14-year-old Albion girl achieves hunting grand slam

At the age of 8, Emily Peirce, of Albion, took an interest in hunting. Since then, she has harvested six deer prior to this year. She has applied for a moose permit in years passed and was lucky enough to be drawn this year. Since being drawn for her moose permit Emily decided to try for the hunting Grand Slam.

To start the season, Emily shot her bear in Upper Enchanted Township on September 16, weighing 87 pounds. September 21 she harvested two turkeys on family land in Albion. On October 15, the last day of her permit, she was able to shoot her moose in Zone 4 weighing 769 pounds with a 50 ¼-inch spread. With determination and support, she shot a 4-point buck weighing 156 pounds on November 10, to complete her Grand Slam and her personal goal for the 2022 season.

Her friends and family are incredibly proud, and Emily is overjoyed with her success.

Happy birthday to a dear friend

Rena Harding, center

Rena Harding, of Albion, spent her 100th birthday on October 29, 2022, at home with family and friends.

Rena is the daughter of the late Lesley and Gertrude Bailey, of Palermo. Rena’s last sister, Natalie Coro, of Waterville, attended her party.

She has four children, Eugene, Athene, Sheldon and Neil as well as many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Karen Noyes Moody made a beautiful birthday cake.

I have spent many good times at Rena’s home and I was treated so nicely; she calls me her “little girl”. She worked very hard through the years and I am so happy that she had a nice birthday. She deserves it.

I love you and wish you more birthdays.

Ruth Fuller
China Village

HealthReach welcomes Nancy Johnson

Nancy Johnson

This September, staff at HealthReach Community Health Centers welcomed Nancy Johnson, Connector. The two practices Nancy joins include Belgrade Regional Health Center, and Lovejoy Health Center, in Albion. Nancy looks forward to helping patients access important services, such as affordable healthcare, health insurance, and other social and support services.

Nancy obtained her bachelor’s degree in secondary education, language arts from the University of Maine at Farmington. She also has a master’s degree in literacy education from the University of Maine at Orono. In 2021, Nancy served as a Patient Services Representative for MaineGeneral Medical Center, where she provided excellent customer service to patients and determined urgency levels for medical referrals. Nancy previously worked as a certified title I literacy teacher for the Augusta school department for over a decade. She also has experience in helping people with Medicare Part D matters.

Nancy joins HealthReach’s dedicated Connector Team – Tina DeRaps, LSW; Chenoa Jackson, LSW; and Courtney Koczera. Connectors provide free and valuable services to help with the high cost of healthcare. Connectors are here to help patients navigate a variety of resources, including MaineCare (Medicaid), Hospital Free Care, Supplemental Nutritional Aid Program (SNAP, or “food stamps”), reduced-cost prescription medications through the Patient Assistance Program, and our HealthReach Affordable Care Program (“Sliding Fee”). HealthReach Connectors can also connect you to other helpful resources in your local community.

Lovejoy Health Center welcomes Ashley Rancourt

Ashley Rancourt

This October, staff at Lovejoy Health Center, in Albion, are pleased to welcome Ashley Rancourt, Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor. Ashley has experience in both inpatient and outpatient counseling environments.

Ashley earned her master’s degree in Clinical Counseling from the University of Southern Maine. Previously, she earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Maine at Farmington. Ashley comes from years of experience providing treatment to adolescent patients through her work in local schools. Ashley brings background in both one-on-one and group therapy treatments. Ashley will be a great addition for the Albion area and surrounding communities.

Ashley joins physician Dean Chamberlain; physician assistant Nikki Kimborowicz; family nurse practitioner Keiko Kurita; and licensed clinical social worker Deb Daigle. Our clinicians offer medical and behavioral health services for patients of all ages. Residents of Albion and nearby towns have enjoyed quality care at Lovejoy Health Center since its founding in 1978.

Albion’s Lovejoy Health Center welcomes two new staff members

This September, staff at Lovejoy Health Center welcome two new members: Nancy Johnson, Connector; and Hattie Blye, Care Manager.

Nancy obtained her bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education, Language Arts from the University of Maine at Farmington. She also has a master’s degree in Literacy Education from the University of Maine at Orono. She worked as a Certified Title I Literacy Teacher for the Augusta School Department for over a decade. Nancy also has experience in helping people with Medicare Part D. Nancy looks forward to providing free services to help patients navigate a variety of resources, including MaineCare (Medicaid), Hospital Free Care, the Supplemental Nutritional Aid Program (SNAP, or “food stamps”), reduced-cost prescription medications through the Patient Assistance Program, and our very own HealthReach Affordable Care program (“Sliding Fee”).

Hattie obtained her associate’s degree in Applied Medical Science, Medical Assistant from Central Maine Community College. Hattie brings a decade of experience as a medical assistant into the role of Care Manager. She looks forward to assisting patients with both the management of chronic illness and the pursuit of better health.

Nancy and Hattie join physician Dean Chamberlain; physician assistant Nikki Kimborowicz; family nurse practitioner Keiko Kurita; and licensed clinical social worker Deb Daigle. Clinicians offer medical and behavioral health services for patients of all ages.

Residents of Albion and nearby towns have enjoyed quality care at the Center since its founding in 1978.

