Vidalia onions returning as Palermo community center fundraiser

by ryan griffis – originally posted to Flickr as Vidalia Onions, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

Covid may have cancelled last year’s fundraiser, but the Palermo Community Center is back in action, selling 25-pound boxes of fresh, sweet Vidalia onions from Georgia. They are still ripening, but are expected to arrive in Maine the week of May 10. The boxes cost $27 each, even though shipping costs have gone up, so this is the last time they will be offered at this price.

To order, please call Connie at 993-2294 or email Please be sure to leave your contact phone number, so you may be contacted for confirmation or a call when the onions are unloaded at the Palermo Community Center. Payment is needed at the time of the order, so please make the check out to “LCF” and address your envelope to: Living Communities Foundation, P.O. Box 151, Palermo, ME 04354. Orders and payment must be received by April 25.

Proceeds from the sale pay ongoing utilities and maintenance costs for the Community Center, which also hosts the Palermo Food Pantry. Your support is truly appreciated.

Palermo student earns climate scholarship

John Edwards, an eighth grader at Palermo Consolidated School. (contributed photo)

John Edwards, an eighth grader at Palermo Consolidated School, won a scholarship to attend the 2021 Talk Climate Institute on March 23 and 24. John learned about climate topics and developed strategies to discuss climate issues. The institute, run by the Climate Generation, provides teaching tips, resources, inspiration, and community networking to assist in bringing climate change discussions to schools. John has been interested in topics of climate change since the fifth grade and he is excited to learn about strategies from around the world on how to protect the earth. John hopes to use this experience to enhance his knowledge and to share information and strategies with others.

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: 18th & 19th century agriculture

Edmund and Rachel Clark Homestead

by Mary Grow

The third farm property in the area this series covers that is on the National Register of Historic Places is in China.

The Edmund and Rachel Clark Homestead is on the west side of China Lake. It was listed on the National Register on Oct. 4, 2006. The person who prepared the nomination form was the same Christi Mitchell who described the two farm properties listed in last week’s article on the Albion and Benton farms.

Like the Hussey-Littlefield Farm and Colcord Homestead, the Clark Homestead is private property; the owners’ rights must be respected. Unlike the other two, the list of Maine historic places says the address for the Clark property is restricted, and the application is not available on line.

Wikipedia says the 15-acre property has a surviving farmhouse, the main single-story Cape-style section built about 1789 and a Cape-style addition on the north that dates from the early 1800s. The article is erroneous in that the house and ell are each a story and a half, with paired second-story windows under the pitched roof.

The original central chimney had been taken down by the time the Wikipedia description was written. Surrounding farm buildings had disappeared.

According to the China bicentennial history and on-line genealogies, Edmund Clark, with his wife Rachel and four children, and either three or four of his brothers, plus their parents and their sister and her husband, were the first settlers in China.

Edmund Clark was born Nov. 29, 1743, in Nantucket, Massachusetts. Rachael J. (Coffin) Clark was born around June 9, 1749, probably in Nantucket. They married at an unrecorded date in Barrington, Nova Scotia.

John “Black” Jones and Abraham Burrill surveyed the area around China Lake in the fall of 1773 and finished in the spring of 1774. By then Edmund and Rachel and other family members were in Gardiner, Maine, where they met Jones over the winter.

When Jones resumed the survey in the spring, at least a dozen Clarks came with him or followed over the summer. Sources agree that Edmund chose a lot on the west side of the lake; his brother, Jonathan, Jr., might have settled nearby. The senior Clarks, Jonathan, Sr., and Miriam or Mariam, and other family members preferred the east shore. One brother, Andrew, is said to have established his homestead at the south end of the lake.

Edmund and Rachel Clark’s children who came to China with their parents were Miriam (1767-1803), Elizabeth (1768-1776), Eunice (1770-1845) and Randall (1772-1862). Miriam married another early settler named Thomas Ward in the latter half of the 1780s; Eunice married Thomas Ward’s brother, Samuel. Their sons moved a mile or so north to what is now China Neck and the area west of it, giving the early names Ward’s Hill and Ward’s Corner to localities there.

