The Steamer “Royal Tar”

Tourism being the currently touted gem of Maine business, we pay close attention to the port of Portland, and its cruise ship business. For many years, the Maine attraction at that port was the ferry service that docked near the bridge. It was replaced by the high-speed cat, but now we can ogle over the gigantic liners that visit the Old Port. Back in the 1800s there was also regular steam service through a string of steamers between St. John’s New Brunswick and Portland Harbor as well.

One of the most famously known of these steamers was the steamer Royal Tar, which burned on a trip during a gale (shown to the right burning during the tragedy). Francis B.C. Bradlee writes this of the event in his book Some Account of Steam Navigation in New England:

Although many of the early coast of Maine steamers previously mentioned may have, and probably did, make sporadic trips to St. John, N. B., and ports in southern Nova Scotia, the first regular service of which there is any knowledge was in 1836, when the wooden sidewheeler “Royal Tar” (named for King William IV of Great Britain) was built at St. John, N. B., to run regularly between that place and Portland, Maine, where she connected with the Boston steamers. The “Royal Tar” was 164 feet long, 24 feet beam, and measured 400 tons; she cost $50,000 to build, and was owned by John Hammond and D. J. McLaughlin of St. John; she made her first trip to Portland in May, 1836; with over 200 passengers.

A few months later this steamer was lost under such tragic but curious circumstances as to render the disaster long memorable in the annals of New England steam boating. On Friday, Oct. 21, 1836, the “Royal Tar” left St. John for Eastport and Portland, having on board a crew of 21 persons and 72 passengers. She also carried Burgess’ collection of serpents and birds, Dexter’s locomotive museum and a brass band. Among the animals on board were an elephant, six horses, two dromedaries, two lionesses, one royal Bengal tiger, one gnu, and a pair of pelicans. As a result of a high northwest wind, the “Royal Tar” remained at anchor at Eastport until Tuesday, the 25th, when at 2 P. M. she got under way and resumed her voyage. She had not much more than got outside when the gale increased in violence and she ran in for shelter near Fox island.

The story of her loss was told by Capt. Thomas Reed, her commander, in these words: “The steam being down after we had been at anchor about half an hour, the boat was discovered to be on fire immediately over the boiler, under the deck. The cable was slipped instantly and the fire engine set to work, but in five minutes the men could not stand at the pump, which was below, the smoke nearly suffocating them. At this awful juncture there was a rush for the boats, there being only two. Sixteen of the passengers and crew took the largest boat and went away before the wind, which blew so hard they were afraid to bring her to. I got possession of the jolly boat, with two men, and picked up another man belonging to the caravan who had jumped overboard.”

“In about half an hour we saw a schooner coming to us, which proved to be the United States revenue cutter Veto, Capt. Dyer, who rendered us every assistance in his power. He ran the cutter close to the burning steamer, then in a sheet of flames, and succeeded in taking out forty passengers, who must have perished had not the cutter come to our assistance.”

One of the passengers, Hinson Patten by name, gave an account of the affair which explains the conduct of Capt. Reed in taking the one remaining boat. He says: “Capt. Reed took charge of the stern boat, with two men, and kept her off the steamboat, which was a very fortunate circumstance, as it was the means of saving from forty to fifty persons, and to him all credit is due for his deliberate and manly perseverance throughout the whole calamity.” Another account mentions that the elephant jumped overboard, crashing down upon a raft that was being hurriedly constructed, thus destroying the raft and losing the lives of several passengers. The horses also leaped overboard, and it was said that the elephant and a pony succeeded in swimming ashore. That statement was contradicted by an item in a St. John newspaper, which stated that every animal belonging to the menagerie was doubtless lost. The elephant was seen a few days ago floating near Brimstone island. Other accounts state that when the horses jumped overboard in their wild panic, instead of making for the shore, they swam round and round the burning steamboat until they became exhausted and were drowned.

Twenty-nine passengers and eight of the crew of the “Royal Tar” perished in this dreadful disaster, and the money loss was estimated at not less than $125,000. Capt. Reed was presented with a purse of $750 in gold for his gallantry in saving so many of his passengers; at a later date he was made harbor roaster of St. John, a post he filled acceptably for many years.

A steamer named the “Gazelle” took the place of the “Royal Tar,” and she also was wrecked by running ashore near St. John in June, 1838; there was, luckily, no loss of life.

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Biddeford Pool

The history of Maine is riddled with a past that vacillates between tourism and industry as key components of our economic picture, and as such, we have collected boxes upon boxes of memories of what we think is the past. Our memories are not always faithful to the facts, however, and when we try to relive what we think is the past, it never really quite achieves satisfaction to our expectations. Today, as we seem to be looking to embrace the tempting vagaries of what has been dubbed “eco-tourism” by the UN, we are once again drifting away from a rich, industrial based economy towards that ever so fleeting economy of the tourism dollar.

Pondering the possibilities, I am reminded that Maine has enjoyed pockets of popularity that made us world leaders in the vacation industry in many ways. The Poland Spring House, Mt. Kineo, Old Orchard Beach, Bar Harbor, and many other communities have billed themselves as “the place to recreate” over the last nearly two centuries. Biddeford pool immediately popped into my mind as I was reflecting upon Maine’s history this morning, and so I pulled a few things out of the many resources available to share with you here.

Moses F. Sweetser writes about Biddeford Pool in his 1889 “Here and There in New England and Canada;”

Biddeford Pool, down near the mouth of the river, was in former days one of the pet resorts of the Maine seaboard, visited every returning summer by hundreds of city families. But a few years ago the chief hotels were burned down, and the remaining house (the SeaView) and cottages hardly suffice to accommodate their would-be patrons. For the place has great natural beauties and advantages, which should be more fully and freely developed. The Pool itself is a shallow salt-water lagoon two miles long, filled high by the returning tides, and affording capital opportunities for safe boating, while to the eastward is a long sandy beach, rolled hard by the surf, and to the north, beyond the famous Wood-Island Light, the eye rests contented on the curving lines of Old-Orchard Beach and the dim seaward projection of Prout’s Neck. On one side of the narrow outlet of the Pool rises the grim little Fort Hill, where the colonists erected their stronghold of Fort Mary, in 1708, after the truculent Indians had captured their stone fort up near the falls. For many years, from the early provincial times, the Pool was as beneficent as Siloam or Bethesda in the belief of the Maine farmers, who had a fancy that whoever bathed therein on the 26th day of June would be healed of all diseases. This is indeed the festival of Sts. Vigilius, Maxentius, and Anthelm, but what connection these Latin worthies may have had with the coast of Maine is not clear.