Lovejoy Health Center is a part of HealthReach Community Health Centers, a group of twelve Federally Qualified Health Centers located across Central and Western Maine. Dedicated clinicians deliver high-quality medical and behavioral healthcare to citizens from 9 of Maine’s 16 counties. To ensure access for everyone, HealthReach accepts Medicare, MaineCare, and major insurance providers. In addition, an Affordable Care Program is available to both uninsured and underinsured residents. Assistance is available for applications to programs that help with the cost of your healthcare and medications, including Maine’s Health Insurance Marketplace.

Girls from 10 different schools attend Shine-On Saturday

Messalonskee Lady Eagle Emma Parsons poses for a photo with her cousin, Josie Burden, who traveled from Orrington for the 7th annual ShineOn Saturday on Sept. 24 in Oakland. The event links members of the Messalonskee High School girls soccer team with young girls for a day of learning soccer skills, playing field games, and honoring former soccer player and youth mentor, Cassidy Charette. (photo by Monica Charette)

by Monica Charette

(photo by Monica Charette)

GETTING THEIR SHINE ON: Messalonskee High School girls soccer welcomed a record 46 girls, pre-kindergarten to grade five, to the 7th annual “ShineOn Saturday” held September 24 this year at Messalonskee Middle School.

Girls came from 10 different local elementary schools to be mentored by the Lady Eagles, playing fun field games, learning new skills, and receiving autographed posters from the players. ShineOn Saturday was created seven years ago to honor former Messalonskee student Cassidy Charette. Charette was a leading Eagle mid-fielder and a youth mentor before she was killed in a hayride accident on October 11, 2014. Players also received a Cassidy bracelet, to receive a special snack, and recognition, at the team’s home games this season. ShineOn Saturday is sponsored by the Messalonskee girls soccer teams and the ShineOnCass Foundation.

The ShineOnCass Foundation was created to educate, inspire and empower youth to shine their own light through acts of kindness and volunteer charitable activities. For more information about the Foundation and upcoming ShineOnCass initiatives, visit shineoncass.org or email shineoncass@gmail.com.

Kennebec Montessori kindergartners Emery Pell, front, and her twin sister Shea, learn new soccer skills under the guidance of their mentor Brooke Landry, left, at ShineOn Saturday. Landry, now a freshman on the Messalonskee girls soccer team, was a former youth participant at ShineOn Saturday. (photo by Monica Charette)

2022-’23 Real Estate Tax Due Dates

Albion

Taxes due September 30, 2022
(Interest begins October 1, 2022)

China

Semi-annual
September 30, 2022
March 31, 2023

Fairfield

Quarterly

September 29, 2022
November 2, 2022
February 8, 2023
May 10, 2023

Oakland

August 19, 2022
October 14, 2022
January 13, 2023
March 10, 2023

Palermo

November 17, 2022

Sidney

September 1, 2022
(Interest begins October 1, 2022)

Somerville

Semi-annual
November 15, 2022
May 15, 2022

Vassalboro

Quarterly
September 26, 2022
November 28, 2022
February 27, 2023
April 24, 2023

Waterville

Quarterly
October 14, 2022
December 9, 2022
March 10, 2023
June 9, 2023

Windsor

Semi-annual
September 30, 2022
March 31, 2023
(Tax club due dates are the 15th of each month.)

Winslow

Quarterly
October 6, 2022
December 8, 2022
March 9, 2023
June 8, 2023

To be included in this section, contact The Town Line at townline@townline.org.

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Trotting parks

Trotting park.

by Mary Grow

Your writer intended to deliver the promised article on Charles Hathaway and his shirt company, and more information on Waterville’s historic Main Street buildings, this week. But a reader reacted to last week’s digression on agricultural fairs with a question: what is a trotting park?

Hence another digression, which led your writer to a delightfully illustrated, highly recommended website: The Lost Trotting Parks Heritage Center (see box). This page will share some of the information from this and other sources.

Disclaimer: your writer is not a horse expert. Readers who are, please be kind.

A trotting park, also called a harness racing track, is an oval dirt racetrack, usually a mile long but sometimes shorter. Historically, a trotting park could be public, owned and maintained by an agricultural society of other organization, or privately owned.

On these tracks trotting or pacing horses race, each pulling a sulky with a single human occupant.

Wikipedia says most horses have four “natural” gaits, or “patterns of leg movements.” In order from slowest to fastest, they are called walk, trot, canter and gallop.

The Wikipedia writers describe the gaits in terms of two, three or four “beats.” The trot is a two-beat gait; the horse lifts left front and right rear hoofs simultaneously, then right front and left rear. Average speed is a bit over eight miles an hour.

Wikipedia’s illustrations include a photo of Thomas Eakins’ painting from 1879 or 1880 titled The Fairman Rogers Four-in-hand, or A May Morning in the Park. It shows a group of people in a coach drawn by four brown horses, the two lead horses clearly trotting.

The trot is a comfortable gait that a horse can maintain for hours, Wikipedia says. It is less comfortable for a human rider, who is bounced up and down; riders therefore learn to “post,” to raise themselves up and down in the stirrups in time with the horse’s motion.

The pace, called on another site an artificial gait, is also a two-beat gait, but the two legs on the same side of the horse’s body move together, so that the horse rocks from side to side – even less comfortable for a rider than trotting.

Harness racing could be for either trotters or pacers, Wikipedia says. In the United States, harness-racing horses must be Standardbred. Wikipedia says Standardbreds have shorter legs, longer bodies and “more placid dispositions” than Thoroughbreds.

