Area residents named to University of New England dean’s list

The following students have been named to the dean’s list for the 2021 fall semester at the University of New England, in Biddeford. Dean’s list students have attained a grade point average of 3.3 or better out of a possible 4.0 at the end of the semester.

Olivia McPherson, of Albion; Valerie Capeless, Zinaida Gregor, Jessica Guerrette, Brooklynn Merrill and Julia White, all of Augusta; Sidney Knox, of Benton; Alden Balboni, Kierra Bumford and Tyler Pellerin, all of Oakland: Sarah Kohl and Olivia Roy, both of Sidney; Julia Steeves and Dawson Turcotte, both of Skowhegan; Lauren Boatright, Noelle Cote and Richard Winn, all of South China; Libby Breznyak and Lauren Pinnette, both of Waterville; and Juliann Lapierre and Justice Picard, both of Winslow.

Area residents named to dean’s list at University of New England

The following students have been named to the dean’s list for the 2021 fall semester at the University of New England, in Biddeford. Dean’s list students have attained a grade point average of 3.3 or better out of a possible 4.0 at the end of the semester.

Olivia McPherson, of Albion; Valerie Capeless, Zinaida Gregor, Jessica Guerrette, Brooklynn Merrill and Julia White, all of Augusta; Sidney Knox, of Benton; Alden Balboni, Kierra Bumford and Tyler Pellerin, all of Oakland: Sarah Kohl and Olivia Roy, both of Sidney; Julia Steeves and Dawson Turcotte, both of Skowhegan; Lauren Boatright, Noelle Cote and Richard Winn, all of South China; Libby Breznyak and Lauren Pinnette, both of Waterville; and Juliann Lapierre and Justice Picard, both of Winslow.

The University of New England is Maine’s largest private university, with two beautiful coastal campuses in Maine, a one-of-a-kind study-abroad campus in Tangier, Morocco, and an array of flexible online offerings. In an uncommonly welcoming and supportive community, we offer hands-on learning, empowering students to make a positive impact in a world full of challenges. We are the state’s top provider of health professionals and home to Maine’s only medical and dental colleges, a variety of other interprofessionally aligned health care programs, and nationally recognized degree paths in the marine sciences, the natural and social sciences, business, the humanities, and the arts. Visit

Albion, Palermo, Windsor, China talk merger (2022 April Fool’s story)

by Mary Grow

By 2024, central Maine might have a new town named Alpawich, combining the present towns of Albion, Palermo, Windsor and China.

The new town would have an area of 179.41 square miles, Maine’s largest town by far. Its population will be less than Augusta’s or Waterville’s, however.

The impetus for combining the four towns came from Palermo, as a proposal to merge with China to form a town to be named Chipal. Palermo officials had two motives:

  • The two towns share the village of Branch Mills, the West Branch of the Sheepscot River that runs through the village and Branch Pond north of the village (although China has only a small piece of the west shore); by contract, Palermo residents use China’s transfer station; combination into a single town government would simplify life; and
  • China, coming well before Palermo in the alphabet, beats Palermo in all kinds of lists, from apple sales through grant applications to zoos (neither town has one).

Windsor selectmen then expressed interest. Windsor too shares the Sheepscot, and alphabetically is more disadvantaged than Palermo.

A tri-town Combo Committee formed in the fall considered the issue alphabetically and recommended talking with Albion town officials. When the response was positive, the proposed town became Albchipalwin.

Too long, the members of the now-quadri-town ComboComm said. They proposed, and all four towns’ select boards accepted, Alpawich.

“We don’t mind being on the end,” China’s town manager said. “After all, we’re the largest town, in both area and population. You’ve heard of the tail that wags the dog, right?”

A Palermo Select Board member replied, “Hey, no problem if China thinks they run the show. We’ve shared their transfer station for years without throwing garbage at each other.”

Rather than submit the proposed merger to town meetings on different dates, the ComboComm recommended a referendum vote on state primary election day, June 14, 2022. The ballot question in each town will ask voters to approve the concept of combining with the other three towns and to appropriate a soon-to-be-determined amount to let the ComboComm hire a merger consultant.

The members of the four select boards have agreed that a simple majority in each town will determine whether the town becomes part of Alpawich; and that a membership of two out of four will create the new town (with an appropriately adjusted name).

ComboComm members and the consultant will design the new local government, deciding how many select board members will run Alpawich; how departments will be combined; and how costs of new signs, stationery and similar essentials will be divided.

As the internet replaces in-person interaction, committee members envision a single, central municipal building. The site remains undetermined.

Alpawich Hall would have municipal offices in the center. The educational side wing would be the k-8 school, plus a public library, historical society quarters and a museum, if local organizations express interest in consolidating. So far, they have not.

The medical side wing would house a clinic, a pharmacy, a veterinarian and insurance offices. The rear wing would be home to Alpawich Public Works and the Alpawich Solid Waste Disposal Facility.

For now, the existing transfer stations in China and Windsor would serve Alpawich residents. Fire and rescue units would be left as they are, to avoid increasing response time.

Proponents cite many advantages of consolidation. Combined contracting – with town attorneys and auditors, for example — and purchasing should save money. Their combined road mileage should attract lower bids from paving companies.

Some members of each select board also anticipate a larger town having more clout with state regulators, like the Departments of Environmental Protection and Transportation, according to a source who wished to remain anonymous because they are not authorized to speak on the matter.

County commissioners in Kennebec and Waldo counties have no idea what to do if Alpawich becomes reality. Albion, China and Windsor are in Kennebec County; Palermo is in Waldo County.

