Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Holman Francis Day

Holman Francis Day

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro native Holman Francis Day (1865 – 1935) was a well-known and prolific Maine writer. Starting as a newspaperman, he went on to write poetry and novels in verse, novels in prose, a play, non-fiction pieces and movie scripts.

According to Kristin Stred and Robert Bradley (writers of the Maine Historic Preservation Commission’s 1977 National Register of Historic Places nomination form for Holman Day’s Auburn house), while in high school Day published the Weekly Vassalboro News for two years. He continued newspaper work fresh out of college in 1887 with the Fairfield Journal (a weekly published from 1879 to 1925).

An on-line article in Maine An Encyclopedia says from 1888 to 1892 Day edited the Dexter Gazette, making it “a successful and sprightly country weekly.” (This newspaper became the Eastern Gazette, still published weekly in Dexter and advertising that it serves more than 17,500 households in 42 towns.)

For another two decades, Day was a “special correspondent and columnist” for the Lewiston Evening Journal (a daily published from 1866 to 1989, when it merged with its competitor, the Lewiston Daily Sun, to form today’s Lewiston Sun Journal). He spent a brief time in Portland in 1892, and wrote for newspapers in Boston and New York.

His first book-length work was published in 1900.

Starting in 1918 in Augusta, Day made black-and-white films; sources mention the 1920-21 Holman Day Film Company, which was not a financial success. By 1928, he had moved to California, where he wrote Hollywood scripts as well as novels of Maine life.

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Holman Day was born in Riverside, in southwestern Vassalboro, on Nov. 6, 1865. His father was Captain John Randolph Day (Aug. 1, 1828 – 1889), a Civil War veteran who enlisted in May 1861, was in several major battles and was twice captured by the Confederates, spending time in Libby and Andersonville prisons.

Holman’s mother was Mary A. (Carter) Day (1834-1908), from Etna. The couple named the second of their three sons Holman after a wartime friend of his father, and Francis after John’s brother, Thomas Francis Day.

The Day house was on what is now a section of Old Route 201 named Holman Day Road. Sources differ on the exact location.

The family moved to Wiscasset for six years, returning to Vassalboro about 1874. Sources indicate they lived in at least two different houses in the Getchell’s Corner area of northwestern Vassalboro.

Day graduated from Oak Grove Seminary, in Vassalboro, in the Class of 1881, spent a year at Coburn Classical Institute, in Waterville, and graduated from Colby College, in Waterville in 1887. At Colby, he was named class poet in his sophomore and senior years, and worked on the Colby Echo, the student-run newspaper. The on-line encyclopedia article says he gained a reputation “as a wit, writer, and drinker.”

While with the Fairfield Journal, Day met Helen Rowell Gerald (1870-1902), only daughter of Amos Fitz and Caroline Wood (Rowell) Gerald. They were married Feb. 6, 1889.

Amos Gerald built the newly-weds a house in Auburn. Stred and Bradley said Day lived and wrote there for 17 years; another source said from 1895 to 1914.

The Holman Day house at 2 Goff Street has been on the National Register of Historic Places since Jan. 17, 1978. It is privately owned and closed to the public.

The Days had two daughters, Ruth, born and died in 1893, and Dorothy, born in Auburn on Feb. 19, 1895. Dorothy married Ralph Burton Drisko, Jr., on March 15, 1918, in Mobile, Alabama, according to Find a Grave (which does not explain why she was in Alabama). He was lost at sea in 1924. On March 14, 1926, Dorothy married again, in Waterville, Maine; her second husband was Roy LeChance Kilner.

Helen Day died July 12, 1902, of heart disease and is buried in Fairfield’s Maplewood Cemetery with her parents and her daughters.

Day’s second wife was Agnes M. (Bearce) (Nevens) (1867-1954), a divorcee, from Lewiston. The City of Auburn report for the municipal year ending Feb. 28, 1906, lists Agnes Bearce as a (new?) teacher at North Auburn Primary School, who had trained at Hebron Academy.

They were divorced in 1927.

Day’s third wife was Florence Levin, from Portland.

Day died Feb. 19, 1935, in Mill Valley, California. He is buried in Vassalboro’s Nichols Cemetery, with his parents and Fred Mortimer Day (1870-1938), who your writer assumes was his younger brother.

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In 1898, Stred and Bradley said, Day added to his journalism a daily poetry column, Up in Maine. It “was carried by newspapers across the country” for half a dozen years.

Wikipedia quotes a 1928 article from a Carmel, California, newspaper in which Day said his first poem for the Lewiston Evening Journal resulted in a libel suit against the newspaper that gave his poem a value “never received by the great Longfellow in his palmiest days.”

In 1900, a collection of these poems became Day’s first book, Up in Maine: Stories of Yankee Life Told in Verse. It was followed in 1902 by Pine Tree Ballads: Rhymed Stories of Unplaned Human Natur’ up in Maine; and in 1904 by Kin o’ Ktaadn: Verse Stories of the Plain Folk who are Keeping Bright the Old Home Fires Up in Maine.

Stred and Bradley wrote that these “books of catchy verse…entertained more than 30,000 readers.”

The first poem in Up in Maine, titled Aunt Shaw’s Pet Jug, is about Uncle Elnathan Shaw, “Most regular man you ever saw!” For 30 years, at 4:40 every afternoon he would pick up “the big blue jug from the but’ry shelf” and go down the cellar stairs to draw two quarts of old cider for the evening.

And every afternoon, “Auntie Shaw would yap through her old cross mug” telling him not to fall on the second step and break her favorite jug, inherited from her great-aunt Sue.

One day, Nathan did fall all the way from the second step. He did not break the jug:

And he’d saved the jug; for his last wild thought
Had been of that; he might have caught
At the cellar shelves and saved his fall,
But he kept his hands on the jug through all.

Now, “as he loosed his jealous hug,” his wife’s only concern was “Did ye break my jug?” Enraged at her disregard for his “poor old bones,” Nathan replied, “No, durn yer pelt, but I swow I will” and smashed it against the wall.

The poem titled The Stock in the Tie-Up celebrates life in a well-heated house with a good hot meal on a stormy night and ends with “the stock in the tie-up is warm.” It contrasts the speaker, willing to spend a Sunday doing the extra work to make his barn weather-proof, with his church-going neighbors, who have “cracks in the sides o’ their tie-ups…wide as the door o’ their pew” through which sleet and snow enter.

Day did not approve. He wrote:

And I’ll bet ye that in the Hereafter the men who have stayed on their knees
And let some poor, fuzzy old cattle stand out in a tie-up and freeze,
Will find that the heat o’ the Hot Place is keyed to an extra degree
For the men who forgot to consider that critters have feelin’s same’s we.

One of your writer’s favorite poems is in the third collection, Kin o’ Ktaadn. Titled The Latest Tip from ‘Patent-Right’ Belcher, it invites investment in Patent-Right’s new invention, a two-part device for letting the family cat out the door and back in the window – after the family dog identifies him or her and opens the window – so that people need not get out of warm beds on cold nights.

Day’s first novel, Squire Phin, came out in 1905 and was followed by another 29, plus “300 short stories and poetry,” according to an on-line article about the Auburn house.

Squire Phin opens at the village store in Palermo — a coastal town, not the Kennebec Valley Palermo. Squire Phin has his law office upstairs. The second chapter introduces Squire Phin’s prodigal brother, accompanied by an elephant.

Several sources call King Spruce (1908) Day’s best-known and most popular novel. Stred and Bradley wrote that this book “became a prototype for books about Maine lumbering” – certainly a prototype for many of Day’s later novels, which repeat the dual themes of timber barons’ rivalry and their children’s romances.

King Spruce, according to Stred and Bradley, “firmly established Day’s reputation as a novelist, and delighted President Theodore Roosevelt so much that he invited Day to the White House.”

The novel features a young, college-educated hero named Dwight Wade who deals competently with uneducated, good-hearted woodsmen whose livelihoods depend on city-based lumber companies. Corporate rivalries make life extra hard for the low-level workmen.

Day explained that the term King Spruce stood for an unseen tyrant, a “vast association of timber interests,” visible only in the form of local officers who worked from headquarters in Maine mill towns. Most of his sympathy was with the loggers; but at times he sounded as though he would like the woods left alone, with references to “destruction” by logging and “slaughter” of deer and moose.

In addition to relations among loggers and logging companies, Day introduced several independent, opinionated, stubborn and attractive young women who added love stories to the already-complicated plot.

After many adventures, the villains were defeated, dead or had experienced changes of heart; the loggers had a better deal; and the central pair of lovers rode away together in a pony-drawn carriage.

These themes recur in later novels, like The Rider of the King Log (1919) and Joan of Arc of the North Woods (1922). Day even wrote a North Woods novel for young readers: The Rainy Day Railroad War (1906) was first serialized in The Youth’s Companion magazine. It lacks a romantic subplot.

Some of Day’s novels are unabashed romances, like The Red Lane a Romance of the Border (1912) and Blow the Man Down: A Romance of the Coast (1916). The Skipper and the Skipped (1911) and The Landloper (1915) are examples of more varied themes.

Stred and Bradley commented that Day “had an eye for unusual Maine characters, and an ear for their unique dialect. He then wove stories around the personalities and exploits of the woodsmen and seafarers he had observed and with whose ways he was familiar.”

The historians called his writings “an important part of the literary heritage of Maine.”

Holman’s work can be seen at Vassalboro Historical Society

The Vassalboro Historical Society owns Holman Day memorabilia, including, president Janice Clowes said, his books, movies made from his books and a movie about him, movie posters, newspaper clippings and other items.

The society’s Holman Day files include a biography, written as a master’s thesis at the University of Maine at Orono in 1942.

The museum is located in the former East Vassalboro schoolhouse, on the east side of Route 32 on the south edge of East Vassalboro Village, close to the outlet of China Lake and the boat landing. Hours are Mondays and Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and the second and fourth Sundays of each month from 1 to 4 p.m.

Main sources

Day, Holman various writings.
Stred, Kristin (student assistant), and Robert L. Bradley, National Register of Historic Places Inventory – Nomination Form Holman Day House, June 1977.
Vassalboro Historical Society files.

Websites, miscellaneous.

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Eli & Sybil Jones, Mary Hoxie Jones

by Mary Grow

From Rufus Matthew Jones, your writer goes backward and then forward in the Jones family.

Rufus Jones was the nephew of Eli Jones and his wife Sybil (Jones) Jones, well-known Quaker missionaries. Rufus and Elizabeth (Cadbury) Jones’ daughter, Mary Hoxie Jones, born almost a century later than Eli Jones, was a historian and poet.

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Eli Jones

Eli Jones (March 12, 1807- Feb. 2, 1890) was Abel and Susannah Jones’ oldest son. According to his nephew’s 1889 biography, Eli and Sybil Jones: Their Life and Work, his formal education was limited to China’s one-room schools and three months at the Friends School, in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1827.

Despite a speech impediment, Rufus Jones wrote, his uncle spoke in Friends meetings from an early age, in China and in Providence. Home from Providence, he helped organize, and became secretary of a local branch of the Sons of Temperance; and helped organize the still-active South China public library.

Rufus commented that when Eli took on these community projects, he had “barely become a full-fledged citizen” and had no family example to follow. The explanation, Rufus wrote, was that “there was something in him which forbade rest and inaction” when the inner spirit presented a task.

In addition to working on the family farm, Eli helped run mills in China and Albion.

In 1833, he married Sybil Jones (Feb. 28, 1808 – Dec. 4, 1873), born in Brunswick and living with her parents in Augusta. Her nephew described her (in his chapter on the Friends in Henry Kingsbury’s Kennebec County history) as physically frail, but with “a poetic soul” and a “beautiful, melodious voice and a flow of suitable words to give utterance to the thought which seemed to come to her by inspiration.”

Sybil Jones

Sybil attended the Providence Friends School in 1824-25, and worked as a teacher. She wrote poetry; much of it she destroyed, and Rufus observed that what survived was often “tinged with thoughts of death and the grave.”

Eli and Sybil lived in South China until they moved into their own house at Dirigo in or after 1833 (sources differ). The house, still standing on the south side of what is now Route 3 at the Dirigo Road intersection, is described as a north-facing, L-shaped story-and-a-half wooden Cape on a granite foundation. It has been on the National Register of Historic Places since March 22, 1984.

The couple traveled over much of the world, in horse-drawn carriages and wagons, on small sailboats and large steamboats and on the backs of donkeys, spreading Quaker beliefs. Despite her health issues, described by one source as serious back problems, Sybil was often the one who felt called to these missions.

Their first trip was to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in 1840. Their first overseas mission was to Liberia in 1850. In 1852 and 1853 they visited half a dozen northern European countries; in the spring of 1854 they were in southern France.

