Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Notable citizens – Part 2B of 3

Haverford College Library.

by Mary Grow

Rufus M. Jones: Part II

Rufus M. Jones

After the early life summarized in the July 30 issue of The Town Line, prominent South China Quaker Rufus Jones entered Haverford College, in Pennsylvania, in 1882 as a sophomore, receiving a full scholarship (which he later repaid). His 20th birthday would be Jan. 25, 1883.

Jones chose Haverford over Brown University, a choice he never regretted. In his autobiographical writings he mentions professors and classmates whose influence lasted a lifetime.

Jones’ admiring biographer, Elizabeth Gray Vining, presents him as a man with wide interests, academic and personal. He read and wrote about religion, especially mysticism; philosophy; history; biography and autobiography; and literature, especially poetry. He played cricket, edited the college newspaper, took extra courses and still had time to enjoy long walks in the surrounding country with friends.

He made friends easily, Vining writes, acquiring benefactors and becoming an unofficial advisor to younger students. Before he graduated in June 1885, a New Jersey man he met through another student had offered to put him through law school, since Jones had planned to become a lawyer.

By then, Jones had decided law was not right for him. He refused the offer, with thanks (and he and the New Jerseyite remained friends ever after), and came back to the family farm in South China to see what would happen.

Two things happened that summer. The University of Pennsylvania offered him a graduate history fellowship; and the next day Oakwood Seminary, an upstate New York Quaker school, offered him a teaching job. He chose Oakwood.

There he found that he enjoyed teaching; he read so much that he developed the eye problems that lasted off and on for the rest of his life; and he met Sarah “Sallie” Coutant, a fellow teacher. The two were engaged in 1886 at the end of the school year; they married July 3, 1888. In the interim, Jones spent a year touring Europe and a second year teaching at Providence Friends School (now Moses Brown School) to earn enough to repay what he borrowed for the European trip.

Since 1827, American Quakerism had split into factions, and many of the old traditions, including the long silences at meetings that Jones so appreciated, had been modified or eliminated in some meetings. It is a vast oversimplification to say that the division was between a more mystical, inward religion and a more worldly, outgoing one; but that was part of it.

One tradition was that an engaged couple had to notify their respective meetings and get approval before they could marry. Jones’ old-fashioned South China meeting posed no problem.

Sallie, a convert to Quakerism during their engagement, found the meeting she joined had discontinued the custom a dozen years earlier. When Jones insisted she be properly approved, Sallie went ahead. In a letter to her fiancé she described the pleasure she had given to some of the older meeting members who were delighted to see the tradition revived.

Jones and his wife spent another year in Providence; during the summer Jones wrote his first book, the biography of Eli and Sybil Jones. In the spring of 1889, he was offered the job of principal at Oak Grove Seminary, in Vassalboro, where he had studied for one term. The couple spent four years there, with Sallie as matron doing her share of the work. Their son Lowell (named after poet James Russell Lowell) was born Jan. 23, 1892, two days before his father’s 29th birthday.

Haverford College Quaker Alcove.

In 1893, Jones was asked to become editor of the Haverford-based Quaker weekly called The Friends Review – because, he was told, he had done such a good job on the Haverford College paper. He accepted with the understanding he would also teach at the college. Within a year, the new editor had combined the review with its Western-based, and religiously differing, rival to create The American Friend, edited by Jones and representing a broader range of views.

(According to an on-line article, the current equivalent of The American Friend is Friends Journal, published since 1955 after, again, two journals representing different versions of Quakerism merged. The magazine appears online and in 11 print issues each year.)

Vining presents Jones as focused on promoting understanding and cooperation among differing Quaker communities. He toured much of the United States and visited Quakers in Europe, hearing varied views, and supported proposals for uniting different United States groups. In his many columns and books on Quakerism, historical and contemporary, he described and analyzed different versions of the faith while making clear his own beliefs.

In another oversimplification, Jones was in the mystical stream of Quakerism, believing that a personal, caring, compassionate, all-knowing God was with him constantly, providing guidance that led him to right decisions for himself and for those he influenced.

With this foundational belief and his outgoing personality, Jones acquired influence in the Quaker community in the United States, then in Western Europe and eventually world-wide.

Jones’ confidence in unseen beneficence carried him through personal trials and griefs. Sallie died Jan. 14, 1899, apparently of tuberculosis. Their son Lowell, to whom Jones was devoted, died July 16, 1903, in the aftermath of diphtheria. In the next few years he lost his father, his much-loved Aunt Peace and a close friend, John Wilhelm Rowntree.

Jones had married his second wife, Elizbeth Barton Cadbury, on March 11, 1902. Their daughter, Mary Hoxie Jones (named for Jones’ mother), was born July 27, 1904.

That same year, he bought a house near the Haverford campus, where he and Elizabeth lived for the rest of their lives. He resigned from the Haverford faculty in June 1934, after teaching for 41 years, but did not give up his extensive travels world-wide or his summers in South China.

As Vining considers Jones’ achievements, she lists some of his major writings, like his historical work, Studies in Mystical Religion, published in 1909; his friendships with Quakers and other religious leaders all over the world (he asked for and got a meeting with Mahatma Gandhi, in India, in 1926); the innumerable conferences he organized, spoke at and followed up on; and especially the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC).

Quakerism is pacifist, so when World War I started in 1914, and especially after the United States joined in April, 1917, young Quaker men faced a dilemma. Some joined the military as fighters; others joined as non-combatants; still others wanted to help the United States and its European allies without having any contact with the military. The AFSC was organized to enroll the last group.

Several people had ideas for such an organization, but Vining writes that Jones’ plan was the one adopted in May 1917. In June the organizing committee asked him to chair the organization. The job would not take much time away from his teaching and writing, they assured him.

After a week’s consideration, and well aware that the chairmanship would be time-consuming, Jones accepted. He served until 1928, and after retiring became honorary chairman. The book he published in 1920 on the organization’s World War I work is titled A Service of Love in War Time.

AFSC has helped rebuild Europe after two world wars, rescued victims of regional conflicts and participated in international peace-building efforts. Its contemporary website lists offices in the United States and in African, Asian and Middle Eastern countries. The organization received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1947, along with the Friends Service Council.

Rufus Jones died June 16, 1948, in Haverford. His wife Elizabeth died Oct. 26, 1952, and their daughter, Mary Hoxie, died Dec. 26, 2003. Many area residents, especially but not exclusively members of the Quaker community, remember Mary Hoxie Jones.

The Abel Jones house where Rufus Jones grew up, now owned by the South China Library Association, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. Other Historic Register properties associated with the Jones family are the Eli and Sybil Jones house at Dirigo Corner; the Pond Meeting House, on Lakeview Drive; the South China Meeting House, now the South China Community Church; and Pendle Hill, off Lakeview Drive.

As a child, Rufus Jones attended the Pond Meeting House, built in 1807, and now part of the Friends Camp, until the South China Meeting House was built in 1884 closer to his home. Pendle Hill was the family summer home from its completion in 1916.

Main sources:

Jones, Rufus M., Finding the Trail of Life (1931).
Vining, Elizabeth Gray, Friend of Life: the Biography of Rufus M. Jones (1958).
Web sites, miscellaneous

Next week: another Maine small-town boy who gained national fame.

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Notable citizens – Part 2A of 3

Old Rufus Jones homestead in South China.

by Mary Grow

Rufus M. Jones

Rufus Matthew Jones was a South China farmer’s son who became internationally renowned. Here is the story of his early life, mostly as told by himself in two of his many books.

Rufus Matthew Jones was born Jan. 25, 1863, in South China, into a Quaker family. The Encyclopedia Britannica’s online version calls him “one of the most respected U.S. Quakers of his time.” Wikipedia more comprehensively lists him as an “American religious leader, writer, magazine editor, philosopher, and college professor.”

Rufus M. Jones

In two autobiographical books, Finding the Trail of Life (1931) and A Small Town Boy (1941), Jones describes growing up in South China in the last quarter of the 19th century.

The Quakers, or Society of Friends, have been represented in the area, especially in Vassalboro on the west side of China Lake, since the earliest settlers arrived in the 18th century. (Earlier in this series, in the history of Fairfield, printed in the April 16 issue of The Town Line, the connection between the Vassalboro and the Fairfield Friends was briefly described.)

Rufus Jones’ paternal grandparents were Abel and Susannah Jones. Rufus’s father, Edwin, was their youngest son, born in 1828. In 1815, Abel Jones built the family house on Jones Road where his grandson Rufus was born and raised.

Edwin’s oldest brother was Eli Jones, born in 1807. He married Sibyl Jones, from Brunswick, in 1833; the two were famous for preaching and practicing Quakerism in eastern Canada, Europe, Africa and the Middle East in the mid-19th century. They spent enough time in China to be important influences in their nephew’s life. One of his many books is a biography of his aunt and uncle.

Rufus Jones’ family and their religion emerge as the most important influences in his life. The family consisted of his grandmother Susannah (Abel Jones died in June 1853 and is buried in Dirigo Cemetery, one of several Quaker burying grounds in China); his parents, Edwin and Mary (Hoxie) Jones; his father’s sister, Aunt Peace, born in 1815; his older brother, Walter, and older sister, Alice; and a younger brother, Herbert.

Rufus Jones admired and loved the two senior women in the household. He describes his grandmother as a hard-working housewife who still had time to tell her young grandson exciting stories of China in the old days, full of Indians, bears, hard winters and other travails. He sees Aunt Peace as a beneficial influence, kind, wise, sometimes prophetic and mystical, on daily speaking terms with God. He marvels that no man was discerning enough to marry her.

Despite living with these two strong minded older women, Jones’ mother was the head of the household, he says. He describes her as tender, loving, always knowing the right way to make a bad situation better. She was the disciplinarian more than his father, he says; both disciplined by example and words, never with force.

