Digest>Archives> January 1998

Grave Not That of Abbie's Daughter


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The gravestone of Bessie Grant on Matinicus ...
Photo by: Ken Black

Years ago it was reported that while Abbie Burgess was stationed at Maine's remote Matinicus Rock Lighthouse her two year old daughter died at the station. The story told reported that Abbie Burgess, by scraping together a few hand-fulls of dirt, buried her child between the ledges and erected a wooden cross.

Nearly 100 years later Harriet and Carl Buchheister hired a mason to carve a headstone which, with the assistance of the United States Coast Guard, was placed on the island.

However, a recent study of family records by descendents of Abbie Burgess and reported to Ken Black at the Shore Village Museum in Rockland, Maine found that the child was not Abbie's daughter.

The child, Bessie Grant, born in 1878 who died at age two was indeed buried in the granite crevices at Matinicus Rock, but she was in fact, the daughter of John Francis Grant and Samantha Abbott. John Francis was a brother to Issac Grant, who married Abbie Burgess, making the child a niece of Abbie and not her daughter.

This story appeared in the January 1998 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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