“Mostly the county lines run with town lines, like through Branch Mills,” one Kennebec County commissioner said. “Don’t know’s I’ve heard of a town that was in two counties.”

School administrators see many potential complications in the proposed change. Albion is in School Administrative District #49, based in Fairfield; China is in Regional School Unit #18, based in Oakland; Palermo and Windsor are in Regional School Unit #12, based in Somerville.

The RSU #18 superintendent is the least upset. “If there’s no more China, then there’s no more China in RSU #18,” he said. “They’re the geographic outlier. Talk about dogs and tails – they’re a detached tail.”

Assuming voter approval, the legislature would need to create the new town. Legislatively, since redistricting, China, Palermo and Windsor are in House District #62 and Albion is in District #63. The four towns are in four different state senate districts. “So if our reps pay attention to their voters, that’s four proponents in each house right from the get-go,” a committee member observed.

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Albion voters pass most of 57 articles: Reject marijuana licensing ordinance

Albion town office. Photo source: Town of Albion Facebook page

by Steve Ball

ALBION, ME — On Saturday, March 19, in the Albion Fire and Rescue Building, the town government held its annual town meeting. There were 76 voting residents attending the meeting. Fifty-Seven Articles were decided. At the front of the meeting were the Selectmen; Brent Brockway, Board of Selectmen Chairman; Michael Gardner, 3-year term, and recently appointed Scott Cyrway, 2-year term. The moderator, Richard Thompson, called the meeting to order at ten o’clock.

Nearly all of the articles passed with little discussion or debate. The town’s budget was approved at $1,507,939.21, an increase of roughly $300, 000 from the previous year. Attendees voted in three members to the town’s planning board; Dennis McKeen, 5-year term, and Jana Atwood and Norman Lawrence as alternates to a one-year term. Also, attendees voted in four members to the budget committee; Sonia Nelson and Julie McKenzie were elected to three-year terms and Matthew Dow and William McKenzie III were elected as alternates for a one-year term.

The article concerning funding for town roads and bridges received much discussion. It was agreed by a majority to appropriate $100,000 from taxation, $280,000 from the Albion General Fund, and $50,000 from the State of Maine Local Road Assistance Program toward roads and bridges.

The one article voted down was to enact the Town of Albion Marijuana Establishments Licensing Ordinance. After discussion it was decided to use a written ballot for this article. This article received the most discussion during the annual meeting. The Albion Planning Board had spent several months drafting this ordinance to regulate the licensing of marijuana establishments within the town, but it was clear after discussion that there was a desire for more information. The article was voted down, 51 – against, and 20 – in favor.

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Wars – Part 12

The Civil War left China, like Albion and other towns, deeply in debt, paying to outfit the soldiers and compensate their families.

by Mary Grow

Civil War

The United States Civil War, which began when the Confederates shelled Fort Sumter, South Carolina, on April 12, 1861, and ended with General Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, Virginia, on April 9, 1865, had the most impact on Maine, including the central Kennebec Valley, of any 17th or 18th century war.

Nonetheless, your writer’s original plan was to write only a single article about the Civil War. As usual, she found an oversupply of material that she hopes will interest readers as it interested her; but she still limits coverage to two articles, for three reasons.

The first and most important reason to downplay Civil War history is that unlike, say, the War of 1812, the Civil War is already familiar. Citizens who know nothing about the Sept. 13, 1814, bombardment of Fort McHenry (which inspired Francis Scott Key to write the poem that became the national anthem) recognize at least the names of battles like Bull Run and Gettysburg. Many people can name at least one Civil War general; few can name one from the War of 1812.

A second point is that numerous excellent histories of the Civil War are readily available, including books specifically about Maine’s role.

And the third reason is that this war is recent enough that some readers undoubtedly have memories of their grandparents telling stories of the generation before them who fought in the Civil War.

Any reader who would like to share a family Civil War story is invited to write it, attach photographs if available and email to, Att. Roland Hallee. Maximum length is 1,000 words. Submissions will be printed as space permits; the editor reserves the right to reject any article and/or photograph.

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Maine historians agree that the majority of state residents supported President Abraham Lincoln’s decision to fight to preserve the Union. Those who initially disagreed, James W. North wrote in his history of Augusta, found themselves a small enough minority so they either changed their views or moderated their expression.

By 1860, the telegraph was widely used. News of Fort Sumter reached Augusta the same day, followed two days later by Lincoln’s call for 75,000 three-months volunteers, including one regiment from Maine.

On April 22, North wrote, the Maine legislature, in a hastily-called special session, approved enrolling 10,000 soldiers in ten regiments for three years, plus “a State loan of one million dollars.”

Augusta had filled two companies by the end of April. Other Kennebec Valley companies joined them; they camped and drilled on the State House lawn. The Third Regiment started south June 5, 1861; those soldiers were promptly replaced by others from other parts of Maine, volunteers succeeded by men paid bounties and in 1863 by draftees.

North wrote that the first draft in Augusta was held July 14 through 21, 1863, starting two days after the New York City draft riots began, with news arriving hourly. In Augusta’s Meonian Hall, eligible men’s names were drawn from a wheel by a blindfolded man named James M. Meserve, “a democrat of known integrity and fairness, who possessed the general confidence.”

The process began with selection of 40 men from Albion. Augusta followed, and, North wrote, the initial nervousness gave way to “a general feeling of merriment,” with draftees being applauded and congratulated.

