When I research my husband’s side of the family, I expect to find their 20th-century graves in Brunswick’s Catholic cemetery, St. John’s. So I was quite surprised to learn that his great-grandparents, Charles and Adeline Desmarais, were buried across town in Growstown Cemetery behind the First Baptist Church.
The Desmarais monument there lists: Charles B. Desmarais (1841 – 1910); his wife Adeline Louise (Benoit), (1845-1933); and their daughters Sarah Z. Paul (1870-19310); Margaret Desmarais (1868-1952); and Rose E. Perron (1872-1956). Charles, Sarah, and Rose also have individual markers, as does the baby who was the first to be buried in the plot, H. Erving (1903).
Why, I wondered, is this French Canadian Catholic family buried behind a Baptist church? Did they leave the Catholic church and become Baptists? Surely family members would have passed down that story!
Deeds provided an answer: in 1900 and 1904 Charles purchased a total of eight adjacent lots bordered by LaValley Ave., and Pleasant and Paul Sts. These lots were part of Pleasant Park, a development first proposed in 1898, before Paul St. had a name and when Church Rd. was still called Growstown Rd.
Those road names tell the rest of the story. Though behind a Baptist church, the cemetery functioned as the Growstown neighborhood’s burying place. When baby H. Erving died, Charles and Adeline most likely chose Growstown Cemetery for his burial because it was in their own neighborhood, close to their property on Pleasant St.
Next Blog: ROCK, PAPER, SCISSORS: How I dug up two great-grandparents.
- Brunswick Record August 26, 1910
- Cemeteries of Brunswick, Maine http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~mebrucem/cem12.html
- Cumberland County Registry of Deeds https://me.uslandrecords.com/ME/Cumberland/D/Default.aspx
- Catherine Leonard, Growstown Cemetery Association