52 Ancestors: Capt. Benjamin Morse Melcher #47

This week’s theme is “Thankful”

Copy of Rev. Ellis’s eulogy of George Washington on display at PHS

Back in August, I went on vacation to mid-coast Maine. Every time I go, I am amazed by how much of my mother’s family history is intertwined in some of the small towns there. The little cottage that my great-great Aunt had built is about one hundred years old now and I was able to spend a couple of nights by the water. In Brunswick, I visited the Pejepscot Historical Society to see a handwritten eulogy written by Rev. Jonathan Ellis. In Topsham’s Riverview Cemetery (still in use today!) where Rev. Ellis’s daughter Almira is buried, one of the caretakers of the cemetery stopped by while I was searching for the gravestone and offered to help.

One of the most amazing experiences I had while in Maine this year was visiting the Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport. My 3rd great-grandfather Benjamin Morse Melcher was a ship captain for much of his life and many items of his that were taken on or aquired through his voyages are in the Marine Museum’s collection.

Benjamin Morse Melcher was born in Brunswick, Maine in 1814 to Abner Melcher and Anne or Nancy Morse. He went on his first sea voyage at age 17, taking along with him a blanket his mother Nancy had woven for him. He took it to sea with him every time after.  The museum has two ship logs that he kept: one for a ship called Winnegance, and one called Brunswick.

Sometime around 1846, Benjamin married his first cousin Emeline Sylvester Morse. I do not have any marriage records, but according to the museum Benjamin purchased fabric in India for Emeline’s wedding dress and trousseau that year. The couple only had two children: Burdus Redford Melcher in 1848 and Emma Felicia Melcher in 1852. By 1880, Benjamin had retired from the sea and was called a farmer on that year’s census. He died in 1894 at the age of 79 and was buried in Growstown Cemetery in Brunswick.

I have so many things to be thankful for as a genealogist: for the people of Maine who work to preserve their history; for local museums and historical societies who make it available for us to see; for Capt. Benjamin Melcher’s Whittemore grandchildren, who donated their collection to the Penobscot Marine Museum after Emeline died; and to the archivists who carefully index items and wrap them in acid-free paper.

On this Giving Tuesday, you might consider donating to the Pejebscot Historical Society and/or the Penobscot Marine Museum – or your own local equivalent! If your children or grandchildren aren’t interested in your old family heirlooms or papers, contact your local society to see if they are interested. You never know when a distant relative might come along to appreciate them.

*All photos copyright 2018 by Deborah A Barber. Please credit me and the Penobscot Marine Museum to repost.

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