Edmund and Rachel’s fifth child, Annie (Clark) Pray (1774-1866), was one of the first children born in China. Edmund and Rachel later had two more children, Mary (Clark) Worth, (1779-1847) and Elisha (1785-1865).

Edmund Clark died Feb. 11, 1822, and Rachel probably in February 1829, both in China.

Many local histories include information on early agriculture, or as much information as is available when people lacked time and sometimes skill to keep extensive written records.

Samuel L. Boardman opened his chapter on agriculture in Henry Kingsbury’s Kennebec County history with an overall description of the land in the central Kennebec Valley. The area is well suited to farming, he observed; it has generous water supplies and in many places good soil, is not mountainous and is far enough inland so that plants are not harmed by “the saline winds and fogs of an ocean atmosphere.”

Haying in the 19th century

Boardman wrote that in Winslow, the soil in the Kennebec and Sebasticook river valleys is rich, productive loam, though the eastern edge of town is “ledgy.” Albion, Benton, Clinton and Windsor he listed as “excellent grazing towns,” meaning their soils produced good hay. Writing in 1892, he called China, Vassalboro and Sidney “without question the garden towns of the county.”

The early Kennebec Valley settlers recognized the advantages, Boardman wrote, and made full use of them. He lists a number of early farmers who deserve credit for making major improvements and for sharing them, including R. H. Greene, of Winslow; Jesse Robinson, of Waterville; and Rev. W. A. P. Dillingham, of Sidney.

R. H. Greene is listed on line as one of the Maine agents for The Cultivator, a monthly agricultural magazine published in New York beginning in 1834.

Jesse Robinson was born in Attleboro, Massachusetts, in 1772. He had 10 children by three wives, and according to the record of their births lived in several towns in the central Kennebec Valley. He died in Waterville May 12, 1868, and is buried in Pine Grove Cemetery.

The Universalist Register has a long biographical sketch of Rev. William Pitt Addison Dillingham in its section on deceased clergy and lay people (see box accompanying this article).

Farming in the late 1700s required cutting trees first, to provide wood to build houses and barns and to keep them warm; to clear the land to grow crops; and to sell to provide income. Several histories mention lumbering, sawmills and exports of wood in various forms.

Milton E. Dowe, in his Palermo history, says settlers arriving in the 1770s found trees over 200-feet tall. The flat stumps left when they were cut down “were large enough for a team of oxen to turn on,” he wrote.

(A team of oxen can mean either two oxen, also called a yoke, or eight oxen, in pairs.)

When Millard Howard continued Palermo’s story in his 2015 Introduction to the Early History of Palermo, Maine, he commented that a life dependent on agriculture is defined by the seasons and the weather, and “if the weather failed to cooperate, disaster was close at hand.”

The first homesteads were, of necessity, self-sufficient farms, where the family grew as much as they could of everything needed to feed themselves and their livestock. Farmers produced a variety of crops; specialization came later.

The history of Fairfield quotes from a letter Elihu Bowerman wrote in 1848 remembering his first years in North Fairfield, starting in the summer of 1783. He, his wife and his two brothers lived in the log house they built.

During the first winter, the potatoes they raised on a Vassalboro farmer’s land froze in the farmer’s cellar. A Winslow farmer gave them some corn that they had ground. They mixed the frozen potatoes and ground corn into loaves and baked them to make “the best bread we had for 16 months.”

Fall harvest in the 19th century.

By cutting trees and selling or burning the wood, they cleared enough land by the spring of 1785 to plant “corn, potatoes, beans and some other things, but no wheat.” They also made boxberry tea and maple sugar.

In Linwood Lowden’s history of Windsor, he wrote that a July 1793 deed describes a “meadow” that the seller of the land had “divided into at least two twelve-acre lots and fenced,” and on which he was growing rye.

An 1807 letter from another early Windsor resident lists the “corn, wheat, rye, and hay” he was growing. By around 1815 several settlers had planted apple orchards; Lowden wrote that from the 1860s until the “great freeze of the winter of 1933-34,” apples were one of Windsor farmers’ main crops.

At least one farmer Lowden mentioned grew flax and potatoes. Early kitchen gardens, he wrote, provided “beans, peas, beets, turnips, squash and pumpkins.”

