Lincolnville and Camden’s Griffin Cemetery
The Griffin Cemetery is just over the Lincolnville line into Camden but the Griffin family is a Lincolnville family.
In 1869, Peleg Griffin bought Lot 13, Range A, an 85-acre piece of land where the Red Barn now stands and continuing up the mountain. He added other parcels along Penobscot Bay. Here, Peleg and his wife, Elizabeth Herrick Griffin, raised their family on some of Lincolnville’s prettiest land.
In 1880, Peleg bought a small piece of land in Camden, measuring just 204-feet by 98-feet, at the corner of a 100-acre lot. It was 4/10 of a mile from his house. It is unclear why he bought this land when he owned so much other land. This land, between two streams, rises up from Route 1 so there must have been a magnificent view from there, out over meadowland and far out over the Bay.
This is where Peleg created a small family cemetery at the top of the rise. It is trapezoidal in shape and, using the granite posts as guidelines, is no more than about 40-feet long at any point. The cemetery contains 14 gravestones in two rows at one end and a monument in the center.
Peleg and Elizabeth had 12 children. Four died as infants or were stillborn: Lewander, Hollice, Lucalous and Louvica. They are buried in the cemetery but have no birth or death dates.
Also buried there are Caroline Prock and Nancy Lyons, sisters of Peleg’s. Caroline’s death date is listed as 1865, which is before the cemetery lot was purchased so she must have been moved from elsewhere. Other burials include a nephew George, (the child of Llewellyn), Peleg’s mother, Desire DeCrow Griffin (his father Elisha drowned), and a mentally disabled sister, also named Desire, as well as Peleg and Elizabeth and four other of Peleg’s and Elizabeth’s children -- Emery, Ellis and Varina Griffin as well as Lela Griffin Spaulding. The latter two died in 1940 and 1947, respectively.
These two sisters lived on the Griffin land and farmed it until their deaths. They also bought abutting land and built fabulous gardens up the hillside with rock walls and a cabin. They saved seed from their gardens as well as buying 100 new packets each year.
The Griffin family appreciated natural beauty. According to a quote from Varina, “Farming teaches one to love nature and to draw lessons from nature. One does not have to go to an art gallery to see beauty which is constantly in a farm. When those flowers are all in bloom in the rock garden, we experience something of the joy of an artist, who has painted a great picture. We know that we are giving joy to others, too, for many stop to admire the blooms.”
This was the Lincolnville land; the Camden lot and cemetery are another matter. Even before the sisters died, the cemetery was neglected. No one remembers seeing it cared for. The small lot around the cemetery was sold in 1951, with ”buildings thereon standing.” At some point a house was moved to the bottom part of the land on Route 1, and then sometime after 1951, it was moved again up Route 1. The Griffins never lived in it.
There was a road leading to the cemetery but it was sold with the lot so a steep access route up the hillside, difficult even to get a coffin up, was reserved by the family along with the cemetery itself.
Currently, the cemetery is very drab. Trees have made it dark, the stones are sunken, one has fallen over and its base and pins stand empty, and there is no chain around the boundary. There is no view out over the Bay. The access route is not visible and the old one is blocked by fallen trees. For a family that was committed to seeing beauty and creating beauty, it is sad to see this ending. But, perhaps the cemetery will still one day see better days.
Many thanks to Eugene Dyer for providing great information for this column that I could not get anywhere else.