Cherryfield is a tiny village located on the coast of Maine and almost to the Canadian border. It is also home to Harvand’s FAN Club. Let me share with you a little about Harvand. He is my great uncle and was born in Cherryfield. His parents William and Mary both died young Mary in 1912 and William in 1915 from Tuberculosis leaving Harvand and his 3 siblings orphans. The family was now faced with placing the children in families who could care for them. Cherryfield was and is a poor area and most families have limited means. Leona age nine was already living with her maternal grandparents, Merrill went to live with his paternal grandparents and Vilora went with her maternal grandparents. Harvand was eventually placed with the Peter MacKenzie family in North Sullivan, a town about 10 miles from Cherryfield. We did not know when this occurred or why this family was selected to raise him, thus the origin of the FAN Club.
I recently presented a program on FAN or Cluster research and realized that it was time that I used this technique to see if I could discover why Harvand had been placed with “strangers” to be raised. FAN research is used when you run out of obvious resources. You then begin to look at friends, family, associates and neighbors. First, I created a timeline of what had occurred, then created a plan of action, and finally I reviewed my previous research. I knew that the Mackenzies were from Ontario, Canada. My family was not from Canada.
I had previously taken a quick look at census records for both the Morse and Mackenzie families so began my research by taking a more in-depth look at the 1910 and 1920 census records for Cherryfield and North Sullivan. This time I read every single column for both families. I then read the entire census for each town for 1910 and 1920 looking for evidence that the families may have lived near each other. I found an answer almost immediately.
In the 1920 census for North Sullivan, I found a Ralph Morse living on the same street as the Mackenzie family that included Harvand Morse. This was exciting as Harvand’ s father had a brother named Ralph Morse. Looking more closely at the two families, I found that Peter worked at the local Quarry as did Ralph Morse’s father-in-law who lived with, he and his wife. Moving back to the 1910 census I found Ralph Morse still living in Cherryfield; however, there were 2 other Ralph Morses and all three of whom resided on the Ridge Road in Cherryfield.
Now for the fun. I had only traced my direct line of the Morse family. I realized that I needed to trace all three families with a Ralph to determine which one lived in North Sullivan in 1920. That was a bit of “fun”. I was relatively certain that they were all related and they were. It turned out that Harvand’ s uncle (his father’s brother) had remained in Cherryfield. The Ralph Morse in North Sullivan was a second cousin who had married in Cherryfield in 1913 and then moved to North Sullivan to be near his wife’s family and for work.
Back to the 1910 census for another look at the Mackenzie family. It consisted of Peter, his wife Katie and their “adopted” son Malcom. This reading of the record and the tracing of my Morse family helped me to form my theory as to why Harvand went to live with the Mackenzie family. He was about 2 ½ years old when his mother died and 4 ½ when his father died. I believe that Cousin Ralph Morse was aware of the family tragedy and was a close neighbor of the Mackenzie family. It would appear that the Mackenzie family could not have children of their own and Ralph may have conveyed that information to the grandparents who were mourning their children and trying to care for their grandchildren. So Harvand went to live with the Mackenzie family.
Leona and Merrill grew up married and had families, but the tragedy continued for Vilora and Harvand. Vilora died in 1924 at age 18 in the Central Maine Sanatorium Fairfield Maine of Tuberculosis. In 1926 around the Fourth of July, Harvand and a couple of his friends were messing around with black powder cartridges, and one exploded in his hand. He died 10 days later of Tetanus.
I will do a more in-depth article on FAN Club research next month. Now that you know what mysteries can be uncovered you may wish to try this on your Brick Walls.
To read Janet Walberg’s previous genealogy columns or to delve deeper into her writings and insights for searching out and recording your own family’s genealogy, please go to jamestowngazette.com and visit Janet’s own web page.