After their oldest son’s death in the Civil War (see below), Sybil spent time in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. hospitals nursing wounded soldiers. Rufus estimated 30,000 men heard her message. After President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination on April 15, 1865, she twice visited his widow to offer comfort.

Sybil’s last mission, a multi-year trip to England, France and the Middle East, beginning in 1867, led to the founding of Friends’ missions on Mount Lebanon and in Ramallah, the latter named the Eli and Sybil Jones Mission. (Your writer found on line a history of the Friends in Ramallah, written in 2016 by Maia Carter Hallward and titled The Ramallah Friends Meeting: Examining 100 Years of Peace and Justice Work, in Quaker Religious Thought: Vol. 127.)

The first of Eli and Sybil’s five children, James Parnell Jones (1835 – 1864), is locally famous as “the fighting Quaker.” Enlisting in the Seventh Maine Volunteers, he was killed July 12, 1864, at Crystal Springs, near Washington, D. C.

The younger children were Sybil Narcissa (1839 – 1903); Richard Mott (1843 – 1917; his son, Charles Richard Jacob, was Rufus’s close friend for many years); Susan Tabor (1847 – 1913, who lived with her father from his return to China until his death) and Eli Grellet (1850 – 1933 or 1934).

Between foreign trips, Eli was active in town affairs. In addition to the temperance society and the South China library, he helped start Erskine Academy, in South China (in 1883; he was president of the first board of trustees) and held official town positions.

The China bicentennial history says the latter included an undated term as liquor agent, given by state law “a monopoly on the distribution of alcoholic beverages.” The history comments that while he was liquor agent, “China had a dry year.”

Maine had enough temperance advocates in the mid-1800s to persuade the state legislature to enact a prohibition law in 1850. Rufus wrote that many people thought it insufficiently enforced.

China voters hoped to improve enforcement, he said, when, in 1854, they chose Eli Jones their representative to the Maine legislature “by a large majority over two other candidates.” (Though his nephew referred to Eli as a candidate, it is not clear that he was one: Rufus wrote that his election was “wholly unexpected,” and he had been working to elect one of the others.)

Because Quakers follow Jesus’ admonition not to swear oaths (in Matthew 5:34-37), Eli did not participate when the Governor administered the oath of office to the legislators. He stood separately to affirm that he would do his job.

Eli’s committee assignments included the committee on temperance. Rufus wrote that his uncle “seldom spoke, most of his work being in the committee.”

Fellow legislators devised a trick to make the pacifist Quaker speak: they unanimously appointed him major-general in command of a division of the state militia.

Eli rode home to Dirigo that evening and consulted until late with family and friends. When he returned to Augusta, sleepless, the next day, he found almost all the legislators from both houses and many city people waiting to hear what he would say.

Rufus reprinted most of his uncle’s speech. Eli said he feared appointing a pacifist Quaker to head the militia was “a little in advance of the times,” despite progress on temperance and on resistance to slavery.

If he was mistaken and the legislature really wanted him to serve, he would, he promised. He would order the troops to ground arms, beat swords into plowshares and spears into pruning-hooks and go home and read the New Testament.

But, believing the legislature was not endorsing such a policy, he would and did decline the appointment.

Rufus wrote that the speech was frequently interrupted by applause and “made a great sensation” not just in Maine, but internationally, being reported in the United States and Great Britain and even in one African newspaper. The intended jest, in his view, let his uncle “preach peace to a very extended audience”; it also gained him increased respect among his fellow lawmakers.

In 1857, Eli helped reopen Oak Grove School, in Vassalboro, after lack of funds closed the high school that had opened in December 1850. He served as principal of the renamed Oak Grove Seminary for a year, the first of 10 men named Jones (including his son Richard, from 1870 to 1874, and his nephew Rufus, from 1889 to 1893) to head the school before 1918. In 1870 and 1871 he was supervisor of schools in China.

Sybil Jones died Dec. 4, 1873, at their Dirigo home. Eli continued to live there with his younger daughter Susan until they returned to South China in 1884, except for two more trips to the Middle East, in 1876 and 1882.

Rufus described his uncle as satisfied with farming, especially fond of and loved by his sheep and other animals; and a lover of all nature, who was happy sitting under a tree watching birds and insects, never knowingly stepping “on a worm or beetle” or killing anything else. He was interested in “fossils and geological specimens.” A frequent and welcome visitor at Quaker meetings throughout the area, he was also a respected speaker at China’s town meetings.

Eli Jones died Feb. 2, 1890. According to the Town of China cemetery records (with which Find a Grave disagrees), he and Sibyl are buried in Dudley Cemetery, with their oldest son, James Parnell Jones, and their younger daughter, Susan Tabor Jones (identified as Susan L. in the town records).

Dudley Cemetery is on the east side of Dirigo Road a short distance south of Eli and Sybil’s house, farther from the road than Dirigo Friends Cemetery. Family members buried in the Dirigo yard include Eli’s parents, Abel and Susannah Jepson Jones; his sister, Peace; and his brothers, Edwin and Cyrus.

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Rufus and Elizabeth Jones’ only child, Mary Hoxie Jones (Eli Jones’ great-niece), was born July 27, 1904, in Haverford, Pennsylvania, and lived there or in adjoining Bryn Mawr most of her life, spending vacations at Pendle Hill, in China.

From 1916 to 1922, she was a student at the Baldwin School, a private, non-sectarian girls’ school in Bryn Mawr. She graduated from Mount Holyoke College, in South Hadley, Massachusetts, in 1926.

Mary Hoxie Jones was steeped in Quakerism all her life, often traveling abroad with her parents. From 1939 to 1951, she held staff positions with the American Friends Service Committee, and served on its board of directors for many years afterwards.

Her historical writing started with collecting and organizing documents about her family’s history and genealogy. One product was a short biography of her father, published as a pamphlet by the Friends Home Service Committee in 1955, in London.

More general works included a 1937 history of the Friends Service Committee from its founding in 1917, and a 1961 history of New England Friends in the latter half of the 1600s. The first book she dedicated to her father, to his great pleasure.

A series called Pendle Hill Pamphlets included a history of Quaker poets and a collection of notes her father made for his sermons and talks – notes which, she commented, he never appeared to use. Apparently they served to “fix a central idea firmly in his mind” and “as a springboard” for his speeches.

Jones’ work was recognized when Haverford College made her a research associate in Quaker studies in 1962 and awarded her an honorary doctorate in 1985.

Her first published book of poems was Arrows of Desire (1931). Beyond This Stone came out in 1965, Mosaic of the Sun in 1975.

The first poem in Beyond This Stone is a light-hearted tribute to her father on his 70th birthday, Jan. 25, 1933. Before reciting some of the many greetings he received, she began:

I wish you much felicity
Now that you have reached seventy.

After five more near-rhymes, including “postal” with “Pentecostal,” “thorough” with “Vassalboro” and “Kansas” with “pansies,” the first stanza ends:

Or who else could maneuver
A message out of Herbert Hoover?

Many poems express Jones’ appreciation of nature. Others show her dislike of war and of modern inventions, including the atom bomb; machines that destroy nature to build highways; man-made “hardware in the sky” and flights to the moon while the local trains don’t run reliably; and Christmas that has become “a frantic helter-skelter” and a “worry” when it should be “a stillness.”

Wild Geese combines the themes.

The wild geese leave the north and fly
In V formation through the sky.
Honking above the pines and lake
I hear them, far away and high,
And hearing them my heart will break
Knowing that man has fashioned wings
To fly, like birds, great silver things.
Each carrying bombs, the planes go forth,
A wedge of death, as autumn brings
The wild geese flying from the north.

Main sources

Beard, Frank A., and Roger G. Reed, National Register of Historic Places Inventory – Nomination Form Eli and Sybil Jones House, February 1984.
Grow, Mary M., China Maine Bicentennial History including 1984 revisions (1984).
Jones, Rufus M. Eli and Sybil Jones (1889).

Websites, miscellaneous.

Correction to Meeting House location

Your writer was probably in error when, in the April 25 article on Rufus Jones, she cited the source that said the family drove from South China north (on what is now Route 202) to the Pond Meeting House twice weekly, while he was a child in the 1860s and 1870s. Elizabeth Gray Vining, in Friend of Life: The Biography of Rufus M. Jones, wrote that his family worshipped at the Friends meeting house at Dirigo.

A reference in Jones’ Finding the Trail of Life to the road through the woods to meeting as “hilly” supports Vining: current Route 3 east to Dirigo is hillier than Route 32 north to Pond Meeting House.

The Dirigo meeting house was abandoned in 1884, when Friends meeting moved to South China Village. Your writer found no information on how long it had been used.

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Rufus Matthew Jones — Part 2

by Mary Grow

Part of Rufus Matthew Jones’ story of his early life, in his 1921 book titled A Small-Town Boy, was summarized last week. This week’s article continues his story, starting with his primary schooling in one-room schoolhouses in South China and Weeks Mills.

Rufus Matthew Jones

Jones wrote that he was “four years and six months old” when he first walked with his older sister the quarter-mile to the South China schoolhouse, just south of the four corners. He was starting at the beginning of the 1867 summer term; only younger students attended, because “the big boys” were doing farm work.

The woman teacher taught all ages and all subjects. After the morning prayer, Scripture reading and hymn, she called the grade levels one at a time to the blackboard at the front of the room to begin lessons.

Winter sessions, Jones wrote, were different. The back two or three rows of seats were occupied by “big boys and girls,” and discipline was a problem. Teachers were likely to be men, on the theory that muscle mattered – though he promptly cited a woman who maintained excellent order and a man who provided “a fine illustration of educational chaos.”

The latter, he said, was physically removed from the schoolhouse by some of the unruly older boys. His successor, a physically smaller man, quickly established moral authority over the students and led a successful session.

These schools had books, blackboards and chalk, but little else of supplies or equipment. Jones wrote of learning geography without maps or a globe, and physics and physiology without equipment or experiments.

Jones claimed that he learned the first three letters of the alphabet on his first day of school – “the most momentous intellectual step I have every taken.” He marveled that “all of Shakespeare’s plays, the whole of the English Bible, Browning’s Ring and the Book, and everything else I have ever read are made up of those letters I learned in that Primer Class!”

At 15, Jones walked three miles each way to the Weeks Mills one-room school, because the teacher there was outstanding. The next fall he began 11 weeks at Oak Grove Seminary, in Vassalboro.

He was one of the boarding students, sharing a dormitory room with another boy. Fathers took turns bringing them home for weekends, and mothers supplied a week’s worth of food, which the students ate cold or cooked – boiled eggs, for instance – in their rooms.

At Oak Grove, Jones began learning Latin – by the end of his college education he was proficient in Latin and Greek – and studied astronomy under an excellent female teacher. Even at Oak Grove, there was “no telescope, no observatory, no proper instruments,” but he learned enough to skip astronomy in college, earning a 95 on the exam without taking the course.

In the spring of 1879, Jones wrote, he and his father were planting potatoes together when he informed his father that he wanted to go to the Moses Brown Friends School, in Providence, Rhode Island. The family had no money for the undertaking; Jones was awarded a scholarship that covered a year’s tuition and board.

Another chapter in A Small-Town Boy deals with his informal leadership of a group of boys about his age, especially their outdoor lives. He summarized: “We were absolutely at home on the water, in the water, on the ice or through the ice, in the woods, or in the snow.”

One exciting episode he recounted involved out-of-town pirates net-fishing surreptitiously in China Lake. He and his gang assembled a fleet of rowboats, equipped themselves with grapnels and “revolvers and old muskets” and went in search of the invaders.

In the north end of the east basin, they found two men who had stretched nets from the northernmost island to each shore. The men hauled in their nets and made for shore, chased by the boys shooting “in the air or on the water where we were sure not to hit them.”

The boys caught up as the men reached land and scared them into promising never to return.

Jones wrote about two others of the five China Lake islands that he and his friends frequented as teenagers. Round or Birch Island, in the east basin, was a place for a corn roast and perhaps an overnight camp-out. The amusement park on Bradley’s Island, in the west basin, included a bowling alley.

A Small-Town Boy has brief verbal portraits of some of the Jones’ neighbors, identified by first names only. One was a shy, quiet man “who gave the impression of being very stern and grouchy.” When his mowing machine tipped over and trapped him, Jones wrote that the only thing he said to the neighbor who lifted the machine off him was “That’s all I need of thee.”

This man, Jones said, was secretly “one of the tenderest-hearted persons in the town.” He heard that a neighbor with a sick wife was low on firewood: he left a load of stovewood in the dooryard one night. He heard another family was out of butter: he left them a can of milk with “a four pound chunk of butter” floating in it.

