history

Joseph B Stearns of Camden

Quite often we Mainer’s plug on with our lives giving scant remembrance to those who went before us, but while here were, in their own ways, great men, aiding and increasing the comfort and ability of the rest of us to make our own way in the world. Communicating with one another is just one of the many things that we have come to take for granted, and is one of the main conduits for transferring the information we use to make life better, in every way. Without the telephone, where would we be today?

But before the telephone, we had the telegraph as our main method of communication. However, there was a problem with using these methods of communication, as messages could only travel down a wire one at a time. If you wanted to send two messages at the same time, you needed two wires. Fortunately, The little village of Weld Maine gave us one of these men that we never hear much of, if anything at all today, that provided a solution to this problem. Joseph B. Stearns worked out, and patented a way in which multiple electrical signals could be communicated along both directions of a wire at the same time, thus revolutionizing the still young industry of telegraphy.

It also turns out that Mr. Stearns also played a small part in the War for Southern Independence by intercepting some information and providing it to President Lincoln in time to avert a disaster for our capitol city. Reul Robinson has the following to say about Stearns in his History of Camden and Rockport, Maine:

Joseph B. Stearns of Camden died July 4 [1895]. Mr. Stearns was born in 1831, was a native of Weld, Maine, and the son of poor parents. When fourteen years of age his father moved to Searsmont and three years later Mr. Stearns went to Newburyport, Mass., where he worked for a time in a cotton mill. In 1850 being 18 years of age, he began the study of telegraphy at Newburyport and remained there and along the line to Portland for four years. In 1854 he went into the fire telegraph office at Boston and in a few months was appointed superintendent. While in that position he went to Charleston, S. C, during the war of the rebellion to put in a fire alarm system and was able to perform an important service to his country by gathering information on his way home, which he gave to President Lincoln, thereby preventing the rebel army from occupying Arlington Heights and saving Washington from falling into their hands.

In 1867 Mr. Stearns was elected President of the Franklin Telegraph Co., which office he held between two and three years. It was at about this time that Mr. Stearns’ genius gave to the world one of the most important inventions of the century, namely, the duplex system of telegraphy, by which two messages can be sent over the wire at the same time. The invention brought him great wealth and will make his name forever famous. It was patented in 1868 and about three years later, he sold the right of the United States and Canada to the Western Union.

In 1872 he went to England to introduce his system there and after two years of effort Parliament gave him a royalty for the use of his invention. He also received royalties in France and Italy. In 1880 Mr. Stearns engineered the Mexican cable, putting 750 miles of cable into operation and in 1881 he engineered a line in Central and South America.

In 1882 Mr. Stearns went to Short Hills, N. J., where he lived until 1885 when he came to Camden to visit the family of James B. Swan, who were his relatives, and was so enchanted with the natural beauty of the place that he purchased a tract of land on the Belfast Road, with the object of making Camden his future home. He said that he had travelled the world over, and considered Camden the most beautiful place he ever visited.

The following year (1886) he erected the magnificent stone residence “Norumbega” where he passed the remainder of his life. Afterwards he bought large tracts of land farther up the Belfast Road, where he operated the large fancy stock farm known as “Sagamore Farm” and did much for the development and prosperity of the town. Mr. Stearns was twice married. His first wife was Lois M. Brooks by whom he had three children all of whom died young. His second wife was Amanda Edmonds of Portsmouth, N. H. The children of this union were two sons, Edward S., now of Thomaston, Maine, and Harry W., of Camden.

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New Salt & Pines Presentation

I have done a video of my latest Salt & Pines presentation dealing with lumbering in Maine’s bygone days. It is a shortened version, the full length presentation includes more video and still shots, as well as additional narration. This piece works to satisfy the short attention span for most Youtubers, (actually it is still too long for most) But you’ll find it interesting. Enjoy, and if you’re interested in more, drop me a note!

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Malaga Island

Malaga Island: A century of shame

By: Colin Woodard

Analysis: A new exhibit at the Maine State Museum tells the story of the eviction of Malaga Island’s residents, one of the state’s most disgraceful official acts ever.