Being drafted did not mean serving, North pointed out. Physical standards were strict; out of 3,540 draftees, 1,050 were “rejected by surgeon for physical disability or defects.” It was also legal to pay a substitute or to pay the government to be let off.

Augusta remained a military hub and a supply depot through the war, centered around the State House and Camp Keyes, on Winthrop Hill, at the top of Winthrop Street. There were large hospital buildings on Western Avenue, North wrote, which were so crowded by 1863 that the Camp Keyes barracks were also fitted up as hospital wards. The trotting park between the State House and the river was named Camp Coburn and hosted infantry and cavalry barracks and enlarged stables.

North described the celebratory homecomings for soldiers returning to Augusta when their enlistments were up, like the one in August 1863 for the 24th Regiment. The “bronzed and war-worn” men had come from Port Hudson, Louisiana, up the Mississippi to Cairo and by train to Augusta, a two-week trip. Greeted by cannon-fire, bells, torch-carrying fire companies, a band, state and city officials and “a multitude” of cheering citizens, they marched straight to the State House, enjoyed a meal in the rotunda and “dropped to sleep on the floor around the tables, being too weary to proceed to Camp Keyes.”

Historians describing the effects of the Civil War on smaller Kennebec Valley towns tend to emphasize two points: the human cost and the financial cost.

Ruby Crosby Wiggin found as she researched the history of Albion a record saying that “out of 100 men who went to war from the town of Albion, 45 didn’t come back.” She listed the names of more than 150 Albion soldiers, six identified as lieutenants.

By 1862, Wiggin wrote, the state and many towns offered enlistment bonuses. In addition, towns paid to equip each soldier. Total Albion expenditures, she wrote, were $21,265; the state reimbursed the town $8,033.33.

Wiggin concluded, “No wonder the town was heavily in debt at the close of the Civil War.”

The China bicentennial history says almost 300 men from that town served in Civil War units. The author quoted from the 1863 school report that said attendance in one district school was unusually low, “the large boys having gone to the war.”

The Civil War left China, like Albion and other towns, deeply in debt. The China history says when the State of Maine began tallying municipal costs and offering compensation in 1868, China had paid $47,735.34 to provide soldiers. The state repayment was $12,708.33, and town meetings were still dealing with interest payments and debt repayments into the latter half of the 1870s.

China town meetings during the war were mostly about meeting enlistment quotas, and, the history writer implied, by 1864 voters were tired of the topic. In July and again in December 1864, they delegated filling the quota to their select board.

When the late-1864 quota had not been filled by February 1865, voters were explicit; the history writer said they agreed to “sustain the Selectmen in any measures they may take in filling the quota of this town.”

The Fairfield historians who wrote the town’s 1988 bicentennial history found the list of Civil War soldiers too long to include in their book and noted that the names are on the monument in the Veterans Memorial Park and in the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) record books in the public library across Lawrence Avenue from the park.

Of Larone, the northernmost and likely the smallest of the seven villages that made up the Town of Fairfield for part of the 19th century, the history says, “Larone furnished her full quota of ‘boys in blue’. These averaged one for every family, three-fifths were destined never to see their homes again.”

Millard Howard, in his Palermo history, wrote that “The Civil War was by far the most traumatic experience this town ever experienced.” Of an 1860 population of 1,372, 46 men, “or one out of every 30 inhabitants,” died between 1861 and 1865.

Looking back from the year 2015, Howard wrote somberly, “No other war can remotely compare with it.”

He listed the names of the dead, with ages and causes of death where known. The youngest were 18, the oldest 44. More than half, 26, died of disease rather than wounds; Augustus Worthing, age 31, starved to death in Salisbury prison, in North Carolina.

Sidney voters spent a lot of town meetings in the 1860s talking about the war, according to Alice Hammond’s town history. As early as 1861, they approved abating taxes for volunteers.

As the war went on, voters authorized aid for volunteers’ families and monetary inducements to enlist for residents and non-residents, with preference given to residents. At an 1863 special meeting, they authorized selectmen to borrow money as needed “to aid families of volunteers.”

Hammond noted that Sidney was debt-free before the war, “but in 1865 it issued bonds for $24,000, a debt from which it recovered very slowly.”

Alma Pierce Robbins found from military records that 410 men from Vassalboro enlisted for Civil War service. From census records, she listed the 1860 population as 3,181.

As in other municipalities, voters approved wartime expenses. Robbins wrote that $7,900 was appropriated for bounties and aid to soldiers’ families in 1861. The comparable 1863 figure was $16,900. Perhaps for contrast, she added the 1864 cost of the new bridge at North Vassalboro (presumably over Outlet Stream): $1,057.82 (plus an 1867 appropriation of $418.62).

In Waterville, General Isaac Sparrow Bangs wrote in his chapter on military history in Reverend Edwin Carey Whittemore’s 1902 centennial history, recruiting offices opened soon after the news of Fort Sumter. A Waterville College student named Charles A. Henrickson was the first to enroll, and, Bangs wrote, his example “proved so irresistibly contagious at the college that the classes and recitations were broken up” and the college temporarily closed.

Henrickson was captured at the Battle of Bull Run, July 21, 1861. He survived the war; later in the Waterville history, Chas. A. Henrickson is listed among charter members of the Waterville Savings Bank, organized in 1869.

These Waterville soldiers became companies G and H in the 3rd Maine Infantry, Bangs wrote. After drilling in Waterville, they went to Augusta and were put under the command of regimental Colonel Oliver O. Howard. On June 5, Howard was ordered to Washington, “carrying with him, as Waterville’s first contingent, seventy-four of her boys into the maelstrom of war.”

