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.

* * * * *

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.

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: China Lake

A bathing beach on the Causeway, at the Head of the Lake, across from the China Baptist Church. (photo from the Bicentennial History)

by Mary Grow

China Lake is an important area resource for year-round recreation; drinking water in municipalities served by the Waterville-based Kennebec Water District; and, given the high value of waterfront property, taxes for the Town of China.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS), on an undated (but later than 2006) website, says China Lake has an area of 3,845 acres. The Maine Lake Stewards website puts the area at 3,949 acres. Other sites translate the acres to 6.155 square miles or 1,594 hectares.

The USGS and the Lake Stewards agree on a maximum depth of 85 feet, which the USGS says is in the circular west basin, which is mostly in Vassalboro. The long, narrow east basin has a maximum depth of 50 feet, according to the USGS.

There are five mapped islands in China Lake. Bradley Island in the west basin is owned by the Town of China. In the northern half of the east basin, from north to south, are: Green or Bailey on the west, almost side by side with Moody or Teconnet on the east, both privately owned; the privately-owned island listed on China tax maps as John Jones Island; and tiny Round or Indian, owned by the China Baptist Church. Pastor Ronald Morrell says the church welcomes visits to Indian Island by groups and individuals who are respectful of the environment.

The east basin is surrounded by private homes, year-round and seasonal, many on lots covering a fraction of an acre and with 100 feet or less of water frontage. For comparison, standards in China’s current land use ordinance require a minimum 40,000 square foot lot (one acre is 43,560 square feet), at least 200 feet of shore frontage and space to set buildings at least 100 feet from the high-water line. Lots and buildings that don’t meet contemporary standards may continue as they are, but cannot be enlarged or otherwise changed (with a few exceptions).

The Kennebec Water District owns most of the shoreland around China Lake’s west basin in Vassalboro and western China and keeps it undeveloped to protect water quality.

[See also: The history of the Kennebec Water District]

As noted in the May 28 story about the town of China, the area around the lake was first surveyed and settled in 1775. The China Maine Bicentennial History including 1984 revisions (1984) says numerous varieties of fish supplied food for early settlers and still support a year-round recreational fishery. Before electric refrigerators became common in the early 1900s, local residents cut ice from the lake for personal iceboxes.

Like rivers, lakes are transportation avenues summer and winter. The Bicentennial History mentions a ferry connecting the end of Neck Road with South China in the 1850s. From the 1880s to the 1920s, commercial boats offered lake tours. Piers were built outside China Village and in South China and East Vassalboro. The long China Village pier, known as the clubhouse pier, had a shelter with benches at the end.

Boats’ stopping places included a dance pavilion near the shore in South China and Bradley’s Island. The Bicentennial History says in February 1879 the Maine legislature gave Albert M. Bradley, owner of the Revere House, in East Vassalboro, a 10-year exclusive right to operate passenger steamboats on the lake. He and his son, William Bradley, owned the steamboat Una and by the 1890s had built an amusement park with outdoor games and a 100-seat dining room on Bradley’s Island.

The last of China Lake’s big commercial boats, the Bicentennial History says, was Everett Farnsworth’s 35-foot Frieda. For about 10 summers, beginning in 1909, the Frieda made twice-daily trips starting in China Village and visiting South China and East Vassalboro. The schedule was regular enough that lakeside residents could hail Farnsworth as he went by and get a ride.

In the winter, China Lake was a highway for sleighs and later automobiles, as it is now for snowmobiles. The Bicentennial History includes an anecdote attributed to a native: two early vehicles, Model T Fords or contemporaries, collided in mid-lake on a clear winter day with no other traffic to distract their drivers.

Summer residents began arriving in the 1880s and 1890s. Early clusters of summer homes were around South China and off Neck Road, the Bicentennial History says; most summer places along the east shore were built in the 1920s and 1930s.

