A Paris Hill Cemetery Walk on Memorial Day, 2017

I live with what I regard as a privilege here at the Parris House at the far north end of our beautiful National Historic District.  Adjacent to my back property line are two breathtaking and historic cemeteries, The Pioneer Cemetery and The Knoll Cemetery. Both are the final resting places of those who came before us in this community, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives.   They knew, as we do, the strong breezes (ok, winds…) blowing over the hilltop, the sensational and never-one-like-another sunsets, the streets lined with lilacs this time of year, the comforting tolling of the Revere bell at the church on the green, every hour on the hour, every hour of their lives, and now, still, after they are gone.   Paris Hill is a special place to live, and now, in these peaceful cemeteries, a special place to be remembered.

Memorial Day is a day to remember those who actually died in service to our country, the ones who, as Lincoln put it in the Gettysburg Address, gave their “last full measure of devotion.”  And yet, every Memorial Day, the graves in the Pioneer and Knoll Cemeteries of those who served – whether they gave their lives in that service or not – are decorated with bright American flags.  I like this tradition so much, especially on a gloomy, overcast Memorial Day like this one.  The red, white, and blue of the flags pop against the grayness of the weather and the gravestones, reminding us that these men and women (yes, Julia Carter served in the women’s service), even those who served in our 18th century Revolution, have not been forgotten.

I planted my vegetable and herb garden this morning, which is a stone’s throw from these cemeteries.  As I looked up, brushing a blackfly off my forehead (it’s that time of year!), the flags caught my eye and I remembered, in gratitude, those who came before me in this place and who made the commitment to protect what I have here as a resident of Paris, Maine and as an American.  I put down the trowel and took a walk through the cemeteries to photograph their graves.  I share these pictures now with you so that you can come along on this virtual tour of these historic places.

An important note:  The Pioneer Cemetery is town maintained and open to the public.  A pathway to it with a historic marker runs from Paris Hill Road just before you get to 546 Paris Hill Road, at the north end of the village.  The Knoll Cemetery is private and requires permission to access.   Additionally, a great resource for all things regarding cemeteries and their histories is www.findagrave.com.   As always, should you like additional information on any of the graves you see in the slideshow, contact us at the Paris Hill Historical Society, and we can check our archives.

Have a thoughtful and happy Memorial Day.

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Respectfully submitted, Beth Miller, Board Member/VP, Paris Hill Historical Society

Letter to Hannibal Hamlin from his Father in Law, Stephen Emery, upon Hamlin’s Election as Vice President

HamlinLetter

We can thank Paris Hill resident Tony Kleitz for this wonderful piece of history he discovered at the Maine State Archives in Augusta.  It is a copy of the letter Hannibal Hamlin’s father in law, Stephen Emery, wrote to him upon his election in 1860 as Abraham Lincoln’s first Vice President.  It reads as follows:

“Auburn, Nov. 7, 1860

Dear Son;

Language is almost powerless to express my joy at the result of yesterday’s labor, and I should do violence to my feelings, were I to neglect to express that joy to you, altho’ you will be nearly overwhelmed with congratulatory letters.  My better way perhaps would be to rejoice in silence, but the very “stones” should be permitted “to cry out” in shouts of exultation. O, how glorious the triumph!

“The powers of Hell are captive led, dragged from the portals of the sky.”

My faith in human nature, which years of rascality & barefaced corruption had gradually but steadily impaired, is renewed again and hope our country & the right return with beaming eye and elevated crest.  May the victory now won be used wisely & well, and become as memorable for lasting good, as it is gratifying to the feelings.

Please say to Dear Ellie, I rec’d her letter yesterday.  I thank her very much for it.  May Heaven guide, and keep, and bless you all.

Your affec. father

Stephen Emery

Hope I shall see you before many weeks. Burlingame, who has vindicated the honor of Massachusetts, and promoted her interest, with singular ability & fidelity, is sacrificed by a cold, heartless, corrupt aristocracy.  Shame, shame, on such base ingratitude!”

Would you like to know more about the presidential election of 1860?  If so, come on out to our program, “Hannibal Hamlin, the 1860 Presidential Campaign, and its Impact on Paris, Maine” tomorrow night, August 9th, at 7 PM at the First Baptist Church of Paris here on Paris Hill.  Hope to see you then!