INFORMATION PROVIDED BY: ELOISE R. AULT, WAYNE HISTORICAL SOCIETY AND RAYMOND T. WING, WFA GENEALOGIST
This article is copied from the 2006 OWL
Wayne, Maine was settled by Simeon Wing and his children around the time of the Revolutionary War. The first settler was Simeon's daughter, Elizabeth and her husband, Job Fuller. The family originally had a small cemetery bordering the lake. In 1865, they decided to create a new cemetery, immediately south of the originial cemetery. A novel design was created. An obelisk was erected in the center of the cemetery in memory of the ring formation. They spent six years designing the cemetery, leveling the terrain digging three feet down to remove all the stones in the lot, carefully measuring the lots, placing the granite rings as well as the walls of the cemetery before transferring the bodies from the old cemetery to the new one.
Search for the Origins of the Wing Family Cemetery
IT ALL BEGAN ONE MORNING in the spring of 1998 when Freda Wing Kelley, my history mentor, said to me I would love to show you the Wing Cemetery. On entering the burial ground, she remarked, “I would give anything to learn the history of this place. In her usual fashion she had provided me with photocopies from her collection of articles gathered over the years about the cemetery. She soon had her notebook open and was listing the occupants of each grave and noting the genealogy line of each family, telling me she was doing it so “you will understand the interrelationship of these people for future reference.” She suggested we contact the cemetery trustee, Mr. Schultze, speculating that his mother may have passed records to him. Apparently she had received no response to her inquiry. At some point I was alerted that the Wing Family Cemetery was on the National Register of Historic Places. Wow! That was news to the Wayne Historical Society for we were unaware that this had occurred way back in 1991. We learned from our request for information through the Maine Historic Preservation Commission that the site had been recognized because of its unusual concentric circular design which was unique and the Commission requested that it be placed on the National Register in spite of the designations: “history – unknown; architect – unknown.”
Our interest in further research was encouraged when a roll of several folded 6 x 8 inch sheets of stationary fell out of a black garbage bag (donated to the Society in March 2000 by Mary Bowen, of Livermore Falls) full of a lifetime of (1835/1865) correspondence saved by Llewellyn Wing. On the outside of the roll was written “Wing Cemetery Records.” The sketchy, half legible penciled contents consisted of pages, some undated, that seem to indicate that the participants were proceeding in a legal fashion to establish a “Cemetery Company.” What appears to be the first meeting was recorded as “Wayne Sept 27, 186-[year not noted].” They chose a Moderator, Samuel W. Frost, a Clerk, Llewellyn Wing, and a Treasurer/Collector, Samuel W. Frost. Then these two gentlemen, plus Thomas Wing, were chosen as a committee to supervise the construction of the cemetery and procure deeds. The subsequent deeds provided details as to where the 39 exhumed remains came from and how they were handled. The sale of the land was finalized September 28, 1868. The Maine State Law Library researched the 1860s laws governing exhumation of bodies for the Society. Of the ten recorded financial contributors all but Alonzo were local farmers. Their individual contributions as well as, assessed property valuations indicate that economically they were all peers. Alonzo Wing was a different story, for his biographical sketch found in an OWL (photocopy given by Freda to the Society) indicated that Alonzo, who had gone west to Jefferson, Wisconsin very likely had the ability, education and the financial resources to create and fund such a plan. Extensive search by the Historical Society began.
Mary Bowen’s “Garbage Bag” proved to be a “treasure trove” of Wing/Wayne history. Most impressive were papers of Dr. John Wing, son of Dr. Moses, whose 1817 notebook of medical lectures, written with his quill pen dated from his student days at Dartmouth University Medical School, provided clear insight to the art of medical practice of the time. Also were some 40 letters from Llewellyn and his sisters, Isabell, Caroline and Elizabeth, full of their experiences working in the cotton textiles mills of Lowell, Massachusetts 1835/40. All well researched and published by the Wayne Historical Society.
Raymond Wing’s 2006 OWL “tongue in cheek” article about Wayne’s first doctor and one of the “Seven Brothers,” Dr. Moses Wing, resulted in Nancy Otis, of Manchester, Vermont giving the Society a photocopy of an undated blueprint “Plan of The Wing Cemetery” which when reduced to 71/2`` by 11`` size, was sent to every possible lead on Alonzo’s life. The results of these inquires was remarkable. His will was obtained from the Probate Court of Kennebec County. Transcriptions of abstracts of real interest from Jeffersonian newspaper, first published in 1838, which supported the OWL account, were sent by Mr. Emil Waldmanns of the Jefferson Historical Society. One abstract in particular documented the fact that in “1865/11/22 Alonzo Wing & Wife visited friends in Maine a couple of months & now returned home.” This provided an essential clue that Alonzo was on the scene in the fall when the cemetery proposal was conceived. Informational responses from Wesleyan Seminary (Kents Hill) and Waterville College (Colby College), both in Maine, were positive, as well as from the Wisconsin State Legislative Archives. The University of Wisconsin provided us with a photocopy of Alonzo’s picture as he appeared when he served on the school’s first Board of Regents. Wisconsin’s Jefferson County Register of Deeds “bent the rules” and sent the Society a copy of a street plan that was drawn by Mr. Wing in1857.
The end results for the effort occurred on August 1, 2008 when the Advisory Council of the National Register of Historic Places meet in Belfast, Maine. There, Christi Mitchell from the Maine’s Historic Preservation Commission gave a “power point” presentation of our research on the lost history of the Wing Family Cemetery. The Council accepted our data and ruled that circumstantial evidence suggested Alonzo A. Wing designed the site. This additional documentation is to be on file at the National Register, thus replacing the designation “History –unknown” and “architect –unknown.”
Meantime, the “Wing Ring” survives as the town of Wayne’s historic treasure, which stands today as a testament by the Wing generation of the late 1860s to their family’s proud heritage, and that they went to considerable labor and expense to create this memorial to the “Seven Wing Brothers” who were so involved in the founding of our town. Unraveling the complex puzzle has revealed it as the elaborate plan it is, unrecognizable at first sight, but unquestionably unique and perhaps not to be found anywhere else. And so Alonzo Wing can now be granted long overdue recognition as the family genius responsible for its creation.
Wayne Historical Society