History Unearthed

The Downeast History Symposium

The story we set out to tell was that of Jonesboro during the Civil War, in which many local men served and some died. What we discovered, though, is that here in rural Maine, history remains a dynamic process that is very much based on the oral tradition and on the patchwork of records that have managed to survive fire, theft, and loss. We started looking for clues about Jonesboro’s fight for emancipation and found out, instead, about the daily fight to survive in a hardscrabble world, in which medical knowledge was limited and hardship abounded. In spite of this, the stories passed down from the elders describe a tight-knit community where familiarity with other residents, rather than contempt, more often than not bred understanding and tolerance.

The woman pictured at left is examining a stone in her family graveyard for clues about her ancestor buried below. This stone reminds us that history is not written in stone but rather in stones such as this one.