A sulky, also called a bike, a gig or a spider, is a light-weight, single-seat horse-drawn vehicle with two large wheels.

On-line sites indicate that harness racing is common worldwide. In the United States, there are races for both pacers and trotters. A pacer or trotter who comes in top in each of three sets of races in the same year becomes a Triple Crown winner.

This year’s Windsor Fair program included harness racing. The Windsor Historical Society, headquartered on the fairgrounds, has information and photographs about past horses and races.

* * * * * *

Last week’s story mentioned trotting parks in China, Waterville and Windsor. Henry Kingsbury wrote in his Kennebec County history that China’s, Windsor’s and one of Waterville’s were public. China’s was built in 1868 and abandoned before 1892.

Kingsbury listed six nineteenth-century private parks in the county. Four were still operating in 1892, one in Farmingdale, one in West Gardiner, and two in Waterville, C. H. Nelson’s and Appleton Webb’s.

Palermo native and Civil War veteran Charles Horace “Hod” Nelson (1843 – 1915), of Sunnyside Farm, in Waterville, was an internationally recognized horse breeder; his champion trotter, Nelson (1882 – Dec. 4, 1909) set multiple records and in 1994 was named an Immortal in the Harness Racing Hall of Fame.

Your writer failed to find information on an Appleton Webb she is sure was a trotting park owner. Waterville lawyer and politician Edmund Webb’s son Appleton (Aug. 12, 1861 – Aug. 23, 1911) would have been about the right age; one website says he was admitted to the bar, and none links him with horses.

Other trotting parks in the central Kennebec Valley included one in Albion, three in Augusta (two private) and one in Fairfield (apparently private).

* * * * * *

Albion’s trotting park, according to Ruby Crosby Wiggin’s history, was in Puddle Dock, a locality in the southern part of town on Fifteen Mile Stream. The South Freedom Road crosses the stream there; near the bridge, a dam provided water power for various small industries for years, and Wiggin found the South Albion post office was nearby from 1857 (or maybe earlier) to about 1890.

The 1857 postmaster, she wrote, was D. B. Fuller, who lived “in Puddle Dock just opposite Maple Grove Cemetery and on the same side of the road as the trotting park.”

Maple Grove Cemetery is on the southwest side of South Freedom Road, just north of its eastward turn to cross Fifteen Mile Stream; so the trotting park would have been on the northeast side, between the road and the stream.

Wiggin continued her history of fairs in Albion, summarized last week, by saying that after the records she found ended in 1891, the fairs probably wound down, becoming “mostly horse pulling and a horse trot…held at the Trotting Park at Puddle Dock, just opposite Maple Grove Cemetery.”

To many 1960s Albion residents, she wrote, the park was “the place where they learned to drive their first car.” Not long before her history was published in 1964, the park was converted to a large plowed field (visible in an on-line aerial view).

* * * * * *

Augusta’s principal trotting park appears on old maps on the west bank of the Kennebec River, just south of Capitol Park. Newer maps show the area housing the Augusta police department and the YMCA building and grounds.

An on-line site shows a postcard with the typical oval track. Accompanying text says the trotting park was on a 22-acre lot.

Both James North, in his 1870 history of Augusta, and Kingsbury said the park opened in 1858. That year, North wrote, the State Agricultural Society chose Augusta as the site for its fourth fair. City officials and workers spent the summer getting ready.

North wrote, “A trotting park was graded and fenced at considerable expense, on the ‘Bowman lot,’ adjoining the State grounds, where the fair was opened Tuesday, September 21st.”

The 1858 fair was the Society’s most successful thus far, North said, with more and better livestock than ever before shown in Maine and a fine display of industrial and agricultural products in a 50-by-84-foot wooden addition to the State House. During “the ladies’ equestrian exhibition,” attendance was estimated at up to 15,000 people.

On Thursday evening, North wrote, the fair hosted a guest speaker on agriculture, United States Senator Jefferson Davis from Mississippi. Some auditors praised his agricultural knowledge; others detected a political message. North wrote that the Kennebec Journal called the speech “a bid for the presidency, with an agricultural collar and wristbands.”

Kingsbury wrote that up to 1892, the Augusta trotting park operated “with but few intermissions” under successive owners; in 1892, it was run by the Capital Driving Park Association. At some point, the postcard caption said, grandstands with space for 2,000 spectators were built.

In addition to racing and fairs, the park hosted circuses; and in 1911, the on-line site says, it was the landing place for the first airplane to visit Augusta, described as “St. Croix Johnstone’s Moisant monoplane.”

(Your writer could not resist exploring these names on line. She found that John Bevins Moisant [April 25, 1868 – Dec. 31, 1910] was an American aviator from Illinois who designed the Moisant biplane, which crashed on its first flight in February 1910, and the Moisant monoplane, which Wikipedia says “had difficulty staying upright on the ground and was never flown.” A different article says St. Croix Johnstone [another Illinoisan, born Jan, 2, 1887, and died Aug. 15, 1911] “flew a Moisant monoplane,” described as a United States version of the 1909 French Bleriot XI. Both aviators died in flying accidents.)

The Lost Trotting Parks Heritage Center website says Augusta’s two private trotting parks were on the east side of the Kennebec. George M. Robinson’s, built in 1872, was on South Belfast Avenue (Route 105). Alan (in other sources, Allen) Lambard’s, dating from 1873, was off Route 17. Kingsbury said both were “abandoned” by 1892.