The Bicentennial History says the first children’s summer camp on China Lake was Camp Teconnet for Girls, founded in 1911 on Moody or Teconnet Island by Massachusetts residents who also ran a boys’ camp in Unity. Camp Teconnet operated until 1925. Campers and staff patronized the general store in China Village, and every summer they presented an evening’s entertainment in the village to benefit a local cause.

The co-ed Friends Camp opened in 1953 and is still in operation under the auspices of the New England Yearly Meeting of Friends. It started in the historic Pond Meeting House, built in 1807 and used for services until 1915. New buildings were added on the Lakeview Drive property from the 1950s on, plus a bathhouse on the Friends’ lakeshore lot where campers and staff take part in water activities.

Frederick Hussey founded Camp Abenakis (1929-1939) for boys on the Pond Road (Lakeview Drive) about three miles south of China Village. The Bicentennial History describes camp activities, based on an interview with Hussey.

China’s second religious camp is on Neck Road across the lake from the Friends Camp, using the grounds and buildings of the former China Baptist Conference Center. According to the history on the China Lake Camp website, the United Baptist Convention of Maine bought a former farm in 1961 and in 1962 opened the China Area Baptist Camp. Buildings were added over the years, but the property never became the year-round destination conference center its founders envisioned. Since 2008 it has been a Christian summer camp hosting different age levels and interest groups at different times.

Farther south on Neck Road, another boys’ camp, Bel-bern, was started in the 1930s by Saul Greenfield, from New York, who built most of the buildings and furniture. After Greenfield’s death about 1950, the camp closed. In 1956 Warren and Doris Huston, from Massachusetts, reopened it as Camp Ney-a-ti and, according to Doris Huston’s May 2005 obituary, ran it for 16 years. Camp Ney-a-ti was still operating in 1984, directed by Robert True and Bradford Harding. By then the property consisted of about 100 acres on both sides of Neck Road.

A yellow and black highway sign in a tree near Camp Ney-a-ti’s driveway read “Cool It.” The Bicentennial History explains that after the road was paved in 1963, traffic went faster; and after the directors built a ballfield on the west side of Neck Road, they worried about campers’ safety crossing the road. Conventional pedestrian warning signs were ineffective, but the Bicentennial History quotes Harding as saying the new sign didn’t merely slow motorists, it made them “back up to make sure they read what they thought they read.”

The Killdeer Lodge at it appeared in 2017, minus the roof over the porch which collapsed several years ago. Left, the lodge as it lays following its razing in October 2018. (Photo by Bob Bennett)

The Bicentennial History lists four former tourist businesses on the east shore of China Lake’s east basin. From north to south, they were: Willow Beach Camps, started in 1936, where the China Food Pantry is now located; Candlewood Camps, also started in 1936 as Cole’s and later Lakeview before it became Candlewood, probably in the 1950s; Killdeer Lodge, part of a recreational and development project started in 1929 on Lakeview Drive and Killdeer Point; and Cony Webber and George Starkey’s four lakeshore rental cabins opened in 1937, about opposite the present MAJEK seafood restaurant, on Lakeview Drive.

China Lake has no public swimming beach. In an effort to implement part of the town’s comprehensive plan, a Lake Access Committee developed a proposal to buy the former Candlewood Camps property. At the polls on Nov. 5, 2013, voters rejected spending $575,000 for the property by a vote of 314 in favor to 1,004 opposed.

The China Baptist Church at the head of the lake has a small waterfront park, which Pastor Morrell says welcomes courteous guests. The China Four Seasons Club owns a beach for its members part-way down the east shore.

There are two public boat launches, one at the head of the lake east of the causeway bridge and one in East Vassalboro south of the Civil War memorial. A former boat launch in South China is no longer maintained.

Main sources

China, Town of Miscellaneous town records
Grow, Mary M. “China Maine Bicentennial History including 1984 revisions” 1984
Web sites, miscellaneous.