A steamboat runs from Biddeford to Biddeford Pool twice daily, and crosses also to Camp Ellis, the terminus of the Old-Orchard-Beach Railroad, where connection is made for Old-Orchard Beach.

Fortune’s Rocks and Goose Rocks, with their small hotels and clusters of cottages, are reached by stages from Biddeford; and their bold and rugged coast-scenery, and opportunities for fishing and gunning, attract many visitors. Fortune’s Rocks is a series of iron-bound promontories projecting into the sea from the lower end of the magnificent beach running north to Biddeford Pool; and has cottagers from Boston, New York, Washington, and other cities, with lakes rich in water-lilies, and comfortable old farms on the landward side. The rocks afford a wonderful marine garden, where star-fish, sea-anemones, sea-urchins, and other strange creatures dwell, with seals sunning themselves on the outer ledges.

Most people today look upon Biddeford Pool as a place where the elite live with their high dollar beachfront homes, but this really isn’t the case in relation to the history of Maine. Early on, the area had been a farming and fishing community, with no pretense towards being a tourist haven. Life in those days was hard, with most people just barely scraping by in the harsh wilderness of Maine. In the 1700s several rounds of war and depredation between the English settlers and the aboriginal populations created a need for garrison houses and forts to be constructed for protection. At one time the area was actually evacuated due to the Indian wars for a time.

But time progressed, and as the Biddeford/Saco area slowly grew into a viable and long lasting community, agriculture receded and industry took over as the power of the Saco Falls and other locations of water power caused manufacturing businesses to flourish. Sawmills, and gristmills grew and other facilities such as carding mills and various other manufactory’s were established, creating in turn a new source of income to the citizens of these communities.

During the early 1800s the value of the fresh and invigorating coastal air created an opportunity for businesses serving the tourism trade to flourish, and several hotels and boarding houses were erected to accommodate those travelers seeking refuge from the sweltering heat and pollution of the now growing industrialized cities of the interior. The Yates House and the Highland house, both shown here as woodcut reprints from “The Shores of Casco Bay” [J.S. Locke, 1880] became the big names in the trade, and accommodated several hundred guests at a time between the two.

The proximity of the sandy beaches of Old Orchard and Pine Point, a short carriage ride away, added to the lure of the Biddeford Pool location. It must have been a wonderful experience to visit the area in Maine’s bygone days, but unfortunately, a series of fires destroyed most of the larger hotels and boarding houses over time, and none of them were rebuilt, once gone. As the train and trolley systems came into being, it made other communities more attractive in their newness and lower costs, and Biddeford Pool succumbed to the cycle of growth and change that afflicts all communities.

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Maine’s first electric sawmill

Everything changes with time, and the lumber industry of Maine has not been an exception to the rule. Today, we’re used to these machines that can drive into the woods, cut and de-limb a tree, de-bark it and load it into a pulp truck in less time than most folks take to smoke a short cigarette. It wasn’t always that way, but as time progressed, Mainers kept up with technology, adopting those methods and machines that fir the bill, and adapting others that didn’t exactly fit the bill, but could with a little tweaking. A 1921 issue of Popular Mechanics had a few articles that looked at this very same knack that die-hard Mainers have for adopting and adapting, as the need fits.

In the first article, we read that Maine seems to have been a pioneer in using electricity to run their backwoods sawmills, and the report says that we had the first ever such mill to replace steam and water powered mills for the task of sawing logs into useable lumber.

A second article from that same magazine shows that one of the backcountry lumber operations adapted a modern gas or diesel powered version of the Lombard Hauler to tow a converted box car to haul cargo, the mail and people back and forth from the deep woods of Maine.

The third article isn’t about technology, but it is about someone adapting materials at hand to fill a need. A couple of deep woods camp owners, female at that, utilized a log to make a unique table for their camp. Cutting the log in half and using the smaller diameter upper parts of the tree for legs, they hand milled the table top with a broadax, planed the flats until they were smooth and varnished the table until it had a glossy finish. I guess we know why they call it a broad ax now. (Just kidding, no offense meant!:0)

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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 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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The Daily News

The newspaper. Everybody knows what it is, but do you realize what an important part of our heritage these paper bound glimpses of the past are? Many do not, and because of this, we see a marked decline of the presence of these purveyors of the news and views of today.

At the last count, I could only find about thirty newspapers still publishing here in Maine, which is a far cry from where we used to be 150 years ago, back before the world began to spin ever faster upon its axis. Why are they important to our history? Because they offer a printed picture of what society can look like at any given moment in time.

Newspapers contain advertisements that help local businesses stay in business. We can look a newspaper and see what kinds of business are down the street, across town or in neighboring communities. When we need something but don’t know where to get it, we look in the paper. Plus they have coupons. Coupons are good, they save us money.

If you need to get a new apartment, you look in the classifieds where you can find your new dream home. You can also buy and sell your car, pick up somebody’s unwanted washer and clothes dryer, antiques and collectibles, check out the yard sales, and find a job.

But more importantly, newspapers provide us with a way to share our opinions in a way that cannot be done in any other way, including the internet. You can write a letter to the editor and get whatever is eating you off your chest. You can read the editors opinion and call him, or her, whatever names you wish because you disagree with their views.

The news of the day on an international, national, regional, and local level can be found in a newspaper. Headlines shout out the latest breaking story, while interior articles sift through the grit and grime of daily politics and business news. How to’s help you decorate your house, buy a new car, or repair an old one, take care of your lawn, and help you with many other problems.

And don’t forget about the cartoons! A little slice of humor brightens everyone’s day.

Newspapers have been the medium of information exchange for centuries, from the little upstart local papers to the huge international dailies of today, and sadly, this part of our heritage is disappearing from our lives as we turn more and more to a quick glimpse of make believe reality on the internet. The net has its place, mind you, but an unfortunate side affect of its very abilities to inform and entertain are destroying what has been in the past a part of our everyday life.

