Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Clinton, China Libraries

Albert Church Brown Memorial Library

by Mary Grow

Clinton’s Brown Memorial Library
China’s Albert Church Brown Memorial Library

Brown Memorial Library, in Clinton, is the third of the local libraries on the National Register of Historic Places. Built in 1899-1900, it was added to the Register on April 28, 1975.

In their application for the listing, Earle Shettleworth, Jr., and Frank A. Beard, of the Maine Historic Preservation Commission, compared the Brown Memorial Library to Fairfield’s Lawrence Library (see The Town Line, Nov. 11) and Augusta’s Lithgow Library (see The Town Line, Nov. 18).

Architecturally, all three buildings are variations on the style of Henry Hobson Richardson (1838-1886). Shettleworth and Beard called Clinton’s library “a purer example of the Richardsonian ideal with an exterior exhibiting warm hues and contrasting colors in stone walls and trim, as opposed to the almost monochromatic use of granite and slate,” in Fairfield and Augusta.

Also, they wrote, “The Clinton Library, though symmetry is implied, is basically an asymmetrical composition, truer to Richardson’s buildings of the same type than either the Lithgow or Lawrence libraries, which reflect contemporary Beaux Arts symmetry clothed in a Richardson-derived exterior.”

They concluded, “The Clinton Library is the most exemplary structure of its kind in Maine and is an unusually large and elegant library for a small, rural community.”

John Calvin Stevens

Portland architect John Calvin Stevens (1855-1940) designed Brown Memorial Library. He has been mentioned before as the architect chosen to remodel Augusta’s Blaine House in 1920. Other Maine libraries he designed include Rumford Public Library, built in 1903 and added to the National Register in 1989; and Cary Public Library, in Houlton, opened in 1904 and added to the National Register in 1987.

Clinton’s library is on Railroad Street just north of the Winn Avenue intersection. Shettleworth and Beard described a single-story stone building on a partly raised basement (with windows), with a hipped roof. Reddish sandstone trim contrasts with greyish granite walls and a grey slate roof.

The building’s rectangular shape is broken by three “projections,” small ones on the back and south side and, on the front, to the right (south) of the main entrance, “a large five-bay projection trimmed in sandstone and capped with a semi-detached conical roof.” This projection features tall windows with narrow stone dividers between them.

The entrance is approached by granite steps and recessed under an arch. Above the arch is a “dormer:” a rectangular panel with the words “Brown Memorial Library”; above it, two small rectangular windows; and above them “a steep triangular pediment topped with a ball finial.”

Entry is through two doors with glass panels topped by “a colored glass transom,” Shettleworth and Beard wrote. The “small porch” inside the arch “is floored with a marble mosaic pattern.”

The north side of the front wall has two tall windows, narrower than the ones in the south tower.

The historians noted the origin of the various building materials. The rough granite for the walls is from Conway, New Hampshire; the sandstone for trim is from Longmeadow, Massachusetts; and the slate for the roof “was quarried nearby on the banks of the Sebasticook River.”

An on-line Town of Clinton history adds that the “ledge for the foundation” came from Clinton farmer J. T. Ward’s land.

Inside, the “vestibule,” “entrance hall” and original librarian’s room were straight ahead (by 1975, Shettleworth and Beard wrote, the librarian’s room was a children’s room). The room to the left was the stacks.

The reading room on the right is “the largest room in the building.” Lighted by the bow windows on the front and a smaller one on the side, the room has “a large fireplace flanked with built-in seats” on the back wall (the library’s “Cozy Nook”) and a pine ceiling “patterned with trusses and panels.”

“The interior plan, like the exterior, exhibits Steven’s faithfulness to Richardsonian principals [sic], being designed with a logical, functional simplicity,” Shettleworth and Beard wrote.

Clinton had no public library until William Wentworth Brown (April 19, 1821 – Oct. 22, 1911), born in Clinton but by 1899 living in Portland, bought the land, paid for the building and provided a $5,000 endowment (earning an annual income of $350, according to the 1901 annual report of the state librarian). The town history article says Horace Purinton, of Waterville, was the contractor for the building.

Shettleworth and Beard wrote that Brown presided at the Aug. 29, 1899, ground-breaking. The cornerstone was laid Sept. 25, “amid elaborate ceremonies.” The building opened to the public on July 21, 1900, and was formally dedicated on Aug. 15, when Brown presented it to the residents of Clinton.

The town history article identifies the first librarian as Grace Weymouth, “a descendant of Jonathan Brown [William Brown’s father].” One of William Brown’s four older sisters is listed on line as Eliza Ann Brown Weymouth.

Shettleworth and Beard wrote that Brown also provided many of the “books, furnishings and pictures.” The state librarian wrote that the library started with 2,500 books and had space for 10,000.

In 1902, Shettleworth and Beard said, Orrin Learned added “100 volumes of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies.” Library Assistant Director Cindy Lowell says they are still stored in the building.

(Orrin Learned [June 16, 1822 – July 2, 1903] was a Burnham native who moved to Clinton in 1900. He attended Benton Academy and, like his father Joel, made his living farming and lumbering in Burnham. He served on the select board and school committee and was a state representative in 1863 and 1873 and a state senator in 1877 and 1878.

The on-line biography of Learned says nothing about military service, Civil War or other, except that he was the great-grandson of Revolutionary War General Ebenezer Learned, who was Brigadier-General under Horatio Gates at the October 1877 Battle of Saratoga, where British General John Burgoyne was defeated.)

Clinton officials dedicated the June 2012 town report to the library. They explained that the 1899 trust specified that part of the trust fund interest would be used for “maintaining the building and library,” and that the operating budget would come from local taxes.

One of Brown’s gifts was Vinton’s portrait of him, Shettleworth and Beard wrote.

(An on-line search found Frederic (or Frederick) Porter Vinton [Jan. 29, 1846 – May 19, 1911], a Bangor native who lived in Chicago and later Boston, where he studied art at the Lowell Institute and in 1878 opened his portrait studio. Vinton began painting landscapes in the 1880s, but is known primarily as a portrait painter.)

Lowell said in late November 2021 that the huge painting had been sent away to be cleaned and restored. The restorers had uncovered a fur collar that had been completely obscured over the years, she said.

Brown said at the library dedication that it was a memorial to “my dear parents who were my ideal of all that is best and purest in life….” He expressed the hope that “the good to be derived from this gift may go on forever.”

* * * * * *

The Albert Church Brown Memorial Library, on Main Street, in China Village, less than 15 road miles south of Brown Memorial Library, in Clinton, has been in existence only since 1936, and in its present building since Jan. 1, 1941. Its name honors Albert Church Brown, whose widow donated money to buy and renovate a house dating from around 1827.

Albert Church Brown (no known relation to the Clinton Browns) was born in Winslow in 1843. He grew up in China; the China bicentennial history says he left when he was 16.

After service in the Civil War, Brown prospered as a businessman in Malden, Massachusetts. He died in 1922, leaving his widow, whose family connections with former China residents led to her interest in the library.

The two-story Federal building was formerly known as the Fletcher-Main House, after the two intermarried families who owned it. The building is in the China Village Historic District, a group of mostly residential buildings added to the National Register of Historic Places on Nov. 23, 1977 (see The Town Line, July 8, 2021).

The two Brown libraries share an interesting reputation: people who worked or work in each repeat the superstition that the buildings are haunted.

In Clinton, Assistant Director Cindy Lowell said the ghost is taken to be William Wentworth Brown himself, or “WW,” as she and colleagues call him. She cited two examples of “WW is up to something again.”

Once, she said, the library director’s eyeglasses vanished. Staff and patrons searched the building in vain. Days later, a fuse blew; Lowell went to the basement to replace it, and the missing eyeglasses were on the basement floor.

Another time, Lowell had just come to work, alone, when she heard a very loud slam in the basement. She waited until a patron came in before she went down to investigate – and found no explanation, nothing out of place.

Your writer is the former librarian at China’s Brown Memorial library. Several people familiar with the building assured her there was a ghost, though no one knew who it was. More than once she heard noises as though someone were moving upstairs when she was sure no living person was there; and if the sounds were made by mice, they left no other sign of their presence.

William Wentworth Brown

Various on-line sources say that William Wentworth Brown was born in Clinton on April 19, 1821, sixth of the seven children of Jonathan Brown (1776 – 1861) and Elizabeth “Betsy (or Betsey)” Michales (or Michaels) Brown (1784-1850). His parents and sister, Eliza Ann, are buried in Clinton’s Riverview Cemetery.

William Wentworth Brown

Jonathan and Elizabeth Brown were donors of Clinton’s Brown Memorial Church, now Brown Memorial United Methodist Church, according to Brown Memorial Library Assistant Director Cindy Lowell.

William Brown lived in Clinton until he was 21, when he moved to Bangor to work in his brother’s grocery business (probably his older brother, Warren, born in 1811).

In 1845, Brown started making timbers, decking and other essential pieces of wooden ships. In 1857, he moved the successful business to Portland.

Brown took note of the use of ironclads in the Civil War (the battle between the “Merrimack” and the “Monitor” was on March 9, 1862), and when in 1868 he and Lewis T. Brown (no relation?) were offered a chance to buy a sawmill in Berlin, New Hampshire, he changed businesses.

The two Browns enlarged the sawmill. In the 1880s William Brown bought out Lewis Brown and became sole owner of the Berlin Mills Company, as it was known until it became the Brown Company in 1917. This mill was one of several pulp and paper mills in Berlin.

Lowell quoted a report on the History Channel saying that Brown’s home in Berlin is now a museum.

On Feb. 6, 1861, Brown married his first wife, Emily Hart (Jenkins) Brown (Jan. 23, 1836 – Apr. 4, 1879), from Falmouth, Massachusetts. His second wife was Lucy Elizabeth (Montague) Brown (Jan. 16, 1845 – May 16, 1927); no marriage date is given. Genealogical records contradict each other on how many children he and his successive wives had.

This writer has found no information about William Brown’s career after the 1880s. She assumes it was profitable. Nor has she found any explanation for his decision that a library was the appropriate memorial for his parents.

William Brown died Oct. 27, 1911. He is buried with both wives and five children in a family plot in Portland’s Evergreen Cemetery.

Main sources

Grow, Mary M., China Maine Bicentennial History including 1984 revisions (1984).

Shettleworth, Earle G., Jr., and Frank A. Beard, National Register of Historic Places Inventory – Nomination Form, Brown Memorial Library, April 4, 1975.

Personal interview.

Websites, miscellaneous.

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Libraries – Continued

Lithgow Library, in Augusta.

by Mary Grow

Lawrence Library, in Fairfield, described to readers last week, is one of three libraries in the central Kennebec Valley whose buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places. The other two are Lithgow Public Library, in Augusta, this week’s topic, and Brown Memorial Library, in Clinton.

The cornerstone for the building housing Augusta’s Lithgow Public Library was laid in June 1894, and the library opened in February 1896. The building was added to the National Register on July 24, 1974, before the first of two twentieth and twenty-first century expansions.

As mentioned last week, in earlier years Augusta had the Cony Female Academy library, started in 1815. Henry Kingsbury wrote in his Kennebec County history that Cony’s initiative led to the 1817 organization of a “reading room and social library association.”

This group was reorganized June 2, 1819, and incorporated June 20, 1820, as the Augusta Union Society, which “collected a large library.” When it disbanded (Kingsbury gave no date; James W. North, in his history of Augusta, described nothing later than its sixth anniversary celebration in October 1825), its books were passed on to the Female Academy.

Brown Memorial Library, in Clinton.

After that institution closed in 1857, Kingsbury wrote that its library “became considerably dispersed.” Eventually, he said, some 800 of its books, including one from 1612, ended up with the Kennebec Natural History and Antiquarian Society, organized in 1891.

(The Natural History and Antiquarian Society was the direct ancestor of today’s Kennebec Historical Society, headquartered at 61 Winthrop Street in Augusta. A KHS history found on line says in 1891 the organization invited donations of “botanical collections” and “birds and animals for mounting,” as well as print materials.

In 1896, the society moved its collection to the newly-opened Lithgow Library, where it stayed for many years. Today, the historical society has no natural history collection, but its premises are full of old maps; newspaper articles; business, school and personal records; photographs; and similar information.)

Meanwhile, 50 Augusta residents organized the Augusta Literary and Library Association, chartered by the Maine legislature in 1873. Each charter member gave $50 to buy books; other residents donated more books, to a total of around 3,000 within a few years, Kingsbury wrote.

The Association and its library were first housed on the second floor of the Meonian Hall on Water Street. This building was the second Meonian Hall; James North (presumably the same man who wrote the Augusta history in 1870) built the first one in 1856 and named it after Maeonia (an ancient city at the eastern end of the Mediterranean; the area is now part of Turkey). It burned in the great fire of 1865 and was promptly rebuilt.

