Acadian history

The First Mass Said in Maine

400 years ago this month, the first Mass was said in Maine on an island in the Kennebec River, some three leagues from its mouth in Popham. There is a lot of discussion, along with reams and reams of documentation considering many of the aspects of Maine’s history, including religion. I found it interesting that the first Catholic Mass was celebrated by the French on the Kennebec, as opposed to some place further north, where their territory was held. The Popham Colony by then had gone by then and there was no opposition to the French presence on the river, so they had been left in peace. This excerpt is from The Makers of Maine, by Herbert Edgar Holmes, published first in 1912 by the Haswell Press in Lewiston. Also of interest to Maine Catholic history is the fact that the first consecrated host made in the new world was made by wheat grown by the same Father Biard, in the Fall of this same year, 1611.

The First Mass Said In Maine

The first Mass that ever was said in the country of what is now the Province of New Brunswick, and the first administering of the sacraments of Penance and Holy Eucharist, took place in the Fall of the year 1611. Biencourt and a ship’s company, together with Father Biard went on an expedition to the west to trade with the Indians living on the Kennebec River for corn and what other food they could get to help through the famine which they knew would come upon them during the next winter at Port Royal. On the way, Biencourt determined to hunt up the Maloans, (people from Malo in France) who were poaching, as we would say now, upon the lands and waters owned by Biencourt’s father, Poutrincourt. These people gave the men who had rightful grants from the Crown great trouble, as they hunted and fished, and what was a worse offense, traded with the Indians, over the lands reserved by lawful grant, illegally and wrongfully, without permission and without making compensation. Biencourt sailed up the St. John River several leagues and came upon their encampment. Their commander, Captain Merveille, was away at the time, but came into camp during the night, and was immediately taken prisoner by Biencourt. The next morning a peace was patched up between Biencourt and the Maloans and the latter agreed to recognise the superior title and authority of Biencourt and to make compensation for their illegal trading. Father Biard then said Mass and Captain Merveille made his confession to the Father and received communion together with three of his men.

However, to us who are studying the early history of Maine, it is of greater interest to know that the first Mass said on the soil of the State of Maine was said in the month of October, 1611, on an island in the Kennebec River, three leagues from its mouth. It is a pity that Father Biard leaves us no description of that island by which we can identify it today from among the great number of islands in the lower Kennebec. It lies between Bath and the sea, about three leagues from the mouth of the river, and imagination must supply the rest. The Jesuit relates it in these words:

“We arrived at the Kinibequi towards the end of October. Kinnibequi is a river near the Armouchiquois, in latitude forty-three and two third degrees, and southwest of Port Royal about seventy leagues or thereabouts. It has two quite large mouths, one distant from the other at least two leagues; it is also cut up by numerous arms and branches. Besides, it is a great and beautiful river; but we did not see good soil there any more than at the St. John River. They say however, that farther up, away from the sea, the country is very fine and life there agreeable, and that the people till the soil. We did not go farther up than three leagues; we whirled about through so many eddies, and shot over so many precipices, that several times it was a great miracle of God that we did not perish. Some of our crew cried out at two different times that we were lost; but they cried too soon, blessed be our Lord. The savages cajoled us with the hope of getting corn; then they changed their promise of corn to that of trade in beaver skins. Now while this trading was going on, Father Biard had gone, with a boy, to an island nearby, to celebrate Holy Mass.”

The company traded with the Indians and once came near to having trouble with them, but the peace was not disturbed, and they sailed away leaving behind them a good opinion in the minds of the Indians. It seems that these Indians had good reason to fear and hate the white men because (as I have stated in a former chapter) the English in 1608 had abused them shamefully. Father Biard says: “These people do not seem to be bad, although they drove away the English who wished to settle among them in 1608 and 1609. They made excuses to us for this act, and recounted the outrages they had experienced from the English; and they flattered us, saying that they loved us very much, because they knew we would not close our doors to the savages as the English did, and set our dogs upon them.” This is a different description from what has come down to us from the English writers, as I shall show later.