In many parts of the world newspapers are still the number one source for information and education where there is no widespread internet availability, but here in the US the traditional paper bound slice of life is nearly gone, and it is unlikely to return, thanks to this media you are now enjoying.

What do we lose by not having a local paper? We lose a lot, really. We lose the connections to our local community that the WWW just cannot provide. We miss the birth announcements that shouted to the world that Johnny and Sally were born. We miss the school news that says Johnny made quarterback on the local football team and Sally was picked for head cheerleader.

We miss the wedding announcement that proudly boasts of Johnny and Sally’s engagement and marriage. The news of Johnny’s promotion at his place of employment is gone too. Gone also are the proud moment of the birth of Johnny and Sally’s first child, The retirement of this couple from working life, and sadly, the obituary that notifies the world of their passing from this life.

What we really miss by not having a local paper is the sense of community that we all once had. Instead, we have become part of a larger community controlled and fed by instant news, but none of it local, unless it sells advertising, and most of it dictated by editors and boards of conglomerates that are only interested in the revenue provided by the pay per click advertising.

I buy the local papers, but I also get many online newspapers, and the difference in the quality and the content between the two is becoming more and more disheartening. Dailies rely upon other dailies to provide content, and thus local news becomes less and less a part of the cycle. We have to turn to Craig’s List and EBay to buy and sell our unwanted things, and we no longer get to see who’s who.

The opportunity for local people to bask in the glow of local fame is gone.

And unfortunately, gone too are the records of the daily snapshots of opinion, the facts and details of our daily lives. We have become too fast, too instantaneous in our lives. We no longer have the option of reading the paper over our morning coffee, and discussing the latest zoning proposal or tax issue at the town and county level over lunch with our friends. We lose our connection the local community when we have no local newspaper.

We lose a record of our history that no other medium can duplicate, even the internet.

One of the things historians do is pour over periodicals to pick out little details that help us understand what life was like in the bygone days of yesteryear. There are not that many left. Many newspapers simply shutter their doors and fade into the inglorious sunset of failure. Others merge and become part of a larger presence in the greater community, thus losing their local charm. For the sake of history, we should all support our local newspapers buy buying a copy on a regular basis, if for no other reason to say you helped keep a part of yesterday alive.

I came across this list of newspapers and periodicals from the 1856 Maine Register and Business directory, giving frequency of publication and subscription rates:


Age, Augusta, weekly, Fuller & Fuller, $2.00. Tri-weekly during Session of Legislature.

American Sentinel, Bath, Jas. M. Lincoln, $1-50.

Bangor Daily Whig & Courier, Wheeler & Lynde, $5.00.

Bangor Courier, weekly, Wheeler & Lynde, $1.50.

Bangor Daily Journal, W. E. Hilton & Co., $4.00.

Bangor Weekly Journal, weekly, W. E. Hilton & Co., $1.50.

Bangor Jeff’ersonian, weekly, Bartlett & Burr, $1.50.

Brunswick Telegraph, weekly, G. W. Chase, $1.50 per year.

Calais Advertiser, Calais, weekly, John Jackson, Publisher, terms, $1.50 pr. yr.

Christian Mirror, Portland, weekly, Charles A. Lord. $2.00 per year.

Clay’s Medical Rambler, Portland, weekly, R. R. Clay.

Daily Mercury, Bangor, S. P. Dinsmore, $4.00.

Democrat, Bangor, weekly, Wm. Thompson, $2.00.

Democratic Advocate, Danville, C. Record & Co., $1.50.

Democratic Clarion, Skowhegan, weekly, Moses Littlefield, $1.00 per year.

Down Easter, Minot, M. F. P. O., weekly, Cady & Co.

Eastern Argus, Portland, daily, John Appleton & Co., $5.00.

Eastern Argus, Portland, tri-weekly, John Appleton & Co., $4.00.

Eastern Argus, Porthnd, weekly, John Appleton & Co., $2.00.

Eastern Mail, Waterville, weekly, Maxham & Wing, $1.50.

Eastern Times, Bath, weekly, John Abbott, $1.50.

Eastport Sentinel, Eastport, A. H. Close & Co., $1.50 per year.

Ellsworth Herald, weekly, W. H. Chaney, Editor, E. Couillard, Publisher,

$1.50 per year. Gem & Gazette, Dexter, weekly, J. F. Witherell, $1.00.

Glenwood Valley Times, R. M. Mansur, Vienna.

Golden Wreath & Ladies’ Advocate, Minot, M. F. P. O., monthly, Cady & Co.

Gospel Banner, Augusta, Joseph A. Homan, $2.00.

Hallowell Gazette, weekly, E. Rowell, $1.50.

Independent Dexter Advertiser, Dexter, W. S. Cilley.

Journal & Enquirer, Portland, weekly, B. D. Peck, $1.50.

Kennebec Journal, Augusta, weekly, Stevens & Blaine, $1.50. Tri-weekly during Session of Legislature.

Ladies’ Enterprise, Portland, weekly, Augustus Robinson, $1.50 per year.

Lewiston Falls Journal, weekly, Wm. H. Waldron, $1.50 per year.

Lincoln Democrat, New Castle, weekly, J. J. Ramsey, $1.50 per year.

Machais Union, weekly, Drisko & Furbush, $1.50 per year.

Maine Democrat, Saco, weekly, A. A. Hanscom, $1.50.

Maine Evangelist, Portland, weekly, S. C. Fessenden, $2.00.

Maine Farmer, Augusta, weekly, Russell Eaton, $1.75.

Maine Expositor, Portland, weekly, Thomas Nichols, $1.00 per year.

Maine Free Press, Belfast, weekly, M. V. Stetson & Co., $1.50 per year.

Maine Temperance Journal, Portland, weekly, Benj. D. Peck, $1.50.

Masonic Journal, Brunswick, monthly, G. W. Chase, 50 cents.

Northern Home Journal, Gardiner, weekly, A. M. C. Heath, $1.50.

Northern Tribune, Bath, daily. Northern Tribune, Bath, weekly, $1.25.

Norway Advertiser, weekly, Geo. W. Millett, $1.50 per year.

Oxford Democrat, Paris, weekly, W. A. Pidgin & Co., $1.50 per year.

Pleasure Boat, Portland, weekly, Jeremiah Hacker, $1.00 per year.

Piscataquis Observer, Dover, Geo. V. Edes, $1.50 per year.