Association members, men and women, met in each other’s houses to discuss books. The Association “provided the city with a library, a reading room and literary and scientific lectures,” according to an on-line site.

Earle Shettleworth, Jr., the Maine Historic Preservation Commission official who nominated Lithgow Library for the National Register of Historic Places, listed James G. Blaine’s family and Maine governors Joseph Williams, Lot M. Morrill and Seldon Connor as Association supporters. Williams and Morrill governed in the 1850s, Connor in the 1870s.

Despite a promising start, Shettle­worth’s research confirmed Charles Nash’s history of the Lithgow Library (quoted in an on-line site) as saying the society was soon in financial difficulty. Members voted to sell the books and close down. (The international financial panic that started in 1873 might have played a role).

However, Nash wrote dramatically, one of the leading members, James W. Bradbury, “was in possession (as counsel and attorney) of confidential knowledge of great weight in connection with the matter.” Bradbury persuaded the rest of the members to rescind their vote by offering free space for the book collection in a Water Street building.

Llewellyn Lithgow

What Bradbury knew was that another Association member, Llewellyn Lithgow, had willed $20,000 to the City of Augusta to build a public library. Lithgow was born Dec. 25, 1796, in Dresden; he moved to Augusta in 1839 and did so well in business that he was able to retire when he was 40.

Lithgow died suddenly on June 22, 1881. His will became public knowledge, and City officials accepted the funds for the intended purpose. Later, Kingsbury wrote, the City received another $15,000 as one of Lithgow’s residuary legatees.

In February 1882 the new trustees of the planned Lithgow Library and Reading Room consulted the Literary and Library Association trustees, and the two groups merged. A new library building, to be named in honor of Lithgow, was one of their first goals.

The trustees bought the Winthrop Street lot where the library stands in 1888 and adjoining land in 1892 and started raising more money. Shettleworth wrote they aimed for $40,000; by the fall of 1892 they had $22,000. They wrote to Andrew Carnegie, who was famous for supporting libraries, asking for help.

On Nov. 15, Shettleworth wrote, Carnegie promised half the remaining $18,000 if the trustees provided the rest. They did, within six months, and Carnegie fulfilled his pledge.

A nation-wide competition to design the new building attracted 65 entries (Nash) or 69 entries (Shettleworth). Review began on July 15, 1893. Trustees found that some of the plans were too elegant to be affordable, many did not meet their requirements and only a handful were worth considering.

After two months, Shettleworth wrote, they chose Neal and Hopkins, an architectural firm in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Joseph Ladd Neal was a Wiscasset native who worked in Boston and New York before settling in Pittsburgh around 1892. His partnership with S. Alfred Hopkins lasted only a year, according to Wikipedia, or three years, according to Shettleworth.

Neal’s preferred architectural styles included Richardsonian Romanesque (similar to Lawrence Library architect William Miller’s taste, mentioned last week). Shettleworth wrote that Lithgow Library is significant as “Maine’s purest expression of the late nineteenth century Romanesque Revival fostered by H. H. Richardson.”

When Kingsbury published his history in 1892, the new library building was still in the future. He wrote that the Water Street rooms had more than 400 patrons, who were charged a dollar a year to check out books; the reading room was “well patronized”; and Miss Julia Clapp had been librarian since 1882.

Shettleworth found that construction of the new building started in the spring of 1894. It was finished in January 1896. Total cost of the building and land was $51,850, according to an on-line site.

A history of the Augusta Masonic Lodge (the book is in the Maine State Library; this writer found it on line) describes the June 14, 1894, laying of Lithgow Library’s cornerstone, as part of a cornerstone-laying ceremony for the Masonic Hall on Water Street.

The history says 500 people participated in a parade that started on Water Street; went to the Capitol building to be reviewed by Governor Henry B. Cleaves; “countermarched” to the Augusta House for another review by Cleaves, the state’s executive council and Masonic dignitaries; went to the corner of State and Winthrop streets, where Horace H. Burbank, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Maine, laid the library cornerstone; and finally headed back down to Water Street, where Burbank and others laid the Masonic Hall cornerstone.

An open house on Feb. 3, 1896, welcomed residents to the new library. They saw a story and a half tall building – Richardson’s response to the 1870s and 1880s demand for library buildings for small communities, Shettleworth said – with exterior walls of rough gray granite (Norridgewock granite, according to an on-line history) and finished granite detailing.

The long front (south) wall had a protruding gable-roofed entranceway flanked on each side by five tall rectangular windows, their top sections stained glass. Under the first, third and fifth windows were circles of smooth stone, each with the name of an “important literary figure.”

Under the gable, finished-granite steps led to the entrance door, which was recessed in a “large Romanesque arch” of smooth granite.

The arch was flanked on each side by two vertical stained-glass windows and a “semi-detached Romanesque column,” Shettleworth wrote. Above the arch were the words “The Lithgow Library,” and above that a trio of windows “surrounded by finished Romanesque arches and semi-detached columns.”

East and west walls had six stained-glass windows on the ground floor. They were arranged in threesomes separated by Romanesque panels, with solid wall between the threesomes.

The central wall area on the west side was rough granite. The middle of the east wall, facing toward State Street, was decorated with a “large square panel containing many names of writers” and on a lower level more writers’ names in circular panels.

The half-story above each end wall was of granite “cut in a variety of decorative patterns.” A chimney topped each end; on the east, the date 1894 was added “near the peak of the gable.”

The back (north) wall resembled the front, Shettleworth wrote, except that the entrance on the front was replaced with “three bays of stained glass windows on either side of a chimney,” with “[t]hree circular author panels” in each bay.

The ground-floor layout inside was what Shettleworth considered typical of Richardson’s designs, a central room with a stack for book storage on one side and a reading room on the other (as in Fairfield’s Lawrence Library).

An on-line writer described “quartered oak pillars and elaborate woodwork” in the “interior lobby and original stack room”; fireplaces on east and west walls; stained-glass windows with old printers’ marks and “scenes from Augusta history”; and in the reading room “frescoes, stained glass and gold leaf ornamentation.”

In Shettleworth’s vocabulary, the hall and stack room “are finished in dark Colonial Revival woodwork,” and “the reading room has a lavish white and gold French Renaissance décor.” He added that the upper story included a meeting room and storage space.

His final words as he recommended the library for National Register listing were: “The beauty of its exterior Romanesque Rival design combined with the richness of its interior have made it the most important library of the Richardsonian manner in Maine.”

Main sources

Kingsbury, Henry D., ed., Illustrated History of Kennebec County Maine 1625-1892 (1892).
North, James W., The History of Augusta (1870).
Shettleworth, Earle G., Jr., National Register of Historic Places Inventory – Nomination Form, Lithgow Library, July 11, 1974.

Websites, miscellaneous.

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Libraries

The Lawrence Library, in Fairfield.

by Mary Grow

The differential treatment in education discussed last week did not necessarily make women less interested than men in learning and literature. Local histories mention discussion and debate groups, most by and for men, some by and for women, and early libraries.

Daniel Cony

Augusta had two men’s literary groups, one formed in 1817 and a successor in 1829. Kingsbury credits Daniel Cony’s example for “a reading room and social library organization” started on Oct. 1, 1817.

It was reorganized June 2, 1819, and chartered June 20, 1820, as the Augusta Union Society. The Society’s incorporation was “the first act passed by the legislature of Maine” after the separation from Massachusetts, according to James North’s Augusta history.

North wrote that the Union Society’s goal was “improvement in useful knowledge by means of a library of choicely selected books, magazines and public newspapers.” By 1825, the Society had outgrown its first headquarters and moved to the Kennebec Journal building on Winthrop Street. The Union Society had disbanded by October 1829, Kingsbury said.

In the 1820s, North said, Cony’s Female Academy had the largest library in Augusta. There was also William Dewey’s circulating library.

By then, North wrote, debating societies were common. He mentioned the Nucleus, organized in 1825, and the Franklin Debating Club.

Both Kingsbury and North offered information on the Augusta Lyceum, which Kingsbury said replaced the Union Society in 1829, “as the organized exponent of the intelligence of the town.” North explained that lyceums succeeded debating societies as “a form better calculated to impart instruction, and at the same time afford equal amusement.”

North said the Augusta Lyceum’s October 1829 constitution established dues at 50 cents a quarter-year (25 cents for members under 18), and life memberships were $20. Meetings were weekly, with monthly debates that Kingsbury said “were sometimes brilliant and exciting.”

North offered as an example the debate over the treatment of Indians by Puritans. Discussion continued for weeks, with clergymen on one side and “a vigorous attacking party” on the other. The eventual decision was “against the Puritans, more from a spirit of victory in debate than any intention to defame that noble but austere race of men.”

Another interesting evening North described was April 18, 1830, when John A. Vaughn, of Hallowell, delivered an illustrated talk on railroads, which were not to reach Augusta until 1851.

Vaughn brought a model railroad, with two cars attached to each other. One held two 56-pound weights, the other a grey squirrel running on a treadmill. The squirrel’s motion pulled the heavier car, illustrating the minimal energy needed for a great effect.

Vaughn also had a picture and explanation of a British “Novelty Steam Carriage,” which provided 30-mile-an-hour passenger service. He concluded by predicting the expansion of railways throughout the United States, North said with impressive accuracy.

The Lyceum movement was national, at the state, county and town level, North wrote. The institutions became “a prominent educational means by developing a spirit of inquiry and creating a fondness for reading and a pleasure in receiving and imparting knowledge heretofore unexperienced by the mass of the community.”

State and county lyceums did not last long; local ones continued into the 1850s. North blamed their decline and disappearance on “a plethoric feeling which constantly demanded, from year to year, a higher grade of talent in lectures and new sources of excitement.”

In the adjoining town of Vassalboro, Alma Pierce Robbins’ history mentions, but provides too few details about, groups whose members might have been interested in reading, as well as sociability and needlework. Three appear to have been women’s organizations.

Local organizations on Webber Pond Road included a Christmas Club, apparently primarily a women’s needlework group, and a Browning Club, a Vassalboro branch of the international group organized in 1895 to expand women’s literary and cultural knowledge and named for English poets Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

(At a 2017 meeting reported on line, a Browning Club historian said the organization “served as an outlet for its members to educate each other during a time when attitudes toward women did not include higher education.”

She continued, “[T]hese women strived to provide each other with the opportunity to read, explore, and learn from one another.”)

Robbins said Vassalboro’s Christmas and Browning clubs met year-round at members’ houses. She did not date either organization.

In Riverside, she continued, there was a Riverside Corporation and later a Community Club, about which she provided no information beyond the names; and a “Riverside Study Club.” Vassalboro Historical Society President Janice Clowes says the Study Club was organized in 1947 and disbanded in 2001; Robbins wrote that it “became an affiliate of the State Federation of Women’s Clubs in 1949.”

Waterville, according to Whittemore’s history, was home to a series of debating clubs, exclusively for men. The earliest he mentioned was the Ticonick Debating Society, started Sept. 18, 1824, with “the leading men in the town” as founding members.

It was succeeded in 1837 by the Waterville Lyceum, which Whittemore said lasted only two years. Its 1841 successor, the Waterville Debating Society, apparently lasted a year. The Mechanics’ Debating Club Whittemore dates in the mid-1850s.

The Woman’s Association in Waterville was organized in 1887 and was still going strong, with 50 members, when Kingsbury published his history in 1892. He said its purpose was to provide women and girls with “useful information” and “special instruction.”

The organization had a 400-volume library. It sponsored evening classes “through the cold seasons,” where attendees could learn “needlework, penmanship, music and a variety of useful arts.”

Contemporary Facebook pages on the web list a Waterville Woman’s Association, founded in 1887, and a Waterville Area Women’s Club, founded in 1893.

The only similar organization Linwood Lowden mentioned in his history of Windsor was not organized until 1913, and was primarily a social group. The Unity Club, organized Dec. 17, 1913, apparently lasted into the 1930s, Lowden wrote.

Lowden said the “short literary program” that was initially part of each twice-a-month meeting was frequently replaced by a social service type activity, like making baby clothes for a needy family or knitting for the Red Cross.

* * * * * *

It is tempting to consider literary groups as precursors to public libraries, and one women’s group clearly was.

According to the Fairfield bicentennial history and an on-line source, a group of 24 women, led by Addie M. Lawrence, Mary Newhall and Frances Kenrick, organized a circulating library called the Ladies Book Club in 1895 or 1896. The club started with 48 books, kept in two bookcases in a small room above C. E. Holt’s candy store on Main Street.