Jones describes a typical family day as beginning with the family gathering to hear his mother read a Bible chapter, followed by a quiet period, a miniature of the old-fashioned Quaker meeting at which everyone sat in silence feeling God’s presence. One of the family would then talk with God on behalf of the group. Although the day’s house and farm work lay ahead, Jones found these shared moments of religious tranquility anything but wasted time.

The community Quaker meetings the whole family attended faithfully were important in Jones’ whole life, and the one-room schoolhouse where he started his education at the age of four was useful. The two other groups he describes in writing about his childhood were the boys with whom he ran and the men who spent their free time talking in the country store.

The boys, as he describes them, were a mixture of Quakers and non-Quakers who did typical energetic country-boy things, swimming and fishing, sledding and skating, playing games outdoors and in barns. Looking back, Jones realized that he was the group’s unofficial leader. If he had farm chores to finish before he could play, his friends would wait for him or help him; when they debated what to do next, he often had the deciding voice.

As soon as he was old enough, Jones used to get the family mail at the general store, where he lingered to listen to the talk around him – jokes and tales, review of national and local events. When he learned to read confidently, he acquired a leadership role there, too. The men would have him stand on the counter and read aloud to them newspapers, political broadsides and, when the world was quiet, favorite authors like Mark Twain and Artemus Ward.

In both books about his youth, Jones describes his tenth year as a turning point in his inner life. That summer he bruised his foot; the bruise became an infection; the country doctor who punctured it with an unclean lancet gave him a more serious infection that almost cost him his foot and his life.

Jones spent nine months as an invalid, the early weeks in constant pain and frequent fear of death. His grandmother, aunt and mother were his as consolers and companions. He credits his grandmother with recommending he read the Old Testament, often out loud while she listened; the two discussed it at length. Aunt Peace offered him the hope he needed when he felt sure he would die. His mother’s love constantly sustained him. And during his hours alone, he became more aware of what he calls the unseen world, of God’s presence, of moral values.

Many Maine Quakers, like Eli and Sybil Jones and later Rufus Jones, traveled widely. Even gentle Aunt Peace made a religious journey to the mid-West when Jones was very young. These local travelers returned at intervals, and other Friends from away came to China. Nonetheless, South China was basically an isolated country village when Jones grew up there.

He praises the chance to live in the outdoors with China Lake and its in-flowing brooks, the views of distant mountains, the wild flowers and the birds. A trip to Augusta in a horse-drawn wagon was an all-day event; and despite the wonders there, like the Kennebec River, the state house and the courthouse, the stone buildings and perhaps a railroad train, young Jones felt sorry for city boys.

When Jones was 14, he spent a term at what was considered a better grammar school in Weeks Mills Village, a six-mile round-trip walk. Here, he writes, for the first time he had a teacher who was able to introduce him to physics and physiology, though without anything resembling a science laboratory.

The next year, 1878, he spent 11 weeks at the Quaker high school then called Oak Grove Seminary, in Vassalboro (the former campus currently houses the Maine Criminal Justice Academy). This school was 10 miles from South China, so Jones was one of many students who boarded there during the week and went home on weekends. At Oak Grove, he wrote, he was able to study Latin, to advance in mathematics and English and to learn astronomy (though without a telescope).

In the summer of 1879 he decided he needed more education and applied to the Friends School, in Providence, Rhode Island. He was accepted and given a full scholarship.

His first year was briefly interrupted when his mother died in April. He describes how this loss almost destroyed his faith, but memories of her love and her faith saved him.

Jones graduated from Providence Friends School in 1881, took a post-graduate year to improve his Greek to college standards and in 1882 entered Haverford College as a sophomore. There he began his life’s work.

Main sources:

Jones, Rufus M., A Small-Town Boy (1941)
Jones, Rufus M., Finding the Trail of Life (1931)
Vining, Elizabeth Gray, Friend of Life: the Biography of Rufus M. Jones (1958)

Websites, miscellaneous

Next week: the rest of the story.

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Three notable citizens – Part 1 of 3

Head of Falls, Waterville, circa 1903.

by Mary Grow

George J. Mitchell

This writer hopes you-all aren’t tired of reading about people, because four more biographical pieces are coming your way. After some of the obscure Maine governors you probably never heard of, these four will be people born in or otherwise connected to the central Kennebec area whose names should be familiar. All of them have written about themselves or been written about, or both, so if you’re interested, you should be able to find out more about them than space permits in these pages.

George J. Mitchell (photo by John Montgomery, Maine the Magazine)

George John Mitchell is usually referred to as Senator Mitchell, but that’s only one title earned by this Waterville native. His 2015 memoir is The Negotiator, another appropriate title; and one could add lieutenant (in the Army), chairman (of a variety of committees and boards), judge (federal district court in Maine), chancellor (of the Queen’s University of Belfast in Northern Ireland) and (honorary) Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire.

Mitchell was born Aug. 20, 1933, the youngest son of Lebanese immigrants George and Mary Mitchell, in the part of Waterville between the railroad tracks and the Kennebec River known as Head of Falls. His mother, like many other Lebanese (and French-Canadian) immigrants, worked in the textile mills that were important in Waterville’s economy; his father was a laborer for a utility company and later a janitor and groundskeeper at Colby College.

Mitchell’s three older brothers, Paul, Johnny (known as “Swisher” on the basketball court) and Robbie, were talented athletes with whom George tried to compete, with limited success. The youngest of the family is their sister Barbara, now Barbara Atkins, still a Waterville resident.

The whole family was hard-working. Mitchell remembers two jobs particularly: delivering newspapers when he was so young that a full bag was hard to lift, and picking green beans on local farms. Later, he worked his way through college, and later still held a full-time job while earning his law degree at night.

Mitchell’s father wanted all five children to be college graduates, and all of them were. Mitchell writes that because of his father’s encouragement, he started high school the September after his 13th birthday and graduated at 16.

With the help of a Bowdoin graduate from the utility company where Mitchell’s father had worked, Mitchell entered Bowdoin, graduating in 1954. In addition to working year-round, he played sports, joined a fraternity and joined the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC).

When the Army called him in December 1954, he attended its Intelligence School, in Baltimore, and in 1955 was made a second lieutenant and sent to Berlin, Germany. He and another newcomer went together to the office where assignments were handed out. Mitchell opened the office door and politely let the other man go in first. The officer assigned the first man to supply, the second to security, before he even asked who was who.

As a result of that act of courtesy at the door, Mitchell had an interesting 18 months’ service in Berlin, during which he worked with a graduate of Georgetown University’s law school in Washington. As Mitchell debated whether to stay in the army – he was a first lieutenant by then – or apply to graduate school in European history, his Bowdoin major, or go to law school, his friend urged him to go to law school, specifically Georgetown. Another fellow soldier with similar plans proposed they share an apartment.

Mitchell therefore entered law school at Georgetown in January 1957. Through that decision, he not only earned a law degree in 1961, but met his first wife, Sally, who lived near him while working in Washington. The two married in August 1959, had a daughter, Andrea, born in May 1965, and divorced amicably in March 1987, partly because Sally did not share her husband’s interest in politics.

That interest began in January 1962, when Mitchell was invited to join Maine Senator Edmund Muskie’s staff. He worked for Muskie, whom he admired and respected, in Washington until early 1965 when that commitment ended and he achieved a long-held wish to move back to Maine, joining a Portland law firm.

In Maine, from 1966 on, Mitchell chaired the state Democratic Party for two years and served on the national Democratic committee for eight years; ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1974, losing to Independent James Longley; served as United States Attorney in Maine from 1977 to 1979; and became a federal district judge in October 1979, presiding in Bangor.

The two federal appointments were the result of nominations by Muskie, then a United States Senator. Six months after Mitchell became a judge, at the end of April 1980, President Jimmy Carter chose Muskie as his new Secretary of State, creating a vacant Senate seat. Governor Joseph Brennan, elected in 1978 as Longley’s successor, appointed Mitchell to succeed Muskie in May 1980.

Mitchell finished Muskie’s term and won election in his own right in 1982 and again in 1988. In 1988 his fellow Democrats elected him majority leader. His memoir describes a Senate that worked hard to reconcile competing interests, with men (he mentions no women who played leading roles in the 1980s) who tried to serve their constituents’ interests within the national interest and who were often personal friends across political divisions.

Mitchell could have added “Justice” to his titles, but he rejected the opportunity. Early in March 1994 he had announced he would not seek another Senate term that fall; in April, Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackman announced his impending retirement. President Bill Clinton wanted to nominate Mitchell as his successor.

Mitchell wrote in his memoir that at that point, he thought it more important to stay as Senate majority leader to continue working on a health care bill the administration was sponsoring. He therefore declined the court appointment. (The health care bill did not pass; the President chose Stephen Breyer for the court seat.)

Mitchell gives multiple reasons for leaving the Senate after a bit more than two terms, the second as majority leader. He thought he was still popular with Maine voters and did not want to outstay his welcome. He found the job all-consuming and wanted more time for himself, especially since he and his second wife, Heather, planned to marry in December 1994. His dislike for the fund-raising that he learned was full-time, not just in election years, had not decreased, although by December 1993 he had achieved his $2 million fund-raising goal for a re-election campaign.

(Things have changed since 1993. According to recent press reports, as of June 30, 2020, Senator Susan Collins had raised $16.7 million for this year’s re-election campaign and spent a little over 12 million, though she had no challenger in the July 14 primary election. Sara Gideon, who won a three-way primary to become Collins’ opponent in November, raised almost $24.2 million and spent almost $18.8 million.)

Declining the Supreme Court nomination led to what many commentators consider the high point of Mitchell’s career, his role in the peace negotiations in Northern Ireland that culminated in the Easter Sunday agreement, signed April 10, 1998. The agreement ended centuries of violence, most recently 30 years of bloody warfare between Unionists or Loyalists, the mostly Protestant group that wanted Northern Ireland to stay in the United Kingdom with Britain, and Nationalists or Republicans, who wanted to unite with the Republic of Ireland.