Portland Advertiser, Portland, daily, John M. Wood, $5.00.

Portland Advertiser, tri-weekly, John M. Wood, $3.50.

Portland Advertiser, weekly, John M. Wood, $2.00.

Portland Genius, weekly, Josiah L. Thomas, $1,00.

Portland Inquirer, Portland, weekly, Benjamin D. Peck, $2.00.

Portland Transcript, Portland, weekly, Gould, Elwell, Pickard & Co., $1.50.

Portland Eclectic, Portland, weekly, Gould, Elwell, Pickard & Co., $1.50.

Progressive Age, Belfast, weekly, W. M. Rust & Co., $1.50 per year.

Representative Journal, Belfast, weekly, Moore & Diekerson, $1.50 per year.

Rural Intelligencer, Augusta, weekly, W. A. Drew, $1.50.

Rockland Gazette, weekly, John Porter, $1.50 per year.

Saturday Evening Transcript, Gardiner, weekly, R. B. Caldwell, $1.75 pr. yr.

Somerset Spectator, Anson, weekly, Bodney Collins, $1.50.

State of Maine, Portland, daily, Bearce, Starbird & Co., $5.00.

State of Maine, Portland, tri-weekly, Bearce, Starbird & Co., $3.00.

State of Maine, Portland, weekly, Bearce, Starbird & Co., $1.50.

The Chronicle, Farmington, weekly, L. N. Prescott, $1.00.

Thomaston Journal, weekly, C. H. Paine, $1.50.

Touchstone, Lewiston Falls, A. Young, Jr., 50 cents.

Union & Eastern Journal, Biddeford, weekly, Lewis O. Cowan, $2.00 pr. year.
United States Democrat, weekly, A. & E. Sprague, $1.50.
Weekly Mercury, Bangor, S. P. Dinsmore, $1.25.
Zion’s AdvocatPortland, weekly, J. B. Foster, $2.00.

Comparatively speaking, I’d say we are missing a great deal.

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The New Meadows Canal

One of the earlier methods of transportation in this country was our waterways, (viz. rivers and lakes) and as time progressed in the early days; canals were often built when there was no waterway. Here in Maine we had few canals that were actually built for the purpose of moving freight and people. The vast majority were simply for the direction of our water powers to better advantage of the mills that used them.

One of the best known canals would be the Cumberland and Oxford Canal, stretching from Portland’s Fore River estuary to Sebago Lake, and thence to Long Lake through the Songo River. A total of 27 locks for the canal and one on the Songo allowed travelers and freight to journey from Harrison, ME, all the way to Portland Harbor. Another well known canal is the Telow Canal, This canal was engineered strictly for the passage of logs from Telos Lake into Webster lake and then on down to the Penobscot River. We will get into these stories another day though. Today, I want to share a little about a relatively unknown canal in Maine called the Merry Meeting Canal.

Constructed in the early 1800’s, this canal was cut for the purpose of trafficking logs from Merry Meeting bay. It was not a successful enterprise, although the mill at New Meadows found it useful for a time. Authorized by the Massachusetts legislature in 1790 before Maine gained its independence, the canal was constructed in the early 1798.

John Peterson, one of the proprietors lived on the Brunswick side of the New Meadows river, and built a dam across the river, and erected tide mills, one of them a sawmill which utilized the canal to obtains logs. Peterson also built ships there at New Meadows and was involved in a successful trade with the West Indies.

Unfortunately for the proprietors, there was an insufficient difference between the water levels of the two waterways, and while if it had been dug much deeper with the intent of navigation for vessels instead of for light traffic with an emphasis on the lumber trade, perhaps it would still be in existence today. Steamboat travel had yet to come into existence when the plans for the canal were laid, but if it had, I am certain the outcome would have been much difference. A great deal of time would have been saved if the steamboats could have travelled from Harpswell to Brunswick and up the Kennebec through this canal.

Dug eight feet wide and only a few feet deep, enough to float logs, the canal would only have allowed passage of very shallow draft boats of the one and a half miles of its length.

William C. Purrington wrote about the canal in “A Look Into West Bath’s Past” and had this to say:

It might be mentioned here that because of the difference in the incoming tides between the New Meadows River and the Kennebec River at Welch’sCreek, and because it was not excavated deep enough, this canal never proved to be a success. I am quoting from Professor George Leonard Vose’s article entitled ” The Old Canal at New Meadows”, which was originally read March 12, 1901, and republished by the Pejepscot Historical Society in a book entitled “our Town” in 1967: “We find that the New Meadows tide came in about two hours before the tide from the Kennebec making it hard work to get logs up to the summit. That after a while the Kennebec tide came up, and balanced that from the New Meadows, so that there was little or no movement of the water in either direction. That the New Meadows tide commenced to go down first, and soon lowered the water in the canal so that it was of no use. The length of the time during each tide that the canal could be used was only about three hours; and this time, depending upon the moons position, was not a fixed time, but varied from day to day through the month.” That canal was built for the purpose of floating logs through, but these had to be poled through with great difficulty. Because of the difference of the dates given in various history books we find it hard to date this exactly, but we can come to one conclusion, that it was between 1179 and 17798, for Capt. John Peterson had removed to Bath by the later date because the Brunswick people had taken so little interest in it.

The dates given are fairly accurate here, as the Massachusetts Legislature granted approval for the incorporation and construction of the canal in 1790. The proprietors were allowed four years to construct the canal of forfeit the right by the act as passed, so Peterson and company would have had the canal finished prior to 1795, and would have been using it until 1800 or so. The following is an excerpt from those records:

Re Canal from New Meadow River to Merry Meeting Bay. Commonwealth of Massachusetts

In the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety

An Act for incorporating certain persons into a corporation for the purpose of opening a Canal from the head of New Meadow river to Merry meeting bay —

Whereas great advantages may arise to the towns west of New Meadow river, and to the publick[sic] in general, by opening a Canal from the head of the same river to Merry Meeting Bay —

Be it therefore Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court Assembled, and by the authority of the same that Isaac Snow, Aaron Hinkley, and Samuel Thompson Esquires, Phillip Higgins, Nathaniel Larrabee, Benjamin Hammon, John Peterson, and Samuel Snow, so long as they shall continue to be proprietors in said Incorporation, together with all those who are and those who shall become proprietors thereof, shall be a Corporation and body Politic for the purpose of opening and keeping open a Canal from the head of New Meadow river to Merry meeting Bay, under the name of “The Proprietors of the New Meddow[sic] Canal”

And by that name may sue & prosecute, & be sued & prosecuted to final Judgment and Execution, and do & suffer all other matters and things which bodies politic, may or ought to do and suffer, and that the said Corporation shall & may have full power and authority to make have & use a Common Seal, and the same to break alter & renew at pleasure—

And be it further Enacted, by the Authority aforesaid, that if it shall so happen that any individual or body corporate shall be damaged in his or their lands or other property, by cutting & keeping open said Canal the damage so done shall be recompensed by the proprietors thereof in such sums or proportions as shall be ordered by the Court of General Sessions of the peace in the county of Cumberland A upon inquiry into the same by a Jury summoned for that purpose at the expence[sic] of the proprietors of the aforesaid Canal.