Maps and letters by the ‘Great Geographer’ topic of museum speaker series …
Lake of the Woods Enterprise
Maine Historical Society librarian Frances Pollitt discusses the ‘Great Geographer’ with Lake of the Woods Museum educator Braden Murray following her presentation David Thompson – Letters and Maps at the museum speaker series, Tuesday.

Garvey to perform for Old Berwick Historical Society 50th anniversary concert
Seacoastonline.com
Folk-rock singer-songwriter Connor Garvey will perform at the society’s Counting House Museum (1 Liberty St., South Berwick, Maine) on Thursday, May 24. Doors open at 7 pm The concert is open to members of the public who join the Old Berwick Historical …

Maine students’ field trip includes Rollinsford Mills
The Union Leader
By JOHN QUINN SOUTH BERWICK, Maine — Elementary students from Central School are getting ready to take a Hike Through History and will visit several key stops in the downtown as well as cross the state line to learn about the nearby mills this Friday.

Owls Head struggles to save relegated one-room schoolhouses
Bangor Daily News
By Heather Steeves, BDN Staff OWLS HEAD, Maine — At its peak, this small coastal town had five one-room schoolhouses. Now only two remain, and both are out of use. To raise awareness about the legacy of the schools, the Mussel Ridge Historical Society …

Midlander to donate quilt to Maine museum
Midland Reporter-Telegram
It most likely was made on one of the Fox Islands — either Vinalhaven or North Haven in Maine — where Denham’s grandmother was born, he said. Once Denham realized the historical value of the quilt he began researching its history.

Waterboro presentation honors Civil War’s 32nd Maine
KeepMEcurrent.com
According to local historian Bruce Tucker, who gave a presentation on the 32nd Maine Regiment on May 3 to the Waterborough Historical Society, most of the men who signed up were either “really young” or “rather old,” since by the spring of 1864 most of …

Rockland neighborhood off Route 1 to be leveled
May 16, 2012 05:23 pm | Stephen Betts

ROCKLAND, Maine — Nearly every home along a street off Route 1 is expected to be demolished over the next week. The 12 cottage-style homes and several sheds date back more than a century in some cases. Applications were filed this week by David Landry of Superior Restoration to demolish…

An ‘amazing’ collection set to go public at USM

By: Kelley Bouchard

A Mainer’s painstaking work tracks the chief mode of travel from the U.S. to Europe for a century.

PHOTO: A place in Lewiston history

Susan Hall, right, owner of The Vault at 84 Lisbon St., chats with Jennifer Ferguson, left, and Rick Morris of the Lewiston Historic Preservation Commission on Thursday. The building at 84 Lisbon St. has been recognized as a piece of Lewiston history. The Healy Terrace on Ash Street and the Andro…

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Piscataquis River Fishways

This post is a continuation of a look at the fishing heritage of Maine’s angling locations, refer to “A Paradise for Anglers” post of 15, May, 2012 for the beginning article…

This being the time of the year it is, meaning fishin’ time in the Pine Tree State, I thought I would share some excerpts from the 1907 Bangor & Aroostook Vacationist’s Guidebook. Historically speaking, Maine has been a destination of choice for many anglers, with the choices for game fish ranging from brook trout, to bass to togue and salmon, and then there is the offshore fishing as an option too. Remember as you read this that it was written over 100 years ago, and I share this here for the historical value these old guidebooks provide to the reader today. I intend to share the entire section on angling from this book in shorter segments, so come back tomorrow for more on Maine’s angling paradise from the bygone days!

Remember that this book is over a century old now, and the trains no longer carry passengers to any of these station, and in fact, none of these stations exist today. I include them here for those of you that might want to do a little treasure hunting and search for these old stations.

Piscataquis River Fishways

Piscataquis river; offers plenty of black bass and pickerel, and some trout; can be reached from any of the stations along the Moosehead lake division from Milo Junction to Shirley.

Seboois lake; offers white perch and exceptionally good pickerel fishing; waters flow through Endless lake and Seboois stream before entering Piscataquis river. Good trout fishing in these tributaries: Northwest pond, Seboois stream, Ragged Mountain pond and stream, Bear brook, Patrick brook, Endless lake (or Trout pond) and several smaller ponds. Nearest railroad stations: Schoodic and West Seboois.