Bangs spent years verifying the names of 421 men who either enlisted from Waterville or were Waterville natives who enlisted elsewhere. The names are included in Whittemore’s history.

Bangs added that the Maine Adjutant-General’s report says Waterville provided 525 soldiers. He offered several explanations for the discrepancy, pointing out the difficulties of accurate record-keeping.

Waterville paid $67,715 in enlistment bounties, Bangs wrote. Henry Kingsbury, in his history of Kennebec County, put the figure at $68,016 and said the state reimbursement was $19,888.33.

Linwood Lowden wrote in the history of Windsor that more than one-third of Windsor men aged 17 to 50 fought in the Civil War, most of them in the19th and 21st Maine infantry regiments.

Like other towns, Windsor paid bonuses to enlistees and, Lowden wrote, $2,663.87 “in aid to soldiers’ families…from 1862 through 1866.” He added that Windsor first went into debt during these years.

Camp Keyes, Augusta

A history of Camp Keyes found on-line says that the 70-acre site on top of Winthrop Hill, on the west side of Augusta, had been used as, and called, “the muster field” since before Maine became a state in 1820. It was still available, although the militia had become less significant, when the Civil War broke out.

On Aug. 20, 1862, Maine Adjutant General John L. Hodsdon designated the field one of Maine’s three official “rendezvous areas” for militia and volunteers and named it Camp E. D. Keyes, in honor of Major-General Erasmus D. Keyes, a Massachusetts native who moved to Kennebec County (town unspecified on line) as a young man. He graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1832 and fought in the Civil War until 1863, when a superior removed him from command, claiming he lacked aggressiveness.

(The other two Maine rendezvous areas were Camp Abraham Lincoln, in Portland, and Camp John Pope [honoring General John Pope from Kentucky], in Bangor.)

Thousands of Civil War soldiers from Maine passed through Camp Keyes. It also housed Maine’s only federal military hospital, named Cony Hospital in honor of Governor Samuel Cony.

After the war, the site remained a militia training ground. The State of Maine bought it in 1888. In 1893 the militia became the National Guard and continued to use the training ground, with Guard headquarters in the Capitol building until 1938.

The on-line site gives an undated description: “Small buildings were constructed of plywood for mess halls, kitchens, latrines, store houses, and lodging for senior military officers. Companies pitched their tents on pads that had been built.”

Main sources

Fairfield Historical Society Fairfield, Maine 1788-1988 (1988).
Grow, Mary M., China Maine Bicentennial History including 1984 revisions (1984).
Hammond, Alice, History of Sidney Maine 1792-1992 (1992).
Howard, Millard, An Introduction to the Early History of Palermo, Maine (second edition, December 2015).
Kingsbury, Henry D., ed., Illustrated History of Kennebec County Maine 1625-1892 (1892).
Lowden, Linwood H., good Land & fine Contrey but Poor roads a history of Windsor, Maine (1993).
Marriner, Ernest, Kennebec Yesterdays (1954).
North, James W., The History of Augusta (1870).
Robbins, Alma Pierce, History of Vassalborough Maine 1771 1971 n.d. (1971).
Whittemore, Rev. Edwin Carey, Centennial History of Waterville 1802-1902 (1902).
Wiggin, Ruby Crosby, Albion on the Narrow Gauge (1964).

Websites, miscellaneous.

ALBION: Meeting held to decide on way forward for Albion school

A group of approximately 40 Albion residents listen to a presentation by Kara Kugelmeyer (left and below). (photo by Steve Ball)

by Steve Ball

ALBION, ME — A group of Albion residents have been working to figure out what options are available to town residents in light of the recent decision by the MSAD #49 School Board to consolidate the elementary schools of Clinton, Benton and Albion. Consolidation would result in closing the Albion school. Closure of the town’s school is yet another loss for Albion and could have, as moderators said during this meeting, long term consequences for the town.

The group, led by residents Kara Kugelmeyer and Billie Jo Brown-Woods, moderated an information session for interested people in Albion following the annual town meeting on Saturday, March 19, in the town’s fire and rescue building.

The MSAD #49 School Board, the primary decision making body for the district, is made up of members from the towns of Fairfield, Clinton, Benton and Albion. Board members come from member towns with the numbers of voting members being allocated according to population. This results in the MSAD #49 board having two members from Albion and Benton, three members from Clinton and six members from Fairfield.

As explained, it has not been uncommon for small towns across the State of Maine to suffer school closures resulting from cost cutting efforts and attempts to improve administrative efficiencies in schools. These actions have generally been done to reduce the tax burden for an area or to accommodate shrinking student populations. The consequences of a school closure, Kugelmeyer explained, on small towns like Albion, can be stark and have long term impacts on the town’s economic viability and sense of community.

Kugelmeyer and Brown-Woods led the information session for over 40 interested town residents during which they laid out options for the town with possible consequences for each option. It was clear from the number of residents attending the voluntary meeting and the emotion expressed during the session that, for many, a closure of the town’s school would mark a potentially damaging inflection point in Albion’s history from which the town might not be able to recover.

The new consolidated school will be built in Benton, across from the current Benton Elementary School. Kugelmeyer and Brown-Woods stressed that not all aspects of the new school would be bad. There would be improved facilities and a greater number of school activity offerings for students, more than what Albion’s school offers.