And be it further Enacted, by the authority aforesaid, that Isaac Snow Esqr be & hereby is empowered & directed to issue his warrant to one of the proprietors aforesaid requiring him to notify a meeting of the proprietors in manner as the Law directs — And the proprietors at said meeting shall choose a Clerk (who shall be duly sworn to a faithful discharge of his office) and also shall agree on a method for calling future meetings.

And be it further Enacted that if the said proprietors shall refuse or neglect for the space of four years after the passing of this Act to open and compleat[sic] said Canal then this act shall be void & of none Effect

And be it further Enacted that the said Canal shall be kept open — for the passage of Boats, Rafts & other water craft and for all persons who may wish to pass or transact business therein; and c no fee, toll, or other perquisite for the same shall be required

In Senate March 1, 1790

This Bill having had two several readings, passed to be Engrossed

Sent down for concurrence

Sam Phillips Presid

In the House of Representatives March 5, 1790.

This Bill having had three several Readings passed a concurrence to be Engrossed with amendments Sent up for concurrence

David Cobb Spk “”

The mills Peterson built at New Meadows were powered by the tide, not by the flowing of the river as there really is no current sufficient for that purpose. According to Parker Reed’s History of Bath, Peterson moved from New Meadows to Bath about 1798, where he built a home just above his shipyard on the Kennebec. About 1809, he left for Liverpool England with two ships loaded with cargo, sold them and then moved to Newport, RI, and settled to end his life at Portsmouth.

An interesting side note here is that in 1807, plans for a canal to be constructed from the Androscoggin over to Maqouit Bay were also discussed, but no work was ever started, even though a thorough survey had been completed. The photo in the above corner is an early 20th century postcard from my collection of the New Meadows Inn.

Categories: Geneology, history, Maine, Maine oddities, stories, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Purrinton Tragedy: Augusta, 1806

I came across a good story while doing some research on the Augusta area, just the type of stuff you ghost hunters out there love to hear about. According to the story, A James Purrington moved from Bowdoinham to a farm on the Belgrade road and subsequently massacred his family with an ax and the committed suicide with a razor. Just another in a long line of oddities coming out of that little burg on the Kennebec River. Have you ever noticed that Bowdoinham’s phone numbers start with 666? 😮 Spooks a lurking behind every door, and a skeleton in every closet, as they say.

Stories like this one, and the Mary Knight murder I posted on a while back are just a few of the interesting events that have occurred across Maine throughout her history. These two excerpts are from a couple of different texts that touch upon this event. You can click on the links to read the story in the original publications from the 1800’s.

I found it particularly interesting that Purrintons body was buried near the road, with a mention that gossip claims that Bowdoin College had secretly exhumed the body and taken it to the college for scientific research. Did the college indeed take the body? Maybe, maybe not, but this story would make a good research project for those interested in these sorts of events in Maine history. A century and six years have passed since that tragic day, and we ask, could the spirits of those poor children and Betsy Purrinton still roam that farmhouse on the Belgrade road?

The Purrinton Tragedy

The year 1806 was made melancholy in the annals of the town by an awful tragedy committed by a maniac. James Purrinton (aged forty-six) came to Augusta with his wife (aged forty-five) and family from Bowdoinham in 1805, and occupied the farm on the Belgrade road that was owned by the late George Cony (who built the Cony House). Purrinton had eight children: Polly, aged 19 years; James, aged 17; Martha, 15; Benjamin, 12; Anna, 10; Nathaniel, 8; Nathan, 6; Louisa, 18 months.

On the morning of July 9th, between two and three o’clock, the maniacal monster stealthily assailed with an axe every member of his family, and killed instantly all except two— James (who recovered from his wounds), and Martha, who died July 30th. The maniac then cut his own throat and fell dead in his blood. The news of the deed spread horror everywhere. Elias Craig, as coroner, summoned a jury of inquest, consisting of John Eveleth (foreman), Theophilus Hamlen, James Child, Kendall Nichols, Shubael Pitts, Caleb Heath, Jonathan Perkins, Oliver Pollard, Samuel Bond, Ezekiel Page, Ephraim Ballard, jun. This jury found that Purrinton “of his malice aforethought” did kill and murder his wife and children, “and as a felon did voluntarily kill and murder himself.”

The selectmen caused the bodies to be carried to the meeting house, but that of the suicide was denied admission beyond the porch, where it was detained with the axe and razor spectacularly displayed on the coffin. The funeral was held the day after the tragedy, attended by many hundreds of people from the surrounding country. A platform was set up in Market Square for the minister. Daniel Stone offered prayer and Joshua Taylor (Methodist) preached to the multitude. The procession was headed by the coroner and his jury, behind whom were the seven victims’ bodies, “supported by bearers and attended by pall-bearers,” and they were followed by the surviving son (James} and relatives and people. Purrinton’s body was hauled on a cart behind.

The procession marched across the bridge to Fort Western, and having passed by it returned over the river and went via Bridge and State streets to the Winthrop road, and from thence to the burying ground (Mt. Vernon Cemetery), where, in the northeast corner, and near to the powder house (built in 1805) the bodies of the mother and her six children were buried side by side in graves that are unmarked. Purrinton’s body, with axe and razor,was buried between the road-side and the cemetery, but tradition hints that it was secretly exhumed in the darkness of the following night for the benefit of science at Bowdoin College.

