BUCKFIELD — Circled by the graves of her ancestors, Patricia Shearman was sworn in as Register of Deeds for eastern Oxford County in a symbolic ceremony Friday morning. 

In a small ceremony at the Buckfield Village Cemetery on North Buckfield Road, Shearman took the oath of office with one hand on a history novel, the thesis of which was, “How do we know where we are?” 

“I have chosen to be sworn in, literally on my ancestors’ graves, in order to be in a place that brings meaning to the past, the present and to the future,” Shearman said.

The book, “Mapping the Invisible Landscape,” explores the close connection between physical boundaries and those responsible for mapping, and ultimately, recording them. 

Looking over the grave of her great-great-grandfather, Charles Prince, a U.S. congressman of Georgia, who was born in Buckfield and later returned to be postmaster of the town, Shearman delivered a brief speech before County Administrator Scott Cole, newly elected County Commissioner Timothy Turner and Deputy Treasurer Debra Martin. 

Two headstones away stood the gravestone of her great-great-great grandfather, Noah Prince, who served as president of the Maine senate in 1851, when Maine became the first state to pass a temperance law prohibiting the sale of alcohol except for medicinal purposes.  

“When I found this deed from Noah Prince to his wife, Sarah, I was pleased to find that perhaps my viewpoint as a practical romantic is in part inherited, as Noah deeded his property to his wife, Sarah, one year before he died, ‘in consideration of one dollar and love and affection.'” 

Shearman marked her first swearing-in ceremony nearly four years ago with a similar gesture, holding an 1888 book titled, “Poets of Maine.” It was the same day, 123 years later, that her ancestor, Job Prince, also a president of the legislature, filed the first family property deed in Oxford County. 

After running unopposed in November’s election, Shearman, now in her second term, has recently embarked on a quality-control project to ensure an estimated 20,000 deed-related documents can be clearly viewed on its website. 

“My job is to record, index, file and back up, but the ‘why’ of it and the use that some folks make of the registry’s holdings is anchored in imagination, romanticism and personal contact with the land,” she said. 


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