Closing the Albion school and sending students to the new school, however, would not necessarily result in cost or tax savings to the residents of Albion, according to Kugelmeyer. Additionally, students would possibly have up to a two hour bus ride per day. Kugelmeyer cited studies looking at other small towns that have experienced school closures showing that the closer a home is to a school, the higher the home value, and the farther away, the lower home values tend to be. “Towns soon become a less desirable destination for new families looking to settle,” Kugelmeyer expressed. All of this affects the tax base for a town.

Kugelmeyer stressed the options available to the residents of Albion are few, but any action must be done soon. An option would be to vote “No” on the referendum to close the Albion and Clinton schools being put forward in November. While this is the easiest option for Albion residents, for the referendum to fail would require that a majority of voters of Fairfield, Benton, Clinton and Albion vote “No”. This would not mean, Kugelmeyer added, that the MSAD #49 board would bring this referendum up again. She commented that it is unlikely this referendum will fail as it largely benefits the towns of Fairfield and Benton, where the new school would be built.

The second option would be to withdraw from the MSAD #49 District. While this course would require more work by the town and its residents, this option, according to Kugelmeyer, would potentially be in the best long-term interest of Albion residents. The Withdrawing Option could mean saving the Albion School or establishing Albion as a “School Choice” town, allowing Albion students to attend any school in the local area, including MSAD #49 for all grades.

It was clear from the discussion by the moderators and the audience that the School Choice option appeared most appealing. But this would mean the town must form a committee to withdraw from the MSAD #49 District, hire a lawyer, draft a Withdrawal Agreement, and begin the process to withdraw within the next month.

While nothing was voted on or positively decided during this information session, it was clear the Town of Albion is quickly coming to a point of a decision that could mean the closure of the Albion school.

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Wars – Part 11

Sir John Harvey

by Mary Grow

Aroostook War

Many historians don’t take the Aroostook War seriously. Several sources call it the Pork and Beans War; Wikipedia says the nickname is based on either the local lumbermen’s or the British soldiers’ staple food.

Some of the local histories cited earlier in this series don’t even mention the war. Alma Pierce Robbins gave it one dismissive sentence in her history of Vassalboro: “The ‘Aroostook War’ of 1839 made no impression upon official Vassalboro, perhaps because it proved to be ‘no war’.”

At the time, though, according to other historians, like James North and Louis Hatch, it was taken seriously by prominent people on both sides, discussed in the United States Congress and the British Parliament. Hatch wrote indignantly that the men who thought they would have to fight deserve recognition:

“Patriotic sons of the Pine Tree State left their homes and firesides in the most inclement season known to our rigorous climate and marched through the deep snows of a wilderness, two hundred miles, to defend our frontier from foreign invasion, when the Federal government was needlessly procrastinating and turning a deaf ear to the cries of suffering and oppressed pioneers in the upper St. John valley.”

The Aroostook War was a step in the boundary dispute between the northeastern United States and eastern Canada that was summarized in The Town Line, March 10, 2022, issue. At issue were about 12,000 sparsely-inhabited square miles claimed by both countries. After years of diplomatic disagreement and competing claims on the ground, both sides sent armed forces to the St. John Valley.

North and Hatch said one early precipitating action was the June 1837 arrest of Mada­waska census-taker Ebe­nezer S. Gree­l­ey, who was acting under authority of the Penob­scot County Com­mis­sioners, by New Bruns­wick Gover­nor Sir John Harvey.

In August, recently-elected President Martin Van Buren obtained Greeley’s release. Greeley finished the census.

However, Canadian loggers continued to cut timber in American-claimed woods. An on-line DownEast magazine article by Will Grunewald lists two other of the region’s assets: the Aroostook River basin had valuable minerals and good farmland the Americans could use, and the British wanted to maintain a land connection between Halifax on the coast and Québec.

On Jan. 24, 1839, North wrote, the Maine legislature ordered 200 men under Penobscot County Sheriff Hastings Strickland to go north to “arrest the depredators and secure the cut timber.” Hatch added that the legislature allocated $10,000 for the expedition.

Some of the group were arrested and jailed in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Hatch continued. Later in the month, he wrote, Americans arrested two Canadians and brought them to Bangor, where they were not sent to jail but “held in custody in the Bangor House and fared sumptuously.”

The trespassers had prepared themselves with “arms forcibly taken from the government stores in Woodstock,” North said. But Strickland’s troops brought a brass six-pound cannon that outgunned them in an initial encounter.

An on-line New England Historical Society article gives a livelier account, crediting the Canadians’ defeat to an attack by a black bear. The Cana­dians shot the bear – another on-line site calls it the only combat fatality in the whole war. The gunshots sent the two sets of armed men fleeing in opposite directions.

The Canadians recovered, and on Feb. 12 again captured some Americans. After an impressive two days of hard riding, Strickland reported to Augusta.

Gov. John Fairfield

Maine Governor John Fairfield asked New Brunswick officials if they supported the locals. Harvey ordered the trespassers to put back the arms they’d stolen; but he also promised to resist “any hostile invasion” and put his militia on stand-by.

Harvey’s claim of territorial jurisdiction and the Americans’ arrest of a British official led to further troop mobilizations on both sides. The Maine legislature promptly appropriated $800,000 and drafted 10,343 Maine militia.

Historian Ernest Marriner wrote in Remembered Maine that the draft “was scarcely necessary because volunteers poured in from all the towns.”

North wrote that one 50-man company “marched all the way from Augusta to the Aroostook, with the exception of a short ride from Bangor to Oldtown over the railroad.”