Palermo had 113 barns by 1820, according to agricultural census records Howard reviewed. Products of the land included wheat, hay (1,185 tons in 1820), oats, barley, peas and beans.

Howard copied a December 1851 letter from Nehemiah Smith, a resident of adjacent South Freedom, that gave more details about mid-19th-century agriculture. The common form of wheat was spring wheat, with Red Sea the preferred variety, although winter wheat was gaining in popularity. Spring wheat was sown May 10, and in 1851 brought the farmer $1 per bushel.

Hay, Smith wrote, was mainly clover and timothy. Haying began around July 15; the 1851 price averaged $8 per ton.

Potatoes had been important until an 1845 crop failure. Apples, once unusual, had become an export crop. Cherries were grown until about a decade earlier, when a “barnacle” appeared on the wood and wiped out the cherry trees.

(A 2020 on-line article by Jane Purnell for LawnStarter lists two cherry tree diseases that affect trunks and branches. Black Knot, characterized by “hard, black swellings or knots” up to six inches long sounds likely to be called a barnacle. Purnell wrote Black Knot reduces production; she did not say it kills the tree, though another source does say affected trees die.

Cytospora canker Purnell described as “dark, depressed cankers”; branches wilt, and cankers can kill “parts” of a tree. Other sources list blossom rot and related fungal diseases as fatal to cherry trees, but their symptoms begin with discolored or wilting flowers that Smith did not mention.)

Alice Hammond’s history of the Town of Sidney says that hay was Sidney’s most important crop from the early days, for home use and, as horse-drawn transportation expanded, for sale to urban areas. She quoted an 1850 report that Sidney “produced more than 5,700 tons of hay” that year.

Early settlers in Sidney also planted apples. Hammond wrote that apple trees were at first put on land less useful for farming and along stone walls that bounded fields.

As the population of the Kennebec Valley grew, agriculture was supplemented by manufacturing and commerce, but it has never been replaced, as anyone familiar with the area knows. From haying in the spring through apple-picking and the annual Common Ground Country Fair in the fall, from farm machinery on the roads to farm photos on websites, it remains important.

William A. P. Dillingham

According to the Universalist Register, William Addison Pitt Dillingham was born Sept. 4, 1824, in Hallowell, and raised in Augusta by an uncle after his parents died.

The Universalist biography assures us of his purity, invulnerability to the bad habits of his peers, “noble and generous impulses and…conscientiousness and truthfulness,” character traits that appeared in his youth and continued throughout his life.

Dillingham spent a semester at Waterville (later Colby) College before transferring to “Cambridge” – presumably Harvard – where he abandoned law school for divinity school. Ordained in 1847, he served first in Augusta and then in other Maine towns, including Sidney, where he bought a farm, and Waterville.

He married Caroline Townsend, of Sidney, and they had two sons and a daughter. In 1864 and 1865 he was Waterville’s representative in the Maine House, serving as Speaker in 1865.

In 1867 Dillingham switched from the Universalists to the Swedenborgians, for whom he preached in Chicago before rejoining the Universalists there in 1870. In 1871 he had just come back to his Sidney farm and arranged to preach in Sidney when he died suddenly of pneumonia on April 22, 1871.

Main sources

Dowe, Milton E., History Town of Palermo Incorporated 1884 (1954).
Fairfield Historical Society, Fairfield, Maine 1788-1988 (1988).
Grow, Mary M. China, Maine Bicentennial History including 1984 revisions (1984).
Hammond, Alice, History of Sidney Maine 1792-1992 (1992).
Howard, Millard, An Introduction to the Early History of Palermo, Maine (second edition, December 2015).
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).

Websites, miscellaneous.

Next: agriculture, continued: livestock.

Public hearing scheduled for March 15th in Palermo

The Planning Board will be holding a Public Hearing on March 15th at 6:30 p.m.

The Public hearing is for the Murphy Subdivision Revision of Nelson Lane/Marden Hill Road.

Due to COVID restrictions we are limited to how many people can be in the office.