Schoodic lake; offers landlocked salmon, trout, togue and black bass in abundance; flows into Piscataquis river through Schoodic stream, of which Hunt brook is a tributary. Tributaries: Norton pond and several smaller streams which flow into Schoodic lake, all well stocked with trout of good size. Nearest railroad station: Schoodic stream, of which Hunt brook is a tributary. Tributaries: Norton pond and several smaller streams which flow into Schoodic lake, all well stocked with trout of good size. Nearest railroad station: Schoodic.

Pleasant river; is well trouted in its upper waters; enters the Piscataquis near Milo Junction. Tributaries: Lower and Upper Ebeeme ponds, Roaring brook, Houston and Little Houston ponds, Houston brook, Mountain pond and brook, Big and Little Lyford ponds, West Branch pond, Hay and White brooks, Greenwood, Cedar, Spruce, Spruce Mountain, West Chairback, East Chairback and B ponds, Beaver and Guernsey brooks, all particularly well populated with trout. Nearest railroad station: Katahdin Iron Works.

Pleasant river; is well trouted in its upper waters; enters the Piscataquis near Milo Junction. Tributaries: Lower and Upper Ebeeme ponds, Roaring brook, Houston and Little Houston ponds, Houston brook, Mountain pond and brook, Big and Little Lyford ponds, West Branch pond, Hay and White brooks, Greenwood, Cedar, Spruce, Spruce Mountain, West Chairback, East Chairback and B ponds, Beaver and Guernsey brooks, all particularly well populated with trout. Nearest railroad station: Katahdin Iron Works.

Sebec lake, tributary to Piscataquis river; harbors landlocked salmon, trout, black bass, pickerel and white perch in quantity. Excellent trout fishing in these tributaries: Goose pond, Mill brook, Grape, Long, Second, Third, Fourth, Burden, Grindstone, Greenwood and the Benson ponds. Lake Onawa, another important tributary, has hordes of landlocked salmon and trout. Other more northern tributaries are the Greenwood ponds, Long Pond stream, Ixnig, Trout and Hedgehog ponds, Grindstone, South, Monson, Hebron and the two Spectacle ponds, Wilson stream, the Wilson ponds, Fogg, Bum and Trout ponds. All of these waters offer splendid trout fishing. Nearest railroad stations: South Sebec, Dover and Foxcroft, and Abbot Village.

To reach Lake Onawa, go to Brownville Junction or Greenville, thence over the Canadian Pacific railroad to Onawa station. Hebron and nearby lakes are best reached from Monson.

At Blanchard; good trout fishing in Blackstone brook, Mud, Spectacle and Thanksgiving ponds, Bald Mt. and Bog streams.

At Shirley; trout in Piscataquis river, Gove and Gravel brooks, West and Oakes bogs, Spectacle, Ordway, Indian, Trout,

Notch, Hound and Moxie ponds. Indian and Ordway ponds also offer togue of splendid size.

Next up in the “Paradise for Anglers”series is the Moosehead region

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Sawmills: a vanishing heritage

I actually made this vedeo some time ago, and had it over at Vimeo, so you may have seen it there already. Recently, I migrated all of my Vimeo videos over to my YouTube channel as this is going to be the platform for all of my video programs.

This one concerns the legacy and vanishing heritage of the old logging and lumbering days. Enjoy…

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A Paradise for Anglers

This being the time of the year it is, meaning fishin’ time in the Pine Tree State, I thought I would share some excerpts from the 1907 Bangor & Aroostook Vacationist’s Guidebook. Historically speaking, Maine has been a destination of choice for many anglers, with the choices for game fish ranging from brook trout, to bass to togue and salmon, and then there is the offshore fishing as an option too. Remember as you read this that it was written over 100 years ago, and I share this here for the historical value these old guidebooks provide to the reader today. I intend to share the entire section on angling from this book in shorter segments, so come back tomorrow for more on Maine’s angling paradise from the bygone days!

