52 Ancestors: Joseph Morse, Jr. #8

The theme for this week is “Heirloom” so I’m going to share something that doesn’t have its provenance proven yet.

Passed down through my mother’s side of the family is this trio of silhouettes with some carving on the back.

2017-07-01 16.58.12

Words carved on back of framed silhouettes

Carved on the back are the words “GrPa Morse & Wife and “Uncle” Henry.”

The silhouettes need reframing and a bit of conservation (I would love to be able to keep or reconstruct the original frame), but the biggest mystery is who they really represent. If they were passed down from my direct ancestors, my best guess is Joseph Morse, Jr and his wife Lucy Sylvester of Brunswick, Maine. They had their youngest son William Henry in 1828 which corresponds to the style of clothing in the portraits. I contacted Peggy McClard, who specializes in silhouettes, and she recognized the child’s portrait as by an anonymous artist that she has only been able to tie to Maine.

Both Joseph Jr. and his wife Lucy spent their entire lives in Brunswick, Maine. Joseph Jr was born in 1783 to Joseph Morse Sr. and Hannah Hunt. He married Lucy in 1806 and they had five children, including my ancestor Emeline Sylvester Morse. In the 1850 census, his occupation was listed as “farmer.”

Joseph Jr died in 1867 at the age of 84 and was buried in Growstown Cemetery in Brunswick.

Tall gray headstone for Joseph Morse, Jr and wife Lucy

Headstone for Joseph Jr. and wife Lucy in Growstown Cemetery, Brunswick, ME.


Joseph C Anderson, Jonathan W Forsaith, compiler, Vital records of Brunswick, Maine 1740-1860 : and the Forsaith book of Brunswick family records compiled 1876-1880 by Jonathan W. Forsaith, town clerk (Rockport, ME: Picton Press, 2004).