Another neighbor made a hole in the gable of his barn so barn-swallows could come and go, and let Jones and his friends – and birds – eat the cherries from his two cherry trees. Yet another, when his seasonal farm chores were finished, hurried to help any neighbor who was behind schedule with planting, haying or some other job.

Jones mentioned one ungenerous neighbor. The example he related said this man sold some hens to a buyer in the far end of town, and on the journey, some of the hens laid eggs. Seller and buyer argued “for a long period” over who owned the eggs.

Jones had written an earlier book about his boyhood. A Boy’s Religion from Memory was published in 1902, and as the title says, focused more on his religious and spiritual life than on his small-town surroundings.

The Trail books begin with Finding the Trail of Life (1926), which partly repeats and expands on A Boy’s Religion. It was followed by The Trail of Life in College (1929) and The Trail of Life in the Middle Years (1934).

These books contain a mix of Jones’ outer life, as he attended high school and college and began his career, and his inner life, as life-altering decisions were shaped and carried out primarily according to the inner voice or inner light that Quakers take as their guide.

From the Friends School, he went to Haverford College, in Haverford, Pennsylvania, outside Philadelphia. Founded by Friends in 1833, it had been accepting non-Quakers since 1849, but did not admit its first women until 1969 (as transfer students; full acceptance dates from 1980).

Jones wrote in The Trail of Life in College that he enrolled as a sophomore in the fall of 1882. Studying Latin and Greek, philosophy and mathematics, he did extra work and took advanced classes. By the end of junior year he needed “only a few hours per week” for another year to earn his bachelor’s degree.

He therefore arranged to write a master’s thesis the same year, 1884-1885, and earned both degrees. The thesis was on American history; but, he wrote, it was his graduation essay on mysticism that was more influential in his later writings.

Returning to the South China family farm, Jones received two offers in two days: a graduate fellowship in history at the University of Pennsylvania, and a one-year teaching position at Oakwood Seminary, described as a Quaker boarding school, in Union Springs, New York.

With the guidance of Aunt Peace (mentioned last week as a powerful influence) and the inner light on which he so often relied, Jones chose teaching – a decision he said he never regretted.

His career kept him away from China, except for vacations, for most of the rest of his life. He taught for two years at Moses Brown School, in Providence. In 1889, he was considering graduate work at Harvard when he was invited to become principal of Oak Grove Seminary in neighboring Vassalboro.

He served four years, 1889-1993, with younger brother Herbert as business manager. In later autobiographical works, he wrote about how much he gained in the Oak Grove community, in leadership skills, problem-solving and friendships.

In 1893 he again planned graduate work at Harvard. This time he was distracted when “the call came to me” to teach philosophy at Haverford and edit the Friends’ Review (later The American Friend).

He took the train from Vassalboro, “leaving my beloved Oak Grove Seminary for the last time with my face wet with quiet tears,” and stayed at Haverford until retiring in 1934. The Find a Grave website says he earned a master’s degree from Harvard in 1901.

Jones traveled in Europe for pleasure as a young man, and later on major errands as a leader among American Friends, especially during the world wars. He was among organizers of the American Friends Service Committee in 1917, and worked for the organization the rest of his life. One AFSC mission in which he participated was an unsuccessful 1938 attempt to talk peace with Adolf Hitler.

Pendle Hill, England

In the summer of 1888, Jones married his first wife, Sarah Hawkeshurst Coutant, of Ardonia, New York, whom he met at Oakwood. It was she who encouraged him to take the Oak Grove job in 1889. Their much-loved son, Lowell Coutant Jones, was born there Jan. 23, 1892. Sarah died of tuberculosis in 1899; Lowell died of diphtheria in 1903.

In 1902 Jones married for the second time, to Elizabeth Bartram Cadbury (Aug. 15, 1871 – Oct. 26, 1952). Their only child, Mary Hoxie Jones, was born July 27, 1904.

Family summer vacations were often spent at Pendle Hill, a simple wooden house on the west side of Route 202 in China, overlooking China Lake. Jones and his brother Herbert “cut trees for lumber and designed the house” during the 1915 Christmas vacation, according to the China bicentennial history.

Other sources say a local carpenter did the building the following spring, badly enough so that the Jones brothers did extensive follow-up work. Also on the property was a log cabin that Rufus Jones reportedly built himself.

Jones named the house Pendle Hill (your writer assumes after Pendle Hill, in England, where Quaker founder George Fox had a revelation in 1652). Pendle Hill was added to the National Register of Historic Places on Aug. 4, 1983, at the same time as the Pond Meeting House, on Route 202, and the Abel Jones house, in South China.

Jones died in Haverford on June 16, 1948. His widow died Oct. 26, 1952. Both are buried in a Haverford Friends cemetery.

Main sources

Jones, Rufus M., A Small-Town Boy (1941).
Jones, Rufus M., Finding the Trail of Life (1926).
Jones, Rufus M., The Trail of Life in College (1929).

Websites, miscellaneous.

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Rufus Matthew Jones, of China

by Mary Grow

Rufus Matthew Jones

China native Rufus Matthew Jones was another writer with a religious background, like Sylvester Judd, though both his religion and his writing style were quite different. Various sources describe him as a philosopher, religious leader, theologian and mystic; he was also a writer, magazine editor, historian and educator.

Jones was born Jan. 25 (or, in Quaker terms, first month, 25th day), 1863, son of Edwin Jones (April 6, 1828 – July 23, 1904) and Mary Gifford (Hoxie) Jones (Sept. 26, 1833 – March 7, 1880).

Several of his more than three dozen published books are about his family and his own life. The first, in the spring of 1889, was his biography of aunt and uncle, Eli and Sibyl Jones.

His own life story Jones wrote partly in reverse order. A Small-Town Boy, detailing his early life in China, came out in 1941. It was preceded by Finding the Trail of Life (1926); The Trail of Life in College (1929, including in the introduction the possibility that after 40 years his memory might be fallible); and The Trail of Life in the Middle Years (1934).

Despite his many writings on Quakers and their beliefs, Jones wrote in his chapter on the Society of Friends in Henry Kingsbury’s Kennebec County history:

The history of the Friends in this county can never be adequately written, since from their first appearance until the present time they have done their work in a quiet, unobtrusive way, leaving behind them little more record of their trials and triumphs than nature does of her unobserved workings in the forests; but this fact does not make their existence here unimportant, and no careful observer will consider it to have been so.

Jones wrote in A Small-Town Boy of growing up in a three-generation household, the third of four children. Brother Walter Edwin (1853-1895), 10 years older, left home while Jones was young, leaving the youngster feeling as though “the bottom had dropped out.”

Sister Alice (1859-1909), four years older, was Jones’ “second mother” and “happy playmate” until he “broke away and formed my indispensable group of boys.” Brother Herbert Watson (1867-1918) was “a perfect dear,” but too much younger to share many of Jones’ activities.

The first chapter of A Small-Town Boy is a summary history of China, the town Jones always loved. The second chapter is about his family, and the third about Friends’ meeting. After that come chapters on other influences: “the old-time grocery store,” school, play, important townspeople and town meeting.

Parents and children lived with Jones’ grandmother, Abel Jones’ widow Susannah, until she died in 1877, and her younger daughter, Peace (1815-1907). It was his grandmother, Jones wrote, who started him reading the Bible during a year-long illness when he was 10.

Aunt Peace he called a remarkable woman, unschooled but cultured, wise, well-informed, insightful, one of the rare people in whose ear God whispered, a mystic without knowing it. After she explained a moral issue, “there was only one right course open,” whether her nephew liked it or not.

Jones described the three adult women in the household as loving and supportive of each other and the rest of the family. The death of his mother when he was 17 was a deep grief.

His father, Edwin, was physically strong and a skilled workman, though not intellectual. Neither parent disciplined the children; a word or look of reproach was sufficient.

The parental attitudes, the Bible-reading, the silent morning devotions, created a nurturing home that was profoundly religious in the Quaker fashion. Jones wrote, “The life in our home was saturated with the reality and the practice of love.”

Abel Jones built the family house in 1815 on what is now Jones Road, in South China, running northeast from the four corners that used to be the village’s commercial center. The Federal-style house has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1983.

The meeting house the Jones family attended on Thursdays and Sundays was three miles away, Jones wrote – the 1807 Pond Meeting House (also on the National Register of Historic Places since 1983). It stands on the east side of what is now Route 202; Jones described the trip as “a drive in wagon or sleigh through the ‘dangerous’ woods,” full of wild animals.

Meetings consisted of long periods of silence, which Jones said were filled with “a sense of divine presence which even a boy could feel.” Occasionally someone would be moved to offer a prayer or a reflection.

The talk might be an inspiring message from a genuine leader, local or visiting. Or someone recognized as among the “one-talent exhorters, or peradventure quarter talent speakers” might deliver a repetitive and unimportant message, loudly and with wild gestures.

Once a month the Friends’ worship meeting was followed by a business meeting. Jones described how, after an older man announced the transition, wooden shutters dropped down with “a strange creaking” to divide the room and let men and women meet separately.

Men’s business Jones summarized as “a searching inquiry into the state and condition, the moral and spiritual progress or decline, of the membership.” There might be specific requests as well: to accept a new member, release a member whose beliefs or behavior were no longer appropriate, investigate the “clearness from other engagements” of a couple wishing to marry or permit a member to undertake a missionary journey.

(In the section on Quakers in her history of Sidney, Alice Hammond wrote that the men’s meeting decided issues of “civics, education, finances, etc.” The women’s “ascertained the correct social form” of the members. She quoted from reports of early 19th-century women’s meetings investigations of proposed marriages, criticism of a woman “addicted to the custom of too freely partaking of spirituous liquors” and a request to accept a new member moving to Sidney from New Hampshire.)

As Jones was growing up in South China in the 1860s and 1870s, the local grocery store was “the center of village culture,” he wrote. From his description, the store in question was almost certainly the one at the four corners described in the China bicentennial history as dating from the 1830s.

The history says Samuel Stuart owned the store when a fire in 1872 destroyed most of the village’s central commercial area. Stuart rebuilt the store and ran it until about 1879, when his son Charles Stuart took over until September 1888.

Jones said the store had a wooden front platform, with cracks through which a boy could accidentally lose his pennies; shelves and a counter; a barrel stove surrounded by chairs; and a “box of saw-dust for the tobacco chewers, who in the good old times could infallibly ‘hit it’ from any location.”

About 15 local men generally hung out at the store, more “at mail-time in the evening” – the store was also the post office, one reason, Jones said, that he was allowed to go there so often – and on rainy days. The storekeeper joined their discussions; and, Jones wrote, “his son and successor” was an even more important participant.

This man, according to Jones, “had served in the Civil War, had lived in Boston, had had a term in jail! He knew the world from inside out and had tales to tell about the ways of the world.”

This man (Jones never did name him in A Small-Town Boy) became Jones’ good friend, taught him to sail on China Lake and let him help in the store. Jones wrote that his upbringing enabled him to hear cursing and vulgarity without joining in, and that mixing with this group taught him to get along with different kinds of people.

Store conversations varied from anecdotes and wisecracks to local, state and national politics. James G. Blaine, of Augusta, was the store-sitters’ hero and perennial presidential nominee, though the majority of the country never agreed to elect him.

One day, Jones wrote, Blaine himself stopped his “span of well-groomed horses” at the South China store. Jones was in the forefront of the admiring crowd, and Blaine asked him to water the horses.

“As a Quaker, I had never yet said ‘Sir’ to any body,” Jones wrote, and he still couldn’t, even to his “greatest living hero.” He replied, “It will give me great pleasure to bring water for thy horses, James G. Blaine.”

Jones watered the horses. Blaine, knowing a tip would be “an impossible breach of good manners,” exchanged a few sentences with the boy and drove off. Jones was a local “near-hero” for days thereafter.

To be continued

The history of the Quakers

George Fox

The history of the Quakers, properly known as the Society of Friends, begins in England in the 1650s, with a man named George Fox (1624-1691).

Fox and his followers rejected the dominant Church of England. They believed in a direct relationship between God and the individual, not mediated by a religious hierarchy. A history on a Vassalboro Friends Meeting website says, “Quakers rejected outward sacraments and priestly orders, depending instead on the inward power of Christ’s example for guidance.”

Early Quakers gave women a more important role than elsewhere in society, emphasizing the role of mothers in raising children in faith, piety and love. Quakers were from the beginning anti-slavery and anti-war, often putting them at odds with the dominant society.

Despite persecution in the 1660s, Quakerism spread in England and Wales and was soon imported to the colonies in North America. Massachusetts Puritans initially opposed the doctrine, imprisoning and executing practicing Quakers. Other colonies were more tolerant.

Like other religions, the Society of Friends had its divisions that created schisms and subgroups in the 18th and 19th centuries. And like other religions, British and American Quakers sent missions to other parts of the world.