More than 2,000 Maine troops went to Aroostook, North wrote, and “The bustle of arrival, equipment and departure of troops, at Augusta, wore a decidedly warlike aspect.” General Isaac Bangs, in Edwin Carey Whitte­more’s Water­ville history, implied that all 10,000 men went north for three months, and emphasized the snow they encountered. Several sources commented on the inadequacy of the uniforms given them.

Gen. Isaac Bangs

Public opinion was strongly with the troops. Bangs called the populace “aroused” and the legislature “indignant.” The outrage, the New England Hist­orical So­ci­­ety site says, was “led, as usual, by the press.” The writer quoted from a belligerent editorial and said war correspondents accompanied the militiamen.

On the national level, Congress appropriated $10 million and authorized 50,000 soldiers. The New England Historical Society article says both sides built frontier forts, “sometimes within sight of each other.”

United States Secretary of State, John Forsyth, and British Minister in Washington, Henry Stephen Fox, proposed a mutual stand-down, North wrote. Harvey was willing, Fairfield and the Maine legislature were not. About the same time, however, prisoners were paroled on both sides.

On March 5 or 6, 1839 (sources differ), Major-General Winfield Scott, United States Army, and his entourage arrived in Augusta. Their assignment, quoted by several writers, was “maintaining the peace and safety of the entire northern and eastern frontiers.”

Scott asked Harvey, a friend since 1812, to guarantee no more use of military force against Americans in the area, and Fairfield to guarantee the same in regard to Canadians. Harvey agreed again on March 23. Fairfield, whether tired of quarreling or overawed by Scott (one source says the general stood six and a half feet tall), accepted on March 25. The Maine troops went home, except for a few allowed to remain to repel trespassers.

The New England Historical Society article lists two human casualties of the war, neither on the battlefield. A farmer was accidentally shot during militia firing practice, and a soldier died of measles.

This section of the border between the United States and Canada was settled by the Webster-Ashburton Treaty, negotiated by Secretary of State Daniel Webster and British Envoy Alexander Baring, the first Lord Ashburton. It was signed August 9, 1842, and after exchange of ratifications took effect Nov. 10, 1842.

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Ruby Crosby Wiggin named two Albion men who participated in the Aroostook War in her history of that town.

One was Rev. Joseph Cammet Lovejoy (1805 – 1871), brother of abolitionist Elijah Parish Lovejoy. A document titled “Historical Sketch and Roster of the Aristook [sic] War” said that he served as a chaplain from Feb. 23 to April 25, 1839, enrolling in Augusta and being discharged in Bangor.

Wiggin’s other story (previously summarized in the Sept. 30, 2021, issue of The Town Line) is that of Wayne (Maine) native J. Belden Besse, born Oct. 15, 1820. Wiggin said by 1839 he was “a soldier stationed in that [Aroostook] County).”

Besse caught typhoid and after he recovered came back south alone, on foot. He stopped in Albion and later married tanner Lewis Hopkins’ daughter Isabelle and founded a locally-influential family.

A Fairfield Historical Society list found on line names 17 men from Fairfield, and a possible eighteenth, who served in the Aroostook War. One was Colonel Nathan Fowler, described in the Fairfield bicentennial history as owner of the 19th-century hotel at Nye’s Corner, which was also the stage stop and home of the post office.

Bangs’ chapter in the Waterville history similarly lists 60 men from Waterville and Fairfield who went north in Captain Samuel Burrill’s company, serving from Feb. 25 to April 19, 1839.

Waterville historian and Colby College Dean Ernest C. Marriner seems to have first met the Aroostook War through the diary of William Bryant, who came to the Nye’s Corner village, in Fairfield, in 1817. In his 1954 Kennebec Yesterdays, Marriner wrote that like many other diarists, Bryant focused on family and local events, but he paid brief attention to the northern boundary in February 1839.

Marriner said Bryant wrote of 200 men already gone north “to fight off trespassers,” another 1,500 started on the way and 8,000 more to be drafted to follow.

The diarist then reported that his wife was mending their oldest son Cyrus’s stockings “and washing them with tears. But Cyrus has returned home and got clear of the draft this time.”

This account seems to have piqued Marriner’s interest, because his 1957 Remembered Maine gives the Aroostook War a full chapter. He began semi-seriously:

“Maine once fought a war in which no one was killed and no battery fired a shot, although snipers took pot shots at the enemy without inflicting serious damage. Today it seems unthinkable that a single state of the Federal Union should make war against a foreign nation, but that is just what the State of Maine did….”

After recapping the history of the events in northern Maine, Marriner turned to General Scott’s initial discussion with Governor Fairfield. According to Marriner, Scott assured Fairfield that if he wanted a war, Maine people would give him one “fast and hot enough”; if Fairfield wanted peace, Scott would try, with “no assurance of success.”

Fairfield opted for “peace with honor” or “peace without dishonor.” In Marriner’s opinion, Scott got it for him.

Marriner then asked whether Fairfield’s political opponents, who blamed the governor for the war and labeled it “Fairfield’s Farce,” had a valid point. In hindsight, he concluded, they did not. He quoted another Maine historian who credited Fairfield with “forethought,” “wisdom” and “statesmanship.”

General Winfield Scott

Winfield Scott (June 13, 1786 – May 29, 1866) was born on a plantation near Petersburg, Virginia, and began a career as a lawyer. By 1807, he was a cavalry corporal in the Virginia militia. When President Thomas Jefferson expanded the national army, Scott used a friend’s influence to become a light artillery captain in May 1808.

