Lincoln County News | Newcastle, ME
Saturday, January 24, 2015 Serving Maine and Lincoln County for over a century. Volume 140 Issue 04

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7/24/2013 2:00:00 PM
Nobleboro Cemeteries
Joseph Benner died Aug. 20, 1884, and the funeral service was held two days later. He was buried in the small family cemetery located on his property near his three youngest children. His wife Mary passed away in 1885 and was buried next to him. (Laurie McBurnie photo)
Joseph Benner died Aug. 20, 1884, and the funeral service was held two days later. He was buried in the small family cemetery located on his property near his three youngest children. His wife Mary passed away in 1885 and was buried next to him. (Laurie McBurnie photo)
Compiled by Laurie McBurnie


Benner Cemetery, GR-113A
The Benner Cemetery, GR-113A, is located off the east side of Upper East Pond Road just north of the intersection with Upper East Pond Road on land that, according to the 1857 town map, was the location of the Jos. Benner home.

The cemetery is located along the side of a back field, a distance from the house. It is surrounded by a low rock wall and is presently overgrown with bushes and saplings. Of the five headstones, two have broken from their bases and lie on the ground. One of those standing shows signs of previous repair while the other two need straightening.

Joseph Benner Sr., 1795-1884 (89 yrs.), was a son of early settlers Mathias and Catherine Benner (GR-30A). Joseph, their ninth child, was the first to be born at the family homestead on Old County Road. Joseph settled in North Nobleboro with his wife Mary B. (Vinal), 1807-1885 (78 yrs.). They had 10 children, but since they were born between 1828 and 1852, it doubtful that they all lived in the same house at the same time.

In the fall of 1864, between Oct. 25 and Nov. 25, an epidemic, reportedly black diphtheria, took the lives of their three youngest children, Marcia D., b. 1848 (16 yrs.); Francis T., b. 1852 (12 yrs.); and Myrick A., b. 1845 (19 yrs.).

The following summer, an epidemic claimed two young cousins, Mary O., b. 1861 (4 yrs.), and Carrie E., b. 1863 (2 yrs.), children of brother Joseph Jr. and wife Martha (Light).

These young girls are buried with their parents in the Light Cemetery, GR-118, in North Nobleboro. This is the same time period when epidemic took the lives of most members of the Francis Jones family who also lived in this area.

Diphtheria is a contagious upper respiratory tract infection, usually affecting the nose and throat. The throat infection causes a thick membrane, often gray or black, to form which can block the airways. Fortunately vaccines now protect most people from the disease, but widespread outbreaks, especially among children, were not uncommon before.

In the Feb. 2, 2006 edition of The Lincoln County News, George Dow wrote of the obituary of Joseph Benner and an article reporting the death of Mary Benner that the Nobleboro Historical Society had received. These items also reveal customs of that time period.

When Joseph passed away at age 89, he had been bedridden for four years as a result of a serious fall while working on his barn. The obituary stated, "His funeral took place at the house, on August 22, a large assembly being present."

Dow reminded his readers that in 1884 the custom was to hold the service at one's home, not a church or funeral home. The obituary noted that Joseph "leaves an aged companion in feeble health, and a large family of sons and daughters."

The 'aged companion' was his wife Mary who passed away the following year: "Mrs. Mary A. Benner, relict of the late Joseph Benner, died at her home in Nobleboro in her 78th year. She had been confined to the house for many months, but retained the use of her mental powers until within a few days of her death."

The terminology used is certainly different than it is today. Both elderly Benners remained in their home until their deaths. Their son Edwin also lived there and cared for them. Nursing homes as we know them today did not exist.

The Benners were devoted members of the Second Nobleboro Baptist Church (now North Nobleboro Baptist), located not far from their home. In fact, Edwin was a deacon in the church. Joseph's obituary mentions he served for a short time during the War of 1812. Sons Joseph Jr. and Edwin both served during the Civil War.

The information in this column was researched by the late George F. Dow, Nobleboro Town Historian, and recorded in his cemetery notebook, which is kept on file at the Nobleboro Historical Society building, and compiled by Laurie McBurnie, a member of the Nobleboro Cemetery Committee.

Members of the Cemetery Committee have updated Dow's original descriptions and directions. Additional information has also been taken from "Old Bristol and Nobleboro, Maine Vital Records" (also one of Dow's sources) as well as Dow's two Nobleboro history books.

As the vast majority of Nobleboro's 85 cemeteries are located on private property, specific directions will not be included in this column out of respect to the landowners. If an individual would like information as to the location of a cemetery, for family or historical purposes, please contact either the Nobleboro Cemetery Committee (L. McBurnie, laurie_m@tidewater.net, 563-5347) or the Nobleboro Historical Society (Mary Sheldon, 563-5376).




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