A Britannica article on line estimates that between 1968 and 1998 the fighting killed 3,600 people and injured an additional 30,000 or more, including local fighters, innocent residents and British peacekeepers. By 1997, most of the parties on both sides had joined peace talks that Mitchell mediated. The 1998 settlement dealt with political power-sharing and continued cooperation, and although there have been bloody incidents and delays in implementation, on balance Mitchell’s work has held.

In appreciation of his mediation, Mitchell received an honorary degree from Queen’s University in July 1997, before he was invited to become chancellor. On March 17, 1999, President Clinton awarded him a Presidential Medal of Freedom; and on July 15 that year, Queen Elizabeth bestowed his honorary knighthood.

At the beginning of President Barack Obama’s first term in January 2009, Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, asked Mitchell if he would become the president’s special envoy for Middle East peace. Though well aware the failure of previous efforts, Mitchell agreed to a two-year appointment. His memoir indicates that he talked often with leaders on both sides and within both sides (for neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians were totally united on policy), but made no significant progress.

Mitchell’s main post-Senate position was with a large Washington-based international law firm, where he was still when he wrote his 2015 memoir. He took leave in 2009 to serve as the Middle East negotiator, and has found time for numerous other activities. They include serving as chairman of the board of the Walt Disney Company; being a member of an investigating committee that looked into allegations of bribery in selecting cities to host international Olympic competitions; and twice assisting in investigating major-league baseball’s problems with performance-enhancing drugs (without, he writes, diminishing his love for the sport).

In addition to The Negotiator, Mitchell has written books about the environment and his work in Northern Ireland and the Middle East. He and former Republican Senator William Cohen co-wrote a book on the Iran-Contra hearings, published in 1988.

The legacy he talks about with pride toward the end of his memoir is the Mitchell Scholarship Fund, intended to help Maine high-school graduates go to college. Mitchell started it when he left the Senate: he asked donors to his $2 million re-election fund whether they wanted their money back or wanted it used to send Maine students to college.

The $1 million donors left with him, plus personal fund-raising, grants and other contributions, created the scholarship fund. As he finished his memoir, it had given more than $11 million to almost 2,300 students. In 2015 the award was $7,500; Mitchell wrote that he hoped it would soon be $10,000, and it now is, according to Mitchell Scholarship information on the Finance Authority of Maine website.

Main sources

Mitchell, George J., The Negotiator, 2015
Websites, miscellaneous

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Governors with Kennebec ties

Gov. Enoch Lincoln (left) was the first Maine governor to die in office; Gov. Percival Baxter (middle) was the driving force behind the creation of Baxter State Park; Gov. Janet Mills (right) became the first female governor in 2019.

by Mary Grow

Here follows the third and probably final piece on Maine’s governors and the second that lists those with a connection to the central Kennebec River valley, with some random notes that might be of interest.

William T. Haines, Maine’s 49th governor, was born in Levant and was valedictorian of the Class of 1876 at the University of Maine. With a law degree from Albany Law School, in New York, he opened an office in Oakland in May 1879 and moved to Waterville in October 1880. Between 1882 and 1905, he was, successively, Kennebec County Attorney, State Senator, State Representative. State Attorney General and member of the Governor’s Executive Council under Governor John Fremont Hill (See The Town Line, July 9, p. 10). He was inaugurated as governor on Jan. 1, 1913, failed to win re-election and left office Jan. 6, 1915.

Burton Melvin Cross was, by one of those oddities mentioned in earlier discussions, Maine’s 61st and 63rd governors, with Nathaniel M. Haskell, from Portland, serving as #62 for 25 hours in between. A Gardiner native and Cony High School graduate, Class of 1920, he held city and then state offices and was President of the state Senate when he was elected governor in the fall of 1952.

Cross’s predecessor, Frederick Payne, resigned Dec. 25 because he had been elected to the U. S. Senate. Being Senate President, Cross took over until his Senate term ended, Wikipedia says at 10 a.m. Jan. 7, 1953. Haskell, the new Senate President, then became governor until Cross was inaugurated the next morning.

The State Office Building behind the Capitol was built in 1952 and in 2001 was renamed the Burton M. Cross Building.

Edmund Sixtus Muskie, the 64th Maine governor, who succeeded Cross and governed Maine from Jan. 5, 1955, to Jan. 2, 1959, set off another succession oddity: elected to the U. S. Senate in the fall of 1958 to succeed Payne, he too left the governorship early and another Haskell, Robert from Bangor, was governor for five days. Muskie, Maine’s first Roman Catholic governor, was born in Rumford. He graduated from Bates College in 1936 and Cornell University Law School in 1939 and practiced law in Waterville before and after his service in the Navy in World War II.

One of Muskie’s interests as Maine governor was environmental protection. In his later national career, as Senator he was a chief author of the 1970 Clean Air Act and the 1972 Clean Water Act. He was also a vice-presidential and presidential candidate (1968 and 1972) and Secretary of State under President Jimmy Carter, who awarded him a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1981.

Clinton Amos Clauson was an Iowan by birth and a World War I veteran who opened a chiropractic office in Waterville in the 1920s. He was inaugurated as governor #66 on Jan. 5, 1959, and died on Dec. 30, 1959, before finishing his first year in office. Wikipedia credits him with increasing the state sales tax and creating the lodging tax, both to provide more money for education. A 1961 Maine Legislative Resolve named the planned Interstate 95 bridges across the Kennebec River connecting Fairfield and Benton the Clinton A. Clauson Memorial Bridges. The bridges opened in 1964.

Paul Richard LePage, of Waterville, served two terms as Maine’s 74th governor, from Jan. 5, 2011, to Jan. 2, 2019. A Lewiston native, he graduated from Husson College and earned an MBA from the University of Maine. His Waterville connection began with a position at Scott Paper Company; in 1996 he became general manager of Marden’s Surplus and Salvage. After serving on the Waterville City Council and as the city’s mayor, he was elected governor with 37.6 percent of the vote in 2010’s five-candidate race and with 48.2 percent against two other candidates in 2014.

LePage left office after serving the two-term limit created by a 1957 amendment to the state Constitution. Earlier in 2020, news reports said he was a legal resident of the State of Florida and that he planned to run for the Maine Governorship again. On July 9, the Associated Press reported that the 71-year-old ex-governor is now a resident of Edgecomb, happy to be back in Maine and planning to resume his political career with the 2022 elections.

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Besides Clauson, three other Maine governors died in office.

The first was Enoch Lincoln (#6), whose history was summarized in the July 9 issue of The Town Line.

Joseph R. Bodwell (#40) was inaugurated Jan. 5, 1887, and served until he died Dec. 15, 1887. Bodwell lived in Massachusetts until 1866; he was in the granite business, and part-owned a quarry on Vinalhaven by 1852. In 1866 he opened quarries in Hallowell; by 1869 he was elected mayor of Hallowell, and in 1886 he was elected Maine’s governor.

A family history describes him as enterprising, energetic, a reluctant politician who nonetheless was an able and vigorous governor and ran a successful, business-like administration. He was interested in agriculture, and in addition to his Hallowell farm cooperated with livestock-breeder Hall Burleigh, in Vassalboro.

Frederic Hale Parkhurst (#52) was a Bangor native who graduated from Columbian Law School, in Washington, D. C., Class of 1887.

(Columbian Law School, not to be confused with Columbia Law School, was chartered in Washington as a college in 1821 and in 1826 added a law school, which closed after a year due to lack of students and money. It reopened in 1864 and graduated its first class in 1867. In 1904, Columbian University became The George Washington University.)

Parkhurst returned to Bangor to practice law, but gave it up to join his father’s leather business. His political career began on the Bangor City Council in 1893; he served in the state House and Senate and on various Republican state and national bodies before running successfully for Governor in September 1920. After the election, he caught pneumonia; he was able to attend his inauguration on Jan. 5, 1921, but died Jan. 31, after only 26 days in office.

Senate President Percival Baxter, of Baxter State Park fame, finished Parkhurst’s term and in 1922 was elected in his own right.

* * * * *

Janet Mills is Maine’s 75th governor, but Wikipedia says only 70 people have held the position, because the four who served non-consecutive terms are counted as two people. They were Edward Kent (#12 and #15), John Fairfield (#13 and #16), John Dana (#19 and #21), and Burton Cross (#61 and #63).

* * *  * *

Maine has had four sets of governors who had the same last name. Two were closely related; two apparently were not.

The state’s first governor, William King, was probably not an ancestor of the seventy-second governor, Angus Stanley King Jr.

Anson Peaslee Morrill (#24), born in 1803 in Belgrade, was the older brother of Lot Myrick Morrill (#28), born in 1813.

Two Plaisteds, Harris (#38) and Frederick William (#48) were father and son. It was the son who directed the removal of Malaga Island’s mixed-race population in 1912. The island, at the mouth of the New Meadows River, is now a preserve owned and managed by Maine Coast Heritage Trust.

Nathaniel Haskell (#62, the 25-hour governor) and Robert Nance Haskell (#65, the five-day governor) were not closely related.

Main sources

Web sites, miscellaneous

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Governors with Kennebec ties

by Mary Grow

Since 1820, 71 people have held the office of Governor of Maine. Four of them served non-consecutive terms and get counted twice, so Janet Mills is the 75th governor. The next two articles in this historical series will provide information on governors who were born in or near, or made their careers in or near, one of the central Kennebec Valley towns with which the series began. As might be expected, many of these men had connections with Augusta, which has been the state capital since 1827. This article and the next will not include Governor Mills, who is proudly the first governor from Franklin County.

Enoch Lincoln

Enoch Lincoln, Maine’s sixth governor and the first to die in office, was also the first with a connection to the central Kennebec area, after Augusta became the capital. He was born in Massachusetts, graduated from Harvard, Class of 1807, and practiced law in Salem, Massachusetts, and after 1819 in Paris, Maine.