The bookcases could accommodate 200 books, the history says, and were filled in three years. In July 1899, the club moved to two rooms in a Fairfield bank (the history is inconsistent in naming the bank), where residents continued to donate books and magazines.

Addie Lawrence was Edward Jones Lawrence’s daughter, and she “persuaded her father to offer the town a public library.” (Edward Jones Lawrence also established Fairfield’s Lawrence High School; see The Town Line, Oct. 7, 2021.)

At the March 1900 town meeting, voters accepted the offer. In May 1900, the renamed Fairfield Book Club held a meeting at which Lawrence promised to build a library when a site was found. Louise E. Newhall donated a lot between her house and Lawrence’s house, on the south side of Lawrence Avenue, facing the town park.

The result was Lawrence Library, which has been on the National Register of Historic Places since Dec. 31, 1974.

It had one precursor, according to the Fairfield history. The writers quote from the Jan. 29, 1867, issue of the Fairfield Woodpecker the statement that “The Ladies Library had been very active prior to the Civil War but was not used much at this time.”

(The Woodpecker was published in Kendall’s Mills, the name for what is now downtown Fairfield, from 1867 to at least 1874. The Fairfield Historical Society has copies on film; the Lawrence Library also has copies, according to an on-line site.)

William R. Miller

Maine architect William R. Miller designed the new library. In the application for National Register listing, Earle Shettle­worth, of the Maine Historic Preservation Com­mission, described the architecture as Romanesque Revival modified by H. H. Richardson.

Miller (1866-1929) was born in Durham, Maine, and worked mostly in Maine throughout his career, based first in Lewiston and later in Portland. Wikipedia says his projects included “schools, libraries, hotels and churches as well as private residences.”

Other local buildings Miller designed include the original Lawrence High School, the Gerald Hotel and two Goodwill-Hinckley buildings in Fairfield, and Water­ville’s Carnegie Library.

Henry H. Richardson

Henry Hobson Richardson (1838-1886) developed the form called Richardson Romanesque. Wikipedia says he is considered one of the titans of American architecture, with Louis Henry Sullivan (1856-1924) and Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959).

The Lawrence Library building is made of “slate rock with granite trim,” Shettleworth wrote. It is two stories high with a hip roof. The rock is of different colors, mostly variations on light reddish-brown, with darker browns and greys interspersed.

The main entrance door on the north side, facing the park, is set under a large granite arch. Above the arch, a sign identifies the building. An elaborate edifice above the sign includes three stained-glass windows inside granite-topped arches flanked by small towers. Still higher is a shield labeled “1900” (the year construction started) below a peaked roof.

Beside the entrance is an octagonal tower with more arched windows. On either side of the door and tower, the main floor rooms have large triple-arched windows. Granite above the windows and on the building’s corners and “cornice level granite strong courses” contrast with the vari-colored stone.

Shettleworth wrote that the same themes – stone, granite and arched windows – were continued around the building, with the back (south) side the least elaborate.

Lawrence Library was dedicated July 25, 1901. Shettleworth quoted physical descriptions, but nothing about the ceremony, from the July 26, 1901, issue of the Waterville Sentinel.

The newspaper writer said the stacks in the west room could hold 5,000 books and were almost full. The books were “arranged according to the Dewey system and a glance over the titles will delight the soul of any book lover,” he wrote.

The east room was the reading room. The “pastel portrait” of Edward Lawrence was done by Flora Gross Clark; the Fairfield Book Club donated it. Also mentioned were the oil painting of the Moor of Venice by local artist F. E. McFadden (who was also a lawyer and in the 1880s town clerk for at least two years); and the “splendid globe,” “18 inches in diameter… on a bronze pedestal 43 inches high” given by Mrs. E. P. Kenrick.

The Clark and McFadden portraits still hang in the east room. Portraits of Addie and Alice Jones, set in stained glass rectangles, decorate the wall behind the librarian’s desk. Overhead, the inside rim of an off-white dome lists well-known New England writers.

Above the front door, a large bronze plaque says Jones donated the building and 2,000 books, and Newhall donated the land and another 2,000 books. Librarian Louella Bickford says the plaque is identified on the back as made by Tiffany, the New York studio led by Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933).

Commenting on Edward Jones Lawrence, the 1901 Sentinel writer observed that many towns owed their libraries to “the Scotland born and American made millionaire” [Andrew Carnegie], others to a native son who made his fortune elsewhere.

But, he wrote, “Fairfield rejoices in the gift of a man who was born within her borders, educated in her public schools and whose position of wealth and influence among the foremost business men in the State has been won in his native town. … He is one also who has worked his way up from the bottom of the ladder by his hard work and who has shown that success is possible for any man in Maine and in Fairfield. The gift is therefore especially prized.”

* * * * * *

Six-masted schooner Addie M. Lawrence was launched on December 17, 1902. It carried military supplies in World War I and ran aground in a gale off the coast of Brittany on July 9, 1917.

Three of the schooners that Lawrence helped finance in Bath were named the Addie M. Lawrence, the Alice M. Lawrence and the Edward J. Lawrence.

The Dec. 23, 1902, Fairfield Journal reported that the “Addie M.” was launched at 12:45 p.m. on Dec. 17, “a date that will long be remembered by many as one of great pleasure.”

The six-masted schooner was built at Percy & Small’s shipyard at a cost of $130,000. The reporter wrote that she was 2923 feet long and 483 feet wide, a patent absurdity; another on-line source gives the dimensions as 292 feet, four inches by 48 feet, three inches. Each mast was 118 feet tall; topmasts were 56 feet long, and the sails totaled “about 8700 yards of canvas.”

Wikipedia says the largest sailing ship ever built was another Percy & Small six-masted schooner, the Wyoming. Launched in 1909, she had an overall length of 450 feet, counting her 86-foot jib boom and “protruding spanker boom”; her deck length was 334 feet. (The jib boom is an extension of the bowsprit; the spanker boom supports a sail over the stern.)

(For more comparisons, the RMS Titanic was 882 feet, nine inches long. The future USS Daniel Inouye, the U. S. Navy’s newest guided missile destroyer, launched from Bath Iron Works Oct. 4, 2021, is 513 feet long. The Daniel Inouye is scheduled to be commissioned at her home port, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in December.)

The 1902 Journal reporter said the “Addie M.” had three cabins, the aft (stern) one “a thing of beauty being of quartered oak, mahogany and cypress with furniture of leather trimmings.” Sternward rooms were gold and black, forward rooms aluminum and black; the captain had an office “and a stateroom prettily furnished and very light and pleasant.”

For the launching, the ship was decorated with flags and bunting. Addie Lawrence smashed the traditional bottle of champagne against the bow as the ship started down the ways.

The reporter was one of a “large crowd,” including many Fairfield residents. He wrote, “[W]hen the giant craft had left her cradle and made a mighty leap into the river a mighty cheer went up from the bystanders, while all the neighboring craft and manufacturing establishments along the river saluted by blowing three long whistles, to which the Lawrence responded.”

The South Portland Historical Society has a history of the Addie M. Lawrence that says she carried military supplies in World War I and ended her career off the coast of Brittany on July 9, 1917, when she ran aground in a gale.

Another on-line site says six-masted schooners were too big to be practical. Fewer than a dozen were built; the Edward J. Lawrence, built in 1908 and burned in 1925, was the last in use.

Edward Jones Lawrence

Edward Jones Lawrence (Jan. 1, 1833 – Nov. 27, 1918) was educated through sixth grade and first worked as a farm hand in Fairfield Center, his birthplace. A job in a Norridgewock store gave him bookkeeping experience, which led to an accounting position with the Gardiner-based lumber business Wing and Bates.

In 1860 he bought a one-third ownership in Wing and Bates. After another decade, he and his brother, George W. Lawrence, had money enough to buy the company’s Shawmut building and replace it with their own mill.

In the last quarter of the 19th century, the Fairfield history says, Lawrence and Benton native Amos Gerald “invested extensively in street railroads.” An on-line source lists him as president of two street railway companies, the Waterville and Oakland and the Portland and Brunswick, in 1909.

The Lombard log hauler, which used to be on exhibit near the Waterville-Winslow Bridge, is now on display at the Redington Museum, on Silver St., in Waterville.

Other ventures included supporting Alvin Lombard’s Lombard hauler; supporting Martin Keyes’ pulp-wood plate business, ancestor of today’s Keyes Fibre* (“Keyes’ first machinery was set up at the Lawrence mill” in Shawmut); and investing in ship-building in Bath.

After Lawrence’s first wife died in 1865, in 1868 (or 1870; sources differ) he married Hannah Miller Shaw, who became the mother of Annie (born in 1870, died in 1886), Addie (born in 1873) and Alice (born in 1879).

The bicentennial history says Lawrence moved from Shawmut to Fairfield, where he built “the grand house at the corner of High Street and Lawrence Avenue,” because he wanted his daughters educated and Fairfield had better schools. He represented Fairfield in the state legislature for one term, in 1877, as a member of the Greenback Party.

A history of Lawrence Library says Representative Jones fought for two causes, safe working conditions and fair pay for workers and legislation “allowing only the federal government to print paper money.”

After Annie’s death in 1886, Hannah had a nervous breakdown, and the two younger girls went to a Massachusetts boarding school.

Both were artistically talented. Addie was on the verge of becoming a portrait painter, but returned to Fairfield because of her mother’s health and family finances. Alice studied piano with pianist and composer John Carver Alden (1852-1935). She married Walter Daub and had two daughters; and after a divorce in 1919 returned to Fairfield.

Alice’s older daughter, Mary Lawrence (Daub) Halkyard (Sept. 25, 1910 – Nov. 15, 2013), and her husband Neil were teachers; they founded the Shepherd Knapp School, in Boylston, Massachusetts. The school no longer exists, but its building, which dates from 1848, is a National Historic Landmark.

After retiring from teaching, the Halkyards lived in China (Maine) when they were not traveling. Mary Halkyard remained fond of, and like her grandfather generous to, the Town of Fairfield.

* Today’s Huhtamaki plant.

Main sources

Fairfield Historical Society, Fairfield, Maine 1788-1988 (1988).
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).
North, James W., The History of Augusta (1870).
Robbins, Alma Pierce, History of Vassalborough Maine 1771 1971 n.d. (1971).
Whittemore, Rev. Edwin Carey, Centennial History of Waterville 1802-1902 (1902).

Websites, miscellaneous.

Rumor has it… America will be 401 years old on November 11

That’s right. On November 11, 1620, 401 years ago the Pilgrims from Holland landed in America and signed the “Compact” which many consider “America’s First Constitution.” This document laid the foundation for the Freedom we cherish to this day.

Those who signed the document, called the Mayflower Compact, made a commitment to govern themselves. For the first time in history, they united “together into a civil body politic …to enact…such just and equal laws…unto which” they promised “all due…obedience .”

During the time period leading up to the American Revolution, a stately Elm tree on the Boston Commons served as a place to demonstrate dissatisfaction with British rule.

As we approach the celebration of the 401st anniversary of America, the Liberty Tree Society, Walpole, New Hampshire, is offering, at no cost, a Mayflower Compact Certificate to any all-male descendant of the Mayflower Compact signer. To get your Certificate, send the list of your ancestors and their birth year to libertytreesociety@gmail.com. LTS will send you a Certificate (photo available upon request), on parchment, suitable for framing in 8 1/2″ x 14″ frame available from local framery.

Those interested in history but, are not Mayflower descendants, may request a Mayflower Certificate without the lineage panel.

The Liberty Tree Society seeks to celebrate the Liberty Tree of Boston where Freedom was born there 150 years after landing in Plymouth, descendants of the Compact signers rallied around the Liberty Tree and organized the Revolution which set them free. More information about the society is available at their website www.libertytreesociety.org

Call (603)209-2434 if you have questions or would like more information.

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Women in education

Mary Low Carver (left), Amy Morris Bradley (center), Louise Helen Coburn (right)

by Mary Grow

Readers of recent articles in this series on the history of central Kennebec Valley towns will have noticed differences between education for men and education for women from the late 1700s into the 20th century.

The primary schools, for the most part, taught boys and girls similarly. After about eighth grade, boys were more likely to continue their education, and to have more varied opportunities.

These articles have named several women who aspired to open schools of their own, or actually did so, but there has been little or no follow-up information in written histories or on line. Most high-school founders, principals and teachers who left records of achievement were men.

One exception to this generalization was Daniel Cony’s Female Academy in Augusta (1816-1857). The academy had a woman as its first principal; its students included boys as well as girls (see The Town Line, Sept. 2, 2021).

The Augusta Classical School had several women as teachers in the 1830s (see The Town Line, Sept. 9, 2021). And, as mentioned last week, Naomi Bunker ran a seminary in Fairfield in the mid-nineteenth century.