Maine History News Headlines

Wood Island preservation group gets help from Old York
By Deborah Mcdermott KITTERY, Maine — The board of the Old York Historical Society last week voted for the first time to help an organization outside the town’s boundaries, agreeing to assist the Wood Island Life Saving Station Association in Kittery

Column: History Buffs discuss the new Swampscott calendar
Wicked Local
The cover for the 2012 Swampscott Historical Society Calendar shows the passenger ferry Swampscott in Maine in about 1910. By Betty Dean Holmes/Wicked Local At the History Buffs October meeting, a dozen of us discussed the 2012 Swampscott Historical

Clubs and groups
Foster’s Daily Democrat
ELIOT — The Eliot Historical Society invites you to join them on Nov. 7 at 7 pm at the John F. Hill Grange, State Road. Eliot Maine. Stephen Dow will present the “27th Maine” , the volunteer regiment of York County during the Civil War

Categories: Acadian history, breaking news, headlines, history, stories, Uncategorized, weird Maine news | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Norway’s Luther Farrar House Destroyed by Fire

Here is another batch of headlines for your history reading pleasure. As always, if you have something to share that is Maine history related please email it to If it’s an event, make sure you get it to me in plenty of time to share.

Loss of historic house a ‘tragedy’ for downtown
The destruction by fire of one of the oldest houses on Main Street has left another hole in one of the state’s most complete downtown National Historic Districts. “For Norway Downtown whose rehabilitation efforts hinge on significant historic buildings, this is a tragedy…

New barn for the Searsmont Historical Society A dedication ceremony for the new Searsmont Historical Society Barn will be held Saturday, May 28, and will feature a ribbon cutting ceremony, pig roast and barn dance.— Some small towns are…

Next Maine Event: Bug Light a breezy beacon for kite connoisseurs South Portland Historical Society board members will be manning the barbecue, grilling hot dogs and hamburgers. Chips and soda will also be available for purchase. KID-FRIENDLY FACTOR: What kid…

City seafaring family in spotlight Shipbuilding in Biddeford and Saco reached its height in the mid-1800s, when two or three ships per year were being built in shipyards on both sides of the Saco River, according to the archives at the Maine Historical Society. …

Despite $97,000 grant, Addison church may be lost
Despite having just received a $97,000 restoration grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the historic Church on The Hill in Addison may still be lost soon. Since 1798, a church has always stood on the top of the hill. The first, a community meetinghouse, was blown…

Acadian Festival, Cyr Family Reunion moving to August
The 34th Acadian Festival and the annual family reunion held at the same time in Madawaska are being moved from late June to Aug. 11-15 this year to coincide with International Acadian Day on Aug. 15. This year’s gathering is the Cyr Family Reunion, celebrating ancestors and descendants of one…

Early Declaration of Independence document winds up its 50-state tour in Bangor
A precious piece of America’s history — an original Dunlap broadside of the Declaration of Independence printed on July 4, 1776 — has visited each of the 50 states and on Saturday made Maine its last stop on its decade-long tour. Only 26 copies of the original…

Mill museum has support
Lisa Flynn worked at WestPoint Home until the end. “I never thought we’d shut down,” she said Saturday, seated around a table in the vast North Dam mill with several former co-workers, reminiscing…

Life at sea, revisited
A new exhibit at the Saco Museum explores 19th century maritime history through the life of sea captain Tristram Jordan and his family. The exhibit, Voyages and the Great Age of Sail, opens Friday with a free reception at 5:30 p.m. and runs through Sept. 4. The exhibit is a culmination of a history class of the same name at University of New England, which is team taught by UNE History Professor Elizabeth De Wolfe and Camille Smalley, program and education manager for the Saco Museum…

From the Maine Historical Society;

Online Exhibit: High Water

While many Mainers are thrilled that spring has finally arrived, others who live or work along the state’s swollen rivers watch rising water levels cautiously. This exhibit revisits historic floods and the impact they have had on local people and communities. Read more.

Thursday, May 19, 7:00 pm

The Annual Olmsted Lecture

The Longfellow Gardens: The Evolution of Two Landmarks

Speaker: Lauren Meier, Pressley Associates, Cambridge, MA

Join us to learn about the rich history and recent rehabilitation of the Longfellow Garden at MHS and the garden at the Longfellow National Historic Site in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Meier, a landscape architect with a specialty in historic preservation, contributed to the rehabilitation of both gardens. This event is held in partnership with the Longfellow Garden Club. Details.

Saturday, June 4, 9 am – 12:30 pm

MHS Annual Meeting: Looking (Back) at Television

Join us to conduct the official business of MHS! The annual meeting includes awards, the welcoming of new Trustees, and a talk by Fred Thompson, former head of the Maine Broadcasting System (1983-98), on the early days of television in Maine. MHS membership and event registration required. Details.

Saturday, June 4, 1 – 3:30 pm

The Dave Astor Reunion Show

Featuring Dave Astor with Tony Boffa, Steve Romanoff, and Fred Thompson

Join us to remember and celebrate one of Maine’s best-loved homegrown television shows, The Dave Astor Show (For Teenagers Only). Location: Port City Music Hall, 504 Congress Street, Portland. Details.