In 1775, Rufus M. Jones wrote in his history of the Society of Friends in Henry Kingsbury’s Kennebec County history, a New York Quaker named David Sands made the first of his four trips to the Kennebec Valley. He and his companions stopped at the home of Remington Hobbie, an early settler in Vassalboro, whom Sands converted to Quakerism.

In addition to Sands’ influence, the Vassalboro Friends website says that during the American Revolution, their pacifism made Massachusetts Quakers unpopular. Many moved to Vassalboro, China, Sidney and Fairfield in the 1780s and 1790s.

Jones said the first meeting in Vassalboro was organized in 1780, and the first meeting house was built, in two sections, in 1785 and 1786.

Vassalboro’s meeting included members from China, Sidney and Fairfield before those towns had their own meetings and meeting houses. In China, Jones said, half the Clark family (the mother and two of four sons), who were the first settlers around China Lake in 1774, were Friends.

Jones wrote that the first meeting in Sidney was in 1795. Fairfield Quakers also attended; meetings still alternated between the two towns in 1892, he said.

Alice Hammond, in her 1992 history of Sidney, said in 1806 Sidney Friends bought an acre on Quaker Hill Road “where a church had already been built,” plus a half-acre nearby for a cemetery.

The 1988 Fairfield bicentennial history has contradictory information. It says Quaker Elihu Bowerman and his brothers settled in North Fairfield in 1782 and attended the Vassalboro meeting for about 10 years, until they began meeting in one of the Bowerman brothers’ log cabins; it also says Fairfield’s first Friends meeting house was built in 1784.

Main sources

Jones, Rufus Matthew, A Small-Town Boy (1941).
Kingsbury, Henry D., ed., Illustrated History of Kennebec County Maine 1625-1892 (1892).

Websites, miscellaneous.

Correction to Meeting House location

Your writer was probably in error when, in the April 25 article on Rufus Jones, she cited the source that said the family drove from South China north (on what is now Route 202) to the Pond Meeting House twice weekly, while he was a child in the 1860s and 1870s. Elizabeth Gray Vining, in Friend of Life: The Biography of Rufus M. Jones, wrote that his family worshipped at the Friends meeting house at Dirigo.

A reference in Jones’ Finding the Trail of Life to the road through the woods to meeting as “hilly” supports Vining: current Route 3 east to Dirigo is hillier than Route 32 north to Pond Meeting House.

The Dirigo meeting house was abandoned in 1884, when Friends meeting moved to South China Village. Your writer found no information on how long it had been used.

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Sylvester Judd of Augusta

by Mary Grow

Sylvester Judd

Another local writer mentioned in Thomas Addison’s chapter on literary people in Henry Kingsbury’s Kennebec County history was Rev. Sylvester Judd, who was born in Westhampton, Massachusetts, and grew up in adjoining Northampton.

James North, in his history of Augusta, wrote that Judd was descended from Deacon Thomas Judd, who came from England to Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the 1630s. Judd the author was born July 23, 1813, grandson of the first Sylvester in the family and second of eight children of the second Sylvester and Apphia (Hall) Judge.

His education is summarized in an on-line Unitarian-Universalist source, on-line Harvard Square Library and Louis Hatch’s history of Maine.

Judd worked odd jobs to earn money to attend Hopkins Academy, in Hadley, Massachusetts (founded in 1664). After a year there, he entered Yale, graduating in 1836.

He spent a year teaching “to pay off his debt” at a private school, in Templeton, Massachusetts, where he discovered Unitarianism and abandoned his family’s Congregationalism. From 1837 to 1840, he attended Harvard Divinity School.

Meanwhile, in April, 1825, some prominent Augusta men, including attorney Reuel Williams, organized a Unitarian society that became Christ Church.

Ministers came and went, North wrote, and one who filled in was Rev. Sylvester Judd, newly graduated and looking for a church. He was invited to apply for a full-time position, accepted and was ordained Oct. 1, 1840.

North praised Judd highly, calling him “young and ardent,” “beloved,” a man who “possessed originality, fullness and depth of thought; was enamored of the true and beautiful, and aimed at a high standard of elevation and purity.”

Harvard Square Library says that his liberal preaching on political issues “began to alienate some of his parishioners and others.” For example, his pacifism led him to call the American Revolution “a moral evil. This resulted in his being dismissed as chaplain to the state legislature.”

On Aug. 31, 1841, Judd married Reuel Williams’ daughter, Jane Elizabeth (born Dec. 1, 1819). The couple had three daughters.

North said the oldest was Jane Elizabeth, born Sept. 26, 1844; married Henry T. Hall, of Boston, on Sept. 25, 1867; and died Dec. 5, 1868. Frances Hall was born June 28, 1847; married Rev. Seth Curtis Beach in Boston on Nov. 17, 1869; and in 1870 was living in Minnesota. Apphia Williams was born March 16, 1853.

Judd was scheduled to speak in Boston in January 1853, North wrote, and after “severe mental labor” preparing his talk, had gone to bed Monday evening, Jan. 3, before taking the early morning train to Boston. Overnight, he was “attacked by a fatal disease” (unnamed); he died Jan. 26.

Addison called Judd “an author of national reputation” and “the master of an elegant and forceful literary style.” In addition to miscellaneous articles, several volumes of sermons and a history of Hadley, Massachusetts, and neighboring towns, he wrote three fiction works: “Margaret” (1845); “Philo, an Evangeliad” (1850); and “Richard Edney” (also 1850).

The first and last are novels. Harvard Square Library calls Philo “a long dramatic poem”; it is mostly in blank verse, rather than rhymed. New editions of all three books are listed on line.

On-line descriptions of Margaret give the full title as Margaret: A Tale of the Real and the Ideal, Blight and Bloom; Including Sketches of a Place Not Before Described, Called Mons Christi. Harvard Square Library considers it Judd’s “best work” and describes it as “perhaps the only Transcendental novel”.

(The Transcendental movement was a New England based philosophical world-view whose tenets included belief in the essential unity of all creation, humanity’s innate goodness and finding each individual’s truth through insight and intuition rather than science or logic. Essayist and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson [1803-1882] is called the founder of Transcendentalism.)

Wikipedia says poet James Russell Lowell called Margaret “the most emphatically American book ever written.” An on-line book-seller’s page calls it “a breathtaking combination of female bildungsroman, utopian novel, and historical romance”; and “[p]art eco-criticism, part seduction novel, part temperance tract, and part social history.”

(Bildungsroman is defined on line as a novel about a person’s “formative years or spiritual education.” The Harry Potter books are “in the literary tradition of a bildungsroman.”)

Citing an introduction by Gavin Jones to a 21st-century edition, the reviewer adds that two unusual features of Margaret are “creation of a female character who grows in social rather than domestic power” and “its exploration of transcendental philosophy in novelistic form.”

A reader reacted on-line with equal enthusiasm, urging everyone to read Margaret. Calling it a great book, this person praised Judd’s writing style and his wide range of knowledge, from botany to literature to family and social life in a rural village.

Another reader who commented on line liked parts of the book, especially Margaret’s childhood in the village. Overall, though, she or he found it too preachy and said Judd was terrible at plotting, relying on coincidences and introducing and discarding characters randomly.

The novel influenced other 19th-century writers, British and American, despite, the book-seller reviewer says, being “controversial” for including alcoholism and capital punishment. Plot summaries found elsewhere explain both: Margaret is born in a very poor rural village where everyone drinks, and when she grows up her brother is executed for accidentally causing another man’s death.

The night after the execution, another brother starts a fire that a disgruntled character spreads. The village is destroyed. Margaret goes to Boston, where she finds a rich grandfather who helps her get the education she wants.

Margaret comes back to her village, marries a Mr. Evelyn and with him builds what the more critical on-line reviewer found an improbable Paradise, where people of different faiths – all varieties of Christians, Muslims, Jews – live together in sobriety and happiness.

Your writer offers a sample from the first chapter of the first section. The book begins:

We behold a child eight or ten months old; it has brown, curly hair, dark eyes, fair conditioned features, a health-glowing cheek, and well-shaped limbs. Who is it? Whose is it? what is it? where is it? It is in the centre of fantastic light, and only a dimly-revealed form appears. It may be Queen Victoria’s or Sally Twig’s. It is God’s own child, as all children are.

Then the sun comes out, the sky is blue and the wind blows, and Judd comments that sun, sky and wind are “common to Arctic and Antarctic regions, and belong to each of the three hundred and sixty terrestrial divisions.”

After two more pages, including a paragraph in which people react to the claim that the child is in pain in a dozen languages, including French, German, Italian, Latin, Arabic and Irish and Scottish dialects, Judd reveals that the child is Margaret, about whom he will tell more, after skipping “seven or eight years.”

Chapter Two is titled Work and Beauty. – An Impression of the Real. The first sentence reads:

The child Margaret sits in the door of her house, on a low stool, in our vernacular, ‘quilling,’ for her mother, who, in a room near by, is mounted in a loom, weaving and smoking, the fumes of her pipe mingling with the whizz of the shuttle, the jarring of the lathe, and the clattering of treadles.

A grey squirrel sits on Margaret’s shoulder watching her work.

* * * * * *

Philo begins with Philo standing in a village street explaining to his friend Charles that he is waiting for “a stranger…from the moon or otherwheres.”

Charles thinks Philo is crazy, and since he’s running an errand for his wife (“the mystery of merchants’ packages / She longs to handle.”), he cannot stay.

The stranger turns out to be the Angel Gabriel, who leads Philo to other places and times.

An early scene is set in a valley of “Luxuriant fields and sunny streams,” with flowers, bird songs and fragrant air, so that Philo asks, “Are we in heaven?”

By the stream there is a naked man whose back is “waled and bloody.” As Philo and Gabriel approach, they hear him wishing he were dead in the ocean to which the stream flows, rather than a slave in Carolina.

Have I not feelings, will, intelligence,
And sense of manhood, yearnings for the highest?
I cannot live; with death I sooner join
Issue than life. – Who’s near?

The man, Pomp, tells Gabriel and Philo about learning to read by stealing his young mistress’s books; learning that she, too, hates slavery; and escaping with her help.

After four days of freedom, during which
One hour enlargement grasped, one hour indulged
My birthright’s wild extravagance; the next
Reversed the whole, and sent me back a slave.

Now, Pomp says,

I cannot bide my time; I have no time, —
It is my master’s; mine, eternity
Shall be. The dogs are near, — delay me not.

And he jumps into the river. Gabriel then records the “bubble” that rises from the water and turns into a flaming wheel, then into a meteor that “shoots athwart the land” and bursts to create a bonfire that consumes slavery, so that

See how the riven races close as brothers;
Hear how a continental joy explodes,
And rolls a-thundering along the earth!
To which Philo replies:

Into the future thou hast borne me far;
Return we to our point, in place and time,
And with these visions let my actions rhyme.

* * * * * *

Wikipedia gives the full title of Judd’s second prose novel as Richard Edney and the Governor’s Family: A Rus-Urban Tale Simple and Popular, Yet Cultured and Noble of Morals, Sentiments, and Life Practically Treated and Pleasantly Illustrated, Containing Also Hints on Being Good and Doing Good. (Other sources spell “Rus-Urban” as “Rusurban.” Your writer guesses the word is Judd’s combination of “rustic” and “urban.”)

The accompanying description says the novel “tells the story of Richard Edney and his interactions with the Governor’s family, providing a perspective on morality and life. It also contains helpful hints on being a good person and doing good deeds.”

The novel is set in mid-19th-century Maine. It begins with Richard – no further identified at first – walking through a major snowstorm, burdened by a heavy pack, but nonetheless recognizing the snow as God-sent and pausing to help a woman who falls down. Here is the first paragraph, copied from a Kindle edition on-line:

It began to snow. What the almanac directed its readers to look out for about this time – what his mother told Richard of, as she tied the muffler on his neck in the morning – what the men in the bar-rooms, where he stopped to warm himself, seemed to be rubbing out of their hands into the fire – what the cattle, crouching on the windward side of barnyards, rapped to each other with their slim, white horns – what sleigh-bells, rapidly passing and repassing, jingled to the air – what the old snow, that lay crisp and hard on the ground, and the hushed atmosphere, seemed to be expecting – what a ‘snow-bank,’ a dense, bluish cloud in the south, gradually creeping along the horizon, and looming mid heavens, unequivocally presaged – a snow-storm, came good at last.

In following pages, Richard reaches his destination, his sister and brother-in-law’s city home; he hopes to find a job, preferably in a mill. The second chapter introduces the governor and his family with whom Richard will be connected.

Main sources

Hatch, Louis Clinton, ed., Maine: A History 1919 (facsimile, 1974).
Kingsbury, Henry D., ed., Illustrated History of Kennebec County Maine 1625-1892 (1892).
North, James W., The History of Augusta (1870).