Gen. Winfield Scott

Wikipedia describes his first four years as rocky, to say the least. He quarreled with his commander, was court-martialed for that and for a discrepancy in his recruiting allowance (blamed on careless record-keeping, not theft) and in 1810 was suspended for a year and fought a duel.

He used his suspension to practice law and study “military tactics and strategy,” and rejoined the army in time to become lieutenant-colonel of an artillery unit sent to Canada in the War of 1812.

Briefly a British prisoner in the fall of 1812 (when he and then Colonel John Harvey became friends), Scott served with distinction through the rest of the war. He was promoted to major general and awarded a Congressional Medal of Honor.

After varied assignments, including the 1839 peace-making mission to Maine, in 1841 Scott was made a major general and commander-in-chief of the United States Army. He led the successful invasion of Mexico in the Mexican-American War.

By the time Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated March 4, 1861, several Southern states had already seceded from the United States. Lincoln sent a messenger to ask if the Virginia-born general would ensure his safety during the inauguration.

Wikipedia quotes Scott’s reply proposing to put cannons at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue if necessary and “if any of the Maryland or Virginia gentlemen who have become so threatening and troublesome show their heads or even venture to raise a finger, I shall blow them to hell.”

Scott was by then in his seventies, too old for active command, and Lincoln did not always heed his advice. He resigned his command in October 1861 and died four and a half years later in West Point, New York, where he is buried.

Main sources

Fairfield Historical Society, Fairfield, Maine 1788-1988 (1988).
Hatch, Louis Clinton, ed., Maine: A History 1919 ((facsimile, 1974).
Marriner, Ernest, Kennebec Yesterdays (1954).
Marriner, Ernest, Remembered Maine (1957).
North, James W., The History of Augusta (1870).
Robbins, Alma Pierce, History of Vassalborough Maine 1771 1971 n.d. (1971).
Whittemore, Rev. Edwin Carey, Centennial History of Waterville 1802-1902 (1902).
Wiggin, Ruby Crosby, Albion on the Narrow Gauge (1964).

Websites, miscellaneous.

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Wars – Part 10

Brigadier General John Chandler

by Mary Grow

Brigadier General John Chandler, profiled in the February 24 issue of The Town Line, was not the only area resident to have served in the Revolutionary army and again in 1812. Nor were these two wars the end of disagreements between the United States, and specifically the State of Maine, and Britain and British-controlled Canada.

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According to an on-line genealogy, Thaddeus Bailey (Nov. 28, 1759 – March 4, 1849) was born in Newbury, Massachusetts, served in the Revolutionary War from Lincoln County, lived in Palermo for some years and served in the War of 1812 while living in Albion.

In 1778, he was part of a Lincoln County troop sent to Providence. On June 30, 1779, he officially enlisted as a private in Capt. Timothy Heald’s company, Col. Samuel McCobb’s regiment.

(McCobb [Nov. 20, 1744 – July 30, 1791], who later became a brigadier general, was born and died in Georgetown. He had served at Bunker Hill, and led the Lincoln County militia in the unsuccessful July-August 1779 Penobscot expedition, in which Bailey participated for two months and 27 days, according to the on-line source.)

Bailey was discharged Sept. 25, 1779. The genealogy says he received a Revolutionary veteran’s pension in the amount of $30.65 annually, starting May 3, 1831.

In 1783, Bailey married Mary Knowlton, of Wiscasset. The couple moved inland to the north part of Pownalbourough, which an on-line source says is now Alna, where the first three of their 11 children were born.

In 1795 they moved inland again; Millard Howard’s Palermo history cites an 1809 record confirming on-line reports that Bailey bought (for $110) 100 acres in Sheepscot Great Pond Settlement, now Palermo.

In 1801, Bailey was among a large number of residents who signed a two-part petition to the Massachusetts General Court. The petition asked to have the settlement incorporated as a town to be named Lisbon, bounded by Harlem (later China), the Sheepscot River and Davistown (later Montville, from which Liberty was separated in 1827).

Further, the petitioners wrote, “from the new and unsettled state of their country they have a great proportion of roads to make and maintain within their aforesaid bounds and also at least ten miles of road to maintain outside of their aforesaid limits which road leads to the head of navigation on Sheepscot river, their nearest market. Wherefore, your petitioners pray that they may be exempted from paying State taxes during the term of five years next ensuing….”

(Howard went on to explain that while the Massachusetts legislators considered the request, another Maine town was incorporated as Lisbon. Sheepscot Great Pond’s clerk was Dr. Enoch Palermo Huntoon; and given the popularity of using famous cities’ names – like Lisbon — for new Maine towns, the petitioners chose Palermo as the fall-back name.

Palermo was incorporated June 23, 1804. Howard did not say how the tax exemption request was received.)

Mary Bailey’s on-line genealogy says the Baileys “were early members of the Baptist Church of Palermo, founded in 1804.”

The family soon moved again, and again inland. Census records from 1810 and 1820 show Bailey living in Fairfax (Mary died in January 1816).

Bailey served briefly and uneventfully in the War of 1812, going to Belfast Sept. 3, 1814, and coming back Sept. 14. Howard listed him among the privates in the Palermo militia (apparently he enrolled or re-enrolled there rather than in Fairfax). By then he would have been coming up on his 55th birthday.

In the 1830 and 1840 censuses, Bailey is still in the town that had become Albion in 1824. The Roll of Pensioners mentioned on line says in 1841, he was 80 years old and had returned to Palermo.

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Dean Bangs’ (May 31, 1756 – Dec. 6, 1845) Revolutionary service was summarized in the Jan. 20 issue of The Town Line. By 1812, Bangs was living in Sidney and doing business in Waterville.

