What's Happening

Written by Alan Junkins; published in JFA newsletter no. 9, October 1994

I closed my business at the end of last year and started freelancing out of my home in Pennsylvania so that we could be free to go back and forth to Maine and eventually move there. We have our house here in Pennsylvania up for sale and when it is sold, we will move o enjoy life in Maine the way it ought to be.

We have had continued progress in the research of the Junkins family both here in Maine and in Scotland. With my continued correspondence with the Reverend Mackenzie, the minister of Brechin Cathedral in Scotland, we have discovered several new things. Some of the early records of various Junkins in Scotland are beginning to tie together. Before knowing that Robert was born in Brechin parish, there was no way to connect any of these events. Donald Junkins and I, over the years, have both recorded every item we could find about anything that sounded or looked like a Junkins or a Junkins event. One item from the book The surnames of Scotland: their origin, meaning and history[1] was brought to my attention this last month by the Reverend Mackenzie. The entry in the records is "David Junkins was juror on inquest, 1617, concerning the extent of the boundaries of Brechin and of Nevar."

Don had given me this entry five or six years ago and I had also found it in other places. It did not have a great deal of meaning until just this past few months. About eight months ago, I saw an advertisement in Genealogical Helper Magazine for 1865 survey maps of Scotland. They proclaimed to be in great detail and in a scale so large that you could see every building, house, barn and even where the wells were. I wrote to the company and inquired if they had maps of the Brechin area and the Careston areas. After several letters back and forth with the company, I was able to buy two maps, each about four feet by three feet and each covering about fifteen square miles of Brechin and Careston. These maps did indeed show every building and name the families that owned them. They showed the mills, the wells and many other landmarks.

With a magnifying glass, I searched every inch of these maps for any indication of anything related to our Robert Junkins. I was not surprised, but was very pleased, to find a wooded area that was labeled "Jenkins Den" and on the north edge of these woods, "Jenkins Well." I showed the maps to our minister, Chas Jones, in Pennsylvania, who came from Scotland about 11 years ago, and asked him the meaning of the word "Den" in Scotland. It means the same as here and now, "a safe place," not a hiding place, but where your home might be or where you can go to be safe and comfortable. I am not concerned about the spelling of the name. Map makers are notorious for misspelling things. On the present day map of York, Maine, the Junkins McIntire Brook is identified as the Jerkins McIntire Brook.

I enlarged this portion of the map and sent it to the Reverend Mackenzie in Brechin and asked him to find the spot if he could and make inquiries about the origin and history of that exact spot. He is now in the process of searching for more information for us. He tells me that there is a relatively new plantation replacing the old woodland. He told me that we should be keeping an eye on this David Junkins who was, in 1617, concerned with the boundary between Brechin and Nevar parish. He feels that the Jenkins Den may have marked the boundary between Brechin parish and Nevar parish in the early 1600s. Each parish was very protective of their boundaries and this David Junkins was evidently concerned and involved with an attempt by one or the other parishes to move the boundary. David Junkins could very well be one of Robert's uncles or even a grandfather. With the help of the Reverend Mackenzie, we will continue our research. The entry in the records was quite meaningless until we knew that Robert was born in Careston and christened at Brechin Cathedral.

A New Avenue of Research

This past month, I quite by accident, found another entry which has opened a whole new avenue of research. I had gone to the L.D.S. library to search three new microfiche that have been added to the series that I searched to find Robert's christening. I found nothing new, but spent some time "fiche-surfing," which is just like "channel-surfing" with the TV remote. I spotted a christening entry at Brechin Cathedral of a baby named Agnes Findlasone. Her parents were listed as Robert Findlasone and Catharen Jonking. She was christened four years after Robert's sister Agnes was christened. This places her mother, Catharen Jonking, at about the same age as Robert's father. We are now beginning to build a family of Junkins around Brechin and Careston. Robert Junkins, born in 1621, his sister Agnes, born in 1624, Robert's father William Junkins, his mother Elspet Maull Junkins, and possibly an aunt Catharen Junkins and also possibly an uncle or grandfather, David Junkins.

I could use some help on this project. If any of you live near an L.D.S. Family Center Library and have some time on your hands, you could help. Drop me a line and I will send you detailed instructions on how to search the microfiche and which ones to search. It takes about 6 to 8 hours to search one microfiche, but it can be done a little bit at a time. I usually spend about two hours at a time before my eyes give out and then I go back a few days later. The exciting thing is to find some new information about the family that no one else has been able to find. We are beginning to see a great mystery unfold right before our eyes.