Websites, miscellaneous.

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Augusta-area authors

by Mary Grow

This week’s article is about two more Augusta-area writers whose careers began in the 19th century. In order of birth, they are Edward Stanwood (born in Augusta, spent most of his career in the Boston area) and Laura E. Richards (born in the Boston area, spent most of her career in Gardiner, two towns south of Augusta).

* ** ** *

Edward Stanwood was born in Augusta on Sept. 16, 1841, the third of Daniel Caldwell and Mary Augusta Webster Stanwood’s 11 children. He graduated from Bowdoin in the Class of 1861 and made a career as a historian and newspaperman.

Find a Grave and other on-line sites summarize parts of his career. More details are given in a 1923 article in the Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, written by his son-in-law, Charles Knowles Bolton (see below).

Stanwood’s professional career began in Augusta, reporting from 1858 to 1867 for several Maine newspapers, including the Kennebec Journal (founded in 1825).

Edward Stanwood

In the summer of 1867 Stanfield took a position with the Boston Daily Advertiser. From then on his career was based in Massa­chusetts. After 1884, the family spent summers on Squirrel Island, part of Southport, Maine.

In 1883, Stanwood left the Advertiser to become became editor of The Youth’s Companion, a job he held until 1911. This children’s magazine was founded in Boston in 1827, by Perry Mason & Company, and continued until it merged with American Boy in 1929.

In addition to editing, Stanwood wrote non-fiction works, mostly historical and political ­ – a history of the U. S. presidency, a history of U. S. tariff policy, a biography of James G. Blaine (to whom he was related, and with whom he frequently interacted) and many magazine articles.

Stanwood married Eliza Maxwell Topliff (born in Boston Oct. 10, 1839), on Nov. 16, 1870, in Boston. The couple had two children, Ethel (March 2, 1873 – Jan. 9, 1954), and Edward, Jr. (June 24, 1876 – May 16, 1939).

The Brookline, Massachusetts, Historical Society website says the house that was built for Edward Stanwood at 76 High Street was an example of “English Victorian Queen Anne style.”

The article continues, “Its gargoyles embarrassed Stanwood, publisher of the extremely influential The Youth’s Companion, who became known as the man with ‘the house of sunflowers and devils.'”

Eliza Stanwood died Sept. 24, 1917, on Squirrel Island. Edward died Oct. 11, 1923, in Brookline, Massachusetts. Both are buried in Augusta’s Mount Pleasant Cemetery.

Their daughter Ethel graduated from Wellesley College, Class of 1894, and married Charles Knowles Bolton on June 23, 1897, in Brookline, Massachusetts. She was one of the first women to vote in Shirley, Massachusetts, after the 14th Amendment took effect on Aug. 26, 1920.

Ethel and her husband, who was a librarian, both wrote about local history and local families. One of Ethel’s works named on line is Clement Topliff and His Descendants in Boston, a history of her mother’s family (published in 1906).

An on-line genealogy says Clement Topliff might have been born Nov. 17, 1603 (the date is labeled “uncertain”), in England; he died Dec. 24, 1672, in Dorchester, Massachusetts. His son Samuel (born in 1646) fathered Ebenezer (1689), who fathered another Ebenezer (1719), who fathered another Samuel (1758), who fathered Eliza’s father, Samuel, Jr. (1789-1864).

Ethel died and is buried in Shirley.

Ethel’s brother, Edward, Jr., graduated from Bowdoin College and from Harvard Law School. According to the Brookline Historical Society, he married Marion Evans in Chicago, Illinois, on June 15, 1907, and “worked in Boston.”

Find a Grave’s website shows a photo of a June 15, 1907, marriage certificate for Marion Evans, age 26, and Edward Stanwood, age 31, married in Chicago, Illinois. On the same website, a note says Stanwood married Frances Perot (June 24, 1889 – January, 1973). Your writer has failed to find a death date for Marion Evans or a marriage date for Frances Perot and cannot say whether Edward married twice.

Find a Grave says Edward and Frances are buried in Truro, Massachusetts. The website has a photo of his tombstone; the inscription says “Massachusetts” and “Lieut (J. G.) U.S.N.R.F.” (Lieutenant, Junior Grade, U. S. Naval Reserve Force).

* * * * **

Laura E. Richards

When Henry Kingsbury published his Kennebec County history in 1890, contributor Thomas Addison observed that Laura E. Richards’ “work as a writer covers, as yet, but little more than a decade.” Addison gave her one of the longer paragraphs in his chapter on literary people, and your writer suspects today she is the best-known of the writers described thus far in this sub-series.

Laura Elizabeth (Howe) Richards was born Feb. 27, 1850, in Boston, oldest of six children (the younger of her two brothers died at the age of three; her youngest sister, Maud [Howe] Elliott, was the only sibling who outlived her).

Richards’ father was Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe, who founded the Perkins School for the Blind in 1829. Her mother was Julia Ward Howe, best known as author of the 1862 poem titled The Battle Hymn of the Republic.

On June 17, 1871, Laura married an architect named Henry “Skipper” Richards. They lived in Boston until 1876, when Richards took a high-level job in the family paper mill in Gardiner, Maine, and the family moved there.

Laura Richards wrote more than 90 books, including children’s books, poetry and biographies.

Her earliest works were poems for children, published in St. Nicholas Magazine beginning in 1873. A biographical note on line, introducing her papers in the University of New England’s Maine Women Writers Collection, calls her “the first prominent American writer of nonsense verse for children.”

On-line sources list such books as Baby’s Rhyme Book (1878); Five Mice in a Mousetrap by the Man in the Moon: Done in Vernacular, from the Lunacular (1880); The Joyous Story of Toto (1885) (the Google book title The Joyous Story of Toot is a misprint) and Toto’s Merry Winter (1887); and Tirra Lirra: Rhymes Old and New (1932).

Baby’s Rhyme Book begins with a kitten’s story of her day: 7 a.m., trying unsuccessfully to put her mistress’s workbox in order; 9 a.m., sampling the cream on the breakfast table ­– “not so thick as it ought to be, but I do not complain” – since no one brought her food; 10 a.m., sharpening her claws on the annoyingly flimsy curtains; 11 a.m., moving a vase so she can nap on top of the clock; and so on.

Sources call Five Mice in a Mousetrap Richards’ first children’s book. By today’s standards, it is not for young children: 17 chapters, more than 220 pages and, like the previous book, a vocabulary that is not for beginning readers, but to be read aloud by a parent.

The first chapter opens with the Man in the Moon saying:

“Children, down on the planet which you call Earth, allow me to introduce myself to you! I am the Man in the Moon. I have no doubt that you know a good deal about me, in an indirect way, and that your nurses have told you all sorts of nonsense about my inquiring the way to Norwich – as if I didn’t know the way to Norwich! and various things equally sensible.”

(The reference is to a Mother Goose poem first published in 1833, with many variations through the years, about the Man in the Moon tumbling down and asking the way to Norwich. He “went by the south, and burnt his mouth” on cold porridge.)

The Toto books are a puzzle to your writer. The first is described on line as the story of a black dog, Toto; but a recorded book with the same title is about a cheerful little boy named Toto, who lives with his blind grandmother in a cottage in the woods (with a talking teakettle, among other amenities).

The boy persuades his woodland friends to visit his grandmother to keep her from being lonely. The first to arrive is a bear, unaccustomed to conversation; fortunately, raccoon, with squirrel on his back, two birds and a sleepy woodchuck soon arrive to help him.

The on-line description of Toto’s Merry Winter calls it the story of a young girl. The cover depicts a young boy, with woodland animals.

Tirra Lirra is a collection of Richards’ poems that were published in “St. Nicholas Magazine” from the late 1800s to the 1930s. It includes an often-mentioned nonsense verse called “Eletephony,” which reads:

Once there was an elephant,
Who tried to use the telephant – No! No! I mean an elephone
Who tried to use the telephone [Dear me! I am not certain quite
That even now I’ve got it right.]
How’er it was, he got his trunk
Entangled in the telephunk;
The more he tried to get it free,
The louder buzzed the telephee I fear I’d better drop the song
Of elehop and telephong!

Addison called Captain January (1890) not intended for young readers, but a portrait of “the ever fascinating child character.” It is the story of a lighthouse keeper who adopts a baby girl who survives a shipwreck and names her Star Bright. When others of her family are discovered (by a rather stretched coincidence), Star Bright chooses to stay with her adoptive father.

At the end of the book, readers know Star Bright will be leaving the lighthouse. A 1927 sequel, “Star Bright”, tells of her later life.

For adult readers, Richards edited two volumes of her father’s papers (1906-1909) and wrote several biographies. Her 1915 biography of her mother, coauthored with her sisters Maud (Howe) Elliott and Florence (Howe) Hall and titled Julia Ward Howe 1819-1901, won the first Pulitzer Prize for biography, awarded in 1917.

Richards’ 1931 autobiography is called Stepping Westward. It is described as a portrait of a pleasant life, including acquaintance with Boston-area literary figures and travels in Europe.

The Richardses bought a house on Dennis Street in Gardiner that they painted yellow and called the Yellow House. They had five daughters and two sons, born between 1872 and 1886.

Kingsbury, writing in 1892, said a fire at the family pulp mill in 1882 did $50,000 worth of damage; afterward, the mill was “rebuilt and enlarged.” The UNE source says it burned again in 1893, was again rebuilt and closed for good in 1900. Find a Grave says the Richards Paper Company merged with International Paper in 1900.

After leaving the paper business, Henry resumed his career as an architect. He and Laura spent their summers running Camp Merryweather, the boys’ camp they founded on Great Pond, in the Belgrades. Henry was camp director until 1934; the camp closed in 1937.

The couple supported many local causes. Kingsbury lists Henry Richards (and two other Richardses) as an incorporator of the Gardiner Water Power Company in 1880; the city water system began running in November 1885.

When the Gardiner Library Association was incorporated Feb. 14, 1881, Kingsbury said Laura E. Richards served on the first board of directors. Find a Grave says she founded the association, and Henry designed the library building and was a director.

In 1895, Laura founded the Women’s Philanthropic Union, of which she was president for 26 years.

Both died at Yellow House, Laura on Jan. 14, 1943, aged 92, and Henry on Jan. 26, 1949, aged 100. They are buried in Gardiner’s Christ Church cemetery.

Yellow House was a Federal-style house, originally built around 1810. In 1979, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places as the Laura E. Richards House. A Dec. 24, 2022, fire did so much damage that the remains of the house had to be torn down.

Main sources

Kingsbury, Henry D., ed., Illustrated History of Kennebec County Maine 1625-1892 (1892).

Websites, miscellaneous.

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Two Augusta women poets

by Mary Grow

As mentioned last week, the list of writers in Henry Kingsbury’s Kennebec County history includes many from Augusta, Hallowell and Gardiner. Among them were two Augusta women listed as poets, Emma Nason (born Emma Caroline Huntington) and Olive Eliza Dana.

* * * * * *

Emma Caroline Huntington Nason

Emma Caroline Huntington Nason (Aug. 6, 1845 – Jan. 11, 1921) was much more than a poet, according to a Wikipedia article and other sources. She began writing poems when she was 12, and also wrote and had published short stories; stories, non-fiction and poems for children; “household articles”; historical works on a wide variety of topics, including Maine; and translations of German works.

In addition to her literary skills, Wikipedia says she composed music and was an artist in oils and charcoal.

Nason was the daughter of Samuel W. Huntington and Sally (Mayo) Huntington. Born in Hallowell, she was educated at Hallowell Academy, where she excelled “in mathematics and the languages.”

From the academy she went to the Maine Wesleyan Seminary in Kents Hill, graduating in 1865. Wikipedia says this institution, which became Kents Hill School, was then the only place in New England where women could attend college.

Wikipedia says her first books were published under the pen name John G. Andrews. By 1874, she was ready to reveal herself: her poem titled The Tower ran in the May Atlantic Monthly under her own name.

This poem and others were collected and published in 1895 as The Tower with Legends and Lyrics. Nason dedicated the book to C.H.N., her husband.

The Tower is the first and among the longest poems in the book. The first stanza begins:

I am the tower of Belus – the tower of old am I!
Under the rifting lines of the gloaming’s tremulant sky,
Under the shifting signs of the ages circling by,
I stand in the might of the mighty – the tower of Belus, I!

Wikipedia writers equate the tower of Belus with the tower of Babel, and say it was built in Mesopotamia by order of King Nimrod, grandson of Noah. Other poems in Nason’s book are about the Trojan War, the city of Agra (now in India), the town of Pavia (in northern Italy), a painting in Berlin, an ancient battle.