North provided a short biography of Allen Lambard (July 22, 1796 – Sept. 5, 1877). He was by 1870 “in the evening of his days,” but still vigorous and interested in agriculture. His business ventures in Augusta and in Sacramento, California, had made him “the largest individual tax-payer in Augusta.” In October 1870, North wrote, he donated the house at the intersection of Winthrop and Pleasant streets as St. Mark’s Home for Aged and Indigent Women. The institution closed in October 1914.

The on-line Find a Grave site says Allen Lambard is buried in Augusta’s Forest Grove Cemetery. Other sources say Lambard was a grandson of Hallowell midwife Martha Ballard, made famous by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s publication of her diary.

George M. Robinson might be the man found on line who was born in 1823, died in 1888, and is buried in Augusta’s Mount Pleasant Cemetery; and might also be the man who made the March 25, 1876, Portland Daily Press after a gale blew down two of his barns.

* * * * * *

The Fairfield trotting park was located on the west side of town, west of West Street and south of the present Lawrence High School athletic fields. The Fairfield bicentennial history leaves its dates uncertain – it might have existed before 1872, while Fairfield was still called Kendall’s Mills, and it was very popular in the 1890s.

The local historians relied on two sources. One was a 1939 article by G. H. Hatch, who believed Edward Jones Lawrence (Jan. 1, 1833 – November 1918) and Amos Gerald (Sept. 12, 1841 – 1913) built the track “which was active in racing circles for years.”

Lawrence and Gerald owned and bred horses, according to Hatch. The first “really famous” Fairfield horseman, he said, was J. H. Gilbreth, whose horse named Gilbreth Knox was “a famous trotter of his day.” Gilbreth Knox is listed on line as a sire in the 1870s.

Lawrence acquired “the beautiful Knox stallion, Dr. Franklin,” listed as a sire in the 1880s.

The other mention of the trotting park in the Fairfield history tells readers that on Wednesday, Aug. 21, 1895, there was a “big event” at the trotting park that brought horses and people from miles around. The owners of the lumber mills in the downtown complex on the Kennebec River gave their employees the afternoon off to attend.

That day, for the third time, a fire started in a mill (earlier fires were in 1853 and 1882) and spread through the others. After the destruction, only one mill was partly rebuilt, and it didn’t last long. “Thus,” wrote the Fairfield historians, “the lumber industry in the Kendall’s Mills area of Fairfield, after a century of progress, came essentially to a close.”

The Lost Trotting Parks Heritage Center

The Lost Trotting Parks Heritage Center is a nonprofit organization in Hallowell, founded and run by Stephen Thompson. Its website describes its mission:

“to preserve the stories and images of the 19th century to present day that illustrate the history of Maine’s harness racing, lost trotting parks, fairs, agricultural societies, Granges, and the significance of the horse in society.”

A Kennebec Journal article from October 2021 says Thompson was looking for a space to turn his on-line venture into a physical museum.

Tax-deductible contributions are welcome. The website is losttrottingparks.com; the postal service address is Lost Trotting Parks Heritage Center, P.O. Box 263, Hallowell, ME 04347; and Thompson’s email is listed as lifework50@gmail.com.

Main sources

Fairfield Historical Society, Fairfield, Maine 1788-1988 (1988).
Kingsbury, Henry D., ed., Illustrated History of Kennebec County Maine 1625-1892 (1892).
North, James W., The History of Augusta (1870).
Wiggin, Ruby Crosby, Albion on the Narrow Gauge (1964).

Websites, miscellaneous.

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Agricultural Fairs

by Mary Grow

Your writer is pleased that she didn’t promise a story about Hathaway shirts this week, because, considering the season, she decided to detour to write about the country fairs our ancestors enjoyed. Some of the historians cited previously in this series mentioned them; your writer will share bits of their information.

Samuel L. Boardman, in his chapter on agriculture in Henry Kingsbury’s Kennebec County history, and Linwood Lowden, in his history of Windsor, summarized development of central Maine agricultural organizations, often sponsors of agricultural fairs.

Lowden’s list:

  • The short-lived Kennebec Agricultural Society, “organized in 1787 and incorporated in 1807,” was the first in New England and the second in the United States. (On-line sources say the first in the country was the 1785 Philadelphia Society for Promoting Agriculture, still active.)
  • The short-lived Maine Agricultural Society, incorporated Feb. 21, 1818, “held cattle shows in Hallowell in 1820 and 1821.” The 1820 show was Maine’s first, Boardman wrote.
  • The Winthrop Agricultural Society, incorporated Feb. 28, 1829, and reorganized in 1832 as the Kennebec County Agricultural Society, leased fairgrounds in Readfield beginning in 1856. By 1892, Boardman wrote, it had several buildings, a track and a grandstand; organizers continued “the old custom” of having a prominent Maine man deliver an annual address.
  • The North Kennebec Agricultural Society, headquartered in Waterville, began July 31, 1847. E. P. Mayo (in the agricultural chapter in Edwin Whittemore’s Waterville history) wrote that its first exhibition was in October 1847. Another early action, Mayo wrote with approval, “was to raise $75 for the purchase of standard agricultural works for a library.”
    • This organization bought land in southern Waterville and built a half-mile horse track in 1854. Its annual exhibitions continued into the 1880s, Mayo wrote, until competition from outlying towns cut too deeply into attendance. Its real estate was sold to expand Pine Grove Cemetery.
  • The South Kennebec Agricultural Society, which included Windsor, was incorporated in 1853 and in April 1857 bought three lots in Gardiner for a fairground.
  • The Kennebec Union Agricultural and Horticultural Society was incorporated on March 17, 1860, and took over “all assets” of the South Kennebec Society. Its “active career” ended in 1877, according to Boardman.
  • The Eastern Kennebec Agricultural Society, organized April 4, 1868, “built a half mile race track, and held its fairs on a sixteen acre site at China,” the China Fairgrounds or China Trotting Park, west off Dirigo Road. In 1869, Boardman said, the Society added a 40-by-60-foot exhibition hall. The last fair was in the fall of 1874; Boardman wrote that bad weather on fair days kept income below expenses, and the society gave up in December 1877 and sold its property.
  • A second South Kennebec Agricultural Society was organized March 24, 1888, in South Windsor, and incorporated by the Maine legislature a year later. This Society leased a lot with a trotting park, the earliest part of the current Windsor Fairgrounds. Lowden wrote that in 1973 the Society’s legal name became Windsor Fair.