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: China

China Village, circa 1914. (Archive photos)

by Mary Grow

The Town of China lies north of Windsor and west of Vassalboro. Much of the town is in the watershed of China Lake, a major influence in the town’s history. Two of the town’s four villages, China Village and South China, lie at opposite ends of the lake’s east basin. The other two, Branch Mills and Weeks Mills, are on the West Branch of the Sheepscot River in eastern China, upstream of Windsor.

China Lake consists of two basins connected by a short strait called The Narrows. The long, narrow east basin runs from the northern end of town about two-thirds of the way to the Windsor line. The irregular circle that is the west basin extends westward into Vassalboro.

The Kennebec Proprietors, who have been mentioned earlier in this series, owned a vast tract on both sides of the Kennebec River. In 1773, they sent John “Black” Jones and Abraham Burrill (or Burrell) to begin surveying the area that became China.

Like earlier surveys along the Kennebec, the Jones-Burrill plan shows rectangular lots starting from the water on both sides of China Lake (then called Twelve Mile Pond, because it was 12 miles from Fort Western in Augusta). In the south end of town, similar lots ran east from the shore of Three Mile Pond. Rangeways separated each tier of lots as the surveyors moved inland.

According to the China Bicentennial History (1975; revised edition 1984), Jones and Burrill started work in the fall of 1773 and finished in the spring of 1774. Jones spent the winter in Gardiner, where he knew the Clark family.

In the summer of 1774, two generations of Clarks and several other families settled around the southern part of China Lake. The Bicentennial History and Kingsbury’s Illustrated History of Kennebec County Maine 1625-1892 (1892) disagree on which Clark came first.

The Bicentennial History quotes from the diary of Benjamin Dow, who wrote on July 17 that he, one of the Clarks, a Burrill (perhaps Abraham), Job Chadwick and Michael Norton had felled the first tree in what they had named Jones Plantation.

The China Causeway at the Head of the Lake, heading west, circa 1914. (Archive photos)

Much of present-day China was settled, if sparsely, before 1800, according to the Bicentennial History and the sources it lists. Wards and Stanleys chose land west of the north end of the lake, toward northern Vassalboro, on Stanley (once Ward’s) Hill. The Wiggins family was apparently the earliest to choose land at the north end of the lake.

Joseph Evans was said to be the first settler in the backland east of China Lake, leaving his wife and family there while he served in the Revolutionary army. By 1802 Caleb Hanson was in the same area. Evans Pond and the Hanson Road that runs along its eastern shore are named after those families.

Farther east, along the West Branch of the Sheepscot River south of Branch Pond (which is mostly in Palermo), records list nine families who started the village called Branch Mills in 1790 or 1800. One of the Clark brothers was probably the first to settle at the south end of the lake, where South China Village developed. To the southwest, at Chadwick’s Corner (where the Arnold Road forks west off what is now Route 32 South or Windsor Road), Ichabod Chadwick was the earliest resident.

The southwestern part of town, now the Weeks Mills and Deer Hill area, seems not to have been settled until the early 1800s. The Bicentennial History says there were a sawmill and a gristmill in Weeks Mills by the fall of 1807, and lists several men surnamed Gray among Deer Hill residents in and after 1809.

Jones Plantation kept its name from 1774 until February 1796, when the Massachusetts General Court approved incorporating it as the town of Harlem. Ava Harriet Chadbourne says in her Maine Place Names and the Peopling of Its Towns that the name was taken from Harlem in the Netherlands, but she does not offer a reason or supporting evidence.

In 1796 Harlem’s north boundary line ran across China Lake south of the present town line. What is now northern China, including China Village, was part of the Freetown settlement, which became Fairfax in 1804 and is now Albion.

The town of China came into existence on Feb. 5, 1818, by act of the Massachusetts legislature. It consisted of the northern half of present-day China plus parts of Fairfax and Winslow, establishing the north boundary substantially where it is now. The southern half, from approximately the location of the current town office on Route 202 (Lakeview Drive) remained Harlem. Records do not show why the separation occurred.