Society of Friends of Brechin Cathedral

The Reverend Mackenzie has written and published a major article for the year book of the society of friends of Brechin Cathedral about our Robert and the research that I have done. His final paragraph was most meaningful to me:

"Robert Junkins was born in Scotland and he died in Scotland. He was assigned to enslavement at Durham and he worked in bondage in Durham. But the Scotlands and the Durhams were an ocean apart, and so may be seen in the individual life of one Christened in Brechin Cathedral the tumult, dislocation, anguish, near death, enslavement and renewed hope which those who could count themselves fortunate among Scots experienced in his times."

Back in America

Back in America, our research continues. During the construction of our house at the garrison site, we hired Kathleen Wheeler, Historic Archaeologist, to monitor the excavation for the cellar hole and the digging of the trenches for the water lines and the electrical lines. She spent three days overseeing the digging of the cellar hole but found very little of interest. Several weeks later, she was present when the trenches were dug for the water lines and recorded artifact finds every few feet of the dig from the road to the house. One of the most interesting to us, was finding the two pieces of pipe stem, which date to between 1650 to 1680.

The long clay smoking pipes, which were quite common in the colonies, were manufactured in England and can be dated by the size and shpae of the stem and the size of the hole in the stem. The older they are, the larger the hole in the stem and the bigger around the stem would have to be. As the manufacturing process became better over the years, the smaller the holes and thus, the smaller the diameter of the stem. As the pipes were smoked, they eventually became clogged with tobacco and the smoker would break off the piece of stem that was clogged. These small pieces of stem are quite easy to spot and easy to date by an archaeologist. We have several pieces of pipe stem found around the garrison, with some dating mid- to late-1600s and on in to the 1700s. We have some of these artifacts on display in our house in Maine, including such things as pieces of old bottles, pottery, china, a chamber pot, hand-wrought nails, window glass, wooden buttons, lantern parts, and pipe stems.

The Three Trees

About one tenth of a mile south of the garrison site on Rt. 91, on the property now (1995) owned by John Levy and formerly owned by Chris Simonds, and originally owned by Robert Junkins and his sons, there are three very large and very old maple trees surrounding a single grave. This grave is not marked so we don't know who is buried there. Don Junkins has always felt that this could possibly be the grave of Robert Junkins. I agree with Don and have always wanted to investigate the spot further. The trees could very well be over two hundred years old and could have been planted by Robert's sons or grandsons as a memorial to Robert Junkins. The burial ground is not listed with The Old York Historical Society and is not shown on the maps of old burial grounds of York. I think that Don and I felt that there were originally four trees, one at each corner of the site. John Levy tells me that there was never a fourth tree, that there were only three. The three trees could possibly stand for the trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost. I have found other places in Scotland where this symbol has been used in the past.

In August, I was able to spend a little time at the Old York Historical Society Library and ran across three letters written in 1940, which shed a little light on this grave. The letters were written by John C. Junkins to Frank Parsons in 1940 in response to some questions that Frank Parsons had about the Junkins family. In four places in the three letters, there is mention of a place called "Rankin's field" or "Rankin's lot." Andrew Rankin was one of the seven Scots who came with Robert in the ship "Unity" and were sold to Valentine Hill in Dover, New Hampshire. After their service with Valentine Hill was completed, Andrew Rankin came to York along with Robert Junkins and Micum McIntire. At a later time, the Rankin's purchased this portion of land from the Junkins. One of the 1940 letters quotes the following:

"The Rankins field (so called) owned by Junkins for a long time is located on the north side of #91 now set out to 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. Charles Wisdom says some old bodied of Junkins were move to the new lot opposite Ruth and Tom Nowell's house. Rankin's field extended to Elnor Morrill's house."

In another letter, John C. Junkins states:

"I have no information either as to how many bodies are buried in the old lot in Rankin's field. 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. My Father & Mother, sister and brother are buried there also in this new lot."

On questioning Virginia Spiller, Librarian, at The Old York Historical Society, she said that in the mid 1800s, it was not uncommon for bodies to be moved from some of the family burial grounds to other, more common cemeteries. Many of the bodies in the First Parish burial ground in York had been moved from other family burial grounds in the 1850s. She stated that it seemed to be the fashionable thing to do. These letters from John C. Junkins indicate that this was done with the more recent bodies but the older burials were not moved. The letters show that the Junkins burial ground at Rankin's field is much larger than the one grave that we know about.

After talking with Kathleen Wheeler about this burial ground, she said that she had applied for a grant from the state to work in the Cider Hill area in the early spring of 1995. If it is accepted, she will bring her group of archaeologists in for a day or so to investigate the Rankin's field burial ground.1 In the meantime, I am going to urge the Old York Historical Society to officially recognize and record the spot in their records as a Junkins Burial Ground.

So you see, every day we learn a little bit more about our history and our roots, and we can look forward to learning a lot more in the future.

1. Black, George, F., Ph.D. __The surnames of Scotland: their origin, meaning and history. New York, The New York Public Library, 1946.
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