It is one thing to want fish; it is quite another thing to know where the fish are, and how to get them. It can be safely taken for granted that forty-nine men and women out of every fifty find sport a-plenty in the gentle art of fishing. They have the angling inclination, the desire, the hopes, but they are not always fortunate in their choice of a fishing place. It is for such enthusiasts as these that this chapter of the guidebook is especially prepared. Here is given in detail just the kind of information the fisherman would like to know — where the best fishing waters are, what varieties of fish may be caught in them, and how they may be most easily reached.

Maine’s great north wilderness, with its acreage of over fifteen thousand square miles, is crossed and recrossed by the most remarkable network of aqueous lanes and byways that all America can boast—magnificent lakes, picturesque ponds, broad rivers, silvery streams and winding brooks — some thousands of them in all, if you care to make a count. They are most charming to look upon; they afford an easy road for the canoeist in and out of the densest portions of the wilderness; but most important of all to the fisherman, they harbor game fish of record size and in record numbers, and despite the annual invasions made by anglers in these domains, the piscatorial wealth of the region remains apparently unchanged.

Trout, togue, landlocked salmon, whitefish, black bass, pickerel and white perch make up the fishy fare for anglers in northern Maine. And these are not fish of ordinary size or ordinary gameness; 40 Pounds of Moosehead Lake Togue. tlieV l’llll large, and from the moment they are hooked until they are finally brought to net they give proof in plenty of great pluck and endurance. Northern Maine trout range in weight from one to eight pounds, togue will weigh from three to fifteen pounds each, landlocked salmon from three to eight pounds, with the other fish of proportionally ample size. It is no boy’s play to hook and land these finny trophies, and the fisherman who finally wins out over his battling prey certainly earns the victory.

Sport for wielders of fishing rods begins in northern Maine with the going out of the ice in the spring and holds good until well through the summer months. As for picking out any one fishing place and calling it the best, that is obviously impossible, for piscatorial advantages have been scattered in hundreds of different localities throughout northern Maine, and with wonderfully impartial hand. Our advice is to study this book enough to become familiar in a general way with northern Maine’s best fishing grounds, and then ascertain from the camp owners who advertise in this volume, whatever special information is desired regarding the angling outlook in their respective localities.

Northern Maine fishing waters group naturally into eight systems or divisions, as follows: The Piscataquis river, Moosehead Lake, Penobscot river West branch, Penobscot river East branch, Aroostook river, Fish river, Allagash river, and St. John river systems. The chief fishing waters of each system are given below, with a mention of the various kinds of fish to be met with in each instance, the most convenient railroad station, and other detailed information.

Next up, Piscataquis River Fishways…

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Pejepscot Falls 2012

Every spring the rain showers and snowmelt comes rolling down from the mountains, tumbling through the many valleys and ravines creating the spring freshets, most years providing a least a few parts of the state with devastating results. This year at Pejepscot Falls the freshet was mild, with little to no reports heard of flooding along the Androscoggin watershed. I took some video of it earlier today and uploaded it to YouTube. Comparatively speaking, it appears to be just a lot of water flowing under the bridge, but when you stand back and look at the history surrounding this place, one cannot help but wonder at the awesome power these rains bring to the falls every year. The following piece is an excerpt from the 1868 copy of the Hydrographic Survey of 1867, a report on the water powers of Maine.

The history behind this place is too lengthy to share here, but suffice it to say that there is more than meets the eye when it comes to the towns of Brunswick and Topsham. Perhaps I’ll do a post on the bar-hopping ladies of the early 1800s someday. Enjoy watching the video while reading about some of the mills that made use of this waterpower in the mid 1800s.

First, the “Pejepscot Falls,” on the Androscoggin river, at the head of tide; total height of fall about forty-one (40 83) feet above common high tide; whole horizontal distance, 1,980 feet. “The fall can be increased to fifty-five feet by raising the upper dam, and the damage from flowage would be very slight, the land on both sides of the river for eight miles to Little River Village being mostly high.”

Formation of the Falls.—The natural falls consist of coarse graphic granite and gneiss. The rock upon the middle fall projects above the water at several points, serving as natural abutments to the several sections of the dam. The lower fall has an island near middle of stream, Shad Island. There are three pitches.