Since no source mentions Nason traveling abroad, your writer assumes her knowledge of the ancient and modern worlds came from her reading.

Like Hannah Moore, quoted last week, Nash thought the month of June worthy of a poem. Hers begins:

The month of roses, forever fair,
Radiant, miracle-working June!
Laden with color and perfume rare,
Set with the song of birds atune!

Nason also praised July and August, and “wild, lavish goldenrod.”

Hallowell Bells is a five-stanza lament: Nason can hear the distant bells of Hallowell ringing, “Now soft, now loud, with a sad refrain,” and everyone knows the sound means “Tomorrow…’twill rain, ’twill rain!”

The last poem in the book is The Old Homestead. It praises the spacious, elm-shaded house on a hill that welcomes all comers; the successful farmer whose land is rich with clover, grain and apples; the view over one of Maine’s thousand lakes; and ends:

Let us drink, with lips that are loyal,
One toast: to the homes of Maine!

Nason’s poems for children were printed in St. Nicholas (a monthly started by Scribner’s in New York City in 1873 that lasted until 1940) and other children’s magazines. The poems were collected in White Sails, published in 1888 in Boston.

This book includes a poem called The Bravest Boy in Town, first published in the children’s magazine Wide Awake.

(Wide Awake was another monthly, started in Boston in 1875 by Daniel Lothrop, who had founded D. Lothrop Publishing. Lothrop’s intended audience, Wikipedia says, was children aged 10 to 18, and his goal was to make them “broad-minded, pure-hearted, and thoroughly wide awake.” The magazine merged with St. Nicholas in 1893.)

The Bravest Boy in Town is a story in verse from Civil War days. When Confederate General Jubal Early’s troops raid into Maryland, a Cumberland Valley widow with a 10-year-old son, Jamie Brown, treats a rude platoon leader courteously, inviting him to sit down to eat the food he demands:

“‘If thine enemy hunger, feed him!’
I obey, dear Christ,” she said.
A creeping blush, with its scarlet flush,
O’er the face of the soldier spread.

The soldier promises the raiders “shall trouble not you nor yours.” But his men steal the widow’s cow anyway.

It was then the fearless Jamie
Sprang up with flashing eyes,
And in spite of tears and his mother’s fears,
On the gray mare off he flies.

When Jamie catches up with the triumphant raiders and demands his mother’s cow back, the captain takes his side. The poem ends:

And a capital joke they thought it,
That a barefoot lad of ten
Should demand his due – and get it too –
In the face of forty men.

And the rollicking rebel raiders
Forgot themselves somehow,
And three cheers gave for the hero brave,
And three for the brindle cow.

He lived in the Cumberland Valley,
And his name “was” Jamie Brown;
But it changed that day, so the neighbors say,
To the Bravest Boy in Town.

Some of Nason’s non-fiction works include Old Colonial Houses in Maine Built Prior to 1776, published in 1908 by the Kennebec Journal Press, in Augusta; and Old Hallowell on the Kennebec, published in 1909 by Burleigh & Flynt, of Augusta. Wikipedia cited contributions to Maine literary clubs, including “papers on ‘The Folk-lore of Russia,’ ‘The Abenaki Indians,’ ‘The Early Balladists and Troubadours of France,’ and a course of lectures on the ‘Genius and Love-life of the German Poets.'”

The Find a Grave website says Nason’s husband was Charles Henry Nason (Nov. 25, 1845 – Feb. 1, 1918), of Hallowell. They married on May 23, 1870.

Charles Nason went into the clothing business with his father-in-law until 1880, when the older man retired and left his son-in-law to run what became a 6,000-square foot store. Kingsbury said it was “a compliment and an honor to Augusta, as well as to Mr. Nason, that by the concurrent opinion of constant travelers, her leading clothier has the finest establishment of its kind in Maine.”

The Nasons had one son, Arthur Huntington Nason (Feb. 3, 1877 – April 22, 1944), born in Augusta and died in Gardiner. He earned a doctorate and taught English at New York University.

Charles and Emma Nason, Arthur Nason and Arthur’s widow, New Jerseyite Edna Walton (Selover) Nason (Oct. 6, 1873 – Dec. 31, 1945), whom he married in 1916, are buried in Hallowell Village Cemetery, according to Find a Grave.

* * * * * *

Olive Eliza Dana, daughter of James Wolcott and Sarah W. (Savage) Dana, was born Dec. 24, 1859, in Augusta, and lived there her entire life. Plagued by ill health, she died Feb. 3, 1904, barely past her 44th birthday.

Dana, like Nason, is noted in Wikipedia articles and elsewhere as a multi-talented writer. Immediately after graduating from Augusta high school in 1877, she began writing for what the Wikipedia writer labelled “the press,” including a variety of newspapers and magazines.

One Maine outlet was the weekly Portland Transcript (1849-1910), described on line as of 1871 as “An independent family journal of literature, science, news, markets, &c.”

Under Friendly Eaves by Olive Eliza Dana

She also contributed to Good Housekeeping; the Boston-based Journal of Education (presumably the one founded in 1875 by the merger of similar journals in Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island); The Illustrated Christian Weekly, published in New York; and Cottage Hearth: A Magazine of Home Arts and Home Leisure, another Boston publication.

Dana’s works included poems, short stories and essays, many for young people. Her collected short stories were published as Under Friendly Eaves (1894). The 22 stories are prefaced by a poem by the author that begins:

Just a they came to me, I write them here, —
These homely tales of simply, friendly folk….

An on-line review in Representative Women of New England refers to the “natural and wholesome atmosphere,” and the “romantic and heroic spirit” in Dana’s portrayal of New England life. The writer comments that “The influence of her stories, imbued as they are with the spirit of cheery helpfulness, is enmobling [sic] and uplifting.”

Dana’s poem titled Autumn’s Promise was published on the front page of the Oct. 18, 1892, issue of the Journal of Education. The first stanza (of five) reads:

The wild-flowers cease their straying
By every moss-grown wall,
And, where the winds are playing,
The oak-leaves fade and fall.
The little herbs grow musty
With over-much of rain,
The clinging vines are rusty
Where dews too long have lain.

Dana quickly changes her rather somber mood, however, remembering that the wind is scattering seeds for next year and there is a rich harvest this year. Her final cheerful stanza reads:

So Autumn’s promise seemeth
A richer, gladder thing
Than that of which one dreameth
Among the blooms of spring.
A song of all the pleasures,
Of all the unborn years,
A rune of all their treasures
She crooneth in our ears.

In the Nov. 3, 1892, issue of the same publication, Dana had almost a full page for Thanksgiving Day [An Exercise]. She wrote a long poem about Thanksgiving, followed by a prose history of the holiday, followed by another poem. The first poem, called The Day, begins:

It comes when chilling wintry frosts
Across the fields are creeping,
When all the harvest days are past,
And all the flowers are sleeping;
When early sunsets light the skies,
And shadows early lengthen, —
But every true and tender tie
Its warmth shall round us strengthen.

The first stanza of the second poem, “Thanksgiving Cheer,” focuses on the positive, without the nostalgia. Dana wrote:

The time of all the happy year
Fullest of peace, of strength, of cheer;
The joyful ‘Harvest Home’ is here!

NOTE: Emma Huntington Nason has a considerable presence on-line. Researchers will be able to find book titles, including the four mentioned above that are available on amazon.com and elsewhere, texts of poems and other information.

Many of Olive Dana’s books are also available, including reprints of “Under Friendly Eaves” from numerous sources.

The University of Maine’s Raymond H. Fogler Library special collections holds the Olive E. Dana papers.

Main sources:

Kingsbury, Henry D., ed., Illustrated History of Kennebec County Maine 1625-1892 (1892)

Websites, miscellaneous

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Some early Maine poets

by Mary Grow

As promised last week, no more ponds for a while. Instead, your writer turned to Thomas Addison’s chapter on Literature and Literary People, in Henry Kingsbury’s Kennebec County history. She hopes you will enjoy meeting a few of the writers mentioned.

Addison’s definition of literature covers almost anyone who wrote: newspaper people, historians, educators and sundry others. Your writer has chosen arbitrarily to begin with selected poets.

Many of the names Addison mentioned have no on-line references. Others are listed only as contributors to a book titled The Poets of Maine: A Collection of Specimen Poems from over Four Hundred Verse-makers of the Pine-tree State, compiled by George Bancroft Griffith and published in 1888.

Your writer found excerpts from this book on line. The samples she read have brief biographies and selected poems.

* * * * * *

Amos Lunt Hinds’ book,
Uncle Stephens

A large number of writers came from Augusta, Gardiner and Hallowell. Addison listed surprisingly few from Waterville or towns farther north, and not many from smaller towns.

An exception was the Town of Benton, identified as the home of poets Amos Lunt Hinds and Hannah Augusta Moore.

Amos Lunt Hinds (born in Benton Nov. 12, 1833, or sometime in 1834; died in Benton, April 24, 1908) was the son of Asher Hinds (born in Benton May 2, 1792; died in Benton April 23, 1860) and Lucy Harding (Turner) Hinds (1801 – July 2, 1883), who was either the first or second of his two wives (sources disagree).

The on-line description of Forgotten Books’ 2018 reprint of Amos Hinds’ 1905 Uncle Stephen and Other Verses includes Hinds’ introduction. The poet said the poems were written over 40 years; some had been published in newspapers and magazines, locally and out of state. Hinds collected them into a book “at the suggestion and request of old friends, to whom they are submitted with affectionate greeting.”

An article in the Jan. 10, 1906, issue of the Colby Echo (found on line) republishes a Dec. 27, 1905, Waterville Evening Mail article on the publication of Uncle Stephen. Hinds is described as a Colby graduate, Class of 1858, and a resident of Benton Falls.

The unnamed writer of the article mentioned several poems with local connections.

The one titled The Soldiers ‘ Monument was “read at the unveiling of the monument in this city on May 30, 1876.” The newspaper quoted one verse:

Long let this musing soldier stand,
‘Neath free New England skies,
To all that love the fatherland,
Type of self-sacrifice.

General Isaac Sparrow Bangs, in his military history included in Edwin Carey Whittemore’s Waterville history, describes the founding of the Waterville Soldiers’ Monument Association in March 1864, before the Civil War ended. Its purpose was to provide a memorial to honor Waterville residents who died in the war.

The first fund-raising events were that month. After a Nov. 29, 1865, event, Bangs wrote, the association apparently went dormant until June 1875. By then, donations and interest totaled $1,000, and the town gave a matching sum.

Association committees were formed to design the monument and find a site. Two more fundraisers May 16 and 17, 1876, added $350, and the Waterville Soldiers’ Monument, in what is now Veterans Memorial Park, at the corner of Elm and Park streets, was dedicated on Tuesday, May 30, 1876, Memorial Day.

Another of Hinds’ poems, Old Block House, was about Fort Halifax, in Winslow, the 1906 newspaper writer said.

Uncle Stephen, “the first and longest poem in the volume,” honored Stephen Crosby, whom the writer called “one of the early settlers of that portion of Winslow which lies adjacent to Benton Falls.”

Crosby owned a grist mill, and during 1816, the Year without a Summer, he “endeared himself to his generation and his memory to other generations, by refusing to profit by the distress of his neighbors, continuing to sell corn, of which he had a store, at the ordinary price.”

On-line genealogies say Amos Lunt Hinds married Lettice Orr Reed (1834 – Jan. 26, 1910), and name only one child, Lucy Turner Hinds (1866-1966). The “Colby Echo” article says Amos was the father of Asher C. Hinds, Colby 1883 (but see box on the Hinds family).

* * * * * *

Poets of Maine says Hannah Augusta Moore was born in Wiscasset on March 15 of either 1827 or 1828. Her grandfather was Colonel Herbert Moore, of Waterville; her father, Herbert Thorndike Moore, is identified as “of New York City.”

Her mother, who is not named, and her father were both poets, the biography says. The family moved to Philadelphia when Hannah was “a small child” and she started writing there. Then she lived in New York (City?) “for many years.” In 1886, she “came back” to Benton, which she called “dear native land.”

The biography does not say when Hannah had previously lived in Benton, and the following text is not helpful. It says that after her mother died (no date given), she “attended school at Waterville, Me.”

As soon as Moore settled in Benton, Ephraim Maxwell, publisher of the Waterville Mail newspaper, began publishing her work.

Moore wrote under pseudonyms, including Helen Bruce and Wanona Wandering. The biography explains that she avoided “Hannah” “from a dread that she might be supposed to consider herself a second ‘Hannah More.'”

(Hannah More [Feb. 2, 1745 – Sept. 7, 1833] was a British writer whose works included plays and poetry, mostly religious.)