Purrinton Tragedy of 1806 is Recalled

The State Librarian on a recent trip to Boston secured at an auction book store a very rare and valuable pamphlet, one recalling a long forgotten tragedy in Augusta. It is printed in the style of that day, with the coarse white paper, now browned with age, the queer faced type, with the old-fash1oned small s, and has 22 pages. Beyond the mark of age it is remarkably well preserved. The first and outside page is a gruesome affair. It is surrounded with a heavy black border and covered with heavy mourning rules. Near the top are cuts of seven coffins in a row and of varying sizes, probably representing the ages and sizes of the victims of the tragedy. At the bottom of the page is a single coffin, on which is cut a razor and an ax, the weapons with which the deed was committed. The title page inscription reads as follows:

Sketches of

The Life

Who on the Night of the Eighth of July 1806

Murdered His Wife, Six Children and Himself.

With a Particular Account of that Shocking Catastrophe to Which are Subjoined REMARKS on the fatal

tendency of erroneous principles and motives for receiving and obeying the pure and salutary precepts of the gospel

Copy Right Secured

Augusta (Kennebec)

Printed and Sold by Peter Edds

The article tells of the terrible murder by Capt. James Purrinton of his wife, seven children and himself one child escaping death, though wounded.

Captain Purrinton was born in 1750 in Bowdoinham and married Betsey Clifford of Bath. Twelve children were born to them, of which four died in infancy. The family in August, 1805 moved to Augusta and located on a farm about a mile and a half above the village. There they lived peacefully for some time, until the following year Mrs. Purrinton noticed that her husband was acting peculiarly and at one time found him sharpening a knife. When taxed with intending to make way with himself he denied it, but on the morning of July 9, 1806, Dean Wyman, a near neighbor, was aroused by James, the eldest Purrinton boy, who, wounded, had just escaped from his home and told of the terrible deed his father had just committed.

Wyman secured help and they proceeded to the Purrinton home, where Capt. Purrinton, his wife and six children were found dead and the second daughter, Martha, apparently dying.

The deed had been committed with an ax and the captain had cut his throat with a razor. The bodies of the victims were terribly mutilated, and almost all had put up a terrific struggle against their maniacal father. The list follows:

Dead—Mrs. Purrinton, aged 45; Polly, 19; Benjamin, 12; Anna, 10; Nathaniel, 8; Nathan. 6; Louisa, 18 months. Martha, aged 15, died the following July 30 from her wounds. James, aged 17, was but slightly wounded and recovered.

A letter was found written by Capt. Purrinton giving in a rambling way his religious views and expressing the hope of future happiness for all his family.

Coroner Elias Craig empaneled a jury, consisting of Theopilus Hamlin, James Child, Kendal Nichols, Shuball Pitts, Caleb Heath, Frederic Wingate, Jonathan Perkins, Oliver Pollard, Samuel Bond, Ezekiel Page and Ephraim Ballard, Jr. Wingate was foreman. The verdict was that Purrinton “Of his malice aforethought” did kill and murder his wife and children, “and as a felon did voluntarily kill and murder himself,” though the general opinion was that he was seized with an attack of hereditary insanity and was a maniac when he committed the deed.

The work then goes on to give the writer’s personal views on religion and the lessons taught by the tragedy, in a more or less interesting manner, filling greater part of the 22 pages.

Much additional information concerning the tragedy is contained in North’s History of Augusta, Among other things it states that the selectmen on the day of the tragedy placed the remains of the victims in the meeting house, leaving the remains of the father in the porch, with the ax and razor on the coffin. The next day “a vast concourse of people” gathered for the funeral, so great the throng “that the street and adjoining houses were filled and many were on the house tops.” Rev. Joshua Taylor, a Methodist minister, preached the funeral sermon. The remains of the mother and six children were taken across the bridge and returned, then going by way of Bridge and State streets to the Burnt Hill burying ground, in the northeast corner of which the remains were interred.

The remans of the father were taken without ceremony, with the ax and razor, and buried together in the highway, near the southwest corner of the burying ground, at the corner of Winthrop and High streets. The procession then returned to the meeting house and the multitude was dismissed, after prayer by Rev. Eliphaet Gillet.

North’s History also states that Purrinton frequently changed his religious belief, but had finally settled down to the belief of universal salvation. His manners were reserved and he was “obstinately tenacious of his opinion.” He was known to be elated or depressed according to circumstances and was, before the tragedy very despondent over the severe drought, fearing that his crops would be cut off and his family suffer from want.

North’s History further locates the home of the Purrintons by stating it was “a farm on the Belgrade road now owned and occupied by George Cony.”

Categories: events, history, Maine oddities, stories, Uncategorized, weird Maine news | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

What Is Fishing?

Winter is finally beginning to show its teeth here in Maine, in spite of the lack of snow, and I thought I would drift a bit off history here today and share one of my latest poems and video productions to while the winter time away. Just a spot of time to remind us that while the weather may not be the best today, it soon will be warm and sunny again, and then we can grab that old pole and reel, and head for waters unknown to do battle with the elements of the natural world on our own terms.

For those of you who have followed me for a while, you know that in addition to writing about preparedness, survival and history, I also dabble in poetry as well. I came up with a poem that talks about the sport of fishing, and addresses the question of “just exactly what is fishing all about, anyways?” For you preppers and survivalists out there, it is a way to harvest protein for your families table. For those of you who do not care about preparing for the coming times, it is a way to recreate in a special way.

Fishing holds a lot of different meaning for a lot of different people, but unless you have really been in a situation where you have that ultimate catch, you really cannot get the full depth of what fishing is really all about.

Imagine yourself fly-fishing on a little mountain stream, if you will. It is a warmish late spring day. The flies are buzzing lazily in the air around you, and there is just enough of a breeze coming down the mountain to temper the suns strength. You cast your favorite fly over that hole where you just know a big one is lurking, and start to reel the line back.

Suddenly, you feel the tug as a fish tastes the delicacy you have so skillfully presented, and then the bite, the hook sinking deep into the trout’s lips. He reacts, diving deep into the pool for the safety of his home. But you have different plans, and the fight begins between the man and fin. You play out line and the fish tries to flee, and then you reel some line back in, a little more each time. And each time the fish weakens just a little, until suddenly, after what seems like hours, but is really only a few minutes, the fish, in a sudden burst of adrenaline bursts from the surface of the stream.