The minimum power at this point, as at others above, is capable of very great increase, at least trebled, by the improvement of the great natural reservoirs upon the river. This I shall be able to set forth more fully in the next report. It is a power, at the lowest estimate that can be put upon it, of the first magnitude.

Lay of the land excellent for the location of mills and factories, there being a broad natural slope below the falls of sufficient extent to accommodate any required number of constructions. Colonel Baldwin judges the best sites to be upon the left bank. Advantages for the conveyance of water by canals, first-class. The stone in the immediate vicinity of the falls is suitable for foundations and such coarse work. Building granite of excellent quality within two miles, and excellent clay for bricks close at hand. Lime burned in town.

The privilege is owned by about fifteen different proprietors, resident in the vicinity.

-Improvements.—Two dams constructed of wood, leaky at present, as indeed they always have been. The upper or third dam rotted down and was carried away a few years ago. The power has been so much in surplus that the leakage has been of no importance. The machinery employed is by no means of the best construction for economizing power or in other respects. This statement does not apply, however, to the cotton mill. This is located on the middle dam on the Brunswick side, a natural site for a mill of 50,000 spindles being close by it on the same dam, and is the property of the Cabot Manufacturing Co., organized 1857, capital $400,000 ; mill recently enlarged, best of machinery put in, 25,000 spindles, employs about 500 hands, manufactures fine and coarse sheetings and drills. The company own thirty acres of land on the two sides of the river, and seventy-five tenements. Agent, Benjamin Greene, Brunswick. There are also on the Brunswick side two flour mills andtwo saw mills. Upon the Topsham side are one flour mill and two sawmills. Various small machinery, in addition, is run upon both sides of the river. A very small proportion of the power is now used. It was formerly employed in manufacturing lumber, thirty saws being used; now only four single saws and a gang.

Accessibility.—Brunswick and Topsham are connected by railroads with Portland, Bath and the interior. Vessels of 1,000 tons can come within five miles of the falls, but from that point would be obliged to “lighter up,” the channel being obstructed with shifting sands. The river is “frozen for four and a half to five months yearly.” From the falls to Casco bay is three miles, the country a dead level; a railroad could be built at small expense, opening upon excellent harborage.

Second power, Quaker Mill pond, on the Androscoggin, three miles above the Pejepscot falls, will furnish power for a number of saws. It may in time serve a purpose of great importance as a reservoir against the day drouths at Brunswick, caused by the stoppage of the run at Lewiston by night in the low water season.

“Any parties who come amongst us with a view to the improvement of our water-power, will meet a cordial reception and substantial cooperation from both sides of the river.”

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May Sarton 100th Anniversary Event at MoOY

Maine state historian to talk Civil War monuments
Sponsored by the Old Berwick Historical Society, the program is open to the public. Maine’s memorial monuments range in location and age, from Bangor in 1864, while the war was still in progress, to Lisbon in 1999. Many feature standing Union soldiers…

Don Perkins: Freeport takes pride in 1800s warship
This year marks the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, and the Freeport Historical Society is paying tribute with a special program on May 6 titled, “Free Trade and Sailors’ Rights — The War of 1812.” The town has significant connections to this…

Old radar station to become energy park near Moscow, Maine

MOSCOW, Maine — A former U.S. Air Force radar station in Maine’s northern forest has been purchased by a trio of New England companies including Cianbro of Pittsfield, according to a release issued by the companies Monday. The others two companies involved in the purchase…

In death, Portland woman reunited with long-lost love

Teresa Getchell spent decades seeking the truth about her husband’s wartime death in 1969


May Programs From the Museums of Old York:

3-6 May Sarton 100 Anniversary Event. Come celebrate the life and times of Poet and Author May Sarton! In collaboration with the York Public Library and the First Parish Church, the Museums of Old York will be hosting a Centennial Symposium of May Sarton. Registration is filling up so please visit the May Sarton 100 Website for more information and to sign up for the symposium.

