Archaeological Dig, Robert Junkins Grave????

By Alan Junkins; from the JFA newsletter no. 10, July 1995

In the October 1994 newsletter, on pages 6 & 7, I talked about The Three Trees burial ground at Rankin's field in York, Maine. Early in May of this year (1995) Kathleen Wheeler, Archaeologist, informed us that she had indeed received a grant from the state of Maine and would be able to spend a day at The Three Trees burial site on Cider Hill Road. She said that she had the 15th or 16th available, depending on the weather. We obtained written permission from Jon Levy, owner of the property, to do an archaeological examination of the area.

Monday, the 15th, it rained all day so no work was done but on Tuesday the sun came out and Kathleen Wheeler and three of her assistants arrived at our house at 8:30 a.m. We all drove down the road to the location and by 9:00 all were fast at work uncovering what will now be officially recorded as the Junkins Family Burial Ground #8 "The Three Trees" burial ground. As you will see by the report made by Kathy to the Maine Historical Society and the Old York Historical Society, there were three adult graves uncovered and one infant grave. Unfortunately, none of these graves can be identified but we do have written evidence that they certainly were Junkins family members. We also uncovered two areas where it was evident that a total of at least five bodies had been removed to another site. This coincides with John C. Junkins' letter (1940) "You probably know that some of the more immediate ancestors were removed from Rankin's lot to the new cemetery on the farm of my uncle Albert B. Junkins." In the right hand section of the Elijah Burial Ground on the Albert B. Junkins farm there are five bodies, all from this 1855 to 1899 period. The following is Kathleen Wheeler's report:

June, 1955 Junkins Family Burying Yard

By Kathleen Wheeler, Historical Archaeologist

On private property along Cider Hill Road, a Junkins family cemetery was unearthed during the Phase I Survey in 1995. Methods included raking and cleaning of ground cover and shovel scraping to determine the outline of grave features. The burying yard was marked by three rock maple trees making a triangular area where four graves were found (see Figure 1). Three sets of headstones and four stones delineated adult graves, while a fourth set of head- and footstones marked a child's burial. Two narrow, linear depressions were noted north of the four burial features, an a single unmarked fieldstone laid nearby. It is believed that some of the graves were moved to another, larger family cemetery in the early twentieth century, and the single fieldstone may represent an old abandoned marker stone. (From a letter by John C. Junkins to Frank Parsons - 18 March 1940… "The Rankins field (so called), owned by Junkins for a long time, is located on the north side of #91, now set out with Spruce trees. In the North West corner, adjacent to Christopher Simond's house is the location of the old cemetery mentioned by Charles Wisdom Junkins. Three Rock Maple trees around it. Chas. W. says some of the old bodies of Junkins were moved to the new lot opposite Ruth and John Nowells house… You probably know that some of the more immediate ancestors were removed from the Rankins lot to the new cemetery on the farm of my uncle, Albert B. Junkins. My Father and Mother, Sister and Brother are buried there also in this new lot." A much larger depression approximately 3.5 m by 1.5 m - was detected to the northwest of the undisturbed burials, as if a group of graves was disinterred.

None of the headstones or footstones were inscribed, so the identity and dates of burial of the individuals are not known. Some members of the Junkins family believe that this may be the place where Robert Junkins was buried, near his garrison homestead. This burial site is only about thee tenths of a mile from the Junkins garrison and well within the bounds of Junkins' extensive landholding.

Our thanks go to Jon and Mimi Levy who agreed to testing their property to define the outlines of the Junkins burying yard.

Kathleen Wheeler, Historical Archaeologist

Alan Continues…

Is Robert Junkins buried here? We will probably never know, but certainly his two boys, Alexander and Daniel and his grandchildren knew where he was buried. Did they plant three Rock Maple trees around the grave site of their father, the founder of the Junkins family in the new world? Could Robert be in the center of the burial ground with his wife Sarah next to him? Could the third adult grave possibly be Joseph, who was killed by Indians in 1711? The three trees are easily 250 to 275 years old. One has been struck by lightning and may someday soon have to be removed. When it is removed, it is hoped that we will be able to count the rings on a cross section of the trunk to determine the age of the trees. This can help to date the exact age of the burial ground and the bodies interred there. Three trees… why not four? The Trinity…Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

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