* * * * * *

Albion historian Ruby Crosby Wiggin was delighted to find secretaries’ records of the Farmer’s and Mechanic’s Club of Albion (the apostrophes are as she placed them), organized Oct. 5, 1863, and sponsor of an annual October fair from Oct. 13, 1863, through at least 1891, when the records end.

The secretaries’ books answered a question that had plagued her research: local residents told her three different locations for the fairs. The records showed everyone was right.

The 1863 fair was in the Temperance Hall, on Bangor Road, with outdoor exhibits near the former Marden’s – later Drake’s – store. After what was first the Public Hall and later the Grange Hall was built in 1873, the fair moved there and used land behind Keay’s store, on Main Street. And after the town house was built in 1888, it hosted indoor displays, with outdoor events in the field behind the Besse building.

Wiggin’s list of animals at the first fair in 1863 totals more than 100 horses, oxen, cows, sheep and swine. Indoor displays featured farm produce, including locally-raised tobacco; cheeses; and buttons, “carpets, quilts, rugs, cloth, yarn” and other handicrafts.

Exhibits became more varied over the years, Wiggin wrote. She listed some she considered unusual: a “collection of stuffed birds”; a 100-year-old chair; an English table cover more than 100 years old; woolen stockings and a patchwork quilt made by women in their 90s; and a “worsted lamp mat” made by a six-year-old boy.

She found no description of baby shows, but, she said, in 1865 the “largest, fattest and best fed baby” won a prize, and in 1879 a committee named the “longest and leanest and poorest fed man.”

Old-time residents told Wiggin the Albion fair sometimes included a merry-go-round “run by two fellows turning it by a crank in the middle.” It was reportedly owned by Stevens Brothers, from Unity, and was a feature of annual Unity fairs.

* * * * * *

Palermo historian Milton E. Dowe, in his 1996 book of memories, included a short description of the annual Branch Mills Grange fair, where, he wrote, “A wonderful time was had by all.” His undated description refers to a time after 1909, when the Grange Hall, in Branch Mills Village, was built after the 1908 fire.

Behind the building, Dowe wrote, was a hitching rail where people left their horses for the day. On the grounds were cattle exhibits and the horse pulling competitions that were “the highlight of the Fair day.”

Inside, Dowe wrote, people admired “displays of handiwork, arts, crafts, vegetables, etc.” There was an afternoon baby show. The noon dinner included “baked beans, brown bread, biscuits, casseroles, pickles,…various kinds of pies…[and] always plenty of coffee.”

* * * * * *

Alice Hammond’s history of Sidney credits the Sidney Grange with starting the Sidney Agricultural Fair in 1885; it continued well into the 20th century. Kingsbury said its specialties were fruit –Sidney had many apple orchards – and “working cattle.” One year, he wrote, 75 yokes (pairs) of cattle paraded in a line.

Hammond included a report that the fair’s treasurer, Martin L. Reynolds, put in the 1890 town report “[o]wing to the inquiry of some of the townsmen” about the use of town funds.

From 1887 through 1890, taxpayers gave the fair $25 annually. In 1887, fair organizers spent $24.62. The largest expenditure was $9 to E. A. Field for “lumber and hauling same.” The two smallest were 30 cents each for two dozen hooks from O. Williamson and “Swifel Eye to machine” from J. S. Grant (Hammond wondered what a swifel eye was; your writer suggests a misspelling for swivel eye).

In 1888, A. E. Bessey chipped in $1 (he was probably, despite the spelling difference, Dr. Alden Edward Besse [Jan. 1, 1838 – June 15, 1903], born in Hebron, living in Sidney in 1880, died in Waterville, buried in Pine Grove Cemetery). Lumber was again the most costly item; total expenditures were $23.65.

The 1889 expenditure totaled $12.10. Joseph Field earned $2 for “care of lumber” – Hammond noted that the wooden animal pens were dismantled after each fair, stored and rebuilt the next year – and Badger and Manley charged $3.50 for posters (up from $2.50 in 1887).

In 1890 three individuals added $21.94 to the $25 appropriation. The account was nonetheless overdrawn for the first time, mostly because the Oakland Band, making its first appearance, cost $20. Because of earlier frugality, however, treasurer Reynolds reported a balance in the fair treasury of $12.91 at the end of four years.

