The inspiration for this column was an article titled “Inaugural may echo earlier time,” that appeared in the Portland Press Herald Monday, Jan. 3. It compared the conditions that Gov. Paul LePage now faces with those faced by an earlier governor of French heritage — Gov. Alonzo Garcelon, governor of Maine in 1879.

The article was discovered by accident as I rarely buy a daily newspaper but I immediately recognized the name Garcelon as having a place in Lenfestey/Lenfest history. Gov. Garcelon’s ancestor, James, had come to America with my ancestor, Pierre Lenfestey, in 1752. With references to James Garcelon and Col. William Garcelon in the article, the story read like a piece of Lenfestey/Lenfest history. Pierre Lenfestey, by then having Anglicized his name to Peter Lenfest, was living in the home of Col. Garcelon at the time of his death in 1820.

The ancestry and close relationship of the two families extends most recently, from 1739 to 1820, a period of 80 years, from the Isle of Guernsey, Channel Islands, U.K. to Lewiston, where Peter Lenfest and his father-in-law Lawrence Jackson Harris are considered to be founders.

From the Isle of Guernsey, both names go back to Normandy, France, the region of northern and northeastern France that was conquered by Normans (a shortened term for Northmen and/or Norsemen), Scandinavians believed to be primarily of Norwegian extraction with a few Danes that joined the raiding parties. They brought with them the feudal system and also the Protestant Reformation, the religious foundation of the Huguenots. The Garcelons, initially Roman Catholic, embraced the Protestant reform of the Huguenots.

According to documents at the Androscoggin Historical Society, the name Lenfestey may be of Norman descent and thus be of Huguenot extraction from day one. The Huguenots were eventually persecuted in France, and many migrated to the Channel Islands of England and the United Kingdom. Normandy is best known in United States history as the location of the landing of our troops on D-Day — June 6, 1944 — in World War II.

I have stated that the ancestry and history of these two Maine names paralleled and intertwined closely, but I was not aware of just how close the relationship was until David Garcelon of Harpswell, the Garcelon family historian, provided documents Garcelon history. Both Pierre Lenfestey and James Garcelon were born in 1739 in St. Pierre du Bois (St. Peter-in-the-Wood), Guernsey, — Pierre on Nov. 14, and James April 4.

The two became close friends and sidekicks and were fun-loving boys, which eventually, as the story progresses, got Pierre into trouble. It appears that Pierre pulled some sort of childish prank, and to avoid parental wrath, elected to set sail for America. Thus, in 1752, Pierre, age 12, with James,13, hastened to the nearest port and arrived in Boston, according to Lenfest records.

During the next 22 years, Pierre migrated to Lewiston through Dracut, Mass., where he met the Harris family — eventually to become his in-laws — and then New Gloucester, where he married Lydia Barron Harris Dec. 2, 1774. At some point in this period, Pierre Anglicized his name to Peter Lenfest, and in 1774 he appears as the owner of lot 44 on the map of Amos Davis, who conducted the first survey of Lewiston.

Lawrence Jackson Harris, who was to become a paternal figure to both the Lenfests and Garcelons, first came to Lewiston in the fall of 1770 and raised the frame of a sawmill Oct. 29. Returning during the spring of 1771, he completed construction of the sawmill and made arrangements toward a permanent settlement. The sawmill was the first frame building in Lewiston. For this, Lawrence Jackson Harris received from Little and Bagley, proprietors of the Pejepscot claim, a grant of 100 acres of land for himself and each of his sons, embracing the present site of Lewiston, then known as 20-Mile Falls.

Meanwhile, James Garcelon settled in Gloucester, Mass., north of Boston, changed the name from Garcelon to Joslan for a period of time before returning it to Garcelon sometime after the family moved to Lewiston in March 1776. James had married Deliverance Annis and while in Gloucester, Mass., they had a son, William, who was born on July 2, 1763.

You will recall my statements about not realizing how close the relationship of the Lenfests and Garcelons was. Well, on May 8, 1784, William married Maria Harris, the younger sister of Lydia Barron Harris, wife to Peter Lenfest. At this point, with the Harris name between the two families, Garcelon became a part of the Lenfest family tree.

On Sept. 21, 1786, William Garcelon and Maria (Harris) had a son, William Green Garcelon, who later in life gained the title colonel. On July 19, 1810, William Green Garcelon married Mary Davis in Lewiston, and May 6, 1813, they had a son, Alonzo Garcelon, who was to become governor of Maine Jan. 8, 1879.

Meanwhile, Peter Lenfest, who was advancing in age and had become somewhat childish, moved away from his family and spent the last years of his life at the home of Col. Garcelon. At the home of the colonel, the end of Peter’s life overlapped the first seven years of Alonzo Gacelon.