The story of the naming of the town is well-known locally. Japheth C. Washburn, from China Village, represented the new town in the Massachusetts General Court, with instructions to have it named Bloomville. The representative from Bloomfield (which was separated from Canaan in 1814 and added to Skowhegan in 1862) objected that the similarity in names would confuse mail delivery. Washburn proposed China because it was the name of one of his favorite hymns.

The Bicentennial History says on Dec. 18, 1820, Harlem voters asked to become part of China. China did not want them; but town meeting votes and negotiations with legislators – after March 1820, Maine legislators – were unsuccessful. (A June 18, 1821, vote showed one China voter in favor of accepting Harlem and 81 opposed.) In January 1822 the two towns combined and China acquired most of its present dimensions. Harlem continued to elect town officers to close out town affairs for another six years.

The final significant boundary change was on the southeast, where the line between China and Palermo was redrawn in 1830, adding to China a long narrow triangle of land. The Bicentennial History quotes from the description of the new boundary between the two towns, which was also the line between Kennebec and Waldo counties, with its references to lot numbers, “the house of Joseph Hacker” and a beech tree on the north side of the road from Augusta to Belfast.

Each of China’s four villages was a commercial center for most of the 19th century and the first part of the 20th century. The Bi­cen­tennial History lists a wide variety of businesses. Unusual for such a small town, each village had at least one hotel. Probable reasons are roads and China Lake’s summer visitors.

In China Village at the north end of the lake, the hotel was in the building still standing (now a private residence) on the northeast corner of the intersection of Main Street, Causeway Street and Neck Road. The Bi­centennial History says the building dates from the 1820s and was a hotel until the mid-1940s. From 1827 to 1864, General Alfred Marshall was the innkeeper; the inn was a stagecoach stop. Marshall was born around 1797 in New Hampshire; he was a general in the state militia, a state representative for three years and from 1841 to 1843 representative from Maine’s sixth or seventh (depending on the source) district in the U. S. House of Representatives.

The 1907 and 1913 editions of the Maine Register or State Year-book also list the Starkey House in China, run by G. L. Starkey. In 1913, the Gordon House, operated by E. Gordon, was also listed.

South China is now bypassed by both main roads, Route 3 (Belfast Road) running roughly east-west from Augusta to Belfast and Route 202 (Lakeview Drive) coming south along the east shore of China Lake and intersecting with Route 3 and Route 32 (Windsor Road). In the 19th and first half of the 20th century the village surrounded a four-way intersection; incomplete records suggest it had at least two and perhaps four or five hotels.

The Bicentennial History and websites provide evidence of the South China House, in business by 1855 on Main Street east of the church, once run by Sabin Lewis; the J. R. Crossman Hotel in the southeast corner of the intersection by 1879, and an unnamed hotel in that location rumored to have a secret room where fugitive slaves were hidden in the 1850s; T. M. Jackson’s Jackson House in the early 1890s and the Whitehouse from at least 1907 to 1917, neither with a location provided; and a nameless 20th-century hotel on Weeks Mills Road east of Chadwick’s Corner.

Weeks Mills had one long-running hotel and apparently a second early in the 20th century. The Bicentennial History points out that the 1879 map shows the village at the intersection of west-to-east roads connecting Augusta to Belfast and south-to-north roads connecting Windsor and points south to China Village and points north.

Kingsbury writes the large hotel on the south side of Weeks Mills’ Main Street was started as a tavern around 1875, converted to a hotel by Alden McLaughlin, and in November 1887 sold to Abram McLaughlin, who still owned it in 1892. The Maine Register calls it the Weeks Mills House in 1882, the Union Park House in 1888 and 1890. The 1907 Register again lists the Weeks Mills House, run by Charles Chisam; the 1913 edition lists Frank Gardiner’s Lonsdale House and adds Joseph Segee’s Segee House, which reappears in the 1914 and 1915 editions.