In high schools reviewed in previous articles, boys out-numbered girls most of the time. Nineteenth-century high-school boys were being prepared for college or careers; high-school girls were getting “an elevated course of female education” (Vassalboro Academy, 1856).

Hallowell Classical Academy offered three separate courses in 1876. The first provided preparation for college. The second was “especially for young ladies” and promised more education than the public schools provided. The third was a shorter course for both boys and girls.

Despite fewer educational opportunities, some women from the central Kennebec Valley “made good” in different ways, with or without education. They included Martha Ballard (Hallowell), Amy Morris Bradley (Vassalboro) and Mary Caffrey (Low) Carver (Waterville).

The best-known to Maine readers, and therefore the one who will receive the least attention here, was Martha Ballard (1735-1812), who moved from Massachusetts to Hallowell in 1777 and has become famous since Laurel Thatcher Ulrich published A Midwife’s Tale: the Life of Martha Ballard based on her diary, 1785-1812 in 1990.

Ballard was a successful midwife, as well as a diarist whose writings described daily life in the Kennebec Valley between the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. In an article published on line by the University of Houston College of Engineering, John Lienhard wrote, “Martha was literate but not educated. Her spelling was – well – highly creative.”

In Bernhardt and Schad’s Anthology of Vassalboro Tales, Simone Antworth of East Vassalboro wrote that her late husband, Howard, was an indirect descendant of Martha and Ephraim Ballard. According to her research, Howard’s mother’s mother, Nellie Martha (Coombs) Earle (1887-1976), was the daughter of Archie Coombs and Elvira Goddard Ballard. Elvira Ballard was the great-great-granddaughter of Ephraim Ballard’s brother Jonathan and his wife Hannah (Kidder) Ballard.

Simone Antworth added that Nellie Earle “was a pillar in the Vassalboro community,” active in the Grange, the Methodist Church and other groups and “always ready to help anyone.”

Nellie’s younger brother, Roy Coombs (1889-1985) lived in China, where in 1933 he and George Wayland Jones started the Jones and Coombs Bean Cleaning Plant in China Village. Roy and his wife Mabel (Ward) Coombs (1888-1978) were parents of Hazel Ward Coombs (1913-2001), remembered as the assistant librarian at the Albert Church Brown Memorial Library in the village.

An earlier Vassalboro resident, Amy Morris Bradley (1823-1904), earned a national reputation for her service during and after the Civil War. She was a teacher, a nurse and an advocate for soldiers and children.

Born in East Vasssalboro, youngest of eight children, Bradley lost her mother when she was six and was raised by her father and siblings. Esther Bernhardt wrote in the Vasssalboro anthology that Bradley started teaching when she was 15 (Wikipedia says two years later) and saved her money to enter Vassalboro Academy.

The Academy qualified her for a teaching principalship in Gardiner in 1844. By 1846, Wikipedia says, she was teaching in Massachusetts.

Pneumonia compelled her to move south in 1849. When neither South Carolina nor a return to Maine restored her health, in 1853 she went to San Jose, capital of Costa Rica, where she taught herself Spanish and, Wikipedia says, “established the first English school in Central America.”

After a brief stay in East Vassalboro in 1857 and 1858, Bradley took a job in Massachusetts translating letters for the New England Glass Company. From there, in August 1861, she volunteered as an army nurse, beginning her service Sept. 1 in the Third Maine Regiment’s hospital near Alexandria, Virginia.

Bradley held important nursing positions throughout the war, including, Bernhardt said, as superintendent on the Ocean Queen, the ship that brought wounded soldiers from battlefields to Washington, D. C., hospitals. In Washington, she helped “establish a home for discharged soldiers” and helped many of them collect their back pay.

An on-line women’s history points out the low regard for female nurses in the 1860s, referring to drunken surgeons and contemptuous generals. The author credits Bradley, as a Special Relief Agent for the United States Sanitary Commission, with transforming dirty, unsanitary, poorly supplied army medical facilities into “clean, efficiently-run hospitals.”

In 1866, the Boston-based Unitarian philanthropy called the Soldiers’ Memorial Society asked Bradley to carry out its mission of establishing free schools for poor white children in Wilmington, North Carolina. Her first school opened in January 1867, in a building that had housed a similar school before the war, with three students. By 1869 she was in charge of three separate schools with 435 students.

Alma Pierce Robbins wrote in her Vassalboro history that Bradley’s niece, Amy Morris Bradley Homans (1848-1943) was a teacher in North Carolina and an early promoter of physical education for women. Her work led to the 1909 creation of Wellesley College’s Department of Hygiene and Physical Education, Robbins said.

Waterville native Mary Caffrey Low Carver (1850-1926) was still Mary Low when she entered Colby College in 1871. In July 1875 she became the first woman to graduate from Colby, and one of the first women in New England to earn a bachelor’s degree.

Low was class valedictorian. One on-line source says she gave the valedictory address at graduation. Wikipedia says she did not, because that role was traditionally for a man; but she did offer the prayer, in Latin.

Soon after graduation, Low married fellow Colby graduate Leonard D. Carver, who became Maine State Librarian. After teaching for a few years, his wife also became a librarian and worked as a cataloger for the state library. Wikipedia says she started the library’s card catalog.

Leonard Carver was co-founder, with Bowdoin College Librarian George Little, of the Maine Library Association, organized in March 1891.

Low continued to support Sigma Kappa and women’s education at Colby for the rest of her life. She spent her last years in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with her daughter, Ruby (Carver) Emerson.

Colby gave Low an honorary doctorate in 1916 and named a building after her. Mary Low Hall is a residence hall on the Mayflower Hill campus; a Colby website says it houses the Mary Low Coffee House, “a venue for concerts, international coffee hours, and informal gatherings.”

In 1873, four more women joined Mary Low at Colby: Louise Helen Coburn, Ida Mabel (Fuller) Pierce, Elizabeth Gorham Hoag and Frances Elliott Mann Hall. The five founded Sigma Kappa sorority, authorized on Nov. 9, 1874. Ruby Emerson was a member of the Sigma Kappa chapter at Colby and in 1935-36 president of the national Sigma Kappa sorority.

The second woman to graduate from Colby was Louise Helen Coburn (1856-1949) of Skowhegan, daughter of Stephen Coburn, Colby ’39. She graduated in 1877 and for the rest of her life helped promote women’s education at the college; she and Mary Low Carver led the unsuccessful protest against the 1890 division into men’s and women’s colleges.

A botanist, Coburn edited Maine Naturalist and was president of the Josselyn Botanical Society. She published a book of her poetry titled Kennebec and Other Poems (1916) and a two-volume history, Skowhegan on the Kennebec (1941). The Skowhegan History House Museum and Research Center is her legacy to her home town.

(Maine Naturalist was published in the 1920s in Thomaston. Its subtitle was Journal of the Knox Academy of Arts and Sciences on the Fauna, Flora and Geology of Maine.)

Frances Mann (1853-1935) was from Yarmouth and had taught high school in Rockport, Massachusetts, before coming to Colby. She met her husband, George Washington Hall, in college; she left Colby after her junior year because of health problems, and she and her husband both had careers as teachers, at least part of their lives in Washington, D.C.

When Albion native Ida May “Mabel” Fuller (1854-1930) decided to enter Colby, still primarily a men’s college, her older brother, David Blin Fuller (1853-1915) was reportedly so angry that he refused to follow the Colby family tradition and went to Bowdoin instead. His sister left college in her junior year and moved to Kansas, where she married a Dr. Pierce and after his death, Wikipedia reports, “became a successful businesswoman, founded a hotel for girls in Kansas City, and was vice-president of a bank.”

Elizabeth Hoag (1857-1875), who designed the Sigma Kappa emblem, died of tuberculosis in her graduation year, at the age of 18. Like her four friends, she was from Maine; this writer has been unable to find which town in Maine.

Adeline Weymouth (1817-1896), of Clinton, has a weaker, and more unusual, claim to notice than the women previously described.

Readers familiar with Henry Kingsbury’s History of Kennebec County, to which this writer often refers, know that the chapter on each town or city ends with a list of “personal paragraphs.” For the 10 Kennebec County municipalities on which this series has focused (Fairfield is in Somerset County, Palermo is in Waldo County), Kingsbury listed almost 600 names.

Some were nationally known people like James G. Blaine, of Augusta, who got eight pages. Others were local farmers or merchants whose single paragraphs totaled about eight lines. Kingsbury did not say how they were chosen; this writer wonders if subscribing to buy a copy of the book was a factor.

Of the almost 600 names from 10 towns and cities, only one was a woman, Mrs. Adeline (Goodwin) Weymouth. Kingsbury gave her a long paragraph, about a third of a page, mostly about her husband and children.

Adeline Goodwin was the only daughter of Jediah (according to his gravestone) or Jedediah (according to Kingsbury) Goodwin (1786-1870), born in Berwick, and Mercy (Wing) Goodwin (1783-1873), born in Massachusetts. Adeline married Sargent (or Sergeant) Weymouth (1812-1890), probably in 1833 or 1834.

Kingsbury wrote that the Weymouths had seven sons and three daughters, although he refers to them as “His [Sergeant’s] children.” Four of the six oldest boys, Jacob, John, Alonzo and Warren, born between 1835 and 1846, joined the army in 1861 and after their three years were up re-enlisted for another three years.

Jacob “died in the army July 7, 1864,” and Alonzo died Nov. 1, 1868, at the age of 26 or 27 (Kingsbury gave no cause for his death).

The youngest of the three Weymouth daughters, Addie Justina (Kingsbury called her Justana), was born Sept. 22, 1857. When Kingsbury finished his book in 1892, Sergeant Weymouth had been dead for two years and Adeline and Addie were living “on the old homestead, where they settled in 1863,…carrying on the farm.”

An on-line genealogy says Adeline Weymouth died Aug. 16, 1896, and is buried in Clinton’s Town House Hill Cemetery (also her parents’ and her husband’s burial place). On Oct. 11, 1896, Addie married Abner P. True in Clinton.

Abner was born in 1849 and died in 1916; Addie died in 1940. They, too, are buried in Town House Hill Cemetery. The genealogy lists no children.

Main sources

Bernhardt, Esther, and Vicki Schad, compilers/editors Anthology of Vassalboro Tales (2017).
Fairfield Historical Society, Fairfield, Maine 1788-1988 (1988).
Kingsbury, Henry D., ed., Illustrated History of Kennebec County Maine 1625-1892 (1892).
Robbins, Alma Pierce, History of Vassalborough Maine 1771 – 1971 n.d. (1971).
Whittemore, Rev. Edwin Carey, Centennial History of Waterville 1802-1902 (1902).

Websites, miscellaneous.

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Windsor & Winslow schools

The second Fort School in Winslow was constructed on the east side of Lithgow Street during the summer of 1909 to replace the one-room original Fort School across from the church. The school had two very large rooms. In this image, the school is facing Lithgow Street. The school, the school lot, and land for a playground cost $4,500.00. It was part of the Winslow Public School system through 1937-38. In 1963, Waterville Window Company purchased the school and renovated it to serve their purposes.

by Mary Grow

Windsor residents are fortunate to have a well-researched town history by Linwood H. Lowden, published in 1993, that includes an equally well-researched chapter on schools by C. Arlene Barton Gilbert.

From this book, we learn that Windsor, like many other nearby towns, began funding primary schools early in the 1800s.

Windsor’s first teacher, and first resident preacher, was Rev. Job Chadwick, who had previously taught in China. In 1804, Lowden wrote, the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel sought a teacher for two small settlements, Hunts Meadow (later included in Whitefield) and Pinhook (in the southern part of what became Windsor).

The Wiscasset minister who recommended Chadwick explained that he had experience and a good reputation, and added, “Through a variety of misfortunes he has lately been stripped of all his worldly property, & I imagine would keep school at as easy a rate as any.”

Chadwick, once he met the residents of the two settlements, commented on the difference between the two jobs. Windsor residents, he wrote, “appear fond of the gift of a school if they might have it separate from the Gospel which they discover an uncommon aversion to…& treat it with entire neglect & a degree of contempt.”

Gilbert wrote that Chadwick’s first term of school was two month long, with an average attendance of 15 to 20 youngsters.

The earliest record of a Windsor town meeting that Lowden found was on April 3, 1809, at Chadwick’s house. Voters approved a $50 appropriation for education – and $700 “to be wrought upon the road or highways.” The latter was supplemented by approval of paying $1 a day for a man’s work on the roads and 66 cents a day for oxen.

A year later, voters approved five school districts and appropriated $150. Gilbert copied from the town records: “this money for schooling be paid in lumber and produce.”