Water sprays and splashes, revealing the sparkling color of its scales, reflected in the midday sun. the Rainbow flips his tail in an audible slap, sending a spray of water across the deep blue sky, each drop of water glistening, appearing as a hundred diamonds sprayed across the air, each one reflecting the colors of the sun in a glittering rainbow spread across the scene before you.

Until you have actually been in a position similar to this picture painted here in words, you really have not been fishing, and until you have, you really cannot fathom what fishing really is. For some, fishing is about accumulating equipment, buying the latest surefire lure and the latest technological advance in poles and reels and maybe that pro class bass boat. However, that is like going to church every Sunday and not knowing God. It just does not give you the true sense of what life is really all about.

Here for your enjoyment is the video-poem that I put together. There is some archive video showing some fishing during the ’40s and early 50’s time frame, as well as an entertaining newsreel piece at the beginning. I hope you like the poem, as well as the video, and feel free to share.

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Fort Williams to be Unearthed?

Dining with Antiques – Christmas Rosettes
In the 1840s and 1850s, Scandinavian settlers brought to the United States the tradition of making an assortment of delicious Christmas cookies using open fireplaces and cast iron implements. Over time, cultures blended into America’s melting pot and traditions became diluted, but these fascinating cookie-making tools can still be found, hidden among the Dutch ovens, skillets and other cast iron miscellany on tables at outdoor flea markets. The items, resembling small branding irons (with screw-on “brands”), are used to make rosettes, a favorite Nordic Christmas treat. Check out Worthologist Liz Holderman’s primer on these vintage kitchen implements, as well as a traditional recipe for those interested in trying to make them. Read “Dining with Antiques – Christmas Rosettes”

History buried at Fort Williams Park

The park’s charitable foundation plans to explore the possibility of uncovering a buried gun battery.

CAPE ELIZABETH – Large interpretive signs help explain Battery Blair to visitors at the town’s Fort Williams ParkJoe Edgar says much more interesting things are under those visitors’ feet. Edgar is a director of the Fort Williams Charitable Foundation, which has raised more than $36,000 for an engineering study to determine whether a buried section of the gun battery — which includes the ammunition magazines, plotting rooms, and space for tool storage, generators and latrines — can stand the stress of being uncovered.

“Spend Christmas in Jail!”

The Ellsworth Historical Society will again be having their annual open house and “Old Fashioned Christmas” with free admission to the museum on December 3, 11:00-3:00 at the home of the Society” The Old Hancock County Jail”, 40 State Street Ellsworth next to the Ellsworth Library.

The 1886 home of the Sherriff will decorated for the holidays with hot mulled cider and cookies. Guests will be welcome to tour the 1886 home of the Hancock County Sherriff’s of the past and see how they spent their day-to-day lives and tending the prisoners in the jail. Guests will also be allowed to tour the Sherriff’s office and the cellblock of so many of our notorious Ellsworth prisoners!

A special exhibit will also be on display “A Soldiers Christmas” that will display military items from the archives of the society as well as items on loan. One very special exhibit we will have this year is a recent donation to the society of a 12 lb British Canon Ball that was shot at a Ellsworth Barn on the Union River believed from the Revolutionary War period. So many Ellsworth boys were not home for the holidays so we felt it was important to show our support and remember the soldiers of Ellsworth at this special time of year.

The society continues its goal of preserving the artifacts of Ellsworth History and as always needs your support. Donations are welcome and may be sent to The Ellsworth Historical Society PO Box 355 Ellsworth, Me 04605. If you have items to donate or any questions, please contact Terri Weed Cormier at 667-8235 or Linda Grindle at 667-5716. The society is currently looking for glass locking display cabinets to display items securely, if you have one to donate please contact us. Thank you and we look forward to seeing you all at the Open House for some cider and cookies and lots of reminiscing about Ellsworth’s past.

Museums of Old York

Upcoming Programs
For a complete and up-to-date calendar please see our website.


3rd Join us this Saturday for A Christmas Tea at Jefferds Tavern.

As a part of the annual Festival of Lights celebration in York Village, Museums of Old York hosts a favorite holiday tradition at historic Jefferds Tavern from noon until 4 p.m. on Sat., Dec. 3. This yuletide fest, managed by volunteer Michele LaBranche, offers traditional Victorian-style holiday cheer to the whole family. Candlelight, a cozy fire, shining silver, delicate teacups and holiday greens set the stage in the Tavern. But the desserts are really the highlight of the afternoon!

Created by local bakers and talented volunteers, this year’s menue of tasty treats includeds: Apple Crisp, Harvest Pumpkin Pie, Cheesecake, Chocolate Cake, Raspberry Almond Pie, Lemon Pie, Fluffy Peanut Butter Pie, and Indian Pudding. Enjoy the ambiance, company of friends and delicious desserts as you warm yourself by the fire. The last sitting will be at 3:30 p.m. Admission is $6 and includes a choice of two desserts and tea. No charge for children under age 5 and no reservation required.

14th Candle Dipping and Holiday Decor. Without electricity how did people light their homes at night? With candles of course! Dip your own candles for when the power goes out this winter or as a centerpiece for a holiday dinner. Create colorful curled candles, string cranberries and make a decoration for your window or Christmas tree. 3-5 p.m. at The Parsons Center. Registration required, ages 8 and up, $10 ($8 members).

Stories from Maine Memory Network

Bringing in the Swedes

30th Anniversary Celebration, New Sweden, 1900

The settlement of the Swedish colony in Aroostook County in the 1870s is a remarkable story. Political leaders, spurred by the Homestead Act and led by W.W. Thomas, actively recruited Swedish immigrants to northern Maine, both to encourage economic development and to secure the northern border with Canada. By the 1890s, nearly 1,500 Swedish immigrants had settled in Aroostook County and established a vibrant community that remains strong to this day.

View the exhibit from Maine History Online for an overview. To explore the story further, visit the website a local team from New Sweden developed through the Maine Community Heritage Project.