Lincoln was elected to Congress in November 1818, apparently before he moved to his district, and re-elected repeatedly through the fall of 1825, serving before and after Maine gained statehood. Elected Maine’s governor in September 1826, he was twice re-elected, serving from Jan. 3, 1827, until he died in office Oct. 8, 1829, aged only 40. He is credited with helping get the capital relocated from Portland to Augusta; one source says he was a speaker at the ceremony marking the laying of the cornerstone for the State House. Wikipedia says he is buried in a mausoleum in Augusta’s Capitol Park; a Maine encyclopedia on the web says his remains were moved to a monument honoring him that was built in 1842, and have since mysteriously disappeared.

(Capitol Park, the rectangular area in front of the State house, was established in 1827, when the citizens of Augusta donated its approximately 20 acres to the state. Wikipedia describes its development and landscaping, including the monument to Governor Lincoln. During the Civil War, trees were cut and lawns wrecked when the park became a military encampment and parade ground.

(After the war, Wikipedia says, the area was farmed before being reconverted to a park in 1878. In the 1920s it was redesigned to its present condition by the Olmsted Brothers, sons of Frederick Law Olmsted. Olmstead Brothers’ other Maine projects included Portland’s Deering Oaks and Eastern Promenade and the road system for Acadia National Park.)

Richard Hampton Vose, 14th Maine governor, was an Augusta native and a Bowdoin graduate, Class of 1822. After six years in Massachusetts, he opened an Augusta law practice. His political career included four years in the Maine House and two in the Maine Senate. He was one of the shortest-term governors; as president of the state Senate, he served as interim governor Jan. 12 and 13, 1841, after Governor John Fairfield resigned to take a United States Senate seat and before Edward Kent was inaugurated for his second (non-consecutive) term. Vose was a prominent member of the Kennebec Bar until he died in January 1864.

Anson Peaslee Morrill

Anson Peaslee Morrill, the 24th governor of Maine, served from Jan. 3, 1855, to Jan. 2, 1856. He was born in Belgrade, where his father ran a combined sawmill, gristmill and carding mill. He later ran stores in Madison and Mount Vernon, then took over a failing woolen mill in Readfield and made it a success. Joining the new Republican party because he was opposed to slavery, he was elected Maine’s first Republican Governor in September 1854.

Later president and then vice-president of Maine Central Railroad, he retired and in 1879 moved to Augusta, where he lived for the rest of his life. In 1880, when Morrill was 77, friends persuaded him to run for the state legislature; he served one term. He died in 1887 and is buried in Augusta’s Forest Grove Cemetery.

Samuel Wells, the 25th governor (Jan. 2, 1856 – Jan. 8, 1857) has a limited and, from available sources, partly disputable, connection to the central Kennebec Valley. Born in New Hampshire on August 15, 1801, he studied law (when and where unspecified) and, according to an on-line Maine encyclopedia, practiced in Waterville from 1816 (when he was 15 years old?) until he moved to Hallowell in 1835 and thence to Portland in 1844. He served as an Associate Justice of the Maine Supreme Court from 1847 until he resigned to run successfully for the governorship in 1855. His bid for a second term failed, and he moved to Boston where he died in 1868.

Joseph Hartwell Williams was a Maine Senate President who served as governor #27 from Feb. 25, 1857, to Jan. 6, 1858, finishing Hannibal Hamlin’s term after the latter resigned to return to his seat in the United States Senate. Williams was an Augusta native, son of attorney Reuel Williams; he graduated from Harvard, Class of 1830, attended Dane Law School (Cambridge, Massachusetts) and in 1837 joined his father’s law firm.

First a Democrat, he joined the Republican party because it was anti-slavery. He refused the Republican nomination for governor in the fall of 1857 because he disagreed with the party’s strong support of prohibition (although, an on-line biography says, he was “always a temperate man”). He served later as a state legislator, first a Republican and then an Independent, and in 1877 accepted the Democratic nomination for governor (and lost).

Lot Myrick Morrill, #28, Anson Morrill’s younger brother, was another Democrat who turned Republican over the slavery issue. Born in Belgrade, he attended Waterville College (now Colby College), studied law in Readfield, passed his bar examination in 1839 and set up practice in Belgrade and Augusta. He served in the Maine House of Representatives and the Maine Senate before being governor for three terms, from Jan. 6, 1858, to Jan, 2, 1861.

When the national Republican convention nominated Hannibal Hamlin as Abraham Lincoln’s vice-president for the election of 1860, Morrill succeeded Hamlin in the United States Senate, serving from 1861 until 1876, when he became President Ulysses Grant’s fourth Secretary of the Treasury. He retired within a year. President Rutherford Hayes then made him Collector of Customs in Portland, a position he held until he died on Jan. 10, 1883. He is buried in Forest Grove Cemetery, in Augusta, and his brick house on Winthrop Street, where his widow lived until 1918, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.

Samuel Cony

Samuel Cony, an Augusta native, was Maine’s 31st governor. Educated partly at China Academy, in China Village, he graduated from Brown University, Class of 1829, and practiced law (and entered politics) in Old Town. Elected state treasurer in 1850, he moved back to Augusta, became the city’s mayor in 1854 and served as governor for three one-year terms, from Jan. 6, 1864, to Jan. 2, 1867. His brick house on Stone Street, in Augusta, called the Governor Samuel Cony House or the William Payson Viles House, was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.

(William Payson Viles was a 20th-century member of a family long active in logging in Maine. After his death in 1986, his widow, Elsie Pike Viles, created the Elsie and William Viles Foundation, a philanthropic organization that lists four main goals on its website: to preserve open spaces and conserve forest lands; to protect and care for animals; to support children and education; and to promote and preserve Maine history and culture.)

Selden Connor, Maine’s 35th governor, was born in Fairfield, educated in Massachusetts and Vermont and served in Vermont and then Maine regiments in the Civil War, rising to a Brigadier General of Volunteers. He worked for the Internal Revenue Service from 1868 to 1875, when he successfully ran for governor on the Republican ticket. Inaugurated Jan. 5, 1876, he was twice re-elected.

In a three-way election in 1878, incumbent Connor got 44.8 percent of the vote; Greenback/Labor candidate John Smith got 34.5 percent; and Democrat Dr. Alonzo Garcelon got 22.4 percent. Lack of a majority turned the choice over to the Maine legislature, whose members picked Garcelon (who served one term; his rival the next year, Daniel Davis, got only 49.7 percent of the vote, but the legislature chose him, and Garcelon returned to his medical practice.) Connor left office on Jan. 9, 1879. He died in Augusta on July 9, 1917 (one source gives a September date), and is buried in Forest Grove Cemetery.

Edwin Chick Burleigh, Maine’s 42nd governor, was born in Linneus and raised in Aroostook County and Bangor. He moved to Augusta in 1876 and held a succession of offices, including assistant clerk to the House of Representatives and state treasurer. Elected governor in the fall of 1888, he served two terms, Jan. 2, 1889, to Jan. 4, 1893. Later he represented Maine in the U. S. House of Representatives and the U. S. Senate, dying in Augusta in the middle of his Senate term, June 16, 1916. Like many of his predecessors, he is buried in Forest Grove Cemetery.

John Fremont Hill

John Fremont Hill, the 45th governor, was a native of Eliot who earned a medical degree in 1877 from what Wikipedia calls the Medical School of Maine (Bowdoin College) but practiced for only a year before moving to Augusta where he and his father-in-law, P. O. Vickery, established what became a national publishing company, Vickery and Hill. Hill served in both houses of the state legislature before being elected governor for two terms (Jan. 2, 1901 – Jan. 4, 1905)

(P. O. Vickery started publishing Vickery’s Fireside Visitor, a monthly magazine aimed at providing light fiction to middle-class readers, in 1874. Like his son-in-law, he was a politician – state representative from, and then mayor of, Augusta in the late 1870s and early 1880s – until Vickery and Hill became so successful its management took all his time and led to his son-in-law becoming his partner. The Fireside Visitor was followed by similar magazines named Happy Hours, Hearth and Home and Good Stories.

No on-line reference says what Vickery’s initials stood for. Even his Nov. 19, 1902, obituary in the Boston Globe calls him P. O. The Globe describes him as “the millionaire publisher, state senator and father-in-law of Gov. Hill.” His funeral in Augusta was well-attended, and two former Maine governors were honorary pall-bearers.)

Frederick William Plaisted, Maine’s 48th governor, was another Augusta publisher. Born in Bangor, he was the son of the 38th governor, Harris Plaisted, and in Augusta took over The New Age newspaper from his father and was editor and publisher from 1889 (or 1898, the year his father died; sources disagree) to 1914. He was inaugurated as governor on Jan. 1, 1913 and defeated when he ran for a second term.

(The New Age seems to have been established in 1867 and for at least part of its life to have been a weekly published on Fridays. Harris Plaisted, governor from 1881 to 1883, became editor and publisher in 1884, an interregnum in his career as a Bangor lawyer. The New Age advertisement in an 1899 National Newspaper Directory and Gazetteer found on line describes it as the only Democratic newspaper in the area [Maine governors were mostly Republican from the 1850s to the 1950s; the two Democratic Plaisteds were exceptions]. It claims to be more than 30 years old and to have 5,000 subscribers. The Kennebec Journal and Vickery and Hill’s four newspapers advertised in the same issue of the directory.)

Main sources

Websites, miscellaneous

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Kennebec Proprietors


Plymouth Company map.

by Mary Grow

This series has repeatedly mentioned the Kennebec Proprietors. It is now time to backtrack to the 18th century, to find out who they were and why they are mentioned in almost every history of the State of Maine and in most local histories of Kennebec Valley towns and cities.

The initial group, the Plymouth Colony, was chartered in 1606 by King James I of England. The king gave it and its companion London Company, whose first settlers came to Virginia, control of most of eastern North America.

In a series of grants and sales in following years, the land went successively to the new Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts; to the Council for New England (1620-1635, a London-based joint stock company headed by Ferdinando Gorges, with a royal charter to promote American settlement) and to the Boston-based New Plymouth Company.