Another year later, in April 1811, Gilbert wrote that the appropriation went up to $200, and voters started rearranging the districts. Later in the century, Windsor had at least 16 school districts, and possibly 18. When Henry Kingsbury finished his Kennebec County history in 1892, there were 12.

The first free high school of which Gilbert found a record started in 1867. According to Kingsbury, town officials bought “seats and desks” for the second floor of the town house to open the school, with Horace Colburn the teacher.

(Kingsbury said that Colburn [1812-1885], left three sons. Two of them taught school, starting in their teens; and each of those two served as Windsor’s supervisor of schools, Joseph from 1871 to 1886 and Frank in 1888 and 1889.)

Gilbert wrote that after offering two high-school terms for each of five years, in March 1873 town meeting voters appropriated $200 to continue it, but rescinded the vote in April.

Nonetheless, she quoted from the 1877 school report that the prior year’s free high school terms, eight weeks in the spring and 10 weeks in the fall, were “very profitable to the district [District 1] and vicinity, giving the scholars who attended an opportunity for improvement that they could not otherwise have had.” The state subsidy amounted to $85.50, the report added.

The 1878 school supervisor’s report was equally enthusiastic. By then the free high school had 34 students, he wrote, “most of them being well advanced and quite a good number having had experience as teachers.”

Windsor’s free high school operated until 1902, Gilbert wrote. It was usually, but not always, in District 1. In 1902, there was a spring term, but the town was also paying tuition for students attending an out-of-town four-year high school (she did not say where the school was).

Winslow’s schools, at all levels, were of little interest to Kingsbury. He devoted one paragraph to the topic, talking about the situation in 1892. Fortunately, local historian Jack Nivison has approached the subject with more enthusiasm.

Nivison emailed that through his research, “particularly of very old Town Reports,” he found Winslow’s earliest schoolhouse for students up to eighth grade was the Fort School, built in 1819 on the west (river) side of Lithgow Street. Lithgow Street roughly parallels the Augusta Road (also Routes 100 and 201) along the Kennebec River, for a short distance south of the Sebasticook-Kennebec junction.

The 1819 school was named the Village School (and the area is designated on an 1879 map as Winslow Village). Nivison wrote the schoolhouse was diagonally across from and a little south of the Congregational Church, which was on the east side of Lithgow Street.

George Jones Varney’s 1881 Gazetteer of the State of Maine said Winslow had 15 schoolhouses by then. He valued them at $3,500.

In 1892, Kingsbury wrote, there were 16 school districts, but still only 15 schoolhouses, and only 11 districts held classes.

There were two free high schools in 1892, Kingsbury wrote. One was “at the village of Winslow”; the other was “in the eastern part of the town, near the Baptist church.” The Baptist Church had been built in 1850, he said, but he gave no more specific location.

In 1892, Kingsbury wrote, the town paid $250 to support the free high schools, which enrolled 80 students. There might have been additional state funding for the high schools; he said that the $250 was in addition to $1,400 “public money” and $1,500 from local taxes for 604 pre-high-school students.

Nivison says there were “attempts to formalize some post 8th grade courses in a couple of the existing schools,” perhaps the “high schools” Kingsbury mentioned.

Winslow’s Sand Hill School

The first Winslow High School, Nivison says, was in a disused Methodist Chapel on Birch (now Monument) Street, which runs between Clinton Avenue and Halifax Street (Route 100), along the top of the hill east of the Kennebec, parallel to Bay Street.

In 1899, he said, the Town of Winslow signed a lease with the Waterville Methodist Church “to renovate their unused Chapel” into a high school. He has a copy of the lease; as further evidence, he points out that Winslow High School graduation programs and the wall display in the present high school building date the school to 1899.

Nivison says the first freshman class had 18 students. By graduation in 2003, at the Congregational Church, the class was down to three students.

The original Fort School closed in 1909 or 1910, Nivison said, because more space was needed and because spring floods on the Kennebec had become a problem. A second Fort School, “built across the street on a higher level,” served as an elementary school well into the 1930s.

In 1904, Nivison continued, town officials had a three-story wooden school built on Halifax Street. The lower grades were on the first floor and the upper grades on the second and third floors.

“During the winter break in 1915 this school burned flat to the ground,” he wrote. It was replaced by a brick building that opened for classes in February 1916, again with lower grades on the first floor and upper grades upstairs.

The “new” Winslow High School, was built in 1928. It has since been replaced with a new building.

Winslow’s student population continued to grow, and in the spring of 1928, Nivison wrote, a new Winslow High School opened on Danielson Street. This school was about half a mile north of the previous ones; Danielson Street runs east off Benton Avenue, roughly parallel to Clinton Avenue.

Initially for grades seven through 12, the new high school quickly changed to grades eight through 12, Nivison wrote. The Halifax Street School became one of Winslow’s two brick elementary-school buildings (the other was the Boston Avenue School, built in 1921).

The Danielson Street site now hosts a complex that includes the current Winslow high and junior high schools and sports fields. Winslow Elementary School is adjacent, on the east side of Benton Avenue a short distance north of the other two schools.

Nivison says the Boston Avenue and Halifax Street schools were both demolished in the early 1990s. The Halifax Street School was considered as a new public library after the 1987 flood destroyed the Lithgow Street library building, but voters defeated the proposal.

Instead, town officials acquired the former roller-skating rink, also on Halifax Street, and converted it into the present library.

Rev. Job Chadwick

According to the McClintock and Strong Biblical Cyclopedia, found on line, Rev. Job Chadwick was born about 1770, in Maine. An on-line Chadwick genealogy gives his birthdate as Dec. 4, 1756, “the fourth child of James and Ruth (Hatch) Chadwick.” The latter date matches his marriage date, also in the genealogy.

That source says James and Ruth brought their family to what would become China in the spring of 1782, establishing a farm at Chadwick’s Corner (near present-day Erskine Academy).

In 1796, according to the Biblical Cyclopedia, Chadwick “was ordained an evangelist” in Vassalboro, and a year later began eight years as pastor of China’s Second Baptist Church (once called the First Harlem Baptist Church), in South China Village at the south end of China Lake.

Another website, quoting Joshua Millet’s 1845 “History of the Baptists in Maine”, says this newly organized church was an offshoot of the Vassalboro Baptists. Starting with 19 initial members, who worshipped in a “neat and commodious brick edifice,” it grew slowly over the years, with Chadwick occasionally filling in as its preacher after he left in 1804.

Yet another on-line source records one of Chadwick’s actions: on Feb. 24, 1799, he “Joined in Marriage” Joseph Eveans or Evens (the Harlem clerk’s records have one spelling for the marriage intentions in January and the second for the actual marriage in February; your writer suspects the correct spelling is Evans) of Harlem and Jean Johnson of Ballston. (Ballston Plantation became the towns of Jefferson and Whitefield.)

The Biblical Cyclopedia says that after about 11 years as a missionary “under the direction of the Massachusetts Home Mission Society, in the destitute regions of Maine and on Cape Cod,” Chadwick took a pastorate in Gouldsborough, where he served from 1816 to 1831.

The genealogy says Chadwick married another emigree from Falmouth, Mercy Weeks (born Dec. 5, 1757), in Harlem (later China) on Sept. 13, 1784. They had a daughter and three sons. Mercy died in March 1826.

Chadwick died on Dec. 25, 1831, in Windsor, according to the Biblical Cyclopedia, or in January 1832, with no town specified, according to the genealogy. The latter claims he lived in China, saying nothing of missionary work or Gouldsboro. However, it also says he was the first and only teacher in town and was for years “the only spiritual guide the people of the town had of their own number,” making it clear all sources are describing the same man.

Main sources

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)
Nivison, Jack, personal communications.

Websites, miscellaneous.

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Waterville Liberal Institute

Waterville College, 1909. College Ave.

by Mary Grow

In Waterville, in addition to the private and public schools already described, there was Waterville Liberal Institute.

An on-line list of Universalists’ “higher institutions of learning” says Waterville Liberal Institute opened in 1835. It was the second such school in Maine; Westbrook Seminary opened in 1831 and ran until 1925, when the website says it became a non-sectarian school. These are the only two Maine Universalist high schools on the list.

Another on-line site has the Institute’s Feb. 28, 1835, legislative charter (and its 1851 catalog). Legislators said they were approving “an Institution for the purpose of instructing youth in the several branches usually taught in High Schools and Academies.” The charter listed the initial 10 trustees and said the board should in the future have at least seven and not more than 15 members.

Waterville Liberal Institute Trustees: Rev. Calvin Gardner, Waterville; Hon. Alpheus Lyon, Sec., Waterville; Silas Redington, Treas., Waterville; Jediah Morrill, Waterville; Erastus O. Wheeler, Waterville; Hon. Isaac Redington, Waterville; John R. Philbrick, Waterville; Thomas G. Kimball, Waterville; P. L. Chandler, Waterville; Joseph Percival, Waterville; Rev. William A. Drew, Augusta; Hon. Joseph Eaton, Winslow; Josiah Prescott, M.D., Waterford; Hon. G. M. Burleigh, M.D., Dexter; Hon. Wyman B. S. Moor, Bangor.

Ernest Marriner, in his history of Colby College, said that the Liberal Institute attracted so many students that there were too few left for Waterville Academy, established in 1829 as Colby’s preparatory high school and later Coburn Classical Institute (see The Town Line, July 29), so that the Academy closed from mid-1839 to the fall of 1841.

The 1851 Liberal Institute catalog lists the maximum 15 trustees. Ten were from Waterville, with one each from Augusta, Bangor, Dexter, Waterford and Winslow.

The Principal in 1851 was Rev. James P. Weston, A.M. Seven other faculty members were listed, although two apparently were job-sharing; Miss C. L. Fullam is listed as preceptress and Mrs. H. C. Henry as preceptress for the fall term.

That year there were of 174 students, 91 boys and 83 girls. The majority came from Waterville. Nearby towns that were represented included Albion, Canaan, Clinton, Fairfield, Gardiner, Readfield, Sidney, Skowhegan, Smithfield, Winslow.

Other students came from more distant Maine towns, including Bangor, Bingham, Calais, Cape Elizabeth, Dexter, Hiram, Plymouth and Waldoboro. One girl was from Holliston, Massachusetts. A boy and four girls, three of the girls named Hill and presumably sisters or otherwise related, came from St. Stephen, New Brunswick; another boy’s home was listed merely as Canada.

Not all the students attended all year. The spring term had the smallest enrollment, with 51 students. Only in the winter term did the woman outnumber the men, 41 to 38; in the popular fall term, the 112 students were evenly divided, 56 men and 56 women.

The catalog says the Institute was “situated in a convenient and retired part of the healthy and delightful village of Waterville.”

In 1851, the Institute’s leaders listed four goals: to give both men and women “a good English education”; “to prepare young men for College”; “to communicate a critical knowledge of the modern languages”; and “especially to qualify teachers for their calling.” The teachers’ classes were described as getting the Principal’s personal attention.

Facilities had been improved since the Institute opened 15 years earlier, including by making the “Female Department” permanent and providing “superior accommodations” for women.

Students could board with “good families” at prices that ranged from $1 to $1.75 a week for men and were a flat $1.00 a week for woman. Board included “room, washing, lodging, and lights.” (The difference between “room” and “lodgings” was not explained; the catalog explained that fewer “accommodations” lowered the price and advised that “clubbing” could make board very inexpensive.)

The school offered “Prep­aratory Studies,” a mélange of subjects featuring English language plus introductory mathematics, history and geography. This introduction was followed by three years – Junior, Middle and Senior – with four terms each year, during which the preparatory courses were extended and science and philosophy added.

The English department was considered central, and students were expected to take three years of English. Most courses were open to all. A few were considered not suitable for women and others were substituted; and apparently women seeking “a good Academic education” were expected to take courses in order, while men could drop in and out as their qualifications or schedules allowed.

The department of languages offered Greek, Latin, French, German, Italian and Spanish.

Foreign language tuition was most expensive, at $5 a term. “High English” was $4 and “Common Studies” $3. Two extras were offered, music for $6 a term and drawing for only $1 a term.

Each day began with reading from the Scriptures, with all students expected to attend. The catalog said all students were also expected to go to the church of their family’s choice on Sundays.

Here is the paragraph on “Government” from the 1851 catalog:

“The Government of the school, though strict, is designed to be kind; and obedience is secured, if possible, by awakening the scholar to a sense of his moral obligations and by appeals to his better feelings. Those who cannot be induced by such means to correct their perverse habits and to submit to wholesome discipline, will be removed from the Institution as unworthy of its privileges and hurtful in their influence upon others.”

The previously-referenced list of Universalist high schools says the Institute closed in 1857.

In or about that same year, 1857, according to the Fairfield bicentennial history, a former public-school teacher named Naomi Bunker opened Bunker’s Seminary.