TRAVELIN’ MAINE(RS): Head to New Gloucester and have yourself a Merry Shaker
Kennebec Journal
Shaker Village includes a store with many interesting products, a fascinating museum, a craft store with locally made crafts from lamps to baskets to cheese balls, a farm with sheep and goats and several historical buildings

Farmington Historical Society to sell wreaths
Lewiston Sun Journal
Along with a parade and other activities, the Titcomb House Museum is open from 9:30 am to 3 pm All proceeds support the Farmington Historical Society’s mission of preserving Farmington’s history and maintenance of the Titcomb House and North Church

Schooner Bowdoin’s Untold Story Subject of Upcoming Castine Exhibit
The Maritime Executive (press release)
The untold story of Maine Maritime Academy’s (MMA) historic schooner Bowdoin will be illuminated in an upcoming exhibit at the Castine Historical Society scheduled for the summer of 2012. The exhibit, entitled “Schooner Bowdoin on the Greenland Patrol”

Leeds Historical Society views Harry Cochrane Murals
Lewiston Sun Journal
LEEDS — Members of the Leeds Historical Society met recently at the old Methodist Church on Quaker Ridge with artisan Tony Castro from New Gloucester. Castro has worked for more than 25 years in the field of decorative painting, and some of Maine’s…

Maine fish passage restoration effort get $92K grant
The Republic
Maine Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe says the $92505 grant is going to the Nobleboro Historical Society. Through the years, the towns have undertaken several

Categories: antiques, articles, breaking news, collectibles, events, Geneology, headlines, historic buildings, historic preservation, historical societies, history, Maine, Maine Historical Society, Museums of Old York, stories, Uncategorized, WWII | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

U-Maine’s folklore collection to get new home at Library of Congress

Welcome to another round of Maine history headlines and news from around the web! A special thanks to those who have sent in links to share. Just a comment on that, by the way. Please make sure you have a valid description of your email in the subject line. If there is no relevant wording in the subject line it will go into spam, and as the amount of spam mail is increasing again, I will no longer look at emails in my spam box. Send in your news, links and event notifications to if you have something to share.

As a note for future interest, I am interested in receiving guest posts from historical society fans covering meeting and events around the state of Maine. It will be a good way to share news of what you are doing with a greater audience than you might get otherwise.

If I do not get time to do another post before Thanksgiving, have a happy holiday, and enjoy the day!

Joe Steinberger: Rockland History, in Context
Freepress Online
by Joe Steinberger This Saturday at 12:30 pm at the Rockland Public Library, there will be a presentation by members of the Rockland Historical Society about the Lime Rock Railroad that once linked Rockland’s limestone quarries to the shore side kilns…

All aboard for history of Rockland’s industrial railroad
The Rockland Historical Society and the Rockland Public Library will present a multi-media program about Rockland’s Lime Rock Railroad on Saturday, Nov. 19 at 1:30 pm The program at the library will be preceded by the historical society’s annual…

Official issued proclamation against Penobscot Indians in 1755
Bangor Daily News
The page refers to “Documentary History of Maine,” Baxter Manuscripts, Vol. 24 Page 63, and also the Androscoggin Historical Society at So in addition to taking land and spreading disease and paying Native Americans…

Belfast women sewed a patriotic legacy in 1864
Bangor Daily News
Discovering the phrase “Belfast, Maine, June 17, 1864” printed on a white stripe, the woman contacted the Belfast Historical Society. According to Pinette, after the Armory Square Hospital closed in 1865, the Belfast quilt “was most likely given to Dr…

Town histories a great source for veterans lists
Bangor Daily News
They are among the Abbot World War I veterans listed in “A Centeseptquinary History of Abbot, Maine 1827-2002,” a book that continues to be available through the Abbot Historical Society. Gerrish, Morse and Orff served in places such as St. Mihiel and…

UMaine ‘national treasure’ of folklore to get new home at Library of Congress

ORONO, Maine — Legend has it that the Maine Folklife Center hatched from a shoebox under the desk of University of Maine professor Edward “Sandy” Ives. Half a century ago, that box held just a few audio recordings of Mainers describing their way of life and way of making a…

Museums of Old York schedule of events;


19 Visual Language and Constructed Views: New Exhibits at George Marshall Store Gallery. Opening reception on Saturday Nov. 19, 5-7 p.m. This exhibition runs through December 18. Gallery Hours are Wed. – Sat. 11 a.m. – 4 p.m., Sunday 1-4 p.m. and by appointment.

21 The Art of Wreathmaking
Join MOY staff as we prepare wreaths to decorate our historic properties for the holiday season.
Meet at 2 p.m. at Remick Barn in The Parsons Center, 3 Lindsay Road in York Village.

30 Gingerbread House Competition. Help the Museums of Old York decorate a gingerbread rendition of the John Hancock Warehouse. Use frosting and candy to add windows, shingles, a ramp and the ocean so the house can be entered in York Library’s gingerbread house contest! After helping with our gingerbread house, decorate your very own house in true Victorian holiday style to take home. 3-5 p.m. at The Parsons Center. Registration required, ages 5 and up, $25 ($20 members).

3 A Christmas Tea at Jefferds Tavern. The Museums of Old York will once again host a favorite local holiday tradition at the historic Jefferds Tavern from noon until 4 p.m. on Saturday, December 3 as a part of the annual Festival of Lights celebration in York Village. This yuletide happening, managed again this year by volunteer Michele LaBranche, brings traditional Victorian-style holiday cheer to the entire family. Candlelight, a cozy fire, shining silverware, delicate teacups and Christmas greens set the stage at Jefferds Tavern. But the desserts are really the highlight created by local bakers and talented volunteers.

This year’s menu of tasty treats includes Apple Crisp, Harvest Pumpkin Pie, Cheesecake, Chocolate Cake, Raspberry Almond Pie, Lemon Pie, Fluffy Peanut Butter Pie, and Indian Pudding. Enjoy the ambiance, company of friends and delicious desserts as you warm yourself by the fire. The last sitting will be at 3:30 p.m. Admission is $6 and includes a choice of two desserts and tea. There is no charge for children under age 5. FMI, please email or call 207-363-4974.

14 Candle Dipping and Holiday Decor. Without electricity how did people light their homes at night? With candles of course! Dip your own candles for when the power goes out this winter or as a centerpiece for a holiday dinner. Create colorful curled candles, string cranberries and make a decoration for your window or Christmas tree. 3-5 p.m. at The Parsons Center. Registration required, ages 8 and up, $10 ($8 members).

Categories: breaking news, headlines, historic preservation, historical societies, history, Maine, Maine things to do, museum news, Museums of Old York, stories, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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