The year 1890 was also the first year that fair organizers bought a police badge, for 75 cents. Hammond wondered if the crowd was getting rougher, or if the organizers were merely being extra careful.

* * * * * *

Alma Pierce Robbins focused her Vassalboro history on agricultural organizations, mentioning fairs only incidentally. The Vassalborough Agricultural Society was organized in 1820, she wrote. The town had three Granges, Oak Grove (1875, moved to Getchell’s Corner in 1883), Cushnoc at Riverside (1876) and East Vassalboro, organized in 1895 and still flourishing.

The Agricultural Society must have sponsored fairs, because Robbins wrote of spring “preparations to exhibit at the Fall fairs.” She also wrote about “premiums” for “wheat, corn, hemp, flax and silk,” and “prizes” for “cattle, sheep and swine,” and mentioned oxen-pulling and later horse-pulling.

Robbins specifically referred to Cushnoc Grange fairs “with fine exhibits of hand work, farm produce and stock.” She added memories of “the oyster stew suppers on cold snowy nights, the baked bean and brown bread dinners with great jars of home made pickles and dozens of apple pies,” where all the neighbors gathered.

* * * * * *

Windsor’s extensive fairgrounds are at 82 Ridge Road (Route 32), not far north of the intersection where Route 32 joins Route 17. The site includes a dozen historic buildings restored and maintained by the Windsor Historical Society, multiple exhibition halls for everything from livestock to jams and jellies, an oval racetrack and large parking areas.

Lowden wrote that the first Windsor Fair was held Oct. 3 and 4, 1888, before the South Kennebec Agricultural Society was organized and legislatively incorporated in the spring of 1889. There is some confusion about whether a formal racetrack was used that year; Lowden said “a firmly held local tradition” is that horses ran on the road that is now Route 32, across a bridge that “stood high above” Gully Brook. But he found an Oct. 5, 1888, newspaper report saying there was a race track by 1888, so he inferred the in-the-road races must have been earlier.

Lowden wrote that the horse races have always been the most popular attraction and “the financial backbone” of the fair. Other features he described included displays of and competitions among other farm animals. In 1888, the exhibition of horses and colts drew a local reporter’s praise; the reporter was even more enthusiastic about the displays of fruit, vegetables and “artistic needle and fancy work.”

The fair introduced inventions and new practices for farmers and their families, like a new parlor stove and a new kitchen stove in 1893; an automobile in 1900; a hot air balloon in 1902; and an airplane in 1917. The midday featured varied entertainers, simple games, food vendors; the first merry-go-round appeared in 1916.

Main sources

Dowe, Milton E., Palermo, Maine Things That I Remember in 1996 (1997).
Hammond, Alice, History of Sidney Maine 1792-1992 (1992).
Kingsbury, Henry D., ed., Illustrated History of Kennebec County Maine 1625-1892 (1892).
Lowden, Linwood H., good Land & fine Contrey but Poor roads a history of Windsor, Maine (1993).
Robbins, Alma Pierce, History of Vassalborough Maine 1771 1971 n.d. (1971).
Whittemore, Rev. Edwin Carey, Centennial History of Waterville 1802-1902 (1902).
Wiggin, Ruby Crosby, Albion on the Narrow Gauge (1964).

Websites, miscellaneous.

Upcoming fairs

Although Maine’s 2022 fall fair season is winding down, there is still time to take in some that aren’t too far from the central Kennebec Valley.

  • Windsor Fair began Aug. 28, and runs through Monday, Sept. 5. See the website windsorfair.com for daily programs.
  • The Clinton Lions Agricultural Fair, on the fairgrounds at 1450 Bangor Road (Route 100) opens at 3 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 8, and runs through 5 p.m., Sept. 11. Details are on Clintonlionsagfair207.com.
  • Litchfield Fair, at the 44 Plains Road fairground, opens Friday, Sept. 9, and runs through Sept. 11, with free admission for seniors on opening day. See litchfieldfair.com.
  • Farmington Fair runs from 10 a.m., Sunday, Sept. 18, through Saturday afternoon, Sept. 24. The fairground is at the intersection of Maple Avenue and High Street, on the northwest (right) side of Routes 2 and 27 coming from New Sharon. See farmingtonfairmaine.com.
  • The annual Common Ground Country Fair runs from Friday, Sept. 23, through Sunday, Sept. 25, in Unity, at the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) education center, 294 Crosby Brook Road (off Route 139 in southeastern Unity). See mofga.org.

CORRECTION: The building in the photo in last week’s issue is the Clukey Building, located on the corner of Main and Silver streets, location of the Paragon Shop today. It was an editing error.

 

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Natural resources – Part 5

From left-to-right: Gold, Pyrite and Tin Ore.

by Mary Grow

Previous articles have talked about some of the natural resources in the central Kennebec Valley, notably clay and granite. Renewables, like timber, fur-bearing and other game animals and fish, have been ignored – would an enterprising reader like to tackle one or more of those topics?

This piece will cover a varied assortment of other resources. As with those discussed before, information from local histories is scanty.

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Gold is unusual in Maine but not completely lacking. The Maine Geological Survey has on its website a list of streams, all but one in Franklin, Oxford or Somerset county, worth panning for gold. (The outlier is the St. Croix River, separating the United States and Canada; gold has been found in Baileyville, in Washington County.)