The biography says it was Moore’s own choice to live “like a hidden singer in a hedge.” Her poems were available in the United States and in Europe, and many were set to music. One collection, titled “Plymouth Notes,” sold 40,000 copies in Europe in its first year.

The biography ends by quoting “June in Maine,” one of Moore’s best-known poems. The first stanza reads:

Beautiful, beautiful summer!
Odorous, exquisite June!
All the sweet roses in blossom,
All the sweet birdies in tune.

The poem urges readers to go outside and enjoy

All the dim aisles of the forest
Ringing and thrilling with song;
Music—a flood-tide of music—
Poured the green valleys along.


Buttercups, daisies, and clover,
Roses, sweet-briar, and fern,
Mingle their breath on the breezes—
Who from such wooing could turn?

* * * * * *

Frances Parker Mace

Frances Parker (Laughton) Mace is another Maine poet, who was a friend of Moore’s. Wikipedia says she was born in Orono, Jan. 15, 1836 (or, one source says, 1834, citing her tombstone), daughter of Dr. Sumner Laughton and Mary Ann (Parker) Laughton.

The family moved to Foxcroft in 1837. Mace’s education included Latin “and other advanced subjects” at Foxcroft Academy when she was only 10 years old. Her first poems were published when she was 12, some in The New York Journal of Commerce, Wikipedia says.

The Laughtons moved to Bangor, and Mace graduated from Bangor High School in 1852. Wikipedia says her most famous poem was published in the “Waterville Mail” when she was 18, suggesting a Waterville connection by 1854 – did she and Moore meet then? Your writer found no evidence.

This poem is titled Only Waiting. It was inspired by a friend who asked an elderly man in a poor-house what he was doing and received the reply, “Only waiting.”

The poem begins:

  Only waiting till the
  Are a little longer grown,
  Only waiting till the
  Of the day’s last beam
is flown;
  Till the night of earth
is faded
  From the heart, once full
of day;
  Till the stars of heaven
are breaking
  Through the twilight
soft and gray.

It goes on to describe the man’s readiness to leave his weary life for the company of angels.

The poem was published in the Waterville Mail under the pseudonym “Inez.” Later, a hymn-writer named Mrs. F. A. F. Wood-White, from Iowa (according to one on-line source), claimed she had composed it, creating a dispute that was eventually resolved in Mace’s favor.

Mace married a lawyer named Benjamin Mace in 1855, and for the next 20 years was busy with eight children, four of whom died young. She began writing again when their eighth child was two years old, with a poem published in Harper’s Magazine.

Her collected poems were published in the 1880s, before and after the family moved to San Jose, California, in 1885. She died in Los Gatos, California, on July 20, 1899.

NOTE: For those interested in seeking out poems mentioned in this article, your writer found on line:

Two recent reprints of Amos Lunt Hinds’ Uncle Stephen and Other Verses: a 2016 hardcover edition by Palala Press, and a 2018 paperback by London-based Forgotten Books.

Three reprints of The Poets of Maine: in 2008 by Kessinger Publishing (Vol. 2 only); a 2017 paperback by Forgotten Books; and a 2023 paperback by Creative Media Partners, LLC.

Listed as available on amazon.com, in January 2024: copies of Frances Laughton Mace’s two poetry collections, Legends, Lyr­ics and Son­nets, originally published in Boston, Mas­sa­chu­setts, by Cupples, Upham, in 1883; and Under Pine and Palm, originally published in Bos­ton by Tick­nor, in 1888. No publisher is given.

More about the Hinds family

On-line sources say poet Amos Lunt Hinds had three younger brothers and a younger sister. The brothers are listed as Albert D. Hinds (1835-1873); Asher Crosby Hinds (1840-1863); and Roswell S. Hinds (1844-1864). The sister was Susan A. Hinds (1837-1905).

Find a Grave website says the Asher Crosby Hinds who was born Jan. 7, 1840, in Clinton, served in Company G of the Third Maine Infantry during the Civil War. He started as a corporal and mustered out as a sergeant. The website quotes the beginning of his obituary from the April 2, 1863, Piscataquis Observer, which says he died in Benton at the age of 23.

Amos and Asher’s brother Albert and his wife Charlotte (Flagg) named their first son, born in 1863, Asher Crosby Hinds.

Wikipedia says Asher Crosby Hinds, born Feb. 6, 1863, and died May 1, 1919, represented Maine’s First District in the U. S. House of Representatives for three terms, from 1911 to 1917.

The article says he attended Coburn Classical Institute and graduated from Colby College in 1883; worked for a Portland newspaper beginning in 1884; and from 1889 to 1911 held clerical positions in the Maine House of Representatives, working for the Speaker.

Hinds edited two procedural manuals, Wikipedia says, an 1899 edition of the Rules, Manual, and Digest of the House of Representatives and in 1908 Hinds’ Precedents of the House of Representatives.

The article cites a 2013 study showing the Precedents “successfully altered the behavior of House representatives, as they became less willing to appeal decisions of the chair.”

This information leads your writer to conclude that Rep. Asher C. Hinds was Amos and Lettice Hinds’ nephew, not their son.

Amos Lunt Hinds and a dozen other family members are buried in Barton-Hinds Cemetery on Eames Road in Winslow, according to Find a Grave.

Main sources

Kingsbury, Henry D., ed., Illustrated History of Kennebec County Maine 1625-1892 (1892).
Whittemore, Rev. Edwin Carey, Centennial History of Waterville 1802-1902 (1902).

Websites, miscellaneous.

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Sidney ponds

Messalonskee Lake

by Mary Grow

Here is the last article (for a while) on central Kennebec Valley ponds and people for whom they might have been named. This week’s topic is ponds in the Town of Sidney (which was until Jan. 30, 1792, part of Vassalboro, despite being on the other – west – side of the Kennebec River).

A map of Sidney shows a large lake, Messalonskee Lake (aka Snow Pond), along much of its western border with Belgrade. If the map is detailed enough, it will show smaller ponds scattered through town.

They include Lily (Henry Kingsbury spelled it Lilly in his Kennebec County history) Pond, in northeastern Sidney between Interstate 95 and the Kennebec River. In the southwestern corner of town are nine small ponds, some shared with Belgrade on the west and Manchester on the south.

Lily Pond appears as an oval running approximately southwest to northeast. Its outlet, from the northeast corner, drains east into the Kennebec River.

According to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s (IF&W) summary report dated 1997, Lily Pond had an area of 44 acres and a maximum depth of 30 feet. The report called it “a shallow warmwater pond with many areas of aquatic vegetation that provides excellent habitat for pickerel and largemouth bass.”

The Lakes of Maine website agrees on the maximum depth but gives the area as only 26 acres. Aerial photos on two websites show large areas of brown surrounding the pond, as though the water level had dropped significantly and the exposed areas had not grown vegetation.

* * * * * *

The northernmost of Sidney’s southern ponds, Ward Pond, is northeast of Route 27, a main road that runs diagonally through the southwest corner of town. Ward Pond lies between two north-south roads, Pond Road on the west and Quaker Road on the east.

Ward Pond was probably named after one of Sidney’s Ward families, though your writer has been unable to determine which one(s).

The 1856 map of Sidney shows a Ward house on the west side of Quaker Road, a short distance south of the pond. The 1879 map reproduced in Alice Hammond’s Sidney history shows what might be the same house, with a blacksmith shop beside it, and another Ward dwelling on the east side of Quaker Road north of the pond.

John Ward owned land in Sidney by 1794. When the first 10 school districts were laid out that year, some of the boundaries Hammond quoted referenced his land, which was evidently several miles from the Kennebec.

Kingsbury listed among early settlers in western Sidney “Deacon William Ward and his father.”

In 1843, Kingsbury and Hammond (apparently copying; she included Kingsbury in her list of sources) wrote that “Asa, William and David T. Ward” were among organizers of what became the West Sidney Baptist Church the next year.

William was probably the Rev. William Ward, who married into the large Tillson (Hammond) or Tilson (Kingsbury) family. According to the Tillson genealogy that Hammond included, Holmes Tillson (born July 4, 1776) moved to Sidney from Massachusetts in 1805; he and his wife Olive (Packard) had 10 children, the five youngest born in Sidney.

Holmes Tillson expanded his land-holdings on both sides of the southern end of Pond Road. Hammond said his son Jason donated the land for the West Sidney Baptist Church building in October, 1845. Her 1992 book has a photo of the church building at 51 Pond Road, not far north of Route 27 and south of Ward Pond.

Holmes Tillson “and one of his sons” ran Tillson Tavern (Hammond gave no dates), in a building she wrote was still standing in 1992, at the Route 27/Pond Road intersection. Kingsbury said Holmes’ sons, Jason (1806-1865) and Anson (born in 1808), succeeded him as tavern-keepers; he too omitted dates.

Anson Tillson was the first postmaster when the West Sidney post office opened in December 1831.

Holmes Tillson’s second daughter, Mary (born in 1800), married William Ward. Their son, Anson T. Ward, served in the Civil War.

After the war, Anson married Mary (Robbins) Tillson, from Rome, Maine, widow of his uncle, Jason. Anson and Mary moved to Arlington, Virginia, after 1881.

Kingsbury’s list of town officials – selectmen, town clerks and treasurers – from 1792 to 1892 includes no Til(l)sons and only one Ward. Loren B. Ward was elected a selectman in 1865 and served five terms.

* * * * * *

The other eight southern ponds are south of Route 27.

Northeasternmost is Joe Pond, an irregular rectangle. Southeast of Joe Pond is tiny round Lily Bay Pond; southwest of Joe Pond, mostly in Belgrade, is Penny or Penney Pond, shaped vaguely like a bird with half its long, rounded tail in Sidney and its body and head in Belgrade.

North-south Gould Pond, south of the east end of Penny, is entirely in Sidney, as are the two ponds parallel to its east shore. The northern of these another source names Bean Pond. The southern one the detailed Sidney map calls Doctors Pond, probably erroneously; other sources name it Emery or Mud Pond. The real Doctors Pond is probably the one east of this grouping and even smaller than Lily Bay Pond, unnamed on the Sidney map.

South of Emery Pond, partly across Sidney’s south line in Manchester, is Silver Lake.

The IF&W web page says Joe Pond has an area of 40 acres, a maximum depth of 20 feet and very acidic water. It is described as “a typical bog pond with dense shoreline vegetation and sphagnum moss growing to the waters [sic] edge.”

Lakes of Maine, as usual, agrees on the maximum depth but lists the size as only 28 acres. An undated aerial view shows Route 27 not far east of the pond and “Jepsen Woods Ln” running west off the road across the north end of the pond. There is also a suggestion of an access – a break in the vegetation – on the east shore.

Lily Bay Pond is described by Lakes of Maine as covering only three acres; no depths are given. The Lakes of Maine aerial photo shows a wooded shoreline. IF&W has no website for Lily Bay Pond.

Penny Pond, according to the IF&W website, covers 44 acres, with a maximum depth of 38 feet. IF&W calls it “a small kettle pond of glacial origin.”

(A kettle pond or kettlehole is a reminder of the glaciers that once covered Maine. It is formed when a block of ice, left buried in the ground after a glacier retreats, melts and leaves a hole that fills with water. Windsor’s Donnell Pond, described by Henry Kingsbury [and cited in the Feb. 15 article in this series] as apparently having no bottom, is quite likely a kettlehole.)

Lakes of Maine says Penny Pond covers 39 acres and agrees on the 38-foot maximum depth. Its aerial photo shows “Jepsen Woods Ln” reaching – or almost reaching – Penny Pond’s east shore, in Belgrade, over the north end of Joe Pond. Penny and Joe ponds are less than half a mile apart, according to Lakes of Maine.

The IF&W website links Gould Pond with smaller Wellman Pond, northwest and almost entirely in Belgrade. Gould Pond, the website (citing a 2000 update) says, covers 19 acres and has a maximum depth of 34 foot; Wellman is only nine acres in area, but is 66 feet deep. These are two more kettleholes, IF&W says.

The Lakes of Maine aerial photo clearly shows the stream linking Gould and Wellman ponds. Lakes of Maine says Gould Pond is 23 acres, with a 34-foot maximum depth. (For Wellman Pond, Lakes of Maine’s dimensions agree with IF&W’s.)

The Sidney map with which your writer started this investigation shows Doctors Pond as the larger and southern of two ponds parallel to the east shore of Gould Pond. It is an irregular square with a “tail” extending south and turning southwest.

Lakes of Maine has a website for a two-acre Doctor Pond in southern Sidney, with an aerial photo showing a rectangular pond with no “tail.” This pond is said to be east of Gould and Lily Bay ponds; the Sidney map shows a small unnamed pond that fits that information. IF&W does not have a Doctor(s) Pond website.