6 American Girl Doll Tea – in Jefferds Tavern–KIDS PROGRAM stop in from 2-4 p.m. You and your American Girl Doll are invited to a special Colonial tea. Dress yourself and your doll in your prettiest outfits for an afternoon of proper enjoyment. Sip tea and enjoy cookies in Jefferds Tavern while you learn about the American Girl Felicity who protested tea drinking during the Revolutionary War. Make a mob cap for you and your doll in the Parsons Center program room. $5 per person, tickets available at the door.For more information please contact Zoe Keefer-Norris or call 207-363-4974 x12.

18 Tavern Dinner. Join us for this month’s ever popular historic dinner. Relax and kindle new friendships as colonial ladies prepare a fabulous meal at the hearth. Keep an eye on our website for upcoming menus and announcements of unique entertainments. Sign up soon –these dinners fill fast! $35 ($30 members) at the Parsons Education Center, 6 p.m.

20 Blue Grass Jam with Kevin Dyer and Friends. 1-4 p.m. at The Parsons Center. $4 donation appreciated.

28 Buck-a-Building Memorial Day and Paddle-to-the-Sea. Come see the Museum properties, including the the Old Gaol, Emerson-Wilcox House, Elizabeth Perkins House, Jefferds Tavern, the School House, and our Exhibit, “The country heer is plentiful” Trade, Religion and Warfare in York and Southern Maine, open for $1 tours. At 2 p.m. families are invited participate in Paddle-to-the-Sea, a kid-focused program based on Holling Clancy Hollings children’s book by the same name. After hearing the story, build a little boat, label it with your family’s name and launch it down the river. Follow your boat’s journey to the ocean on our blog. $5 per mini boat at the John Hancock Warehouse. 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.

News and Updates

Celebration of the Working and Playing Waterfront. A team of staff and trustees are looking ahead to summer and have been working to create an array of programs for 2012 all under the theme York’s rivers and ocean dominate its history. Celebrating our heritage on the water will take many forms. A series of fun and educational programs will be offered throughout June-July-August-September including a river regatta and barbeque, workshops, lectures and demonstrations on the history of lobstering, fishing, boat building, waterfront stories, riverscape painting, the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, and more! A brochure will be coming out in May detailing all the offerings over the summer. See our website for a preliminary schedule of events — stay tuned for updated information.

OAH/NCPH 2012

Highlights of the Organization of American Historians in Milwaukie from the History News Network;


Highlights from the 2012 OAH Annual Meeting in Milwaukee

David A. Walsh

Index

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The Poland Spring Inn

Poland Spring, Maine has been a fixture for over two hundred years now (215,actually), having been opened in 1797 by Jabez Ricker, after settling at that location in 1794. I came across an article in the June 1922 issue of the Bankers Magazine. I thought I would share with those interested in the history of the Poland Spring Inn. The advertisement shown here is from a 1922 issue of the national Magazine.

THE Poland Spring House is situated on the old homestead estate of Wentworth Ricker in the heart of one of the loveliest regions of Maine and New England. In 1794 Jabez Ricker with his four sons and six daughters arrived and settled in a small house on the land south of the present Mansion House. In 1795 the building comprising the northwest corner of the present Mansion House was commenced. This building was first occupied in 1796, and during the following year was finished as an inn; a signpost was erected at the northwest corner with a sign bearing the words: “WENTWORTH RICKER, 1797.” It is recorded that the morning following their arrival, and when there was no regular highway in these parts, two men who were passing through the country called for meals. Since that day, for a period touching three centuries, these doors have never been closed to the coming guest. It is also worthy of note that the “Wentworth Ricker Inn” was one of the first to offer “entertainment for man and beast” on the post highway from Portland to Montreal.

The original Mansion House was opened by Wentworth Ricker, the grandfather of the present proprietors, Hiram Ricker & Sons, as Jabez Ricker had previously settled all his sons on properties, practically all of which have since been taken into the present estate, originally containing about 300 acres; and now over 5000 acres in the entire Poland Spring property.

Nearly 120 years of hotel-keeping have evolved the Mansion House, the Poland Spring House, and developed the estate; and the Riccar Inn at Poland Spring, which was first opened in 1913, derives its name from George and Maturin Riccar, the founders of the Ricker family in America. Side by side with the growth of Poland Spring as a Famous summer and winter resort, has developed also the history of the Poland Spring itself, and Poland Water has become famous throughout the civilized world.