Locally, there might have been gold in the Albion-Benton area. One of the personal paragraphs in Henry Kingsbury’s Kennebec County history is about Augustine Crosby (1838 – 1898).

Born in Albion, son of Luther and Ethelinda Crosby and grandson of Robert and Abigail Crosby, Augustine spent 10 of his early years in Massachusetts; came back to Benton and went into lumbering; served in the Civil War (as did his father) and as of 1892 was in “the South” building sawmills.

While in Benton, Crosby married Asher Crosby Hinds’ daughter, Susan A. Hinds. And, Kingsbury wrote, “He invented a dredge for gold dredging and spent some time operating it.”

According to a Crosby family diary found online, Augustine fell ill in September 1898 and died Sept. 28. He was buried Sept. 30 in what the diarist wrote “was called Smiley burying ground.” The funeral was well attended, with 23 teams, the diarist believed, following the hearse. His wife survived him; the diarist mentioned several times her visits to and sympathy for Sue.

(See the website called Winslow Maine Crosby Diary for additional excerpts. The diarist was Elizabeth B. Hinds Crosby (1892-1912); the hand-written diary was transcribed by Clyde Spaulding, her great-grandson.)

(Asher Crosby Hinds [1863-1919] was a Benton native and Colby College graduate, Class of 1883. After newspaper work in Portland, in 1889 he got a position as clerk to the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. He served in clerkship positions until 1911, editing the Rules, Manual, and Digest of the House of Representatives [1899] and Hinds’ Precedents of the House of Representatives [1908]. In 1911 he was elected to the first of three terms as a Republican Representative from Maine. He died in Washington, D.C., and is buried in Portland’s Evergreen Cemetery.)

In China, Indian Island (previously Round Island or Birch Island) in the east basin of China Lake was reported – inaccurately, it appears — to have gold deposits. Several sources cite prominent Quaker Rufus Jones’ memoir of his boyhood, in which he wrote that people dug over the whole island and found only pyrite, an iron sulphide often called “fool’s gold” because it is yellowish.

One more hint of local gold is found in Milton E. Dowe’s Palermo Maine Things That I Remember in 1996. Dowe wrote: “It’s known that there was a gold mine east of the Marden Hill Road [in north central Palermo]. I have been there to the site but never heard the facts of it.”

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Tin, described by Wikipedia as “a soft, silvery white metal with a bluish tinge,” that does not occur as “the native element” but has to be extracted from other ores, is another resource Kingsbury mentioned.

Mixing tin with copper creates bronze, as people discovered some 3,000 years B.C. Wikipedia does not list the United States as a source of tin. But Kings­bury related a story about tin in Win­slow, Maine.

As he told it, about 1870 Charles Chipman noticed “[i]ndications of tin ore” in the rocks along a brook on J. H. Chaffee’s property. He and others, including Thomas Lang (a prominent citizen of Vassalboro) and a doctor from Boston, concluded it might be worth mining.

They organized a company and dug more than a hundred feet down, finding more tin as the shaft went lower, but not enough to cover costs, never mind make a profit. Kingsbury wrote that they gave up around 1882.

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One rather unusual resource is a mineral spring. Mineral springs are similar to ordinary springs, areas (often hillsides) where groundwater naturally comes to the surface because the ground slopes below the water table.

Wikipedia says a mineral spring contains dissolved minerals, especially salt, lime, lithium, iron and sulfur compounds, and sometimes harmful components like arsenic.

For generations people have believed some mineral springs are healthful. “Taking the cure” or “taking the waters” was popular, especially in 18th and 19th century Europe for upper-class Europeans and Americans. Spas have been developed around mineral springs as destinations for people seeking better health; Wikipedia’s illustrations include mineral spas in Europe, India and Iran.

Major mineral springs that have been developed in Maine include Blue Hill Mineral Spring near Blue Hill, in Hancock County, and especially Poland Spring, in Poland.

The spring in Blue Hill was “well-known” before a company was organized in 1888 to exploit its supposed healing properties, according to the Maine Memory Network. Blue Hill’s mineral water was sold nation-wide, including being available on Pullman cars on many eastern railroads. The company folded after a November 1915 fire destroyed its processing buildings.

In 2014, three former University of Maine professors wrote a short article on two mineral springs in Baxter State Park that contained potassium and sodium and served as salt licks for deer and moose.

Poland Spring, in Poland, is by far the best-known Maine spring. According to Wikipedia, the spring is on the lot where Jabez Ricker opened an inn in 1797. In 1844, Jabez’s grandson, Hiram Ricker, said drinking water from the spring had cured his chronic indigestion.

The inn was enlarged, more guests heard about the alleged properties of the water and the Rickers started bottling and selling it. The elaborate Poland Spring House opened in 1886.

There is still a hotel at the spring, Poland Spring Resort. Bottled water now sold under the Poland Spring label comes from more than one part of Maine.

Locally, there are records of mineral springs in Augusta and China.

James North wrote in his Augusta history that in 1810 there were two prominent mineral springs in the area. The Togus Mineral Spring, also called the Gunpowder Spring (North did not explain why) in Chelsea had become well-known as the enthusiasm for mineral waters spread. It was in a meadow; its water had been compared to water from a similar spring in Bowdoin.