Bunker’s Seminary was a boarding school “in the old brick house on the corner of Newhall Street and Lawrence Avenue.” The main building had two wings, a gymnasium and the boarding house.

The history does not say whether the seminary was coed. It calls it a college preparatory school that offered music and painting in addition to academics, and that enrolled out-of-town students as well as local ones. No date is given for the closing of the seminary.

James Partelow Weston

In the fall of 1939, a 24-year-old Universalist paster from New Hampshire, Rev. Giles Bailey, visited central Maine and became friends with James Partelow Weston, a Bowdoin College senior taking time off to teach “at a private school in South Montville” to earn money to return to college. Bailey was impressed enough with Weston to follow his career, and to write an essay on his accomplishments for the January 1869 issue of the Ladies’ Repository.

Bailey said Weston was born in the section of Bristol that later became Bremen, on July 14, 1815. On-line genealogies add that he was one of 11 children of Eliphas or Eliphaz and Elizabeth Betsey (Longfellow) Weston.

(For readers who collect unusual names, the genealogies say his siblings included Arannah Weston, Arunah Weston and Greene Longfellow Weston.)

A farmer’s son, Weston grew up with little formal schooling, but in a community that valued education and supported a library. Bailey called him a devout Universalist who preferred teaching to the ministry, and said he started teaching when he was 16.

In 1832, Bailey continued, Weston entered Lincoln Academy, in Newcastle. In 1834 he switched to Maine Wesleyan Seminary (a Methodist school), in Kents Hill, to finish his college preparation. After two years at Waterville College, starting in August 1836, he transferred to Bowdoin, earning degrees in August 1840 and in 1843.

Bailey wrote that after Weston taught a fall term in 1840 in Readfield, he “took charge of” the Waterville Liberal Institute until April 1843, preaching his first sermons there. He also preached in West Waterville (later Oakland), Sidney and other nearby towns. He was ordained at the June 1842 session of the Maine Universalists’ Convention, in Augusta.

Meanwhile, one genealogy says, on June 9, 1841, at an unknown (to the genealogist) location, he married Eliza Elden Woodman (1816-1892). Bailey gave the wedding date as Jan. 9, 1841, and wrote that Eliza was one of Weston’s students in Readfield.

On April 15, 1843, Weston became Augusta’s Universalist pastor, Bailey wrote. He served there until May 1850, when he returned to Waterville Liberal Institute until the winter of 1853.

He next became head of Westbrook Seminary, which Bailey said he restored from near collapse. His work there “attracted the attention of the Trustees” of Lombard University, in Galesburg, Illinois, which also needed rescuing. He started work there Oct. 17, 1859, and was “formally inducted” as president on Jan. 11, 1860.

(Lombard University began life in 1851 as Illinois Liberal Institute. It became Lombard University in 1857 and operated until 1900. A series of 20th-century changes and mergers created what is now the Meadville Lombard Theological School, in Chicago, described as a “Unitarian Universalist Seminary.”)

Weston was still alive when Bailey finished his article, although he had almost died of smallpox in the winter of 1866. Bailey had high praise for his work to improve Lombard, and called him the “respected and honored President” of the school.

The genealogies say the Westons had two daughters, Caroline Eliza Weston, born in 1844, and Mary Emeline Weston Woodman, born in1849. Bailey wrote in 1869 that Mary Emeline was the only surviving child; he believed she had graduated from Lombard University.

Weston died Dec. 31, 1888, probably in Portland, Maine. His burial site is listed as Pine Grove Cemetery, in Portland.

Main sources

Fairfield Historical Society, Fairfield, Maine 1788-1988 (1988).
Marriner, Ernest Cummings, The History of Colby College (1963).

Website, miscellaneous.

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: More high schools (Vassalboro)

Original Oak Grove School

by Mary Grow


In Vassalboro, which until 1792 included Sidney on the west side of the Kennebec River, voters first discussed schools in 1771, the year the town was incorporated. According to Alma Pierce Robbins’ Vassalboro history, voters at a September town meeting approved “Thirty Pounds Lawful money” to support a minister – and refused to appropriate anything to support a schoolmaster.

School districts existed by 1785, in varying numbers and with varying boundaries. After 1806 there was a separate district for members of the Society of Friends (Quakers), at least part of the time.

Oak Grove School, founded by Vassalboro Quakers in 1848 (see The Town Line, July 22), was the third high school established in Vassalboro in the 1800s. The first two were at Getchell’s Corner, a far more important village in the 19th century than it is now.

The earlier, according to Raymond Manson’s research, was Vassalborough Academy.

In his paper on the school, now in the Vassalboro Historical Society’s library, Manson lists the 18 men who, at the beginning of 1835, decided to open a high school. On Feb. 28, 1835, the Maine legislature approved incorporation of The Vassalborough Academy.

Academy trustees commissioned one of their group, Moses Rollins, to build a home for the Academy. Manson wrote that Rollins put the building on the west side of the road through Getchell’s Corner, almost across the street from what was in 1967 Adams Memorial Chapel.

(Rollins, born in 1786, died June 2, 1863, and is buried in Vassalboro’s Union Cemetery. An on-line history says he was a sergeant in one of the Vassalboro companies raised for the War of 1812; this writer found no information on his occupation.)

Nathan Longfellow was the Academy’s first “preceptor,” or teaching principal, serving until the spring of 1837, Manson wrote.

Robbins found an 1837 advertisement in The Kennebec Journal for the Academy’s spring term. Levi Higgins Jr. had succeeded Longfellow; he stayed only one term, Manson said.

The advertisement said quarterly tuition was from $3 to $4.50 (depending on the subjects chosen, as at other high schools). Board was $1.50 to $1.75 a week. Manson wrote that students boarded with neighborhood families in the Academy’s early days, and later arrangements were made to let them room in groups.

In September 1837, Benjamin F. Shaw, who held a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth, became principal. The trustees were pleased. Shaw left in the spring of 1839, but returned sometime in 1840.

Robbins’ first mention of the second high school is for the year 1837. She quotes a long advertisement from The Kennebec Journal for the School for Young Ladies that “Miss A. Howard” planned to open about April 10.

Miss Howard intended to teach “Reading, Writing, Grammar, and Composition”; “the Rudiments of French and Latin Languages”; “Arithmetic, Geography, with the use of Globes, Intellectual Philosophy and such branches of Natural Science as are usually taught in High Schools”; and “useful and ornamental needlework, Painting and Drawing.”

The School for Young Ladies was across the street from the Academy, and, according to Manson, was so successful that after three years of running the Academy for boys only, the trustees decided they should admit girls. For the spring 1838 term, they added to the one-man faculty an “instructress,” whom they described as “eminently qualified.”

This writer has been unable to find any record of Miss Howard or her school later than 1838.

Vasssalborough Academy apparently adapted to co-ed education promptly. In August 1839 the new principal, Ashiel Moore, added “Chinese Painting and Linear Drawing” (for an extra fee), and in the spring of 1840 he introduced “Wax and Needlework,” specifically for the female students.

Manson found lists of Vassalboro Academy principals, course changes and occasionally tuition fees through the 1840s. There was a new principal about every 12 months, including three Bowdoin men in a row (it is unclear whether they were graduates or still students).

The new principal in the fall of 1848 was Josiah Hayden Drummond, Waterville College Class of 1846 (the first of several Waterville College men to head the school in the 1840s and 1850s). Manson wrote that when Drummond was 14 years old, he had been Vassalborough Academy’s assistant math teacher under Principal Shaw.

Science courses were added, physiology in the spring of 1841, chemistry “and other sciences” in 1842. Manson’s first mention of a music course (type unspecified) was in the fall of 1841.

French and German were the foreign languages taught in 1846. In that year’s fall term, Italian replaced French. In 1856, Latin, Greek, French and German were offered.

By the 1850s and 1860s Vassalborough Academy was publishing catalogs, giving Manson additional information.

For example, in 1856 Principal Reuben Foster had four assistants, one a woman. They taught 78 students in the spring term and 88 in the fall term.

The majority of students lived in Vassalboro. Others were from nearby towns – Augusta, China, Windsor and Winslow. The enrollment also included three students from Hanover (west of Rumford) and one each from Buxton (west of Portland), Olney (neither the web nor Chadbourne’s Maine Place Names lists a Maine town named Olney), Palmyra (north of Pittsfield), South Leeds (southwest of Winthrop) and Topsham (north of Brunswick).

The Academy’s purpose was always to prepare male students for college or for teaching. The 1856 catalog repeated these goals and added preparation for business. For girls, the catalog offered “an elevated course of female education.”

By 1861, Manson said, Oak Grove Seminary was providing serious competition for Vassalborough Academy. The 1860s were probably when, according to Kingsbury, the Academy building was used for “religious as well as secular instruction.”

William Penn Whitehouse, Colby 1863, became Academy principal in the fall of 1863 – perhaps the last principal, Manson wrote. (Whitehouse later became a Justice of the Maine Supreme Court [see The Town Line, Dec. 10, 2020].)

The Methodist Society bought the Academy building in 1868. Manson added an item from the April 29, 1870, Waterville Mail saying the work to convert the building to a Methodist church should be finished by July 1870.

The Getchell’s Corner Methodists merged with the North Vassalboro church in 1890, Manson continued. After the merger, he wrote, the building “became a general store and was destroyed by fire about 1917. All that remains of the old academy are the foundation walls.”

There might have been a successor to Vassalborough Academy. Robbins mentioned in 1869, in quotation marks, ” ‘the upper school’ at North Vassalboro,” where Lewis Mowers was the teacher. She provided no further information.

After the Maine legislature required town high schools in 1873, Robbins wrote, Vassalboro opened two, in East Vassalboro and at Riverside.

According to Vassalboro Historical Society President Janice Clowes and information in the Historical Society library, the East Vassalboro High School was on the west side of Main Street, approximately opposite the present Grange Hall. Kingsbury said voters appropriated $500 for the building in 1873, but by 1892 “the continued success of Oak Grove Seminary has superseded the necessity for the high school.”

Undated postcards the Society owns show a two-story wooden building with an attic. Two doors with a window between them face east, toward the street; the second floor has a single front window above the ground-floor one, and above that is a semi-circular attic window.

Accompanying information calls the school a primary or grammar school. It was discontinued in the latter half of the 1920s, and students moved to the “new” East Vassalboro School. That building now houses the Historical Society museum.

Neighbor Harold Taylor bought the old schoolhouse in the 1930s, and his daughter, Betty Taylor, had the building torn down in 1981, according to Historical Society records.

The 1873 Riverside School, Clowes says, is the building on the north side of Webber Pond Road, a short distance east of Riverside Drive (Route 201). She commented that it has been “very changed.”

In 1873, too, North Vassalboro residents spent more than $6,000 for a new school building there. Kingsbury called it the “best school building in the town,” with “three departments, and a large public hall on the second floor.”

Neither Kingsbury nor Robbins said what grades it housed. After serving as a school and then as the town office building, it is now the office of Mid-Maine Internal Medicine.

Robbins cited an 1889 state law that required each public school teacher to “devote ten minutes of each day to the principle of kindness to birds and animals.”

After the 1903 state law telling the town to pay $30 tuition to “any high school of standard grade,” Robbins wrote that from Vassalboro, 33 students went to Oak Grove Seminary, 10 chose Coburn Classical Institute, in Waterville, four attended Erskine Academy, in China, and one each went to high schools in Hallowell and Yarmouth.

Vassalboro historians Alma Pierce Robbins and Raymond Russell Manson

Alma Pierce Robbins was born Oct. 4, 1898, in Vassalboro, youngest of five children of Ira James Robbins (1855-1929) and Lucy Alma (Smiley) Robbins (1862-1930). She died Nov. 29, 1997, aged 99 years and almost two months, according to an on-line genealogy.

The three girls in the family were travelers. Older sister Elsie Marion (1886-1960) died in California; second sister Edna Mildred (1888-1987, another long-lived family member) lived in Massachusetts and Illinois; and Alma Pierce worked in Massachusetts and died in Florida.

Their brother Wendell Ira (1891-1983) spent his life in Augusta. Brother Maurice Smiley (1893-1970) got as far away as Mechanic Falls, but died in Waterville and is buried in China’s Chadwick Hill Cemetery.

Robbins’ obituary, published in Nantucket County, Massachusetts, says that after elementary schooling in Vassalboro, she graduated from Brewster Academy, in Wolfboro, New Hampshire, in 1917 and attended colleges in New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

For more than 30 years she was a social worker in Boston. She lived on Nantucket and edited the Nantucket Historical Association newsletter.