Poland Spring is about 800 feet above sea level, twenty six miles north of Portland, Maine, and about five miles via the Poland Spring Automobile Stage Line from Danville Junction station of the Maine Central Railroad. The facilities for reaching Poland Spring from new York, Boston and other centers are unexcelled. The Poland Spring property of 5000 acres is of diversified character, and a small army of workers is employed in its upkeep. The scientific drainage, the electric lighting system, the water supply and fire protection have attained the perfection possible only through unrestricted study and expense. The well planned system of water towers, hydrants and sprinklers, and the system of fire brick walls afford the utmost protection.

Of the many lakes and ponds about Poland Spring, the nearest of importance is the Range Lakes encircling the western foot of Ricker Hill, less than a mile from either hotel. These are well stocked with bass, togue and other game fish. Within a few miles are other noted waters: Lake Auburn, Thompson’s Pond, Sabbath day Lake, etc., and if a guest should desire to visit the Rangely’s, which are within easy distance, arrangements may be made to occupy the Poland Spring Camp on Mooselukmeguntic for short periods.

The long sand beach at Middle Range Lake is a constant delight to children. There is every opportunity for boating and swimming, and a modern bathing pavilion, with instructors and boatmen, will be found at Middle Lake.

The tennis facilities have kept pace with the increasing popularity of the game; the three clay courts are the best that can be built, and are maintained in first-class condition. Riding is a feature that has had much attention, and an excellent string of saddle horses, and a riding master from the staff of the Durland Academy of New York, are available during the season. The links —an eighteen-hole course—rank with the best in the country.

The Mansion House and Riccar Inn are open the entire year and offer every modern comfort and convenience to the guest with long-distance telephone and steam heat in every room. Particularly during the winter season which is at its height from the first of December until the last of March, the Mansion House is the most modern of the winter resorts in New England.

A notable feature of Poland Spring is the “Maine State Building”—the official building of the State of Maine at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, when Poland Water received the Grand Prize. At the close of the Exposition this building was purchased, and re-erected at Poland Spring. This building houses the annual exhibit of representative American artists, in addition to the growing permanent exhibition of the owners, and the library of over 6000 volumes of modern, classical and historical literature; the reading room is provided with the more important periodicals, under the charge of a competent librarian.