ZOOM meeting info will be posted on the town’s website:

For more information, contact:

Mary Andrews
Town Clerk, Treasurer, & Registrar of Voters
Town of Palermo
45 N. Palermo Rd
Palermo, Maine 04354
207-993-2296/ fax 207-993-2938

OPINION: Will Palermo choose the path of sustainability?

David Attenborough in the documentary, “Life on Our Planet”

A Maine resolution to take action on climate pollution

by Pamela McKenney

If you need an introduction to climate change or an update on the state of our planet, David Attenborough’s recent documentary, A Life on Our Planet, is a good place to start. After 93 years of work as a British broadcaster, writer, and naturalist visiting every continent on the globe and exploring its wildest places, Attenborough has seen the results of global warming first hand. He contends, “Real success [at reversing the impact of pollution] can only come if there is a change in our societies, and in our economics, and in our politics.”

Palermo town residents will have an opportunity to join others on the path of sustainability and carbon reduction in March at town meeting. An article has been introduced by Maine citizens at dozens of Maine municipalities intending to show support for federal legislation that will reduce carbon pollution – a major cause of climate change. The Maine Resolution to Take Action on Climate Pollution “calls upon our State and Federal elected representatives to enact legislation that will protect Maine from the costs and environmental risks of continued climate inaction.” This article is not a proposed bill; it is communication tool to instigate action. It communicates that the residents of Palermo favor a fee and dividend approach that charges fossil fuel producers for their carbon pollution and rebates the money collected to all residents on an equal basis. Enacting a Carbon Cash-Back program decreases long-term fossil-fuel dependence, aids in the economic transition to renewable energy, and keeps local energy dollars in Maine’s economy. Carbon Cash-back has been championed by US economists (Jan. 17, 2019, Wall Street Journal) as the most effective and fair way to deliver rapid reductions in harmful carbon emissions at the scale required for our safety and to support our environment.

Carbon Cash-back is a proposed climate solution that would place a fee on fossil fuel production and imports at their source (mine, refinery, pipeline, or port of entry). Money collected from this fee would be returned to every citizen equally as a dividend, to put a price on carbon pollution from fossil fuels and return funds from collected fees to all US households monthly, off-setting the potential increase in pricing. As stated in the article, voting for it will spark “our representatives to lead in this critical moment for the health and well-being of our citizens and for the protection of Maine’s natural resources upon which we all rely.” More information is provided on the Town of Palermo website and at the town office.

There are many attitudes people can adopt on the issue of climate change. We might think:

  • Earth belongs to humanity – the superior species – and its resources are at our disposal.
  • Global warming is part of a natural cycle, not caused or impacted by humans.
  • Global warming may be caused mostly by humans, but there is nothing we can do about it.
  • Global warming is real and rapid, and we can take action now in order to reverse the damage.

To what degree do people understand that global warming is happening, human-caused, and a serious risk for human societies and natural ecosystems? According to a study fielded in December 2020 by the Yale Program on Climate Change, Americans who think global warming is happening outnumber those who think it is not by a ratio of more than five to one. More than half of Americans (58 percent) understand that evidence indicates global warming is mostly human-caused, although three in ten think global warming is due mostly to natural changes in the environment. The study also states that one in four Americans are “very worried,” however 41 percent feel helpless about creating change. But experts say we can make a difference, if we act now.

David Attenborough’s A Life on Our Planet details humanity’s impact on the natural world and the devastating changes he has witnessed. Alarming as this film is in its scope and documentation, his reckoning concludes with a message of hope. “Although we are often blinkered by the needs of here and now, we have a path to sustainability. If enough people can see the path, we may start down it in time.”

Sheepscot Lake association launches new website

The Sheepscot Lake Association (SLA) has recently launched a new website to update members and the community of the SLA’s programs and activities, as well as general information about the lake and the association. Please check it out, bookmark it and pass it along to neighbors, family and friends who may be interested:

You may also join the association, pay your annual dues via paypal, or contact them with questions or concerns on their website.

