I have always found it exciting to see the physical places where my ancestors have lived. My Mother’s family was from New England – almost exclusively from Maine, with a scattering of ancestors from the other states, i.e. Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and since it was so close, New Brunswick, Canada. If you follow the lines back, you will end up in Great Britain.

Dad’s family origins depends upon the branch – his mom came from Guernsey, his dad from Michigan. Tracing the two lines back, they both started out in England, but there’s branches found in France, the Netherlands and other European countries.

I have visited a number of places where my Grandparents have lived. I was only able to meet my maternal Grandfather, as my other Grandparents either died before I was born, (paternal grandmother and paternal grandfather) or I was too young to remember them (maternal grandmother) before she died.

I’ve been able to visit the house where my father grew up – 808 Center Street, Lansing, Michigan.

I’ve been able to visit the house where my Mother grew up – Merrill, Maine

But I haven’t always been able to visit the places where my Great-grandparents came from.


It’s exciting to find my 2x Great-grandparents and their children (including my Great-Grandmother) listed in the 1880 U. S. Federal Census. It’s another thing to see what looks like your 2x Great-Grandfather on a Plat map for the town he lived in and then using that map to find the actual land on Google Maps.

And that’s exactly what I’ve been able to do with four of my ancestor’s land/homes.

There’s as story behind each of these searches and finds. To best tell the stories, I will publish each one separately.

John and Martha Gardner

John Henry and Martha ( Colby) Gardner

John Henry Gardner was the second son of George Washington Gardner and Tabitha Roberts. He was born in Brooks, Waldo, Maine on 15 Mar 1842. He served in the Union Army during the Civil War, Co. E 4th Maine Volunteer Infantry. He enlisted from his home town of Brooks, Maine on 11 Oct 1862 and was mustered out on 17 Aug 1883 in Bangor, Maine. After the war, rather than returning to his parents , who had relocated during the war to Aroostook County, he chose to live in Waltham, Hancock County, Maine, where he worked as a Mill laborer. It was here that he was married on 04 Mar 1869 to Miss Martha Pearson Colby, daughter of Eli and Lorinda (Giles) Colby. It was here that their four daughters ( Alice Mae, Carrie E. Susan E. and Bertha L.) were born. They remained in Waltham until at least 1900, when they are found in Merrill Plantation, Aroostook County, living next to his parents and elder brother Enoch’s family.

And it was here in Waltham, Hancock, Maine that I was able to locate the John H. Gardner family on a Maine County Plat map.

In the 1880 U.S. Federal Census, John H. Gardner, his wife and 3 of his daughters are living in Waltham, Hancock, Maine. In the Census, Alfred M. Hastintgs and family, and Manter A. Roberts and family live nearby. John is working as a Mill Laborer.

I was able to find the 1881 plat map of Waltham, Hancock County, Maine in the U. S., Indexed County Land Ownership Maps 1860-1918 on Ancestry.com.

When I zoomed in on the center of town, I found who I was looking for.

There was J. Gardner. Across the street was A. Hastings. Directly south of the Gardner home was listed “Mill Privileges”, after which I saw M. A. Roberts, just like the 1880 Census said I would.

There was a small paragraph which described the village of Waltham next to the map.

Unfortunately, it looks like the water power in Waltham was not “properly utilized”, as there is no thriving village to be seen on the Google Map image I took. Most of the houses shown on the 1881 map appear to have been torn down, and I was unable to locate a mill in the area.

According to the 1881 map, the town population was 296. As of the 2010 census, the population is 353.

This is one of the locations I have yet to visit in person. I will drive down ME-179, cross the bridge over Webb Brook, and see for myself, where my 2x Great-grandparents once lived, even if the house no longer exists.

Oh goody, another reason to take a trip to Maine!!