The Council for New England set up other land companies, including the Pejepscot Company, which was given a claim on the lower Kennebec and extended it upriver to Swan Island and Richmond, overlapping with the Kennebec Proprietors’ claim on the southwest.

On the east, the Waldo Patent, named for Bostonian Samuel Waldo, also overlapped in what is now Palermo and the surrounding area. According to one on-line source, the land was a gift to Waldo from Massachusetts for his help in deterring a 1729 attempt by King George II to establish a crown colony that would have been exempt from Massachusetts’ jurisdiction. Another source says the Surveyor of the King’s Woods (the person responsible for marking and protecting trees large enough to make masts for British Royal Navy ships) made a nuisance of himself, Waldo persuaded his British superiors to fire him and the appreciative heirs of a 1630 Waldo Patent rewarded Waldo with acreage.

Kennebec Proprietors map in 1771.

The Plymouth grant extended up the Kennebec from Merrymeeting Bay to the falls at Norridgewock, already known as a Native and French settlement, and for 15 miles on each side of the river. Since the river’s windings were not well documented and the surrounding land not well known to Europeans, there was considerable uncertainty about the size (supposedly about 1.5 million acres) and shape of the grant.

The New Plymouth Company, with a gradually changing membership as newcomers bought or inherited shares, did little. In the fall of 1661, four Boston merchants bought the land rights for 400 pounds sterling. The beavers, basis for earlier fur trading, were by then in decline; the Bostonians’ plan was to use the timber resources, including as a basis for building ships, and in the future to encourage agriculture. They, too, failed to accomplish significant development.

Upriver settlement was discouraged by a series of wars with the Natives from the 1670s to 1763, including the four-war series beginning in 1688 that Americans call the French and Indian Wars. Maine Natives had support from the French, who had settled along the St. Lawrence River and disputed the British claims in northeastern North America.

The 1763 Treaty of Paris between the European rivals ceded Canada to the British and promoted settlement in Maine. (Many historians add that it contributed to Britain’s loss of the American colonies, because removal of the French threat made colonial leaders believe they no longer needed British military protection).

In the 1740s, a man named Samuel Goodwin, who had inherited half of a third of a quarter of a Plymouth Colony share, became interested in development along the Kennebec. After much searching, he found the original charter, which had been missing for decades, and in 1749 he and other heirs brought the New Plymouth Company back into business, beginning with a Sept. 21 organizational meeting in Boston.

In 1753, the Massachusetts General Court re-awarded the grant to “The Proprietors of Kennebeck Purchase from the late Colony of New Plymouth.” The name is shortened by historians to Kennebec Proprietors, Kennebec Company or Kennebec Purchase Company (sometimes Kennebeck) or Plymouth Colony or Plymouth Company, used interchangeably in discussing the period from 1753 to 1818, when the company disbanded.

Because settlement was slow to expand upriver to Norridgewock, the western boundary of the Kennebec Patent was not a big source of contention. The downriver line was intermittently challenged, especially by the Pejepscot Proprietors, leading to legal proceedings in America and in London.

In 1757, the boundary question was referred to a panel of lawyers. They confirmed the upriver boundary and defined the downriver end of the Kennebec patent on the east side of the river as the present northern boundary of Woolwich. The western boundary was defined as Lake Cobbaseconte (now Cobbosseecontee).

The Kennebec Proprietors brought settlement to much of the central Kennebec River area. Surveyors laid out lots along both sides of the river for miles, defining the 15-mile boundaries. The population had increased so much that Lincoln County was separated from York County in June 1760. By 1775, when the American Revolution began, Hallowell (including Augusta), Vassalboro (including Sidney) and Winslow (including Waterville) were incorporated as towns.

The Kennebec Proprietors reserved some lots in each new town for themselves. Some they gave away to encourage settlement, some they sold. A typical lot contained 100 acres; typical deed requirements included building a house of specified size and clearing a specified number of acres within a specified number of years. A settler or his heirs might be required to stay on the land for a specified term – two, three or seven years, sometimes longer. Often deeds included an obligation to help lay out roads, or provide for a church and minister, or both.

A complication was that some of the land the Kennebec Proprietors claimed, surveyed and gave away or sold was already occupied by Europeans. Some had bought their holdings from Natives. Some had deeds from other Europeans. Some had moved onto and improved a vacant tract and claimed squatters’ rights.

Native deeds had been a source of misunderstandings for years. When a Native chief “sold” part of his tribal land, he believed he was giving the European “buyer” the right to share the land equally with tribal members; and the right was valid only for the lifetime of each party. The European believed he acquired the exclusive right to live on and change the land forever, and to sell or will it to someone else.

The history of Windsor offers an example of transactions between European claimants with no involvement with the Kennebec Proprietors. As described in Linwood H. Lowden’s history of the town, in 1797 Ebenezer Grover and associates hired Josiah Jones to survey about 6,000 acres on the west side of the West Branch of the Sheepscot River in southern Windsor. They ended up with 33 Oak Hill lots, some individually owned and some held in common.

These lots were occupied or bought by families who became southern Windsor’s first settlers. Lowden points out that Grover had no legal right to survey or sell the land; indeed, he says, many of Grover’s deeds warned purchasers that Grover and his associates would not help them if the Kennebec Proprietors challenged their titles.

Jones did other, smaller surveys elsewhere in town, and Isaac Davis surveyed at least once, in northern Windsor.

In January 1802 the Kennebec Proprietors asked the Massachusetts General Court to appoint commissioners to deal with the people they saw as illegal squatters. The Proprietors also had their own survey done, laid out their version of lots (usually, Lowden says, smaller than the originals) and offered to sell them to the settlers.

A political and legal dispute followed, during which some of the settlers paid again for their land and the Proprietors evicted others for non-payment. The Proprietors were unpopular, to say the least; their local representatives and their surveyors, being available, were threatened and had their property destroyed.

The culminating event of the “Malta War,” as it is often called (Windsor was named Malta from March 1809 to March 1821), came on Sept. 8, 1808. Surveyor Isaac Davis, hired by a settler to determine lot lines so the settler could pay the Proprietors, was heading a crew on Windsor Neck that included a resident named Paul Chadwick. Other residents, armed and disguised as Natives, intercepted the party and shot Chadwick, who died three days later.

Nine local men were arrested and sent to the county jail in Augusta. Disturbance continued as rumors spread of a planned attack on the jail to rescue them. On Oct. 3 a mob gathered on the east bank of the Kennebec; in response, authorities called out the militia and placed cannons to defend the bridge if necessary.

The accused were all acquitted in November 1809, an outcome historian Lowden thinks was the best choice to ease tension. He also suggests the men were after Chadwick specifically, because he had opposed the surveys and then hired on to help Davis; and he speculates they did not intend murder.

In neighboring Palermo, the Proprietors’ demands led inhabitants to petition the Massachusetts General Court for help. Legislators set up a commission early in 1802 that assigned three local men to value properties, subject to approval by the Proprietors’ agent, and assigned three surveyors to fix settlers’ boundaries. Local historian Millard Howard lists more than 60 families who bought their homesteads, mostly 100 acres, for prices ranging from $25 to $155.

Although the larger Sheepscot Great Pond area, including present-day Palermo and Windsor, hosted groups most actively and violently opposed to the Kennebec Proprietors’ effort to claim land they thought was rightfully theirs, other parts of the valley were affected.

In Vassalboro, for example, historian Alma Pierce Robbins writes that the presence of squatters who built cabins and cleared farmland before Nathan Winslow’s 1761 survey for the Proprietors started a century of legal disputes over land ownership. Additionally, she says, in Vassalboro and elsewhere the British Crown’s claim to any tree large enough to become a ship’s mast bred resentment, since landowners (legal or otherwise) were not compensated for the timber.

(Dean Marriner recounts the later history of one lot in Dr. John McKechnie’s 1770 survey of the Waterville-Winslow area. A century later, he says, a lot owner claimed his boundary, as shown on the McKechnie survey, was wrong. He and his neighbor disputed it for more than two decades; he went to court six times, allegedly spending over $15,000 on legal fees, and lost every time.)

The Kennebec Valley settlers’ problems with the Proprietors on whose property they lived ended after 1813. A Massachusetts Commission recommended and the General Court approved an agreement giving the settlers their disputed holdings and giving the Proprietors Saboomook Township as compensation. (Saboomook Township has no web listings. It might be Seboomook, the unorganized township north of Moosehead Lake that hosted one of Maine’s four German prisoner of war camps from 1944 to 1946.)

Main sources

Hammond, Alice History of Sidney Maine 1792-1992 1992
Howard, Millard An Introduction to the Early History of Palermo, Maine Second edition, December 2015
Kershaw, Gordon E. The Kennebeck Proprietors 1749-1775 1975
Kingsbury, Henry D., ed. Illustrated History of Kennebec County Maine 1625-1892 1892
Lowden, Linwood H. good Land & fine Contrey but Poor roads a history of Windsor, Maine 1993
Marriner, Ernest Kennebec Yesterdays 1954
Williamson, William D. The History of the State of Maine from its First Discovery, A.D. 1602, to the Separation, A.D. 1620, Inclusive Vol. II 1832
Websites, miscellaneous.

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Maine governors

by Mary Grow

Maine’s first governor was William King, a Bath entrepreneur who had served in both houses of the Massachusetts General Court and been a leader in the movement to separate Maine from Massachusetts. He resigned the governorship at the end of May 1821 because President James Monroe asked him to represent the United States in treaty negotiations with Spain.

During discussion of the history of Albion for the June 11 issue of The Town Line, a friend mentioned “Albion” as a first name – unusual, she thought. The conversation reminded your writer that Maine had a governor whose first name was Albion: Albion K. Parris was sworn in Jan. 5, 1822, and left office Jan. 3, 1827, after serving five consecutive one-year terms (according to the Wikipedia article from which some of the information in this piece is taken).

Albion Keith Parris was listed as Maine’s fifth governor.

Maine became a state on March 20, 1820, as we have been repeatedly reminded in 2020. The first four governors served a total of 21 months?