In Branch Mills, the Bicentennial History refers in a footnote to the Shuman House, described as a wooden building that could accommodate 25 guests. The 1908 Maine Register lists Mrs. Nellie E. Shuman as the owner. It was one of many buildings burned in a fire that destroyed most of the village on June 26, 1908.

Main sources

Grow, Mary M. China Maine Bicentennial History including 1984 revisions 1984
Kingsbury, Henry D., ed. Illustrated History of Kennebec County Maine 1625-1892 1892

Web sites, miscellaneous

A history of Hussey’s General Store

by Mary Grow

Hussey’s General Store, at 510 Ridge Road (Route 32) just south of the Route 105 intersection, has a website and its own Wikipedia entry, both quoting the store’s slogan, “If we ain’t got it, you don’t need it.” The business has operated for 97 years and is now owned and managed by the third and fourth generations of the Hussey family.

Harland B. Hussey opened the original store in 1923 in a former stable in the northwest angle of the Windsor Corners intersection, Linwood H. Lowden says in good Land & fine Contrey but Poor roads a history of Windsor, Maine (1993). Harland Hussey’s son, Elwin Hussey, recalls that the stable belonged to the Dutton family, who had for many years owned what Lowden calls the Haskell lot, where Hussey’s now stands. Lowden, who did his typical comprehensive research in deeds and other documents on the Haskell lot, writes that Harry Pinkham was running the Dutton store on the Haskell lot when it burned in 1923.

Harland Hussey, his son says, was a cousin of Pinkham’s wife and was running a car dealership half a mile south. He says Harland Hussey sold Stars and Durants (both manufactured in Lansing, Michigan by Durant Motors, Inc., from 1921 to 1931).

When Harland Hussey learned that Pinkham did not plan to rebuild, he bought the whole property, Elwin Hussey says, and opened his store. The stable-become-store building, which is now used as a warehouse, was expanded at least twice, Lowden writes, for the second time in 1947 when Elwin Hussey joined his father in the business.

Elwin and Shirley Hussey had two daughters and one son, whom they named Benjamin Jay. Jay Hussey’s daughter, Kristen (Hussey) Ballantyne, says her grandfather was born in 1923, the same year the store opened. He started working there in his ‘20s, as manager of the electronics and appliances department, and later took over the business.

In 1953 the family built the present store on the southwest corner of the intersection. Ballantyne says her great-grandmother, Harland Hussey’s wife Mildred, took advantage of the expanded space to start the store’s bridal business in 1953 and 1954, and in April 1954 organized a celebration of the new building and the new department.

Jay Hussey and Kristen Ballantyne now co-own the business. Ballantyne says she has worked in the store since childhood; after college, a short career in social work and marriage, she returned to Hussey’s in 2009 and describes herself as co-owner/general manager and overseer of the clothing and bridal departments. Her half-sister, Lindsay French Hannon, has worked in the bridal department for the past 10 years, she adds.

Lowden writes that the first Haskell store was started in 1837, where the north end of Hussey’s store is now, and by 1841 Ambrose Bryant had a second store on the next lot south, under the middle of present-day Hussey’s. Both disappeared in the early 1850s, and the lot was vacant until in September 1874 the Dutton building was moved from South Windsor.

Lowden quotes part of the description of the move from Roger Reeves’ diary (even though, he writes, it had previously been quoted in the Windsor sesquicentennial history). Reeves, who headed the movers, says the building was put onto skids and rollers, and 56 yokes (pairs) of oxen – “the best team that I ever saw together” – were able to move it; but there should have been another 60 oxen, in Reeves’ opinion.

The move took two full days. By the end of the first day, Reeves wrote, “Men worked hard and ate a barrel of crackers and most of a 46-pound cheese with codfish for dessert.” His comment at the end of the second day was, “There has been one heavy hauling without rum!”