Maine’s outsized role in Civil War reflected in MDI burial grounds – 7th in a series …

Department of Corrections and Amplifications:

Some very knowledgeable sources corrected the following post. It seems the solider mentioned was buried in Virginia.

Here is Brian Bouchard of the Maine Old Cemetery Association: “I know this wasn’t the original intent of your post, but I thought you might find this interesting. Robert B. Higgins… although he has a memorial stone on MDI, he is actually buried in Richmond National Cemetery. I’m not sure where the “Salam Church” comes from on his MDI stone. His military records indicate he died at Bethesda Church after fighting in the Battle of Totopotomoy Creek. Another interesting “fun fact” about Robert is that his brother, Edwin Higgins (my ancestor), was fighting about 5 miles away the day he died. I did a talk about this family’s Civil War service (3 men fought – 2 returned) for the Tremont Historical Society a few years ago.

“The topic was this Higgins family who were from MDI and sent 3 men into the war … I did quite a bit of research into this family and Robert. his brother Edwin is my 4th great grandfather. Edwin’s son, also named Robert, is my third great grandfather – and he lived much of his life in Tremont, which is how I got connected with Tremont in my own research.

Another member of the Association, Cheryl Willis Patten, wrote that Higgins’s headstone is actually a “cenotaph – a tomblike monument to someone buried elsewhere, especially one commemorating people who died in a war. Families put up a stone – even though the soldier – or those lost at sea or .. were not actually buried in the local cemetery.”

It’s great to be corrected by experts. Here was the original post …


TOWN HILL, Nov. 28, 2020 – Robert B. Higgins’s broken headstone is barely legible today (see photo). He died on June 1, probably in 1864 after his regiment fought a battle May 29-30 in Hanover County, Va., just north of Richmond. The headstone said he died in “Salam Church, Va.” which might have been a misspelling. He was the son of Capt. Joseph M. and Eunice H. Higgins. He was 19-years-old.

Abolutionist fervor in Maine during the Civil War was so intense that it sent 80,000 soldiers and sailors to fight – a higher proportion to its population than any Union state. A stroll through the Mountain View Cemetery here underscores that.

There are at least eight Civil War soldiers buried here, according to Tim Garrity, retiring Mount Desert Historical Society’s historian. Half of them served in the First Maine Heavy Artillery Regiment, which suffered more casualties in a single day of fighting than any Union regiment during the entire war, in the so-called Siege of Petersburg, when the Union Army was trying to cut off Confederate supplies.

On June 18, 1864, Col. Daniel Chaplin, a merchant from Bangor, ordered an ill-advised charge across an open field toward Confederate defenses resulting in seven dead officers and 108 men killed, and another 25 officers and 464 men wounded. These casualties constituted 67 percent of the 900-man force. Chaplin survived the action but was later killed by a sharpshooter.


A beautifully written account By Tim Garrity on the charge at Petersburg called “All the Island Boys are gone,” may be accessed here –

Among those in the First Maine Heavy Artillery killed that day was George Kittridge, who is buried here. He was 23. Two other local Mainers, Stillman H. Smith (see photo), 20, son of Reuben and Lois Smith, died four days after the charge in Petersburg from his wounds; and his older brother, Reuben Smith Jr., 24, died a month later.

A month earlier the Maine regiment saw its first action and suffered heavy casualties at the Battle of Spotsylvania – six officers dead and 76 enlisted men killed. One was MDI native Elliot J. Salisbury, son of Reuben S. and Lydia H., who died in a Washington, D.C. hospital on May 31, 1964 from wounds suffered in the battle.

Eben F. Burns was the lone First Maine Heavy Artillery soldier buried at Mountain View who survived the charge at Petersburg. He lived to Age 67 and died in 1911.

The other Civil War soldiers buried here are:
Melvin G. Joy (husband of Maria W.) who died on Sept. 8, 1915 at Age 89. He was a member of Co. D, 22nd Maine Regiment.
Sylvester B. Richardson, 19, (son of Capt. Eben and Jane) who was killed on Sept. 17, 1862, at Antietam.

The haunting memories of the Civil War dead lends the air a heaviness over what already is a somber tableau. The cemetery rests on a hill cleaved aside the north-south highway which bisects the island. The view of the mountains appears permanent and without obstruction, except a few utility poles and wires.

This is a big cemetery, cared for by the West End Village Improvement Society. The names of the dead take up 20 full pages of Thomas F. Vining’s catalog of MDI cemeteries. The familiar Quietside families are all represented: Higgins, Hadley, Emery, Hamor, Knowles, Mayo, Richards, Richardson, Salisbury, Thomas …

Vining has a curious reference to an African-American family buried here, starting with the patriarch, Capt. Frederick Allen. From “When Frederic Allen was born in 1813 in Pennsylvania, his father, Juan, was 33 and his mother, Canelie, was 23. He married Climenia Higgins in Hancock, Maine. They had 12 children in 23 years. He died on October 30, 1885, in Bar Harbor, Maine, at the age of 72, and was buried there.”

Vining wrote that the following Allen family members are buried here.:

Charles D. (husb. of Julia E.) – b. 1867; d. 25 October 1940
Climenia (wife of Capt. Frederick) – [no dates]
Delmon [son of Capt. Frederick and Climenia?] – d. 15 October 1875, Havana, Cuba, Æ22y.
Flora B. (wife of Harvey F.) – b. 1867 d. 1951
Frederick (Capt.; husb. of Climenia) – d. 30 October 1885 Æ 72 y. Harvey F. (husb. of Flora B.) – b. 1863; d. 1901
Julia E. (wife of Charles D.) – b. 1859; d. 1 February 1944

But according to Eben M. Hamor’s 1908 notes published in The Bar Harbor Times in 1915, “There is a gravestone for Frederick Allen in Mountain View Cemetery. He was, however, originally buried ‘in his field on Spruce Point.’ “

The MDI Historical Society also has the following documentation of age and year for the Allen family:

Frederick Allen38485867dead
Climenia ([…]) Allen26364555??
    Edward W. Allen81827married and living in separate household
    Emily F. Allen61625[living? in separate household]
    Elvira E. Allen4142333
[see note below]
    Annette C. Allen21221living in separate household
    George D. Allen6 m.1020[living? in separate household]
    Delmon Allen717dead
    Frederick [H. or A.?] Allen515[living? in separate household]
    Mary H. Allen31328 [sic]??
    Ivory W. Allen1121??
    Harvey S. Allen919??
    Cora E. Allen716??
    Charles D. Allen312??

According to the 1881 Colby Atlas, a house for “F. Allen” was located at “Negro Point”… Just north of that point, but on the same broad peninsula, was the label “Spruce Pt.”

Unfortunately, there is not a lot of information about the Allen family. A more robust history of famous African-Americans on the island and in Schoodic was published in 2017 …

Town Hill village society seeking to restore federated church ..

TOWN HILL, Nov. 28, 2020 – Members of the Town Hill Village Improvement Society are raising funds to restore the federated church at 1901 Crooked Road.

The attached flyer is being circulated:

The church has been in disuse. The roof leaked, the basement is flooded and there is significant damage to the wood inside. The building has no heat.

One of the organizers, Diane L. Vreeland, posted on Facebook, “I am thankful for all of you who have already given. It is very motivational. Every amount counts and it truly is an historic building with stained glass. If you lived close by you would have heard the beautiful bell ring. I couldn’t help myself.”

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