All Soul’s Chapel—erected through the cooperation during many years of proprietors and guests, by direct contributions, and the proceeds of an annual fair for the purpose—is adjacent to the Poland Spring House, and on Sundays is the scene of services of various religious denominations for all who desire to attend.

~~~

Times have certainly changed, and the Poland Spring resort, while still a grand destination is but a shadow of what it was in Maine’s bygone days. The Ricker’s began to market the world famous Poland Spring water in the late 1840s, originally bottling it in green bottles with green labels to emphasize the natural properties of the water. You can learn more about this destination and its history by visiting the Poland Spring Preservation Society’s webpage.

Categories: historic buildings, historic preservation, historical societies, history, Maine, Maine things to do, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tax Day in Maine; circa 1765

Well, Federal and state taxes are due in just a few days, and of course, being the folklorist I am I had to do a piece regarding the Stamp Act of 1765. This of course was a British law that imposed a tax on the British colonies, and especially upon the American colonists. The gist of the law was to help pay for the British soldiers stationed in the colonies. Since the colonists benefitted most from their presence, Parliament felt it only appropriate that we should pay part of the bill. You have to remember that the great Indian wars were just recently ended at this time in history.

However, as we all know, neither the law nor the tax was received in a very cordial manner from the colonists. We are all familiar with the Boston Tea Party, but how many of you knew there was a tax revolt right here in Portland Maine way back in January of 1766. Of course, at that time Portland was called Falmouth, and Maine was part of Massachusetts, thanks to some tricky legal maneuvers on the part of certain people.

This following piece is from The Story of Old Falmouth, and was published in 1901:

THE STAMP ACT.

The news of the passage of the Stamp Act aroused the greatest indignation in Falmouth, as it did in other settlements throughout the colonies; and on January 8th, of the year 1766, when a brig arrived from Halifax with the stamped papers for Cumberland County, a mob surrounded the custom house, demanding that the paper be given up to them.

The people had assembled in such numbers that the officers could do no less than comply with their demands; and when the stamped paper had been delivered over to the leaders of the mob, it was carried through the town at the top of a pole, to a bonfire especially prepared for the occasion, where it was publicly burned.

On the 16th of May in the same year, when the news came that the Stamp Act had been repealed, it was as if the people of Falmouth had suddenly grown wild with joy. The Boston Evening Post of June 2d, 1766, in giving an account of what occurred at Falmouth at this time, states: “The morning following the arrival of the express was ushered in with every demonstration of loyalty and joy; such as ringing of bells, firing of cannon at the fort and on board the shipping in the harbor. In the evening the houses of the town were beautifully illuminated, fireworks played off, bonfires erected, etc., — the whole conducted with so much ordering and decorum that it did great honor to the town.”

Mr. Gould gives the following account of how the good people of Falmouth evaded the sugar act: —

“On the 7th of August, 1767, the collector of Falmouth seized a quantity of rum and sugar, belonging to Enoch Illsley, for breach of the revenue act. In the evening, a mob attacked the house of the comptroller, Arthur Savage, where the Casco Bank now is. The collector, Francis Webb, was in the house at the time, and him they prevented from leaving the house until another party broke into the custom house on India Street, and removed the goods to secret places of safety.

“Governor Bernard issued a proclamation offering a reward of fifty pounds for the discovery of any person engaged in the removal of the goods from the custom-house.”

The ire felt by the colonists over this new law was so great that in a way it could be said that this tax was the match that lit the fuse on the cannon of revolution. There was much more at issue beyond the taxes, of course, so this would be a rather simplistic view by saying the war was over taxes. This next bit is from Falmouth Neck in the Revolution, by Nathan Gould, published in 1897.

The prominent events of the Revolution can be said to have begun on the Neck soon after the passage of the stamp act, for a mob marched to the customhouse, in January, 1766, and demanded the stamps, which were carried through the streets on a long pole to a bonfire, probably on the parade-ground, where they were burned in the presence of a concourse of approving people. The news of the repeal of the act was received here May sixteenth, and there was great rejoicing. Parson Smith says: — “Our people are mad with drink and joy : bells ringing, drums beating, colors flying, the court-house illuminated and some others, and a bonfire, and a deluge of drunkenness.” The parson lighted up his house.

In August, 1767, a mob removed Enoch Ilsley’s rum and sugar from the custom-house, which had been seized for breach of the revenue act, and a mob, in July, 1768, rescued from the jail two men, John Huston and John Sanborn, who had been convicted for being concerned in the riot. November 13, 1771, Arthur Savage, the controller, was mobbed. This was an outbreak of popular feeling and three men named Sandford, Stone and Armstrong were committed for trial on the charge of participating in it. The enforcement of the revenue laws, which had been practically a dead letter, was obnoxious to the colonists. The cause of the mob is a question, although William Tyng’s schooner was seized for smuggling only a fortnight before, which may have had connection with it.

In February, 1774, the committee here wrote to that of Boston that ” neither the Parliament of Great Britain, nor any other power on earth, has any right to lay tax on us except by our consent or the consent of those whom we choose to represent us.” Also, ” Our cause is just and we doubt not fully consonant to the will of God. In Him, therefore, let us put our trust, let our hearts be obedient to the dictates of His sovereign will and let our hands and hearts be always ready to unite in zeal for the common good and transmit to our children that sacred freedom which our fathers have transmitted to us and which they purchased with their purest blood.”

As you can see, there was much more to the history of the revolutionary war than most people know about. In large part, taxation without representation was the mitigating factor, but the lack of representation was probably the bigger part of the entire key to the war. It is funny how things can change so much, and yet they stay the same, isn’t it? After all, we talk about the lack of representation of the colonists in the 1700’s, but what do we have today for representation? Think about that as you rush to get your 1040’s in by the deadline. Speaking of 1040’s and tax time, did you know that your donations to many historical societies and museums can be taken as deductions if you itemize your deductions? Never too late to get those contributions and member pledges into your local historical society!

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