Wikipedia explains as follows:

Governor #1 was William King, a Bath entrepreneur who had served in both houses of the Massachusetts General Court and been a leader in the movement to separate Maine from Massachusetts. He resigned the governorship at the end of May 1821 because President James Monroe asked him to represent the United States in treaty negotiations with Spain. King is credited with negotiating an 1824 agreement that avoided United States entanglement in Spain’s efforts to reconquer Mexico.

Governor #2 was William Durkee Williamson, a Bangor lawyer who took office May 28, 1821, and served until Dec. 5, 1821. Legally, he was the acting governor, taking over because he was President of the Senate when King resigned. Williamson in turn resigned after he was elected to the U. S. House of Representatives. (His detailed 1832 two-volume history of Maine is interesting in both content and style.)

Governor #3 was Benjamin Ames, another acting governor, who served from Dec. 5, 1821, to Jan. 2, 1822. A Harvard graduate, Class of 1803, he was a Bath lawyer and the first Speaker of the Maine House. He became governor because with Williamson promoted, the Senate had no president until it was re-organized after the September 1821 elections.

Once the Senate was reorganized, Ames saw no reason to remain governor; he resigned. In 1824 he was elected to the state Senate and soon became its president, and in 1827 he served again in the House of Representatives.

Governor #4 was Daniel Rose, another interim governor, the new President of the Senate chosen in late 1821. He served for three days, from Jan. 2 to Jan. 5, 1822, when Parris took over. Rose was a Boothbay doctor with a degree from Yale (1791). Leaving politics in 1824, he helped design the Maine State Prison in Thomaston and became its first warden. (The prison was relocated to Warren in 2002.)

When Maine became a state, its Constitution set the governor’s term at one year, with the first governor (and legislature) to be elected on the first Monday in April 1820. After that, state elections were in September and those elected took office the first Wednesday of the next January. Presidential elections were in November with the rest of the country.

In September 1844 voters approved a Constitutional amendment making the state year begin the second Wednesday in May, instead of the first Wednesday in January. The governor and legislators installed early in January 1845 were to serve until the second Wednesday in May, 1846. Governor Hugh Johnston Anderson (#20) served from the beginning of his first term, Jan. 3, 1844, until the end of his third term, May 12, 1847.

Edmund Sixtus Muskie (#64) had been re-elected for a second term in September 1956, during which he led the movement for the Constitutional amendment changing the fall state election to November. In 1958 he was elected to the United States Senate and therefore resigned the governorship on Jan. 2, 1959. The Rumford native and Waterville attorney would later become a presidential candidate in 1972.

In September 1850, voters again amended the Constitution to change back to the January schedule. They provided that governors and legislators elected in September 1850 and inaugurated in May 1851 would serve until the first Wednesday in January 1853.

(Numerous on-line sources give the wording of these amendments; this writer found nothing that explains them. She theorizes that legislators disliked traveling to Augusta in January, but found the lack of synchronization with municipal and national years even less convenient.)

Governor John Hubbard (#22) therefore was in office from May 8, 1850, to Jan. 5, 1853, when William George Crosby (#23, elected in September 1852) succeeded him. In 1851 there were no state elections.

Another Constitutional amendment in September 1880 extended the governor’s term from one year to two years. Governor Daniel Franklin Davis (#37) was the last one-year governor (and served only one term, Jan, 17, 1880 – Jan. 13, 1881). Number 38, Harris Merrrill Plaisted, was also a one-term governor, but under the revised Constitution he got to serve two years, from Jan. 13, 1881, to Jan. 3, 1883.

In September 1957, Maine voters approved another Constitutional amendment extending the governor’s term to four years and providing that no one could hold the office for more than two consecutive terms. The governor takes office the first Wednesday after the first Tuesday in January and serves until a successor has been elected.

After the revolving-door governorships between 1820 and 1822, the other time voters must have wondered who was in charge was in 1959, the calendar year during which Maine had four governors.

Edmund Sixtus Muskie (#64) had been re-elected for a second term in September 1956, during which he led the movement for the Constitutional amendment changing the fall state election to November. In 1958 he was elected to the United States Senate and therefore resigned the governorship on Jan. 2, 1959.

Maine House Speaker Robert Haskell (#65) filled in until Clinton Amos Clauson (#66), elected in 1958, was sworn in on Jan. 7. Clauson died in office on Dec. 30, 1959. Senate President John Hathaway Reed (#67) finished Clauson’s term, beginning Dec. 30, 1959.

Maine House Speaker Robert Haskell (#65) filled in until Clinton Amos Clauson (#66), elected in 1958, was sworn in on Jan. 7. Clauson died in office on Dec. 30, 1959. Senate President John Hathaway Reed (#67) finished Clauson’s term, beginning Dec. 30, 1959.

Haskell was a University of Maine graduate, Class of 1925, with an engineering degree; he rose through Bangor Hydro-Electric Company to become its president in 1958. He served one term in the Maine House and five in the Senate, two as majority leader and two as Senate President; his colleagues called him “Slide Rule Bob” because of his mathematical skills.

Reed served from Dec. 30 until Clauson’s term would have ended in November 1960. He was elected in his own right that fall, and in 1962 was re-elected as the first governor to serve a four-year term. After his Maine political career he was appointed to the National Transportation Safety Board in 1966, and in the 1970s and 1980s was United States Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldive Isands.

Governor Rose’s three days in 1822 was not the shortest Maine gubernatorial term. Two men held the office for one day each

— Richard Hampton Vose (#14), Jan. 12, 1831 – Jan. 13, 1831, was a Senate President who served as acting governor after John Fairfield (#13) resigned (Wikipedia does not know why) and before Edward Kent (#15) was sworn in.

— Senate President Nathaniel Mervin Haskell was governor #62 for the 25 hours between the end of Governor Burton Cross’s Maine Senate term and the beginning of his second gubernatorial term. Cross was both the 61st and the 63rd Maine Governor.

Joshua Chamberlain, #32, was a military hero from the Civil War that helped the Union Army defeat the Confederates at Gettysburg during the Civil War.

John Winchester Dana (#19) also served a one-day term, Jan. 3, 1844, but he returned as governor #21 and served from May 12, 1847, until May 8, 1850. On Jan. 3, 1844, as newly-elected Senate President, he followed Edward Kavanaugh (#17), who resigned on Jan. 1 for health reasons, and House Speaker and acting Governor David Dunn (#18), who resigned Jan. 3 when the new legislature was sworn in. Dana was succeeded by Hugh Johnston Anderson (#20), who served from Jan. 3, 1844, until May 12, 1847. Dana then became Governor #21 and served until May 8, 1850.

Dana left politics after May 1850 and in 1853 became President Franklin Pierce’s charge d’affaires in Bolivia. Back in Maine, he ran unsuccessfully for governor again in 1860. He then moved to South America to raise sheep and, his Wikipedia page says, died in December 1867 of cholera he caught while assisting Argentinian victims.

Hannibal Hamlin (#26) was another short-term governor. A Democratic U. S. Senator since 1848, he switched in June 1856 to the new anti-slavery Republican Party, and in the fall of 1856 was the Maine Republicans’ successful nominee for governor. He served from Jan. 8, 1857, to Feb. 25, 1857. From March 4, 1861, until March 4, 1865, he was United States vice-president under Abraham Lincoln.

Hannibal Hamlin (#26) was another short-term governor. A Democratic U. S. Senator since 1848, he switched in June 1856 to the new anti-slavery Republican Party and in the fall of 1856 was the Maine Republicans’ successful nominee for governor. He served from Jan. 8, 1857, to Feb. 25, 1857, when he went back to the Senate until Jan. 17, 1861.

Hamlin had been a member of the United States House of Representatives (1843-1847) and a major in the Maine militia (in that capacity he helped negotiate a peaceful end to the boundary war between the U. S. and Canada called the Aroostook War [1838-1839]). From March 4, 1861, until March 4, 1865, he was United States vice-president under Abraham Lincoln.

In addition to Albion Parris, a dozen other Maine governors have shared either a first or a last name with a Maine town or city. They include Enoch Lincoln (#6); Nathan Cutler (#7); John Fairfield (#13 and #16); the two Morrills, Anson Peaslee (#24) and Lot Myrick (#28); Samuel Wells (#25); Hannibal Hamlin (#26); Israel Washburn, Jr. (#29); Sidney Perham (#33); William Tudor Gardiner (55); Sumner Sewall (#58); and Clinton Clauson (#66).

If the concept of “town or city” is expanded, the list could include Chamberlain (Joshua Chamberlain, (#32). Wikipedia identifies Chamberlain as an unincorporated village in the Town of Bristol and says Chamberlain has its own ZIP code. There is also an organized territory in Aroostook County identified as Connor (Seldon Connor, #35) and a Reed Plantation, also in Aroostook (John Reed, #67).

Anson Morrill and Sidney Perham are the only Maine governors, so far, who share both their first and their last names with a Maine town.

Main sources:

Websites, miscellaneous




Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Palermo

The Branch Mills Library in the 19th century. (Internet photo)

by Mary Grow

Palermo is the only town in this series that is not in Kennebec County. The boundary line between China on the west and Palermo on the east is also the line between Kennebec and Waldo counties. It runs through Branch Mills, formerly Palermo’s main commercial center.

It is not Palermo residents’ fault that they don’t live in Kennebec County. In 1760, all of Maine was organized as Lincoln County; divisions since then have created the present 16 counties. In 1789, part of Lincoln County, not including current Palermo, became Hancock County. On Feb. 7, 1827, Waldo County was created from parts of Hancock and Lincoln counties and included Palermo.

On Feb. 23, 1827, historian Millard Howard says in An Introduction to the Early History of Palermo, Maine, (second edition, December 2015), Palermo voters unanimously asked the legislature to add them to Kennebec County. Their request was not granted.