After comparing sundry maps and descriptions, your writer decided that the two ponds within half a mile of Gould Pond’s east shore are Bean Pond (northern) and Emery or Mud Pond – not Doctors Pond — (southern). A stream connects the two.

Bean Pond covers four (IF&W) or five (Lakes of Maine) acres, with a maximum depth of 30 feet (both sources).

Hammond’s history mentions several people whose last name was Bean, including the James H. Bean for whom Sidney’s school is named. Most lived in the 20th century.

One exception was David Bean, who in 1843 sold land on Belgrade Road (now Route 27), reserving a piece for his use to bury the dead. Hammond said a West Sidney Cemetery Association was organized; some of its trust funds remained in town hands in 1992.

The photos and sketches of Emery Pond match the Sidney map’s Doctors Pond. Lakes of Maine says the area is eight acres; IF&W says nine acres; both give the maximum depth as 42 feet.

The Knowles or Summerhaven Road loops around the southern ends of Emery and Gould ponds, separating them from Silver Lake, which is shared between Sidney and southern neighbor Manchester.

Silver Lake is also called Figure Eight Pond; one website calls it a “two-lobed” pond, another refers to Upper Silver Lake. Lakes of Maine’s aerial photo shows how two peninsulas almost meet to divide the lake into larger northern and smaller southern sections.

Lakes of Maine gives the size as 34 acres (IF&W says 29 acres, as of 2000) and the maximum depth as 62 feet (IF&W agrees). There are roads and buildings around much of the lake, and IF&W says there is a small boat launch on the southwest, off Summerhaven Road, near the Sidney/Manchester town line.

Knowles Road, your writer guesses, was the early name for Summerhaven Road, and it might recognize an early Sidney family. According to Hammond, Holmes Tillson’s oldest daughter, Rhoda (born in 1799), married “Deacon Joseph Knowles, of Readfield, who was associated with the Rockwood Meeting House in Belgrade.”

Their homestead was “in back of Summerhaven on the Knowles Road,” Hammond said. Knowles paid property taxes in Belgrade, Manchester and Sidney.

Hammond called Summerhaven a part of Sidney with “natural resources which furnished recreational areas.” The ponds provided opportunities for boating, swimming, fishing and ice-skating, she wrote.

On line, Summerhaven is variously identified as a neighborhood and a recreational area. It is partly in Sidney, partly farther southeast in Augusta.

Several websites refer to motorcycle trails; one says they are closed and the site remains up only for historic reasons and to prevent people making wasted trips to the former site. Other websites mention a shooting range.

Main sources

Hammond, Alice, History of Sidney Maine 1792-1992 (1992).
Kingsbury, Henry D., ed., Illustrated History of Kennebec County Maine 1625-1892 (1892).

Websites, miscellaneous.

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Ponds named after people

by Mary Grow

Webber Pond

Returning to early settlers who had ponds named after them and related topics (discussed in many recent articles in this series), your writer starts with a reader’s question: is Webber Pond in Vassalboro named for Charles Webber, mentioned at the end of the Jan. 11 article?

Vassalboro historian Alma Pierce Robbins’ account of the Webber family’s early days in Vassalboro says firmly, “Maybe”; and if not Charles, almost certainly a family member. Other sources offer an unusually wide variety of conflicting information that adds up to the same answer.

In her chapter on Vassalboro’s first families, Robbins compiled a list, using as sources the 1792 town valuation report (compiled by Charles Webber and two other assessors) and the 1800 national census.

From these sources she named five Webbers in Vassalboro by 1800: Charles and Charles, Jr., Eliot, Hannah and John. If an on-line genealogy is accurate, Charles was Charles B. Webber – few other sources use any middle initial – and he was one of Vassalboro’s first settlers.

On the town website, 11 Webbers are listed as buried in the Webber family cemetery in Riverside. One is Charles, born c. 1741 and died Nov. 20, 1819, identified as a veteran.

Riverside is the section of southwestern Vassalboro that used to be one of the town’s villages, first called Brown’s Corner and located on “the river road” north of the Augusta line. The river road was the current Riverside Drive/Route 201, approximately.

The 1856 Vassalboro map shows Brown’s Corner as an intersection of the river road and an east-west road crossing it at a right angle and going to the Kennebec. The intersection is south of Seven Mile Brook, between the brook and the Augusta line, and has a cluster of more than a dozen buildings.

Kennebec County historian Henry Kingsbury wrote that early 19th century buildings there included a tavern, a store, a post office (“which in 1826 did a total business of $33.25”) and a Grange Hall. There were successive mills closer to the river, and at the landing two local men “built several small vessels.”

Among those who came to Vassalboro before Charles Webber, according to several sources, was his brother, Joseph.

If your writer found the right Joseph Webber, he was born in York, Maine, July 24, 1727; married Sarah Sedgeley of that town on Jan. 10, 1754; and died in Vassalboro, Sept. 9, 1796. One source says he and Sarah had six sons and two daughters; at least three of the sons (Charles’ nephews) lived in Vassalboro or China.

Find a Grave says Charles Webber was born in January, 1741, in York. He married Hannah Call, born in 1744 in Amesbury, Massachusetts. After Hannah’s death in 1782 (Find a Grave says she “was buried on the first farm Charles owned”), he married Sarah Smiley (died in 1800).

An on-line genealogy lists 13 Webber children. Assuming it is (somewhat) accurate, Charles, Jr., was Charles B. and Hannah’s first child, born in Dresden, Maine, in 1764.

Their oldest daughter, Sarah (1766-1854), was the first white child born in Vassalboro. She married Judah Chadwick (1765-1816; probably one of the South China Chadwicks who have been mentioned previously, since the couple are buried in China’s Chadwick cemetery on Route 32 South [Windsor Road]).

Then came Mary (1769-1837), James (1771-1823), John (1773-1847), William (?c. 1774-?), Nancy (1777-?), Samuel (1779-c. 1891), Hannah (1780-1860; married Amos Childs, whose gravestone in the North Vassalboro Village cemetery identifies him as a Revolutionary veteran), George M. (c. 1782 [or 1776]-1831), Joseph (1783 [or 1775]-1817), Benjamin (Feb. 27, 1786-1834) and Jeremiah (July 17, 1786-1820).

Obviously one of the last two birth dates is an error; and this genealogy contradicts Kingsbury, who said Jeremiah was Charles’ only child by his second wife, Sarah.

Sons who might have kept the family name in Vassalboro, according to this on-line genealogy, included John, who married there in 1793 (and died in Ohio); Samuel, who married in Vassalboro in 1801 (and died in New York); George, who married his second wife in Vassalboro in 1820; and Jeremiah, who married in Vassalboro in 1805.

Jeremiah’s wife is variously identified as Balsora, Belsora or Belsova Horn or Horne. Another genealogy says they had eight children. The town website says Balsora died in 1829 and she and Jeremiah are buried in the Webber family cemetery, along with a Belsora who died in 1866 (one of their daughters?). Belsora’s seems to have been the last burial in the cemetery.

On-line sources say Charles B. Webber was a veteran of the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War. French and Indian War records that are cited list him in Nathaniel Donnell’s company in April 1757, and in January 1759 in Capt. Ichabod Goodwin’s company in Col. Jedediah Preble’s regiment. (These military leaders were from York, Maine.)

In the Revolutionary War, sources say Webber was an officer in the militia. He seems to have served under (at least) two local commanders, Captain Dennis Getchell, of Vassalboro, and Colonel Joseph North, of Gardinerstown.

Webber moved to Vassalboro between the wars. Robbins wrote that in 1764, Charles Webber bought, for “twenty pounds lawful money,” the west end of lot number 63 on the 1761 survey of Vassalboro by Nathan Winslow (mentioned in last week’s article).

Kingsbury said Charles Webber in 1765 was the settler on the third lot along the river north of the Augusta line, which would have been lot 53 on the 1761 survey.

Robbins’ and Kingsbury’s histories each include a version of the 1761 survey, with the shape of Webber Pond (called 7 Mile Pond in Robbins’ book, as China Lake is listed by its old name, 12 Mile Pond) quite different.

On the survey in Robbins’ history, Seven Mile Stream comes from near the south end of the pond and enters the Kennebec through lots 61 and 62. Kingsbury’s version has the stream exiting the pond a little farther north and curving father south to enter the Kennebec through lots 57 and 58.

Referring to the 1800 census, Robbins wrote: “Charles Webber had ‘400 acres under water’; perhaps he had taken over ‘Webber Pond’.” Some deeds, she immediately added, called the water body Colman Pond (see box).

Then she wrote, “At least the younger generation of Webbers left the river at Brown’s Corner, where the first Charles settled, and cleared the area at the foot of the pond….”

Kingsbury found that Charles Webber was one of the residents who in 1766 petitioned the land-owning Kennebec Company to build, or let locals build, a grist mill at Riverside so they could grind their grain locally. Later, he owned at least one manufactory: as mentioned in the Jan. 11 article on Seven Mile Stream, Kingsbury said sometime in or after the 1840s Webber acquired the machine shop close to the Kennebec that built “sash, blinds and doors.”

Kingsbury listed Charles Webber as Vassalboro’s first town treasurer, in 1771, and as treasurer again in 1776, when he was also town clerk; as selectman in 1773, for two years; as a member of the six-man committee that set up Vassalboro’s first nine school districts in 1790; and as a selectman in 1791, for four years (compatible with his being an assessor in 1792).

* * * * **

Another confusing note: Linwood Lowden, in his history of Windsor, says that the first mill in Windsor was Charles Webber’s, built before June 1804 on Barton Brook, which Lowden described as the “brook emptying into Webber’s mill pond.”

When Webber sold the lot in 1810, Lowden said, he reserved the right to build a mill on the stream “commonly called the inlet of Webber’s Pond.” Lowden surmised he wanted to prevent competition with his 1804 mill.

Other early sources, brought to your writer’s attention by Vicki Tobias, of Tobias History Research, confirm that Three Mile Pond was called Webber (or Webber’s) Pond in the first decade of the 1800s. Tobias shared an 1808 map, showing C Webber owning a lot abutting the southeast end of the pond.

(The map also shows I, or perhaps J, Barton and Elijah Barton owning lots east of Webber’s. See the Feb. 29 story on Windsor’s Barton family.)

Kingsbury has one more Charles Webber story that your writer found nowhere else. At the end of the section of his history dealing with early churches in Vassalboro, he described “one other place and kind of worship” that would be remembered “so long as the links of tradition can touch each other – the church and teachings of Charles Webber, who resided on the river road near Riverside.”

Webber’s former house was in 1892 Wallace W. Gilbert’s, Kingsbury wrote. Across the road, on “the James S. Emery place” in 1892, Webber built a “small edifice” late in the 1700s where he named himself pastor and preached.

The unusual feature, Kingsbury said, was that Webber could not read: his wife would read the Bible to him, and he would expound. Kingsbury quoted Webber’s introduction to a sermon: “If Polly tells me aright you will find my text….”

Your writer saves you the trouble of looking back in this article: the Charles Webber who is supposedly the subject had successive wives named Hannah, who died in 1782, and Sarah, who died in 1800. Might his nickname for one have been Polly?

Riverside preacher Webber often called on sinners to repent, saying, Kingsbury wrote, that “it was as impossible for one [a sinner] to enter heaven as it was for a shad to climb a tree.”

Kingsbury concluded: “His eccentricities and goodness survive him, as does the old church, which, on another site, is the residence of Freeman Sturgis.”

The Vassalboro Colemans/Colmans/Colmens

The 1792 assessors’ report and 1800 census that Robbins cited name John Colman, Joseph Colman and Owen Colmen; Robbins found in town records an 1802 reference to Owen Coleman; and she wrote that brothers Dudley and Charles Colman came to Vassalboro from Nantucket.

Dudley and Charles, she said, “settled land bordering Webber Pond, farmed and operated a sawmill” at the pond’s outlet. Kingsbury mentioned a Coleman sawmill, “later known as the Foster mill,” well up the stream close to the pond.

Dudley and his wife Polly (Jones) and Charles and his wife Mary (Bryant) each had eight children, Robbins wrote.

An on-line genealogy says a Revolutionary veteran named John Coleman (May 12, 1744-Sept. 22, 1823) and his wife Lois (Danforth) (June 19, 1743-Oct. 3, 1823), of Newbury, Massachusetts, settled in Vassalboro in the late 1700s with their older son, Joseph (Aug. 8, 1765-c. 1858). This source adds that they “settled in the vicinity of Webber Pond where Joseph reared a large family.”

Another genealogy, compiled in 1898 and including some of the Sturgis and Colman families, says Joseph married Mercy Cross, in 1787, and they had five sons and five daughters, born between 1791 and 1815.

It would be helpful to know when Colman or Webber Pond acquired each of its names.

Main sources

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)

Websites, miscellaneous