Categories: Acadian history, articles, breaking news, events, headlines, historic buildings, historic preservation, historical societies, history, lighthouses, Maine, Maine Historical Society, Maine things to do, museum news, Revolutionary War, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gold Prices and Opera Houses

If your historical society or genealogy organization has news to share, an event scheduled, or other information you’d like to share here, please email the info to
More news and events from the world of Maine history…
Gold Prices Endanger Antique Watches The value of gold and silver has been rising as the Great Recession has dragged on, and Worthologist David Mycko says this is bringing on the demise of literally thousands of gold and silver antiques and collectibles of all nature. But watches, he says, have been hit particularly hard. As a watchmaker and collector, this pains David more than others. He gives one example of a perfectly fine antique watch whose days could be numbered before it is melted down and sold for its gold value. Read “Gold Prices Endanger Antique Watches”
Boothbay Opera House: Fixing up the old gal
The old Opera House has never looked better. Especially when you realize she has passed her 117th birthday.
She closed this winter to allow local workers and volunteers to do a bit of fixing up, including installing a new heating system, patching a few leaks and holes, adding a new (old) floor, new seats, sound system, seating, balcony railing, painting and so on, and so on, to the tune of more than $400,000.
Castine eyes repairs to Emerson Hall
Town officials have hired an architect to conduct an assessment of Emerson Hall in an effort to determine what repairs might be necessary for the 110-year-old building to continue serving as town hall. There are obvious signs both inside and outside the building, according to Town Manager …
State pledges $1 million for 2014 World Acadian Congress
Organizers of the World Acadian Congress, who believe the event will bring a huge economic boost to Aroostook County and parts of Canada in 2014, are steaming forward with their plans after learning that the state will commit $1 million to the festivities over the next …
Augers named to Franco hall of fame
Gilles Auger has been creating a database of Franco-Americans who came to Sanford from Quebec to work in the mills. As he records those who came and their relations in Quebec and elsewhere, the database has grown to 80,000 names. As well, he reads a half-dozen French language newspapers daily on the Internet, especially the ones from Montreal, Quebec City and Sherbrooke, and while he’s keeping up with the news, he checks for familiar names.
Opera House gets grants, a third of the way to goal
FUNDS NEEDED — The Opera House in Norway. The Opera House Corporation needs to raise an additional $127,500 in order to pay for the stabilization work.
Woodland Margins; Georgetown Historical Society Spring Exhibit
The opening reception and artists talk will be on Firday, 1 April from 4 to 6 PM and the open house will be Saturday, 2 April, from 10 AM to Noon. The exhibit will run until 15 June. The GHS is open at no charge on Wednesdays from 10AM to 5PM. FMI: or call them at 207-371-9200.
From the Maine Historical Society;
Sardine packers, Lubec, ca. 1976
Community Website:
Lubec’s history reflects its close ties to the sea and its proximity to New Brunswick. Many stories from that history–including the rise and fall of the sardine industry and tales of smugglers, the American Revolution, and life around Passamaquoddy Bay–are captured in this rich website built and maintained by community members from the Lubec Historical Society, Lubec Memorial Library, Lubec Landmarks, and Lubec Consolidated School. 2011 marks the town’s bicentennial. Read more and explore the website.
Friday, April 1, 5-8 PM
Music, refreshments, and two exhibits: Zoom-In: New Approaches to Maine History (through May 29) and Arts, Artists and Personalities in 1930s Maine (through May 3). More info.
Sunday, April 3, 10 AM-4 PM
Discovering Maine’s Jewish History
The 2nd Maine Jewish History Conference
Location: Roberts Union, Colby College
Explore the richness of Jewish life in Maine at a day-long conference featuring talks, panels, and workshops presented by community, professional, and student historians. Learn about early Jews in Lewiston, Jewish back-to-the-landers, anti-semitism in Portland, openness in Eastport, communal life in Old Town, social life in Old Orchard Beach, and much more. Leading scholars will place the experiences of Maine’s Jews within the broader context of American Jewish history. Registration required (includes lunch and materials). Download the registration form. Presented by Colby College with Maine Historical Society and Documenting Old Maine Jewry. For more information, please visit:
Thursday, April 7, 7 PM
In partnership with Maine Humanities Council
Emerson Baker, Professor of History, Salem State College
Join us for an exploration of Arundel, Kenneth Roberts’ fictional account of Benedict Arnold’s march through Maine to Québec during the American Revolution. This event is free but registration is required. For more information or to register, please visit the Maine Humanities Council’s website or call MHC at 207-773-5051.
Categories: Acadian history, antiques, Art Exhibit, articles, breaking news, collectibles, events, Geneology, headlines, historic buildings, historic preservation, historical societies, history, Maine Historical Society, museum news, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


