Sometimes it’s about what you don’t find.

Today I found myself in Portsmouth NH with some time to kill and I dropped i to the Portsmouth Athenæum to see if I could find anything relating to Captain Leonard Young (1814-1860.)


Leonard was born and lived a good portion of his life in Trenton, Hancock County, Maine – Right near Bar Harbor.  Between 1850 and 1855 he and his family moved to Dighton, Bristol County, Massachusetts – Just North of Fall River (and shortly after the death of his father.)  He is listed as a Mariner in the Census Records, as was his son.  One census lists him as a ‘Sea Captain’ even.  His gravestone titles him as Captain.


While I thought it may be a long shot, the Athenæum specializes in maritime records.  Portsmouth is not really that close to either, but it is a major port between the two.

The wonderful people at the Athenæum seemed to take this on as if it were a personal project of their own.  Two of the women there began to scurry in several directions once they learned of what I was seeking.  They new exactly where to look for any mention of Leonard.  Consulting Indexes, Tomes and the stacks and stacks of books they have in their collection.  These two could put Google out of business. The entire time they were firing out questions and results of other ‘Youngs’ but there were too many mismatches in dates and or places to even come close to thinking they were Leonard or related.

The long and short of it however was that they came up empty. Near the end of the search, one of the two ladies asked me if I knew if he sailed a Packet Ship as most of their Custom Records would be for overseas journies (via Galleon I would suspect.)

So in the end I learned that it was doubtful that he sailed into, or out of Portsmouth to ports over seas.

I am ok with that ‘nothing’ answer as sometimes it is just as important to rule something out.

My next step for this search will be a historical society further North I believe. They suggested Portland Maine as a start. The Bar Harbor area is a bit too far for a day trip. I may have another source to check in with too, but we will keep that one in the hat for now.


The Grave of Moses Noble – Part 1

Sue and I had a fantastic 19th anniversary while exploring the back roads of Berwick, Maine in search of her 5th Great Grandfather, Moses Noble.


While the photo above does give away the eventual outcome, it took us adventurers a couple of tries and a bit of research to find it.

Deb Sweeney (from had identified quite a while ago that Moses was buried off of Blackberry Hill Road in Berwick.  I believe the information was gleaned from a book written in 1922 – Burial Inscriptions of Berwick Maine compiled by Wilber D Spencer Page 34 (with a list of Cemetery #18 on page 8). [Link]

As it so happens, a few weeks back Sue and I found ourselves in the area and dug in with both feet to see what we could find.  I did try Google Street view for the road ahead of time to see what I could find but nothing stood out and of course, only half of the road was available.

Click Here to visit Google Maps.

We found Blackberry Hill road and drove its length. A few times. In some parts it is farmland while others woodland. It is about 4 miles in length total with a sharp turn at a crossroads at its center.

At the south end of it we did find a larger burial ground but no Moses (Just North of the Railroad Tracks). Cross referencing the names in it with those in Spencer’s book lists it as Clark Cemetery (Page 44). [Link to Find A Grave]

Other than that though, no sign of anything.  We opted to try another method of searching – something a bit outside of the box. I checked the area for local Geocaches.

What is a geocache you ask? It is a hidden container that people use GPS coordinates to find. They often times bring you to interesting places you would never have gone to in the first place. (Check out for more information. Caches have brought me near small pocket cemeteries before and as luck would have it, the one listed on Blackberry Hill road mentions nothing about a cemetery.

However… My app for it does not use Google maps but rather OpenMaps and low and behold… one of the roads at the aforementioned crossroads is listed not as Love Brook Road… but as Old Blackberry Hill Road! Score one for geocaching.

On our way to this road we found another small cemetery for the Grant family. I captured images of the markers and moved on.

Grant Family - Berwick Maine

Old Blackberry Hill Road (currently known as Love Brook Road) was in bad shape with a few homes scattered here and there. One caught my eye as I could see what looked like the remains of an old barn that could be very photogenic – but we moved on. By the time we reached the end it was nothing but thick woods with ATV trails on either side (that looked in better shape than the roads. Large no trespassing signs loomed to either side and we were dodging deep puddles and large boulders more than looking for signs of head stones. Did I mention the light rain we had all day?

At this point we were back at the crossroads as we had come in from the east and it was getting a bit late.

In the next installment we will visit the Historical Society, a homeowner along Blackberry Hill Road and review another search method to see if any of those leads pay off.

Episode 2 is Finally Here!

Join us on another great episode of Discovering Your Past!

In this episode, my wife Susan Young chats with Deb Sweeney from (and Episode 1,) about creating a research plan.

Then, I discuss some hints and tips for recording a family interview after I had a chance to sit down with my Mother, Claire Young.

We hope you enjoy!

Links Mentioned in this episode include:


Research Plans:

August 18, 1943 – Merton’s War Diary

August 18, 1943
Received mail dropped by parachute from airplane.

I am going to try to catch up on these – much like the mail.  I would imagine if he had received a letter from home that he might have mentioned it.  My Father would have been almost 12 years old at this point.  I wish I could ask him if he did ever write.

OA-10 Catalina on the ice in Greenland after a rescue.

OA-10 Catalina on the ice in Greenland after a rescue.

If you are interested in letters back and forth between a husband and wife, check out Deb Sweeney’s great book “Dear Mother, Love Daddy” on Amazon [Link] and her blog at [Another Link]

In 1943 and 1944,  my Grandfather Merton Young traveled to Greenland while working for the Merritt-Chapman & Scott Company. He wrote a brief diary of his journey and this is a piece of that story.

Next Entry – Aug 22