The Lewiston Hermit

Revolutionary War newspapers will be sold at Fairfield auction

In need of money, the Bangor Historical Society must part with a ‘significant piece of Americana.’

FAIRFIELD – On Jan. 7, 1765, in the middle of the Stamp Act controversy, Boston shopkeeper Harbottle Dorr purchased the latest issue of the Boston Evening-Post and commented on its contents in the margins.

Legends of the air

WISCASSET – Tom Weatherby, 88, hobbled toward the side of the Japanese AM6 Zero fighter plane.

He closed his eyes and touched the red, rising-sun Japanese symbol painted onto the side of the aircraft. The plane’s cream-colored metal sparkled in the midafternoon sun.

Drum group performs at Intertribal Pow-wow in Bradley

The Two Feathers host drum group performed at the Intertribal Pow-wow at Leonard’s Mills in Bradley on Saturday, Aug. 13, 2011. The pow-wow, open to the public, is hosted by the Maine Forest and Logging Museum. It continues Sunday from noon until 5 p.m. and features music, dancing, storytelling and native craft vendors. Saturday and Sunday’s events also include a noontime Grand Entry with sacred rituals performed by native participants from throughout New England and Canada.

The Lewiston Hermit

This tale is from Skinner’s American Myths and Legend, a volume sharing dozens of tales that He had collected in his work. It is a brief and far from complete story of the old legends concerning the killing of a good many Indians on the Androscoggin River at what is known today as “Great Falls.” Several other tales have also been concocted, such as the one that suggest that Captain Church and his men knew the Indians were coming downriver and set a fire upon the rocks to decoy them into thinking they were farther upstream then they really were as they attacked. Realizing too late that they were upon the falls they couldn’t escape in time and drowned. There are other tales, but I’ll save them for another time.

The postcard image below is of the tiny island just above the falls where the Lewiston Hermit allegedly lived.

THE LEWISTON HERMIT

Charles Montgomery Skinner

ON an island above the falls of the Androscoggin, at Lewiston, Maine, lived a white recluse at the beginning of the eighteenth century. The natives, having had good reason to mistrust all palefaces, could think no good of the man who lived thus among but not with them. Often they gathered at the bank and looked across at his solitary candle twinkling among the leaves, and wondered what manner of evil he could be planning against them. Wherever there are many conspirators one will be a gabbler or a traitor; so, when the natives had resolved on his murder, he, somehow, learned of their intent and set himself to thwart it. So great was their fear of this lonely man, and of the malignant powers he might conjure to his aid, that nearly fifty Indians joined the expedition, to give each other courage.

Their plan was to go a little distance up the river and come down with the current, thus avoiding the dip of paddles that he might hear in a direct crossing.

When it was quite dark they set off, and keeping headway on their canoes aimed them toward the light that glimmered above the water. But the cunning hermit had no fire in his cabin that night. It was burning on a point below his shelter, and from his hiding-place among the rocks he saw their fleet, as dim and silent as shadows, go by him on the way to the misguiding beacon.

Presently a cry arose. The savages had passed the point of safe sailing; their boats had become unmanageable. Forgetting their errand, their only hope now was to save themselves, but in vain they tried to reach the shore: the current was whirling them to their doom. Cries and death-songs mingled with the deepening roar of the waters, the light barks reached the cataract and leaped into the air. Then the night was still again, save for the booming of the flood. Not one of the Indians who had set out on this errand of death survived the hermit’s stratagem.

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