Spring has sprung and your local historical societies are starting to waken form their winter slumber! Do you know what’s happening in your community, history-wise? No, or wish you did? Then get involved with your local historical society today! We’d like to see a more in depth look at what’s going on around the state here at RMM, so please send in your announcements, press releases and event calendars to for inclusion in this website. Also, check out our Contacts page and see if your society link is posted. If it isn’t
there, send that along too and we’ll update our directory.


Cannons, Cheers and a Customized  Cake Help Dedicate New Visitor Center at Fort McHenry National Monument Ribbon cutting ceremonies for new buildings are commonplace, but the dedication of a new visitor center for Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine in Baltimore on March 3, 2011, included plenty of unique touches. Among them was
a customized bakery creation that proved you can have your cake and shoot it too. Given the history of the fort, it’s appropriate that the event included deep drum rolls and cannon fire that could be heard a mile away, and when organizers decided to include music by a local choir, the choice of a song seemed pretty obvious. This performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” by the City College Choir occurred on the 80th anniversary of the formal adoption of the composition as country’s official national anthem….

History inspires Buckfield students Eighth-grader Alexis Constantino said people don’t realize how important animal testing is in the discovery of cures for a variety of human diseases. “Animal testing has helped a lot of people,” she said….

House delays whoopie pie debate The bill has mixed support from the State and Local Government Committee.

Maine celebrates Franco-American Day Maine’s Franco-American community is being recognized as the state celebrates Franco-American Day. Festivities at the state capitol Wednesday include a Franco-American breakfast menu at the cafeteria, historical and cultural exhibits, and performances of French music. U.S., Canadian and French national anthems will be sung in the House …

The Camden-Rockport Historical Society celebrates Maine’s Maple Sunday, including demonstrations of maple syrup making in the 1820s sugar house, free ice cream sundaes with maple syrup, free chuckwagon beans and taffy pull noon-3 p.m. March 27, at Cramer Museum-Conway Homestead complex at the Camden-Rockport town line. Free. 594-8047 or e-mail …

Categories: Acadian history, articles, breaking news, Education, events, headlines, historical societies, history, Maine | Leave a comment

History Headlines Roundup for August 14th

Roadside Maine before World War II

York Weekly -Shettleworth has lectured and written extensively on Maine history and architecture. The Wells Reserve at Laudholm is a National Estuarine Research Reserve

Mass. man helps save oldest family store in North America (video)

NECN – came in to save the business, and a piece of American history. This is the story of two businessmen. One from Maine, the other from Massachusetts.

Acadians Commemorate History, Celebrate Culture

The Epoch Times – encompassing the communities of Madawaska in northwestern New Brunswick, Temiscouata County in Quebec, and the state of Maine, where many Acadians live.

Antique appraisal day set for Aug. 22 -KITTERY, Maine — From 10 am to 2 pm Saturday, Aug. 22, Kittery Point’s First Congregational Church will hold an antique appraisal day.

Historical river map a big hit at Info Booth – The 19- by 20-inch map highlights the history and historical resources on the Androscoggin River. It also shows a list of historical figures connected to

Search of family roots leads to Revolutionary War soldier’s grave

FARMINGTON — When you start researching your family’s roots, you never know what you’ll find. It turns out that Connie Gove Hiltz, 77, of Farmington, has an American Revolutionary War soldier as an ancestor among others who fought to right injustices, she said. Her great-great-great-grandfather Jacob Gove enlisted at age 16 in Col. Rufus Putnam’s regiment and served in the Continental Army for three years. After the war, he received one of the first land grants in North Lubec on Soward’s Neck, which came be known as Gove Point, Hiltz said.

WorthPoint Hosting ‘What Is It Worth?’ Contest on Twitter
Do you own an antique or collectible that you’d like to know more about? Maybe it’s the railroad watch your grandfather gave you, that Batman comic book you bought when you were 7 years old or maybe the painting you thought looked interesting and bought cheap from a yard sale. Are you wondering what it’s worth? WorthPoint is hosting aTwitter contest to give you a chance to find out.

