Searsport by Many Other Names
I am quietly and slowly reading the book Dear Ones at Home and at Sea by Donald F. Mortland, a Penobscot Marine Museum Publication, and am finding it fascinating. One of the young women, Sarah writes correspondence to her family after she marries and goes to sea with her young husband who is a deep sea captain. She finally returns to Searsport after a couple of years’ absence and suddenly I read that she dies at home that same year. I am not an emotionally over-the-top person, but I found that I did, indeed, tear up. It was so unexpected. In today’s world, we do expect to live for some lengthy duration, but this was not the norm for the many good people of Searsport who traveled the world and encountered many sailing mishaps on top of the illnesses and accidents that failed to be adequately treated in the 1850s. I have done genealogy for more than a quarter of a century, but this is the first time that I was so struck by the sudden death of someone I did not know from so long ago. Sarah is a cousin in my line in some way and I will research this eventually as I feel so close to her almost 150 years later.
My terminology for Searsport itself has also been corrected. I know now that in 1845 Searsport was actually called Prospect, or West Prospect. Eventually “Searsport” which is the name this town is known by today was formed from West Prospect and East Belfast. Citizens referred to “The Harbor” or “The District” as that area between
Searsport and Stockton Springs near Bowditch Cemetery.
I learned that in 1819, one of Searsport’s Congregationalist Churches was built in this Harbor part of Searsport. This small church had 9 clear windows that would in years to come be replaced by stained glass as memorials to some of the Searsport families, including mine.
By 1847 I noted that some referred to “The Center” as the center of Searsport Village at the junction of Mt. Ephraim Road and Main Street, which is 2 or 3 miles west of Searsport Harbor.
So, now I know that Prospect, West Prospect, Searsport, West Belfast, The Harbor, The District, and The Center all refer to Searsport as I know it today. And that Sarah lived here, when not at sea with her husband. History…I love it!
PS: I just discovered that The Harbor was also known locally as Park, because so many Park families lived there.