Thursday, April 18, 2013
Searching For a Seafaring Ancestor's Statue
My library subscribes to Ancestry Library Edition (ALE), which is available on our campus for patrons to use, either through our wireless network or on the library computers. A patron wished to locate a statue purported to stand "somewhere in Maine" that commemorated one of his maternal ancestors, who was a "famous sea captain." Nobody in the family knew his name, or the city in which he lived, or any further details.
After 15 minutes using ALE, tracing backwards along the patron's mother's family tree, I managed to narrow the search to three likely statue candidates, each of whom were captains/shipmasters who lived in Bangor, Maine.
I've yet to locate the statue, if it still exists (or ever existed, for that matter), but, thanks to the genealogical and historical databases at Ancestry.com, much progress was made. It's pretty cool to identify who in the patron's family might have been immortalized in bronze (or in whatever metal the supposed statue was crafted) or stone. This was simply family folklore for generations; now, perhaps, the statue will be found in fact.
I'm certain of this much: It's not Bangor's most famous statues (Paul Bunyan and Hannibal Hamlin, Lincoln's first vice president). Bangor's a large city, so this "sea captain's" statue could be tucked away in some park or other public space, if, again, it still exists (or ever existed). Perhaps it's not even in Bangor, but that's unlikely. Our patron's 19th century seafaring ancestors had deep roots in that town.
If we find the statue, and if our patron grants permission, I'll post a blog identifying the details.