Playing is simple. Take a picture of your antique or collectible that you’d like to learn more about, and post it to Twitter with a short description. Each day, we’ll randomly choose a submitted item for a free Ask A Worthologist evaluation. Daily winners will be contacted on Twitter to obtain more information on the item and an e-mail address to which the evaluation can be sent. At the end of the contest, one winner will be chosen for the Grand Prize of a free one-year Professional profile account on WorthPoint.

Click here for more information about the WorthPoint Twitter contest

Expert Appraisers Miss ‘Great Find’ Hiding in Plain Sight
Just as the everyday collector hopes to come across a Great Find—an item bypassed by many, purchased for a pittance and worth thousands—experts can miss a valuable item staring them in the face. Will Seippel, the founder, CEO and president of WorthPoint, recently had such an experience and found a Great Find overlooked by professional appraisers.
Read “Expert Appraisers Miss ‘Great Find’ Hiding in Plain Sight”

Maine Historical Society, in partnership with the Portland Harbor Museum, invites you to the second in a two-part lecture series…

Wednesday, August 19, 7pm

ANCHORS AWEIGH: The U.S. Navy in Casco Bay during World War II

Lecture: Naval Sea Activities in Casco Bay
George Stewart, Retired Naval Officer

Join us to learn about the bustle of naval activity around Casco Bay during WWII, and the region’s important role in the war effort.

On January 24, 1941, the U.S. Navy designated Casco Bay a fleet anchorage and authorized the establishment of a U.S. Naval Frontier Base in Portland. The Frontier Base soon grew to be a U.S. Naval Station manned by thousands of sailors and serving hundreds of vessels which the Army and the Navy secretly designated as the most important naval base in the United States.

Stewart will discuss the mission of the base, the ships that visited Casco Bay during the war, and life on the water in the environs of Casco Bay during WWII.

This event is FREE and open to the public.

Event Information
When: Wednesday, August 19, 2009, 7pm
Where: Maine Historical Society,
489 Congress Street, Portland, Maine 04101
For more information call 207-774-1822;;

The Maine Historical Society and Portland Harbor Museum invite you to…

Sunday, August 23, 12pm-3pm
Walking Tour of Fort Scammell on House Island

Historians Joel Eastman, Ken Thompson, and Captain Harold Cushing

Join us for a walking tour of Fort Scammell on House Island in Portland Harbor. Conducted by Historians Joel Eastman, Ken Thompson, and Captain Harold Cushing, the tour will offer an opportunity to learn the history of the 1808 fort while exploring the structure’s passageways.

Captain Cushing will transport visitors on his vessel from Long Wharf on the Portland waterfront to Fort Scammell, which is on privately owned House Island in Portland Harbor. During the ride, passengers will enjoy views of the harbor while Thompson and Eastman give an overview of the fort’s history.

Space is limited. Advance reservations are required. To register, please contact the Portland Harbor Museum at 773-3800 or by email

Fee: $25.00; MHS and PHM Members: $20.00

Event Information
When: Sunday, August 23, 2009, 12:00 noon – 3:00 pm
Where: Long Wharf
Commercial Street, Portland, Maine
For more information Portland Harbor Museum; 207-773-3800;;

Greetings, fellow Mainers and New Englanders! Be sure to mark your calendars for the 32nd annual MAINE CARRIAGE DAYS, October 3rd (rain date the 4th).

This year’s event will be held at Topsham Fairgrounds in Topsham, Maine during the height of Maine’s colorful leaf peeping season.

Proximity to Interstate 295 and several other approach routes makes this a very convenient location for attending. This is a the only Maine equine carriage driving event recognized by the American Driving Society, featuring an extensive Pleasure Class lineup as well as Driven Dressage, Cones Course, Marathon Pace, and a Carriage Dog Class.

It is open to all breeds of equine, from large draft to tiny mini horses, even mules and donkeys, and SPECTATORS ARE WELCOME.

The list of awards includes the Col. Paul Downing Trophy and Helen Sanborn Trophy among others.

The Maine Carriage Days event celebrates the traditional art of carriage driving, emphasizes the skills and training necessary to achieve harmonious communication between human and horse, and this event is often attended by people driving antique vehicles or competing with rare breeds of horses.

The event will also include product vendors, educational demonstrations, manufacturers’ displays, and horse-drawn carriage rides provided by Jerome St. Louis of Star Hill Stables driving a gorgeous pair of black Clydesdales.

Spectator Admissions: Adults $3, Children under 12 Free.

Overnight stabling and camping for competitors is available with prior reservation. (207) 865-2047

Categories: Acadian history, Maine Historical Society | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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