so sick?
4.       Was their house a half mile from the Bear River?

I have my opinions about each of the above questions but really #4 is the only question that can really be addressed with a definitive answer.  The ability to test this came with two “finds.”  The first a plot map of Newry showing where the various properties in Newry were located.  Secondly, I attended a class taught by Lisa Louise Cooke on using Google Earth.

When the decision to first settle Newry, Maine was made the orderly New Englanders divided up the land of this new community into rectangular lots consisting of about 100 acres each.  These lots were laid out in rows that ran from southwest to northeast.  These rows were called ranges.  The reference point for all this subdividing appears to be the point that the Bear Riven flowed into the  Androscoggin River. There was an east and west set of ranges based on which side of the Bear River they were  located.   Lot one of the eastern Range one was found on the north side of the Androscoggin River and east of the Bear River where they met.  The lots were sequentially numbered as they fanned out to the east.  There was a western range of lots that repeated this process starting with Lot one near the Bear River and sequentially increasing as they approached the Sunday River to the west.

Newry Maine 1805-1955 by Carrie Wight
John’s lots were in the eastern ranges.  His first purchase was Lots 2, 3 and part of 14 in Range 3.  Later he bought the south half of Lot 1 in Range 3.  This second purchase assured John of a minor contact with the Bear River on his property.   I was able to visualize all of this thanks to the book Newry Maine 1805 – 1955 by Carrie Wight where she published the Newry plot map.   With this information at my fingertips, it took a fortuitous attendance at a genealogy seminar class to bring this information to life.

 Several years ago I attended a seminar in northern Utah where Lisa Louise Cooke taught a class on “Google Earth for Genealogy.”  In this class she taught us how to take a map (like the Newry map) and overlay it on Google Earth so you could find in the present day where a property would be located.  This requires overlaying the map on Google Earth then manipulating it until to fits the contours of Google Earth.

The result – which is shown below – establishes that the middle of Lot 2 in Range 3 would be exactly a half mile from the Bear River.  Essentially this verifies that part Elia Ann’s account of her mother’s baptism.

In the summer of 2015 my wife and spent two weeks in New England.  As part of this trip we drove to Newry and, using the geo coordinates from Google Earth we were able to locate the approximate location of John Carter’s property.  It felt special to be standing along the side of the highway and knowing that Hannah walked along in this very place as she went to the Bear River to be baptized.

(This is 119 Bear River Road today.  According to the geocode coordinates this would have been where the portion of John's half of Lot 1 Range 3 was located.  The top picture is pointed towards the Bear River which is in the gully but not visible.  The lower picture faces east towards where the Carter home would have been on back in the woods.)

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