Nor is Palermo part of the Kennebec River watershed. Instead, the town is doubly in the Sheeepscot River basin. Branch Pond and Branch Mills, on the western edge of the town, are on the West Branch of the Sheepscot, and Sheepscot Pond, which fills about a third of the southern half of Palermo, is on the main stem. The two rivers join well south of town, between Coopers Mills and North Whitefield.

A multitude of small ponds are scattered through northern Palermo; not all have names on the contemporary Google map. Named ponds include, in a northern tier and moving from east to west, Prescott, Nutter and Chisholm.

The next tier south, approximately east of Branch Pond, includes, from east to west, Bowler, Foster and Belden. South of them are Dowe Pond on the east, not far from Branch Mills; Saban Pond and to its south Bear Pond, about mid-way between the eastern and western boundaries; and Jump Pond, south of Foster Pond.

Beech Pond, near Greeley’s Corner (or Greely Corner, or Center Palermo) between Parmenter and Cain Hill roads, is the final named pond north of Route 3. South of the highway, Sheepscot Pond has a tiny nameless blue spot on the map to its northwest; Turner Pond, shared with Somerville, on its southwest; and on the southeast another blue spot identified as Deadwater Slough.

According to Howard, Stephen Belden, his wife Abigail and their son Aaron were Palermo’s first settlers, in 1769. Their second son, Stephen, Jr., was born in 1770, the first settlers’ child born in Palermo.

The Beldens chose not to homestead beside Sheepscot Great Pond, as Sheepscot Pond was then called. Howard suggests they chose a more secluded location because they were squatters with no legal title to the land and did not want visits from agents of the Kennebec Proprietors, owners of a large tract 15 miles on either side of the Kennebec River.

Howard locates the first Belden homestead only by late 20th century owners Robert and Susie Potter. Later, he said, the Beldens moved to the shore of what was then Belden, and later became Bowler, Pond.

Other people who arrived in the 1700s, according to Howard (who did a great deal of research in early documents) were Hollis Hutchins (1775), who, Howard says, settled “in the lower Turner Ridge area”; Jacob Greeley, Jr, (1777) and John Foye (1778), near Beech Pond; and Jonathan Bartlett (1788), who built the first sawmill on the Sheepscot south of Sheepscot Great Pond.

Other early names Howard mentions include Albee, Boynton, Bradstreet, Cressey, Lewis, Turner and Worthing. Ava Harriet Chadbourne’s Maine Place Names and the Peopling of Its Towns (1955) adds Bowler, Clay, Longfellow and Waters in the 1770s and 1780s. Many settlers had large families who intermarried through the generations. For example, Howard says Hollis Hutchins’ five sisters married into the Albee, Boynton, Cressey, Foye and Turner families.

The area was first called Sheepscot Great Pond Settlement. After an 1801 survey of 27,100 acres by William Davis of nearby Davistown (now Montville), it was organized as Sheepscot Great Pond Plantation. Howard says the first clerk of the plantation was a well-liked 24-year-old doctor from Vermont named Enoch P. Huntoon.

Immediately after the plantation was created, 55 residents asked the Massachusetts General Court to make it a town and to name it Lisbon. The requested name, Chadbourne and Howard explain, was part of a trend to name Maine towns after important foreign places – hence the famous Maine road sign that lists seven foreign countries honored in Maine plus Naples and Paris (but omits Belgrade, Lisbon, Palermo, Madrid, Rome, Sorrento and Verona Island).

The Lisbon on the sign is the Androscoggin County Lisbon between Lewiston and Brunswick, not the one requested in Waldo County. Lisbon was settled in 1628, its website says, and incorporated as Thompsonborough in June 1799. In December 1801 residents asked the Massachusetts legislators to
change the name to something less cumbersome, suggesting Lisbon. On Feb. 20, 1802 (after Sheepscot Great Pond’s petition was filed but before the legislature acted) Thompsonborough became Lisbon.

Sheepscot voters looked for another capital. They also realized that the P. in Dr. Huntoon’s name stood for Palermo. On June 23, 1804, the Massachusetts General Court approved the incorporation of the town of Palermo. Howard wonders if local residents realized Palermo in Sicily had been an important medieval center and, in his opinion, was a better choice than Lisbon.

Early transportation in Palermo was by the Sheepscot River and by trails. One of the functions of a town government was to lay out, build and maintain roads; Howard says Palermo officials were especially active from 1805 until about 1820. The first road linking the southern settlements with northern Palermo followed a route approximated by the present Turner Ridge Road (which joins Route 3 from the south at Greeley’s Corner, east of Beech Pond); Parmenter Road (which goes north off Route 3 west of Beech Pond); and Marden Hill Road (Parmenter Road’s name north of the four-way junction with Nelson Road and Belden Road). Marden Hill Road continues northeast to connect with North Palermo Road.

The southern end of town gradually lost importance. By the 1820s, Howard mentions five centers along or north of present Route 3: Branch Mills; Greeley’s Corner; Carr’s Corner on the North Palermo Road west of Prescott Pond; Ford’s Corner, where the North Palermo and Chisholm Pond roads meet; and East Palermo, the junction of Banton Road and Route 3.

A “center” would have at least one public building and/or business and a cluster of houses. The public building might be a post office; at various times, Branch Mills, Center Palermo, North Palermo and East Palermo had one. In the 1860s, Howard says, Greeley’s and Carr’s corners each had at least one store, at least one church and a school.

Howard found that Palermo reached its greatest growth in terms of population around 1850. He cites a series of census figures: 1790, 164 people counted; 1800, an almost threefold increase to 444; 1820, 1,056, the first count over 1,000; 1840, 1,594; 1850, the highest recorded, 1,659. A gradual decline began with a loss of almost 300 by 1860. By 1890, the population was again below 1,000, at 887. Howard’s list stops at 1950, when the population was recorded as 511. A steady increase began in 1970, and the 2010 census recorded 1,535 inhabitants, almost back to the pre-Civil War high.

The old Dinsmore Mill, in Branch Mills. (The Town Line file photo)

The 1886 Gazetteer of the State of Maine says Branch Mills was then the largest village, with eight mills. Center Palermo had a “board and shingle-mill” and a stone quarry; East Palermo had two lumber mills; and North Palermo had a factory that made drag-rakes.

One of the mills in Branch Mills was the Dinsmore Grain Company Mill, on the China side of town. The mill building and its associated dam stretched across the Sheepscot River, with access to the building from the east shore.

The first mill on the site was built in 1817 by Joseph Hacker, according to a Wikipedia article. Hacker’s son-in-law, Jose Greely, succeeded him, and in 1879 Greely took his son-in-law, Thomas Dinsmore, as a partner. Thomas Dinsmore’s son James Roscoe Bowler Dinsmore succeeded him.

The 1908 fire that destroyed most of Branch Mills destroyed the mill as well. James R. B. Dinsmore rebuilt it in 1914 as a two-and-a-half-story wooden building, shingled, with a three-story tower on the south side. Initially it was only a grist mill, in 1935 James Kenneth Dinsmore (James R. B. Dinsmore’s son) added a sawmill operation, which continued until 1960.

On Nov. 3, 1979, the Dinsmore mill was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Subsequent owners proposed reusing it, but none succeeded. Both the building and the dam deteriorated, to the point where waterfront property owners on upstream Branch Pond complained that the dam no longer kept water levels high enough for recreation. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection also objected that its water level regime for Branch Pond was violated.

By 2016, the mill owners claimed the building was too dangerous to repair. In 2017, the Atlantic Salmon Federation acquired the property, tore down the historic building and negotiated with state regulators to add a fishway for salmon and other anadromous fish to the dam.

Main sources

Howard, Millard An Introduction to the Early History of Palermo, Maine (second edition, December 2015)
Web sites, miscellaneous

Note: Milton E. Dowe’s highly recommended History Town of Palermo Incorporated 1884 was published in 1954. Unfortunately, with libraries closed it was not available to this writer in time to be studied.

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Albion

Pierce Family Homestead, in Albion.

by Mary Grow

There is debate over names of the first settlers in what is now Albion, partly because records are incomplete, partly because current Albion once included parts of several other towns. For example, Nathaniel Wiggin’s and several other families’ holdings at the north end of China Lake’s east basin were in Albion before the Albion-China boundary was moved north and their land became part of China.

Ruby Crosby Wiggin, in her well-researched and well-illustrated Albion on the Narrow Gauge, lists Burrills (Belial Burrill, by 1790), Crosbys, Davises (Samuel Davis, listed in the 1790 census), Fowlers, Haywoods (Nathan Haywood, by 1793) and Lovejoys. Kingsbury’s Illustrated History of Kennebec County 1792-1892 adds Libbeys (elsewhere Libbys), Prays, Shoreys and Rev. Daniel Lovejoy.

The last, Wiggin says, is probably an error. She found records in which Daniel Lovejoy’s sons said Daniel’s father, Francis Lovejoy, brought the family to settle on Fifteen-Mile-Pond (later Lovejoy Pond) when Daniel was about 14, making Francis an early settler.

Albion resembled other area municipalities in changing its boundaries and its name repeatedly. Wiggin says when the area was incorporated in 1802 as a plantation called Freetown, it was nearly square. A 20th-century map shows parallel boundaries on the east and west. On the south, a rectangle with a slanted east end indicates the 1815 transfer of the China Village area from Albion to China. The north boundary is irregular.

Wiggin says in 1803 Freetown voters asked the Massachusetts General Court to upgrade the plantation to a town. On March 9, 1804, the town of Fairfax was incorporated. In March 1821 (by then by the Maine legislature’s action) Fairfax became Lygonia (sometimes spelled Lagonia).

In January 1823, town meeting voters chose a five-man committee to ask the legislature to change Lygonia to Richmond. The petition apparently failed, for a January 1824 meeting created a seven-man committee (Daniel Lovejoy and John Winslow served on both committees) to request a change back to Fairfax. On Feb. 25, 1824, the name Albion was approved, Kingsbury says; and Wiggin says voters accepted it at an April 5, 1824, meeting.