The genealogy, but not the obituary, says that from January to December 1928 Robbins was married to Herman Schwartz. In 1930, the genealogy says, she was described as an osteopath in Brunswick, where she lived for about two years.

On-line military records show Robbins enlisting in the Women’s Army Corps on Aug. 14, 1944, from Boston. Army records describe her as unmarried and without dependents. She had had four years of college; her occupation was in the category “Social and welfare workers.” She was discharged Sept. 2, 1945.

The obituary says after retirement, “she lived in Vassalboro, Clearwater [Florida], and Arcata [California],” moving to Florida permanently in 1985. Her “numerous published writings” include the 1971 Vassalboro history.

With permission of her great-nephew Stephen Robbins, between 1990 and 2003 The Town Line published several of Robbins’ articles describing early 20th-century life on the family farm on Webber Pond Road.

Raymond Russell Manson, another Vassalboro historian, wrote a short autobiographical piece for the Maine State Library’s Special Collections compilation of correspondence from Maine writers. The library has made his 1967 information available on line.

Manson wrote that he was born Oct. 6, 1899 (almost exactly a year later than Robbins), in North Vassalboro, George Thomas and Mary Jewett Manson’s fifth child.

He went to Vassalboro elementary schools and graduated from Oak Grove Seminary, Class of 1918. He entered Colby College in the Class of 1922, apparently after army service in World War I. On June 1, 1919, while still in college, he became a post office employee in Waterville, rising to the rank of Assistant Postmaster before he retired on Dec. 31, 1960.

He married Vivian Crafts (born Nov. 19, 1904), from Watertown, Massachusetts, on Sept. 3, 1930. They lived on Burleigh Street in Waterville; both were Christian Scientists.

Manson was a member of the Vassalboro Masons and the Vassalboro Historical Society. He wrote numerous historical pieces about his native town, including the history of Oak Grove that he and Elsia Holway Burleigh wrote in 1965 (previously cited in this series; see The Town Line, July 22, issue).

Manson died Jan. 11, 1980. In 1989 his widow married Clarence Merryfield; the couple lived in Belfast until 1993, when they returned to Waterville. She died there Dec. 5, 2006.

Main sources

Kingsbury, Henry D., ed., Illustrated History of Kennebec County Maine 1625-1892 (1892).
Manson, Raymond M., Vassalboro Academy (June 15, 1967; manuscript, Vassalboro Historical Society).
Robbins, Alma Pierce, History of Vassalborough Maine 1771 1971 n.d. (1971).

Websites, miscellaneous.

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: More high schools, part 3

The Lawrence Library, in Fairfield.

by Mary Grow

Fairfield, Palermo, Sidney

In Fairfield, according to the Historical Society’s bicentennial history, town meeting first appropriated money for schools in 1793, five years after the town was incorporated. As in other towns, schools were based in neighborhood school districts. The history says in 1904 there were 25 schools within the town boundaries.

The first high school classes were in 1873, in “part of the already existing grammar-school building…at the corner of Main Street and Western Avenue.” Voters raised $500 for high-school education. This building was presumably the one that was North Grammar School by the middle of the 20th century, and now houses businesses.

In 1881, an article asking voters to build a separate high-school building was on the warrant for the March town meeting. Voters passed over – did not act on – it.

The history says a building for Fairfield High School was built in 1890-91, on Burrill Street (which is at the south end of the business district, running west from Water Street across Main and High streets to West Street). It cost $5,000 and “served the Town until Lawrence High School opened in 1907.”

After 1907 it became South Grammar School, on the north side of Burrill Street between High and West streets. It is now an apartment building.

The 1907 Lawrence High School was a brick building on the west side of High Street, facing Memorial Park. It opened on Sept. 21, with the more than $60,000 construction cost paid by Edward Jones Lawrence.

Lawrence had made a fortune in lumber, street railways, shipbuilding and other ventures. Readers will see more about him in a future article, because Fairfield’s Lawrence Library is also named in his honor.

The Fairfield history says Lawrence’s fortune was drastically reduced in the global financial panic in 1906-1907. He kept his promise to build the high school by “mortgaging his home and borrowing against the schooners” – six-masted schooners built in Bath in which he had invested.

On Feb. 15, 1925, the high school building was “gutted by fire,” the bicentennial history says. It was rebuilt by the spring of 1926.

The Fairfield town report for the year ending Feb. 28, 1926, includes financial information on rebuilding. The town borrowed $50,000, with repayment beginning Jan. 1, 1927, and got more than $57,000 from insurance. The “contract price for construction” of $103,446 covered payments to the architect, contractor, electrician and plumber.

The report from the new Lawrence High School Principal, Edward S. Young, in the same town report said that the school “opened September 14 [1925] in its temporary quarters in the Opera House with an enrollment of 204.”

(The Fairfield Opera House was built in 1888, supported by Amos Gerald [1841-1913], “the Electric Railroad King,” another local boy who made good. It was “demolished in 1961 to make way for the present modest municipal building,” which is at 19 Lawrence Avenue. Lawrence Avenue runs from Main Street at the end of the Kennebec River bridge up hill past the library to High Street.)

Young continued: “Your principal has made a determined effort to make the scanty equipment in the Opera House adequate for a good school and he feels that real work is being done in spite of adverse conditions.”

An innovation was provision of a hot lunch twice a week, at cost, “through the cooperation of the domestic arts department,” for students who did not go home during the noon break.

The 1925 school routine included 10 a.m. daily chapel, with two hymns, the Lord’s Prayer and a Bible reading. Outside speakers were invited every Wednesday. To prepare students for public speaking, “Three times each week a student gives a declamation before the entire school. He is introduced by a fellow student.”

When yet another new Lawrence High School was completed in 1960, the 1907 building became a junior high school. It is now Fairfield Primary School, serving students in pre-kindergarten and kindergarten.

In Palermo, historian Milton Dowe found early settlers had many children – John Cain had 18; Amasa Soule 13; Jacob Worthing 12, five of them born before 1800. Primary schools were in existence before 1811; that year, seven school districts were created.

By 1886, Dowe wrote in his 1954 town history, Palermo had 17 schoolhouses. “At this time several of the elementary schools also held terms for free high school classes,” he added.

Millard Howard’s 2015 history said Palermo’s 17 school districts never operated simultaneously; and he said not all districts hired a teacher for every term. His book includes a paragraph on high schools, in which he wrote that Palermo offered none until after Maine’s 1873 Free High School Act.

By 1888, eight Palermo school districts offered high school courses, Howard wrote, the first established in 1882. He explained, “This meant that these districts were occasionally providing a ten-week high school term. There was no fixed course of study.”

Howard found an 1893 Kennebec Journal reference to a free high school at Carr’s Corner ending a term at the end of April. Carr’s Corner, on North Palermo Road, was the site of the schoolhouse for District 13, which was organized in the 1830s and lasted until Palermo school districts were consolidated in 1953.

Dowe also mentioned the Academy Hall on the China side of Branch Mills Village, described in last week’s account of China high schools as Barzillai Harrington’s high school.

Alice Hammond wrote that the Town of Sidney never provided a town high school. There were primary schools from 1792, when Sidney was separated from Vassalboro.

Hammond did not say what opportunities for higher education were offered in the 1800s. Nor does Henry Kingsbury’s Kennebec County history have any information; in a half paragraph about education in Sidney, Kingsbury wrote that by 1891, the number of school districts was cut from 18 to 14 because there were so few students.

From 1906 on, Hammond wrote, Sidney paid students’ tuition to out-of-town schools. The majority chose the public high school in Augusta, Belgrade or Oakland or Oak Grove Seminary, in Vassalboro.

The elusive Barzillai Harrington

Barzillai Harrington, who built an Academy in Branch Mills Village, in China, in the 1850s, was, according to on-line genealogies, born in Tinmouth, Vermont, June 13, 1819; or in Sherburn, Massachusetts, in 1816.

The genealogies and the Maine Historical Magazine, Vol. 1 (1886) identify him as a son-in-law of Shepard Bean (July 16, 1784-1847, the 12th of 14 children of Joshua and Mary Bean). Shepard Bean was born in Readfield, and his wife Jerusha (Hayward) (d. 1876), was from Easton, Massachusetts. Shepard and Jerusha Bean had five children, born in Readfield.

The three older Bean children all found spouses in Readfield. The younger of the two daughters, Lucy Ann, born May 20, 1828, married Barzillai Harrington on Oct. 12, 1843.

(Lucy’s younger brother, Alvin S. Bean, married Phebe Snow, of China, according to the magazine; or Phebe Worth Jones, of China, and after her death a widow named Lizzie [Erskine] Tyler, according to one genealogy.)

Barzillai and Lucy Harrington had eight children between 1844 and 1860. Their oldest son, Myron Clark Harrington, born Aug. 1, 1844, died Oct. 9, 1862, at Bellow’s Heights, Virginia (almost certainly a victim of the Civil War).

Their second son, born Nov. 30, 1845, was named Barzillai Shepard Harrington after his father and grandfather. The genealogies offer no further information.

The magazine article identifies the senior Barzillai Harrington as “from China” and adds: “He built the Lowell, Me., tannery.”

Milton Dowe offered one more clue to the family when he wrote in his Palermo Maine Things That I Remember, in 1996 that “The Branch Mills Sewing Circle was organized at the home of Mrs. B. Harrington in 1853” and went on to list the officers, including “Mrs. L. Harrington,” secretary.

Lowell is a small Penobscot County town, east of Passadumkeag, south of Lincoln. Ava H. Chadbourne’s book on Maine place names says it was Page’s Mills Plantation in 1819 or soon thereafter; then Deanfield Plantation; and Huntressville when incorporated as a town in 1837. It became Lowell in 1838, reportedly to honor Alpheus Hayden’s son Lowell Hayden, the first male child born in the town.

Chadbourne has no Harringtons on her list of early Lowell families. She wrote that Alexander Webb, a New Yorker who had managed tanneries in other Maine towns, “superintended” the building of a large one in Lowell after he moved to town in 1856.

Did, then, the senior Barzillai Harrington literally build the tannery, with Webb overseeing his work? If so, why and how did Harrington switch from running a high school in China to building a tannery in Lowell, a hundred miles away?

Lowell was not his farthest journey. One on-line genealogy says he died May 13, 1885, in Harvard, Nebraska; another says he died in 1881. Lucy survived him, and also died in Nebraska, according to one source.

News from Victor Grange

Here is another update on a prior topic, Victor Grange #49, in Fairfield Center, described in the May 13 issue of The Town Line.

The Grange’s Fall 2021 newsletter reports the successful completion of the effort to raise funds to insulate the building. The money is now in hand, and, the newsletter says, “Northeast Poly Insulation [of Fairfield] will start the job shortly.”

Grangers also obtained the advice they needed on ventilating a well-insulated building. The report says D. H. Pinnette Roofing, of Oakland, “will install six turbine vents, this should do the trick.”

The Grangers expect the insulation will much improve heating in the building and allow more programs. People are invited to suggest programs they would enjoy.

The newsletter lists Grange programs and events. They are open to anyone interested, whether a Grange member or not.

Vaccination clinics are scheduled from 8:30 to 11 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 6, and Thursday, Oct. 28. The Grange Hall will host Northern Light Health personnel administering the Pfizer vaccine against Covid and the quadrivalent flu vaccine, which offers protection against four different strains of the influenza virus.

The annual Grange Fall Fest and Craft Fair is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 13, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Bridge lessons are offered Mondays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The newsletter says the original turnout of two tables (eight players) has already doubled some days as more people hear of the chance to learn this card game.

Grange members are looking for help with two more projects, one needing money and the other expertise.

They would like to buy an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) to provide emergency help to a heart attack victim. The cost is listed as $1,300; donations are welcome. The newsletter requests checks made out to Victor Grange 49 AED Fund and left at the Hall, at 144 Oakland Road in Fairfield Center; or mailed to Victor Grange 49, c/o Roger Shorty, 118 Oakland Road, Fairfield ME 04937.

For the Nov. 13 Fall Fest, Grangers are looking for someone who can sharpen knives and scissors, for a fee. Anyone interested can get in touch through Roger Shorty or by emailing Victorgrange49@gmail.com.

Main sources

Dowe, Milton E. , History Town of Palermo Incorporated 1884 (1954).
Dowe, Milton E., Palermo, Maine Things That I Remember in 1996 (1997).
Hammond, Alice, History of Sidney Maine 1792-1992 (1992).
Howard, Millard, An Introduction to the Early History of Palermo, Maine (second edition, December 2015).
Fairfield Historical Society, Fairfield, Maine 1788-1988 (1988).
Kingsbury, Henry D., ed., Illustrated History of Kennebec County Maine 1625-1892 (1892).

Websites, miscellaneous.