Northern Light begins Covid-19 community vaccinations

Connie and Ray Winship, a retired Waterville couple, were among the first to be vaccinated at the January 26 clinic. photo courtesy of Northern Light Inland Hospital

Northern Light Inland Hospital kicked off its first community vaccination clinic on January 26 for community healthcare workers and people age 70 and older in collaboration with Kennebec Valley Community College (KVCC) in Fairfield. 92 doses were administered on the first day at the KVCC vaccination site. Ongoing clinics will be added as the hospital learns of its vaccine allotment from the state each week.

“We are very excited to be moving into this phase of community vaccinations,” said Terri Vieira, hospital president. “We have started dose two of the vaccine with our own staff, and we’re pleased to be moving onward to vaccinate more people in the communities we serve. It’s progress, it’s hope. At the same time, we have to be patient as the vaccine supply is still significantly lower than we had hoped.”

To be able to make these mass vaccination clinics a reality, Inland Hospital needed a community partner to provide a large space, and KVCC stepped up to the plate in a big way.

“We are very grateful that KVCC is giving Inland, and our community, the support that is needed for these clinics,” noted Vieira. “They have long been our partner in healthcare, training many of our staff who work at the hospital and our medical practices.”

The college has opened its Carter Hall Multi-Purpose Center for the location of the community clinics.

“KVCC is so pleased to become part of the solution to the pandemic in our region,” stated Richard Hopper, KVCC president. “Besides providing the space, we are looking at how our students and faculty can play a role in helping at future vaccination clinics for second-round doses and the expansion of Northern Light’s program. Northern Light has been and continues to be a trusted partner of KVCC.”

Connie and Ray Winship, a retired Waterville couple, were among the first to be vaccinated at the January 26 clinic. Connie said, “We’re getting vaccinated because we want to be able to visit our kids and grandkids this summer – it’s been more than a year since we were together.” Ray commented, “Getting the vaccine gives us hope and makes us feel good that we are doing our part to get things back to normal.”

Vaccine Registration

Individuals must pre-register to take part in a vaccination clinic. Due to the high demand as well as the logistics around handling the vaccines, walk-ins cannot be accommodated. Community members should not show up at the KVCC site without an appointment. Each week, after receiving their vaccine allotment from the Maine CDC, Inland will open new clinics at KVCC based on that availability. The hope is to hold at least one clinic each week, but vaccine availability will determine how they can proceed.

Registration is available at For those who do not have internet access, call 207.204.8551 to reach the Vaccine Registration and Information line seven days a week from 9 am to 5 pm. Due to the strong community interest and very low vaccine supply, slots are few and filling up very quickly.

Preparing for Registration

When preparing to register, whether by phone or online, people are asked to have their insurance or Medicare information ready, and the name and phone number for an emergency contact person. The vaccine itself is free but a small charge to cover the cost of administration will be billed to people’s insurance.

At this time, community clinics will be for those 70 or over and community healthcare workers only per Maine CDC guidance.

For More Information

Community members are encouraged to visit each Monday to learn about clinics that may be scheduled for the week. Or visit the Maine CDC website ( to see all vaccination sites across the state and any open appointments.

Inland Hospital leaders are asking individuals to please not call their primary care office or the hospital to try to register. The two options for registering at this time are on the website or the special registration phone line.

Submitted by Sara Barry, Director, Regional Marketing and Communications

Thanksgiving pies made to order

Submitted by Connie Bellet

Just because we can’t have big Thanksgiving gatherings doesn’t mean we can’t have an elegant pie to finish off the most celebrated dinner of the year. Several of Palermo’s Food Pantry volunteers are seeking to raise money to keep the Community Center’s heat on and the freezers running so our neighbors can continue to pick up food for their families on a weekly basis. We are baking traditional pies with local pumpkins, apples, and berries to order so you can pick them up on November 25. For only $10, you might choose a pumpkin, apple, pecan, chocolate creme, or peanut butter creme pie. Pumpkin with a pecan crust is $13, and the apple pie with a cheddar crust is $15. Except for the apple pie with cheddar crust, which is bigger, these are all 9-inch pies.

Orders must be in by November 18. Please call Pauline at 993-3033, or leave a message for Connie at 993-2294. They will call you on November 25 so you can pick up pies at the Palermo Community Center, and pay cash. This will be as contact-free as possible, with curbside pickup just off the deck. There will only be about 30 pies available, so place your order as soon as possible. If you have a special request, please let Pauline know.

