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Norton Cemetery

Earliest Lincolnville cemetery, fieldstone markers only, no names- located on Belfast Rd, near Joy Rd

Norton Cemetery, also called Old Settlers, is on Rt 52 almost across from the Joy Rd. It is marked by a very small sign that reads “Lincolnville’s First Cemetery.” Once you find it you see a wide shaded path through the trees, opening out into the burying ground. It is like entering a world of two centuries ago and one loses an awareness of the road and even of neighboring houses in the peaceful quiet of set field stones.

The information we have on this burying ground is from Jenness Eugley who not only helped preserve it by clearing it and resetting the stones but also wrote down his observations and collected information.

The cemetery is on land claimed by Nathan Knight who moved here in 1770 and built a log cabin for his family on land formerly occupied by Native Americans and bears. His early years were spent fighting both, cutting wood and hay, and keeping his cattle safe and fed, and his family warm and fed.

The cemetery is at the high end of a ridge; on one side is a steep bank above a brook and on the other a swale. At the far end the ground is starting to erode from water. The cemetery measures 80’ along the ridge and 30’ across. Jenness did not detect any boundary stones but the ridge itself makes a natural boundary.

There are no engraved stones in this cemetery and no identifying marks to know who was buried here. It had even been questioned as to whether it was a burying ground.
It had become neglected until, from 1955-1960 Irvin Eugley cleared it off and burned the junipers so that the stones would show. Following that it grew over again so that by 1994 the stones again were no longer visible. It was then that Jenness Eugley set out to restore the burying ground and straighten the fallen stones.

According to Jenness, although there are no names on the closely placed stones and no order that is currently recognizable he believed that when the stones were placed the placement was personal and meaningful.

The stones are natural flat field stones which were stood upright. Only one might have been quarried. When he reset them, Jenness followed the footprints of the stones and he was surprised to find that the stones were aligned in a row with all the headstones having a common orientation. Under three of the stones he found a dab of blue clay; its meaning unknown. He also found four previously unnoticed stones, one hidden under a large ant hill, making a total of 54. Since each grave appears to have had a head- and a footstone there may be 27 burials here.

it is assumed that those buried here were early settlers living away from Ducktrap Harbor and having too little time and money to have engraved stones. Perhaps at the time of burial there were wooded crosses by each grave with the name of the deceased written on them. There are also reports of some prominent burials in this cemetery but why do they not have engraved stones?  Lieutenant John Norton, who was given 100 acres at the head of Norton Pond by General Knox, died in 1806 and with his wife, Sarah is said to be buried here.

A further report from Arnie Knight was that the last burial here was of a McCobb and he provided the name of  Andrew. However, we know that Andrew is buried in the French Cemetery and this leads to another question. George McCobb and his wife Lois Drinkwater lived on North Cobbtown Rd from 1826 until they died in 1878 and 1881 respectively. There is no record of where they are buried although the Drinkwater-Field Cemetery on that road is a possibility. Although it seems unlikely even to the descendants, could they have been buried in Norton Cemetery? And, there is  the question of whether Native Americans were the first to use this place as a burying ground or perhaps as a campground. At least one arrowhead has been found. This is a fascinating place to visit and let one’s imagination visit the past.
Written by Corelyn Senn