According to the Lenfest records, on March 17, 1820, at age 80, Peter, feeling down, requested that Col. Garcelon read to him from the Bible, book of Zechariah, chapter 14, verses 1 to 7, commencing “Behold the day of the Lord cometh” and closing with the words “but at eventide it shall be light,” then raising his hands and eyes a moment, he was gone.

Alonzo Garcelon, a Democrat, en route to becoming governor of Maine in 1879, served in the Maine Legislature before the Civil War, was surgeon general of Maine during the Civil War and became mayor of Lewiston in 1871. He was a graduate of Bowdoin College, spent time at Dartmouth College as a student and instructor and became a doctor after finishing his education at the Medical College of Ohio in Cincinnati. The 1870 census also lists Alonzo as a surgeon. He was twice married, and in 1900 was still a resident of Lewiston. On Dec. 8, 1906, in his sleep, while staying at the home of his daughter, Edith Spears Garcelon Dennis, in Medford, Mass., he passed away.

In those days, most families were large and the Garcelons and Lenfests were no different; Alonzo’s family numbered eight children, and that of William Garcelon, James’ son, had 11. Peter Lenfest and Lydia (Harris) produced 12 and many of them were known to have 12 or 13 offspring. Lawrence Jackson Harris and his two wives produced 15, among them Lydia, the wife of Peter, and Maria, the wife of William Garcelon.

Judith and Peter Lenfest, born in 1776 and 1777 respectively had short lives and lived only to the ages of three and six, and later siblings were given those names in their memory. John Lenfest, born Jan. 26, 1778, was the first to live to propagate and settled in Swanville, north of Belfast, and was the second name in Swanville. Of the remaining nine siblings, three sons — Peter, born Dec. 23, 1784; James D., born Sept. 8, 1787, and Nicholas, born Sept. 14, 1792, all in Lewiston — settled in Washington.

On April 20, 1820, Nicholas Lenfest wed Hannah Gove of Washington and they produced six children, John Gove Lenfest and his brother Harris among them. On July 2, 1848, John Gove Lenfest was wed to Lavinia (Hills) and they produced seven children between that date and Feb. 19, 1862.

Later in 1862, during the Civil War, which coincided with Alonzo Garcelon’s term as surgeon general, John enlisted with the 20th Regiment of Maine Volunteers and went to fight beside Col. Joshua Chamberlain. In so doing, he left his farm in Union, his wife and seven children.

It should be noted that brother Harris and his wife and five children were also living at the Lenfest Homestead in Union, and upon Harris’s enlistment with the 24th Regiment, there were two women and twelve children left to run a farm of substantial acreage.

John Gove Lenfest survived Gettysburg and the decisive battle at Little Round Top. John had been assigned to Company E and within a few days after Gettysburg, Company E was assigned to pursue the Confederates back to Virginia. In the area of the Sharpsburg Pike in Maryland, north of the Potomac River, on July 10, 1863, John was captured by some of those he was pursuing.

John completed his service and his life at the Libby Prison in Richmond, Va. John took sick, was hospitalized several times, and on Jan. 31, 1864, the date of the final hospitalization, he succumbed to his illness. John’s wife, Lavina (Hills) Lenfest lived until Dec. 23, 1904, within two years of the death of Alonzo Garcelon, Dec. 8, 1906. On Sept. 5, 1894, Lavinia remarried and completed her life as the wife of Benjamin A. Chaples. In Waldo County today, there are at least nine living great-grandchildren to John Gove Lenfest and Lavinia, and many more elsewhere.

Though Pierre Lenfestey’s line of Lenfestey became Lenfest, the family of which he is the progenitor, the name Lenfestey is alive and well in Maine today. Sometime before 1860, Abraham A. Lenfestey came from the Isle of Guernsey to settle in Jonesport, “Down East.” There his descendants have remained in the area as fishermen, lobstermen, farmers and Coast Guardsmen and may occasionally be found elsewhere in Maine.

There are a few Lenfesteys that have elected to drop just the “e” from the name and spell their name Lenfesty, I am not aware of any of these in Maine at this time, though I have been told that at one time there was one in the greater Belfast area.

In Waldo County, in Troy, there is a Moses Garcelon Homestead. Moses Harris Garcelon was a brother to the Col. William Green Garcelon. Moses’ life spanned the period from 1797 to 1874.

Credits and references for this article are numerous. The Portland Press Herald article of Jan. 3, 2011; Susan M. Cover, Maine Today Media, State House Writer; Muskie Archives at Bates College; Garcelon genealogical records from David Garcelon; Lenfest documents at the Androscoggin Historical Society; Lenfest documents of the Lenfest/Lenfestey Reunion and Hills Family Reunion; research of Floyd and Kathleen Lenfest , and the photo of the Moses Garcelon Homestead is courtesy of Prudential Northeast Properties in Searsport, Ken Kupferman.