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Even more high schools

by Mary Grow

Continuing the discussion of (mostly) 19th-century high school education, this article will talk about Albion, Benton, and Clinton. In following weeks, continuing alphabetically, readers will find information on Fairfield, Palermo, Sidney (don’t expect much), Vassalboro, Windsor and Winslow.

Albion voters first appropriated school money in 1804, and endorsed building schoolhouses the same year. Town historian Ruby Crosby Wiggin said children aged from three through 21 could attend town schools.

Albion began offering education beyond the primary level in the 1860s, according to Wiggin. She referred to “subscription high schools” started in 1860. One was in the “new” (1858) District 3 schoolhouse.

In April 1873, she wrote, interested residents organized a stock company to provide a public hall in an existing building. The leaders quickly sold 90 shares at $10 a share and appointed a three-man building committee.

“It is supposed the building was finished that year [1873] and used for the first free High School,” that started in 1874 or 1875, Wiggin wrote. Henry Kingsbury, in his 1892 Kennebec County history, dated Albion’s “first high school” to 1876.

Because of “lack of interest,” the free high school had closed by 1880. In January 1881 the stock company trustees began the process that led to Albion Grange owning the building (see The Town Line, April 8).

About 1890, Wiggin wrote, high school was reintroduced, this time alternating between the McDonald School (District 9) and the Albion Village School (District 8).

A fall 1891 10-week term in District 8 had 87 students and cost $214; a later 10 weeks at McDonald School with 33 students cost $80. The state paid half the bill, leaving the town to pay $147, Wiggin wrote.

Kingsbury’s information again differs from Wiggin’s. He wrote that the high school started again in 1884 “and has since received cordial support.” He located fall sessions in “No. 10 school house in the Shorey district,” rather than the McDonald School, and spring terms in District 8.

(Both writers could be accurate, if they were describing different years. Also, however, other town historians have disagreed with Kingsbury. Considering that his book ends on page 1,273, and that some of the page numbers double and triple – 480a and 480b come between 480 and 481, for instance – an occasional error seems unsurprising.)

Families again lost interest, Wiggin said, and by 1898 the McDonald School no longer hosted high school classes and the “average attendance at the village was only 18.”

The village school was apparently one built in 1858, after a long debate, on the village Main Street (Route 202) where the Besse Building now stands. It was revived as a high school after 1898, because later Wiggin wrote, “From this school came the first pupil to graduate from Albion High School with a diploma.” His name was Dwight Chalmers, his graduation year 1909.

Wiggin wrote that the old high school building was moved to a new site and in 1964 was a private home.

The large brick Besse Building, now home to the Albion town office, was a gift of Albion native and then Clinton resident Frank Leslie Besse. Designed by Miller and Mayo, of Portland, and built by Horace Purington, of Waterville, it was dedicated as Besse High School on Sept. 20, 1913.

Maine School Administrative District (MSAD) #49, now Regional School Unit (RSU) #49, is based in Fairfield and serves Albion, Benton and Clinton. It was organized in 1966. Besse High School closed in 1967 and Albion students began attending Fairfield’s Lawrence High School.

The Town of Benton, northwest of Albion, was part of Clinton until the Maine legislature approved a separation on March 16, 1842. First named Sebasticook, the town became Benton, honoring Missouri Senator Thomas Hart Benton (1782-1858), on June 19, 1850.

Like other area towns, Benton had multiple villages in the 19th century. Higher education appears to have been concentrated at Benton Falls (sometimes called The Falls).

Benton Falls is on the Sebasticook River just south of the existing bridge, where waterfalls powered manufacturing in the 1800s. The Falls area includes the current locations of the Benton town office, on Clinton Avenue on the west bank, and the Benton Falls Church, on Falls Road on the east bank.

A brief on-line Benton history mentions an “academy” at Benton Falls, along with a church, a library, 10 stores and six taverns, apparently in the first half of the 1800s. Kingsbury adds several mills and in 1824 the town’s only blacksmith shop.

Kingsbury wrote in 1892 that Benton had a high school in the District 5 school building at The Falls, apparently since 1860; and he wrote that Benton’s District 5 schoolhouse was “on the site of the old Clinton Academy.”

But, he wrote, in 1892 there was no local school appropriation, “the proximity of Waterville offering advantages in higher education with which it was useless for Benton to compete.”

(By 1892, Waterville had both a free high school [see the Sept. 9 issue of The Town Line] and Coburn Classical Institute [described in the July 29 issue].)

In Clinton, “the first school in town to teach the higher grades” was what a local group intended as a Female Academy, according to Major General Carleton Edward Fisher’s history of Clinton, or a female seminary, according to Kingsbury.

Fisher wrote that in September 1831 Asher Hinds gave the school trustees an eight-by-nine rod lot on the east side of the road in Benton Falls, and Johnson Lunt added more land. (One rod is 16.5 feet, so the original lot was 132 feet by 148.5 feet.) Kingsbury disagreed slightly, saying construction of the Academy building started in 1830.

The two historians agreed that the would-be founders ran out of resources and handed the incomplete building to the Methodist Society. The Methodist Society finished it and opened a coed high school that ran until around 1858.

After the area separated from Clinton in 1842, Clinton students continued to attend the Academy “for a few years,” Fisher wrote. In 1845, he found, enrollment was 49 male and 31 female students.

The school year then was two 11-week terms, beginning in September and March. Students were charged $3 for the “common branches,” $3.50 for natural sciences and $4 for languages (unspecified).

By 1853, Fisher wrote, there were no students from Clinton enrolled, but the Board of Trustees still had two Clinton members. The school closed in 1858, he said.

Kingsbury recorded that the building changed hands three times in 1858 and 1859 before being sold to School District 5 in July 1859, with the sellers “reserving the right to hold a high school in it for two terms each year.”

This building burned (in 1870, Kingsbury said) and was rebuilt the next year. In 1883 “an attractive hall was finished off in the upper story.” Whether it was still a high school in 1883 Kingsbury did not say.

There was, however, a free high school in Clinton, started in 1874 and still open in 1892. Kingsbury wrote that the initial funding was $500. The “well attended” high school operated two terms a year, spring and fall, moving among the 13 school districts.

This school was superseded early in the 20th century. On-line Facebook pages feature graduates of the 20th-century Clinton High School that opened in 1902 or, according to a Clinton Historical Society on-line source, was approved by voters in 1902, started classes in February 1903 and had its first graduation in 1906.

A current Clinton resident locates the 1902 high school building on the Baker Street lot where the town office now stands.

The Facebook source says the yellow three-story building was 68-by-40-feet; an accompanying photo shows basement windows. The Historical Society writer specified three classrooms each on the first and second floors and one on the third floor.

This writer said the building housed 12 grades until 1960 (another source said until the 1940s), though it was called a high school. The privy was a separate building out back, until Clinton resident Frank L. Besse paid to have “indoor plumbing and central heating” added in 1917. The next year, Besse funded electricity.

In 1922, the on-line writer said, a second-floor classroom for business classes was divided into two, because “the sound of the new typewriters was annoying to the other students.”

Clinton High School, like Besse High School, in Albion, closed after graduation in 1966, when Clinton joined MSAD #49 and students went to Lawrence High School, in Fairfield. The school building on Baker Street housed middle-school classes either for a “couple of years” (Maine Memory Network) or until June 1975 (Clinton Historical Society), when it was no longer needed and was closed.

After a month of vandalism, the second Clinton Historical Society writer reported, the building burned July 25, 1975. The writer quoted a newspaper article mentioning the “suspicious origin” of the fire.

In 2016, alumni placed a memorial stone by the main door to the town office.

The Besse family in Benton and Clinton

1913 photo of Frank Besse seated in a Cadillac convertible, in front of Besse High School.

There are 11 Besses in the index to Ruby Crosby Wiggin’s Albion history (plus three Besseys), and an on-line genealogy of Besses in Albion lists 105 names.

Kingsbury traced the Albion/Clinton family to Jonathan Besse, born in 1775, “the first male child born in Wayne,” Maine. His son, Jonathan Belden Besse (Oct. 15, 1820 – March 5, 1892), became a tanner and married an Albion girl. Wiggin explained how that happened:

Jonathan Belden Besse was a soldier in the 1839 Aroostook War. Typhoid fever delayed his return home, but when he recovered, he headed back to Wayne on foot, “gun over his shoulder.”

He stopped in Albion for a drink from Lewis Hopkins’ well; Hopkins came outside and they talked; Hopkins said he needed help in the tannery. Besse decided to try it. He “went in, hung his gun on the pegs over the door, and went to work.”

Wiggin suggested maybe “Hopkins’ daughter had something to do with his staying.” An online Albion genealogy says Jonathan married Isabelle Hopkins (c. 1833 – Aug. 8, 1870) on July 29, 1852, in Albion. In 1859, he took over the tanning business; in 1890, he moved it to Clinton, “on account of better facilities for transportation.”

Kingsbury lists the Besse tannery as one of the three important industries in Clinton in 1892 (along with the creamery on Weymouth Hill and the shoe factory under construction in Clinton Village, which was expected to provide 100 jobs). The steam-powered tannery “near the railroad station” had 14 workers.

“Russet linings only are manufactured, the weekly production being 1,000 dozen skins,” Kingsbury wrote.

(An on-line leather supplier’s website describes a Russet lining as “a traditional bespoke shoe lining,” also used for “handtooling/carving, falconry and a host of leather goods.” It “is produced on a mellow dressed calf side tanned in vegetable extracts.”)

Jonathan and Isabelle Besse had five sons and two daughters between 1853 and 1868. Frank Leslie (April 15, 1859 – March 26, 1926) was their fourth child and second son. On Sept. 17, 1881, he and Mary Alberta Proctor, of Clinton, were married in Albion. Kingsbury wrote that he became a partner in his father’s business when he was 25 (therefore about 1884), and by 1892 had taken over.

Wiggin, however, wrote that Frank Besse “joined” his father’s business around 1878. She quoted from his speech at the dedication of Besse High School: he said that “when he joined his father in the ‘sheep skin business’ he had a cash capital of just $94.”

After Jonathan died in 1892, Wiggin wrote, Frank bought out Everett and his sister Hannah (Besse) Trask and became sole owner of the Clinton business. In 1906 he joined two Boston merchants to create Besse, Osborn and Ordell, Inc., a company “buying and selling sheepskins” that Wiggin said still existed in 1964.

(On-line sites today identify Besse, Osborn and Odell as a foreign-owned business headquartered in New York City, incorporated Nov. 11, 1910.)

The on-line genealogy lists no children born to Frank and Mary. It says in the 1900 census of Clinton, Frank’s occupation was listed as “tanner sheep skins.” It adds that the tannery “at one time tanned 3,000 skins a day.”

The Maine Memory Network has a September 1913 photo of Frank Besse seated in a Cadillac convertible, a long dark-colored vehicle with running boards and white-wall tires, in front of the Besse building. The caption says he was still running a tannery in Albion at the time.

According to the on-line genealogy, Frank Besse died March 26, 1926, in Ontario, California. Mary died July 10, 1945, probably in Clinton.

Kingsbury mentioned another of Jonathan and Isabelle’s sons, Frank’s younger brother Everett Belden Besse, who in 1892 was living “on the old homestead.” The genealogy says he was born Jan. 23, 1861, in Albion. On Jan. 24, 1889, he married Jessie Ida Rowe, born Nov. 20, 1868, in Palermo; they had four sons and two daughters between 1890 and 1906.

Wiggin wrote that when Jonathan Besse transferred his tanning business to Clinton in 1890, he left Everett in charge of the Albion branch.

In 1905, she continued, the Albion tannery was moved, after town voters offered a tax abatement if it were rebuilt along the line of the new Wiscasset, Waterville and Farmington narrow-gauge railroad. Everett Besse ran the tannery at its new location “on the outlet to Lovejoy Pond above Chalmers’ mills” – and on a railroad siding – until it burned down in 1924.

Albion’s first telephone line, in the fall of 1905, was installed by the Half Moon Telephone Company, of Thorndike (then a rival of Unity Telephone Company), to connect Everett Besse’s house to his tannery, Wiggin wrote.

The genealogy says Jessie died May 29, 1940, and Everett died the same year – no month or day is given.

Frank and Mary Besse and Everett and Jessie Besse are among family members buried in at least four Besse plots in Clinton’s Greenlawn Rest Cemetery, on the west side of Route 100 just south of downtown.

Main sources

Fisher, Major General Carleton Edward, History of Clinton Maine (1970).
Kingsbury, Henry D., ed., Illustrated History of Kennebec County Maine 1625-1892 (1892).
Wiggin, Ruby Crosby, Albion on the Narrow Gauge (1964).

Websites, miscellaneous.