Lincolnville's William Delano, age 26

By Corelyn Senn | Feb 21, 2014
Courtesy of: Corelyn Senn

William Delano’s gravestone stands in the woods on the Pitcher Pond side of North Cobbtown Road in Lincolnville. Despite searching, all we know of him is what is on that stone:

"Sacred

to the memory of

William Delano

who died

March 15, 1826

AE 26

His Saviors smiles dispell’d the gloom

And smooth’d his passage to the tomb"

On the top of the stone is etched a weeping willow draped over an urn. It is a very elegant stone and must have been quite expensive. It is the only gravestone there.

The land on which he was buried was part of George Ulmer’s Estate. Gen. Henry Knox foreclosed on it and then lost it to the Boston land developers, Israel Thorndike, David Sears and William Prescott. They divided Lincolnville into ranges and lots, the lots being approximately 100 acres, opened a land office in 1809, and began their sales.

In 1802, John Harkness surveyed Lincolnville and made a map of the ranges and lots. However, in the 1960s, this map was stolen from the Registry of Deeds in Belfast and a copy has never been found. Thus, figuring out land boundaries is difficult. By reading old deeds we know that the North Cobbtown Road area was Range F and we can recognize the lots.

William’s grave is within a stonewalled area that measures 45 by 37 feet and comprises land in both lots 4 and 5. The lots run in strips from Pitcher Pond to Ducktrap River with the road cutting through them. The actual gravestone is in Lot 4. At the time William was buried, neither of these lots had been sold so it is unclear why this place was chosen.

Lot 5 was first sold in 1828 to John Kimball from Belfast who logged it and then resold it in 1834 to Thomas Frohock Jr. who farmed it until 1852. During the next 15 years it was owned by Andrew Tarbell, John Duncan and Joseph Field. Lot 4 was sold in 1834, to Wyman Drinkwater who farmed it until 1881, and made his own burying ground along the road near his house and barn.

The current Cobbtown Road was the first town road in Lincolnville and was well settled by 1826 at the Ducktrap Harbor end as well as by the outlet of Pitcher Pond. There were mills at each end and traffic between the two carried lumber and goods to and from the harbor. But, in the mid-section, where William is buried, it was quite uninhabited. George McCobb was living on Lot 6 which was contracted to him, and Edward Field was a squatter on the Ducktrap River side of Lot 5. Mr. Kimball gave him 25 acres when he sold the rest to Thomas Frohock Jr., Edward’s brother-in-law.

On Lot 5, on the Pond side, there is the cellar hole of the farmhouse and the foundation of the barn built by Thomas Frohock Jr. and there is also a mystery. In what was an adjoining walled-in pasture there are the remnants of a structure with what seems to be a well or cistern at one end. Was it a sheep shed that went with the farm or a building related to William Delano’s life or something entirely different?

Might William have been a squatter with a cabin or boarded with the McCobbs or Fields? Was the land contracted to him? Was he logging, did he work in a mill or begin a farm? Where did he come from? Who chose and paid for his beautiful stone?

If anyone has information on William Delano, the stone structure, or a copy of the 1802 map of The Original Plan of the Town of Lincolnville, the information would be most welcome.

Addendum to Mary E. Sylvester, published in January 2014: Danny Pendleton of Lincolnville kindly called to tell me he found that gravestone. He was hunting and stood underneath the oak tree and felt something hard beneath his feet. He dug it out and there was Mary’s stone. He also was not able to find the base.

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