Ava Harriet Chadbourne’s adds the following information, without specifying cause and effect. Fairfax was an 18th-century English general (the web suggests Sir Thomas Fairfax [Jan. 17, 1612 – Nov. 12, 1671], commander in chief of Oliver Cromwell’s Parliamentary army).

Lygonia was the name of a former land grant in York County, Maine (whence many Albion settlers came), to Sir Ferdinando Gorges. The web adds that Gorges named the 1,600 square mile piece in honor of his mother, Cicely Lygon Gorges.

Albion was an early Greek and then Roman name for the island that became England.

In the early 19th century, Albion settlement expanded from the area between China Lake and Lovejoy Pond, sometimes called South Albion (Wiggin points out there seem to have been three areas called South Albion, and Kingsbury mentions two, with Puddle Dock the second) as stream and road junctions provided places for mills and businesses.

Fifteen-Mile Stream and tributaries meander from southeast to northwest. Kingsbury lists numerous mills; some of the earliest were William Chalmers’ gristmill and carding mill on Fifteen-Mile Stream before 1800; Josiah Broad’s sawmill and gristmill on the same stream’s east branch before 1810; Robert Crosby’s sawmill around 1812 in what Kingsbury and Wiggin call the Crosby neighborhood, with, Wiggin says, two dams across a small stream; and Levi Maynard’s sawmill, fulling mill, carding mill and gristmill, built about 1817 near a bridge across Fifteen-Mile Stream east of Albion Corner.

Albion historian Phillip Dow adds that the stream was named because part of it was 15 miles from Fort West­ern, in Aug­usta. It originates in a bog in Paler­mo, he says; runs northwest through a bog in northern Albion; continues north and west and is supplemented by another stream from Fowler Bog, in Unity; and eventually joins the Sebasticook River that flows into the Kennebec River.

Kingsbury says Nathan Haywood and Joel Wellington owned the only two taverns in Albion before the stagecoach route from Augusta to Bangor started running through town in 1820. (Joel was also Al­bion’s first postmaster when the post office was established in March 1825.) Joel’s brother, John Well­ington, opened another tavern in 1820 at Albion Corner, which Kings­bury says he ran until it burned in 1860.

A fire at Besse High School, in Albion, in 1958.

There have been two Albion Cor­ners, in addition to the three South Al­bions. John Wellington’s tavern was at the eastern one, where the Hussey Road runs south off the main road (this Albion Corner is labeled on the map in the 1879 Kennebec County atlas). About the same time Well­ing­ton’s tavern opened, Kings­bury says Ralph Baker opened an inn at the present Corner, where the China and Win­slow roads meet.

Other businesses in the first quarter of the 19th century included at least two blacksmith shops and at least five stores in different parts of town. The latter, Kings­bury comments, were needed to provide three necessities that settlers could neither find in the water or woods nor grow in their fields: molasses, tobacco and rum.

Albion Corner seems to have been Albion’s main commercial center, but Wiggin reports a thriving area at Puddle Dock in the mid-19th century. The 1856 Albion map shows 21 buildings in the area, she says, including George Ryder’s store that housed the post office. In 1856, South Albion is south of Puddle Dock, near the China and Palermo town lines.

The 1879 atlas’s map shows at least a dozen buildings near Puddle Dock still, including a schoolhouse on the east bank of Fifteen-Mile Stream. This map shows the South Albion post office at Puddle Dock.

Wiggin describes the stage route between Puddle Dock and Fairfield around 1894. The Puddle Dock postmaster was M. J. Hamlin, she says. Stage-driver Martin Witham made two trips a day with mail, passengers, freight or all three, pulled by one horse in good weather and two if travel were difficult. From Puddle Dock the stage went through Albion Corner to East Benton and via three more Benton stops to Fairfield.

Some area residents still remember the dance hall at Puddle Dock. Dow says its first incarnation was in the 1940s and 1950s, when it was what he calls “a rough joint.” It closed for several decades and, Dow says, was briefly revived in the 1980s.

Daniel Lovejoy, mentioned above, had seven sons, of whom three became nationally known: Elijah Parish Lovejoy, born in 1802, martyred in Alton, Illinois, in 1837 for his anti-slavery activities; Owen Lovejoy, born in 1811, active abolitionist and member of Congress from Illinois from 1857 until his death in office in 1864; and John Ellingwood Lovejoy, born in 1817 and for three and a half years U. S. Consul to Peru, appointed by President Lincoln.

Kingsbury and Wiggin present the Crosbys as another important Albion family for many generations. The first connection was through Rev. James Crosby, one of the first settlers; Wiggin says he came around 1790. His great-grandson, George Hannibal Crosby (born in 1836) spent his working life in Massachusetts, where he was a mechanical engineer who invented and patented more than 30 improvements on gauges and valves and founded the Crosby Steam Gauge and Valve Company.

In 1886, he returned to Albion, married for the second time (to a cousin, also a Crosby), and bought a 250-acre farm on Winslow Road that had a stream and a pond. He moved the farmhouse across the road and replaced it with the Crosby Mansion, which he designed. Dow locates the Mansion (Wiggin capitalizes it) on the east side of the Lovejoy Pond outlet.

Kingsbury reproduces two pictures of the elaborate building. Wiggin includes plans of two of the five floors; the first had three piazzas, two looking west and one looking east. One piazza, she says, was built around an elm tree, because Crosby disliked removing trees. The third floor contained seven bedrooms; above it were the attic and the cupola.

The Mansion cost $75,000 or more in 1886 dollars. A feature Crosby proudly showed to visitors was a bathroom on the second floor, at the head of the south stairs. Water for flushing was stored in a third-floor tank; pulling a chain brought it down. The wooden bathtub was zinc-lined.

Waterville, Wiscasset and Farmington Railway yard.

Dow, who has researched the history of the narrow-gauge Wiscasset, Waterville and Farmington Railroad (1895 to 1933), says Crosby supported the railroad and encouraged building the line across his land so passengers could see his house. One map of the railroad on the web shows the Crosby Tank (one of many places where train crews could take on water for the engine), and Wiggin refers in her history to Crosby’s Crossing.

After Crosby’s death the family lost the Mansion. It had several tenants and owners before it burned on Dec. 27, 1914. Wiggin says it was empty at the time and no one knows how the fire started. When she was writing 50 years later, a local family was using a piece of tile salvaged from the ruins as a hot dish mat.

Twenty-first-century Albion has a concentrated downtown around the two Albion Corners, with Lovejoy Health Center, Lovejoy Dental Center, a pharmacy, the elementary school, the town office, the library, the fire station, stores and other public and private buildings close together.

From August 1927 until January 2013, H. L. Keay & Son’s general store was one of the downtown anchors. According to a Jan. 13, 2013 Central Maine Morning Sentinel article, Harold Keay, with his wife Lena, ran the store from 1927 until his death in 1982. His son Crosby then took over; he died Nov. 26, 2011, aged 86. By 2013 the store was co-owned by Crosby Keay’s four children, Daryl, Jerry and Kevin Keay and Lisa Fortin.

Starting with a small grocery store, Harold and Lena Keay added space and inventory until by 2013 grandson Kevin Keay said the store was 8,000 square feet and there were another 8,000 square feet of warehouse. In addition to groceries, the store sold hardware, lumber and building supplies and other miscellaneous items small-town people need, and, residents commented to the Sentinel reporter, it was the place to catch up on local news.

Kevin Keay told the Sentinel business had fallen off because of the economy and competition from chain stores like Hannaford and Walmart.

The former Keay’s store has been run for a year by Andy Dow (Phillip Dow’s son). The nearby Albion Corner Store is run by Parris and Cathy Varney, of China.

Main sources

Kingsbury, Henry D., ed. Illustrated History of Kennebec County Maine 1625-1892″ 1892.
Personal interview
Wiggin, Roby Crosby Albion on the Narrow Gauge, 1964.
Web sites, miscellaneous.

The history of the Kennebec Water District

Most information in this section is from the comprehensive history section of the Kennebec Water District’s website, which was last updated in 2006.

The Kennebec Water District (KWD) was incorporated on March 17, 1899, the first such quasi-municipal district in the country and the pattern for generations of future water, sanitary, sewer and school districts. It was the brainchild of a lawyer named Harvey Doane Eaton (Sept. 20, 1862 – Oct. 17, 1953). Such districts allow towns and cities to cooperatively supply services like clean water that none could afford to supply by itself.

A for-profit predecessor, the Maine Water Company, controlled KWD’s water supply, which came from Messalonskee Stream, until stream pollution caused a 1902 typhoid epidemic. KWD officials chose China Lake as the replacement water source in 1903 and promptly started building a pipeline from the lake.

In May 1905 China Lake water came to KWD customers. “Water purity is exceptional,” the website says. When another typhoid epidemic in 1910 cast doubt on China Lake water, KWD hired a Harvard professor who found the real culprit: milk.

Between 1909 and 1912, KWD spent about $57,000 to buy China Lake shoreland, saving the estimated $100,000 to $200,000 cost of building a filtration plant. From 1920, the district planted trees in the watershed as another water quality protection measure.

A state-of-the-art filtration plant, at the time the largest in Maine, came on line in August 1991. It was the result of two factors: China Lake’s deteriorating water quality beginning in the 1970s (making “China Lake syndrome” nationally recognized in water quality circles); and the 1986 federal Safe Drinking Water Act, setting standards untreated China Lake water could not meet.

KWD served customers in Waterville, Fairfield, Winslow and Benton from the beginning and added Oakland (by contract) and Vassalboro. The five member municipalities, but not Oakland, are represented on the district board of trustees.

From KWD’s creation in 1899 until 1920, Albert S. Hall served as superintendent. (He was not the Albert S. Hall for whom Waterville’s Albert S. Hall School is named, nor that Hall’s father; according to educator Hall’s obituary, he was born in 1935 and his father’s name was Clifton L. Hall.) KWD’s second superintendent, Alvin B. Thompson, served even longer, from 1920 until 1948.