Wikipedia adds that the name “Togus” probably came from a Native American word, worromontogus, which can be translated as “place of the mineral spring.” In 1858, a granite dealer from Rockland built the Togus Spring Hotel, with “a stable, large pool, bathing house, race track, and bowling alley.” The venture was unprofitable, and in 1866 the United States government bought the building for a veterans’ home.

According to North, a newly discovered spring in downtown Augusta, close to the Kennebec, was even more popular in 1810 than the Togus spring. He described the location by naming the owner of a nearby house that was on Water Street “opposite Laurel Street,” information that puts the mineral spring in the northern end of the business district, north of the Calumet bridge.

The mineral spring in China, according to local historian Clinton Thurlow, was northwest of South China village, on the west side of China Lake’s east basin. In one of his histories of the Wiscasset, Waterville and Farmington narrow-gauge railroad, Thurlow provided information on the branch line from Weeks Mills to Winslow that ran trains for a few years, beginning on July 9, 1902 (the tracks were removed about 1915, he wrote).

There was a dance pavilion in South China then, on the western edge of the village, and Thurlow wrote that the railroad would run excursions from Winslow to South China, taking passengers to the pavilion early in the evening and bringing them back to Winslow around midnight.

There was another popular place on the WW&F line to Winslow, not far north of the pavilion. Thurlow wrote: “A mineral spring between the Pavilion and Clark’s Crossing provided the occasion for many an unscheduled stop while train crews and passengers alike refreshed themselves.”

Clark’s Crossing was presumably the place where the tracks crossed the still-existing Clark Road that runs toward China Lake from what is now Route 32 North (Vassalboro Road). Your writer has found no other reference to this spring, but does not doubt its existence, because Thurlow talked with several former WW&F employees.

Update on Victor Grange

Victor Grange

Victor Grange #49, in Fairfield Center, organized in 1874, first was profiled in this series on May 13, 2021. This year’s July 14 issue of The Town Line reported that Grange members were about to have the hardwood floors downstairs refinished, probably for the first time since the building opened in 1903.

Grange Lecturer Barbara Bailey reported on July 31 that the floors are done! Grange members intended to spend the first day of August cleaning up dust from the sanding and washing windows before they rehung curtains.

Wednesday, Aug. 3, is the scheduled day to move furniture – including two pianos – back in.

Bailey invites anyone interested in this building preservation and restoration work to contact her at 453-9476 or email baileybarb196@gmail.com. The Grange email address is victorgrange49@gmail.com.

Update on the July21 update on the Kennebec Arsenal

Kennebec Arsenal

Augusta’s Kennebec Arsenal, a group of eight granite buildings dating from 1828-1838 and designated a National Historic Landmark District, has been discussed in two earlier articles in this series, in the Jan. 21, 2021, and Feb. 10, 2022, issues of The Town Line. The buildings have been privately owned since 2007; when the owner bought them from the state, he agreed to keep them in repair and maintain their historic value.

This writer’s July 21 update, citing a story by Keith Edwards of the Kennebec Journal, reported that the Augusta City Council was considering declaring the property dangerous. A declaration would let councilors have repairs made and bill the owner, or have the buildings demolished.

The council postponed a decision until its July 28 meeting, Edwards wrote. In the July 29 Kennebec Journal, he reported that after almost four hours of discussion, councilors again delayed a decision. They plan to continue the hearing at their next meeting, scheduled for Aug. 4, at 5:30 p.m.

Edwards wrote that Augusta Codes Enforcement Officer Rob Overton told council members the buildings were in deplorable condition inside and out. He estimated the cost of making them usable again at around $30 million.

The owner, accompanied by his lawyer, pointed out that he had reroofed all the buildings – Overton had exempted the roofs from his criticism – and made other repairs. He said he intends to ask for local permits to renovate five buildings by the end of August, planning to complete the work within two years.

The owner estimated the cost for that part of renovations at $1.76 million. For another $3.5 million, maximum, he said he could convert what Edwards called “the large Burleigh building” into upscale apartments.

Correction to above article

Benton historian Barbara Warren wrote to point out an error in the Hinds genealogy in the Aug. 4 piece on natural resources, the section on Augustine Crosby (1838-1898), who invented a gold dredge and married Asher Hinds’ daughter, Susan Ann Hinds (1837-1905).

This writer incorrectly identified Susan Hinds’ father as Asher Crosby Hinds, known as “the Parliamentarian.” Her father was actually Asher Hinds (1792- 1860), whom Warren calls “the builder” (he sponsored the building of the Benton Falls Meeting House in 1828 and in 1830 built the Benton Falls house in which Warren now lives). Warren describes him as “a prosperous farmer and merchant,” War of 1812 veteran and delegate to the Massachusetts General Court.

Susan Ann (Hinds) Crosby was Augustine Crosby’s third cousin and Parliamentarian Asher Crosby Hinds’ aunt. Her brother, another Asher Crosby Hinds, was born in 1840 and died in 1863 in the Civil War. The Parliamentarian’s father was Susan’s brother, Albert Dwelley Hinds (1835-1873).

The confusion is understandable, Warren wrote. For four generations, the Hinds family included an Asher; and Hinds and Crosbys often intermarried.

Main sources

Kingsbury, Henry D., ed., Illustrated History of Kennebec County Maine 1625-1892 (1892).
North, James W., The History of Augusta (1870).
Thurlow, Clinton F., The WW&F Two-Footer Hail and Farewell (1964).

Websites, miscellaneous.