LETTERS: Smiles, waves and happy birthday

To the editor:

Smiles, waves and happy birthday was the reception I received as I was returning to my car after voting at the Palermo Town Office.

But wait – I am getting ahead of myself.

When I went to the end of the long line of masked people waiting to vote, the couple that just got in line told me to go in front of them. Soon a lady asked me to get in line in front of her, then another asked me to do the same. A man pointed to a place where I could sit down and said he would save a place before him for me.

I’m unsure if that was the man who found a larger cooler, brought it for me to use. When he asked to put the cooler in place, the person at the very front told him to put the cooler before him. All this time a lady from the line let me use her shoulder to help my balance.

This lady asked me what happened to my legs, and I replied that nothing happened to them, that it was just old age creeping in. Then I added that it was my birthday and I just turned 94. When I asked her name, she gave it to me. I recognized it immediately and told her we were neighbors. (Not really, but I pass her house when going to Route 3.)

I was treated with the same respect and kindness when inside and Dave, a man who was working inside, said he would help me to my car. That brings me back to the smiles, waves and greetings I received.

At one o’clock that afternoon, the Palermo Library opened its door for the monthly meeting of the Palermo Quilt Club. All state and local restrictions were obeyed. Unbeknownst to me, one member of the quilt club was in the voting line. She hurried home and made a large chocolate chip cookie (4 – 5 inches) and put a candle in the middle. She brought it to me, lit the candle and everyone sang happy birthday to me.

I thank everyone in that long line for helping me and also the members of the quilt club who made this day a wonderful memory. I also thank everyone in Palermo for the kindness they have shared with me and my family since I traded being a “Buckeye” from Ohio, to a “Mainiac” from Maine. Or, as my grandchildren say, “from a worthless nut to a Mainiac.”

Joan L. Robertson

Sheepscot Lake Association completes another year

by Slater Claudel
President, Sheepscot Lake Association

I hope this finds you and your family safe and well! 2020 has already proven to be a year like no other. By the time you receive this, it would be great if we were on a path to something more normal! The COVID-19 outbreak and related social distancing orders have caused many unexpected changes for us all, however, the Sheepscot Lake Association was still very active.

Although we were unable to have our annual meeting in person we were able to connect with one another by letter, emails, Facebook, and the ever so popular Zoom program that allowed us to have interactive meetings in a virtual setting. We had several people interested in serving on the board of directors for the SLA and were able to hold our elections thanks to your responses over social media and mail. We were also able to continue with our courtesy boat inspection team at the boat landing, and had an amazing boat parade on the Sheepscot over the 4th of July. There were also many great days to enjoy some fishing, swimming, campfires and breathtaking sunsets.

Our Loon Count program, headed up by Joe Burke, was a huge success this year as well. It started out as a heavy fog that morning but the persistence of the team of volunteers paid off as they identified a number of loons on the pond.

With Fall now quickly settling in over the lake, we see many are preparing for the change of the seasons. Docks are being pulled out and boats put away for the winter but if you are like me… I just had to keep my boat in a little longer to enjoy the water and take in all the beautiful colors of the trees around the lakes and on the distant hills. Just can’t get enough of what our lake offers us and yes, I, too, will be looking forward to old man winter and the fun of ice fishing, snowshoeing, skating, and the many fires we will cozy up to and keep warm.

The annual dues from our membership help to fund the critical programs summarized above. We also rely on and appreciate the contribution from the town of Palermo each year supported by the taxpayers of Palermo. If you would like to become a member of the Sheepscot Lake Association, or to renew your membership this year, you can send a check payable to Sheepscot Lake Association to:

Sheepscot Lake Association
P.O. Box 300
Palermo, ME 04354

or via PayPal at our website: The dues are $20/person, $30/household, or $50/patron. Please share this email with any neighbors or friends who would like to join and support the lake. We need to grow our membership! You can also follow us on Facebook.

Thank you everyone for your continued support and if I do not see you on the lake this winter, I look forward to seeing you upon your return to Sheepscot.