In Whittemore’s history of Waterville, Bangs’ grandson, Isaac Sparrow Bangs, wrote in the military chapter that in the War of 1812 Bangs raised a company of men from Waterville and Vassalboro to serve in Major Joseph Chandler’s Artillery Company. The company was held at Augusta from Sept. 12 to Sept. 24, 1814, the period during which other Kennebec Valley units went to the coast to meet a British landing that never occurred.

(Your writer has spent a great deal of time trying to find the relationship, if any, between General John [Feb. 1, 1762 – Sept. 25, 1841] and Major Joseph Chandler. One of several on-line Chandler genealogies lists the 12 children of Joseph Chandler III and Lydia [Eastman] Chandler as including Joseph IV [1755-1785] and John [1762 – 1840]; and 1840 is as close as genealogies sometimes get to the 1841 found in on-line sources. However, if this Joseph Chandler died young in 1785, he cannot have led an artillery unit in the War of 1812.)

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Michael McNally (about 1752 – July 16, 1848) must have been among the oldest Revolutionary War veterans to fight in the War of 1812. An on-line family history calls him “a man of superior education and strong intellectual powers.”

The history says he was born in Ireland and emigrated with his parents to Pennsylvania, where his father was wealthy enough to provide for his son’s education. On May 13, 1777, he is recorded as enlisting as a gunner in the state’s artillery regiment.

On Jan. 1, 1781, McNally received “depreciation pay,” described online as negotiable, interest-bearing certificates given to military personnel to compensate for the decreased value of United States currency during their wartime service. Family stories say he left the army and served on some kind of armed ship, “whether a man-of-war or a privateer is unknown.” Later, he received a pension as a Revolutionary veteran.

Around 1784, he moved to the Kennebec Valley. In 1785, he married his first wife, Susan Pushaw (1768-1811), of Fairfield. The couple settled in the part of Winslow that became Clinton in 1795; McNally built a log cabin on the Sebasticook, the family history says.

The McNallys had nine children between 1786 and 1809. Susan Pushaw’s on-line genealogy spells her father’s name Pochard and says he was born in France. Michael and Susan’s children’s names are variously spelled Mcnally, Mcnelly, Mcnellie and Mcknelly).

Despite being a single father, when the War of 1812 was declared, the family history says: “Michael’s martial spirit was aroused, and although a man of sixty years he enlisted at Clinton, May 17, 1813, in Capt. Crossman’s company of the Thirty-fourth Regiment, U.S. Infantry, and marched to the frontier. He received a severe wound in the collarbone at Armstrong, Lower Canada, in Sept., 1813, while serving in detachment under the command of Lieut.-Col. Storrs. He was mustered out in July, 1815. For this service he received a pension.”

McNally married for the second time about 1830, to a Pittsfield widow, Jane Varnum Harriman. Her death date is unknown, but the family history says McNally spent his last years with his sons Arthur (1796-1879) and William (1798 or 1799-1886).

William McNally was a farmer in Benton. His wife, Martha Roundy (Sept 13, 1803 – summer of 1903) was the daughter of Job and Elizabeth or Betsey (Pushaw or Pushard) Roundy and the source of much of the information in the family history.

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Louis Hatch’s 1919 history of Maine includes a summary of the final settlement of the boundary between the eastern United States and adjoining Canadian provinces, an issue that troubled relations between the two countries from 1783 until 1842.

The St. Croix River had been defined as the boundary line by the 1783 Treaty of Paris that ended the Revolution. But the St, Croix has three branches, and the two countries disagreed over which was the “real” St. Croix.

The Jay Treaty of 1794 (properly, the Treaty of Amity, Commerce, and Navigation, Between His Britannic Majesty and the United States of America) created a three-man commission whose members unanimously and permanently defined the St. Croix River boundary on Oct. 25, 1798, Hatch wrote.

The boundary north and west from the head of the St. Croix still remained undefined. The United States claimed an area reaching north almost to the St. Lawrence River; Britain, on behalf of Canada, claimed a good part of what is now northern Maine.

The Dec. 24, 1814, Treaty of Ghent that ended the War of 1812 included a clause establishing a commission to define this part of the boundary, from the source of the St. Croix River around the “northwest angle of Nova Scotia,” and south and west along the highlands that separated the watersheds of the St. Lawrence from the watersheds of rivers that ran into the Atlantic, all the way to the headwaters of the Connecticut River.

The treaty further provided that if the two commissioners disagreed or failed to act, the boundary question should be submitted to “a friendly sovereign or State.”

The commission was activated in the spring of 1816. Hatch wrote that after five years, its members had not even agreed on a map showing what areas each country claimed. The commission dissolved.

On Sept. 29, 1827, the United States and Great Britain agreed to submit the dispute to the King William I of the Netherlands. Hatch summarized the king’s responsibility: to interpret the 1783 treaty provisions by fitting them to the geography. The king needed to locate for the disputants the headwaters of the St. Croix, the “northwest angle of Nova Scotia,” the significant highlands and the “Northwesternmost head of the Connecticut River.”

King William issued his judgment on Jan. 10, 1831. Hatch called it “a compromise, pure and simple.”

Between the 1816 commission’s creation and King William’s 1831 report, Maine had become a state, with its own legislature and representation in the United States Congress. An increasing number of United States citizens were expanding settlements in Maine, as far north as the St. John River valley.

The 1831 Maine legislature established a committee to review King William’s judgment; the ensuing resolutions strongly condemned it. In June 1832, the United States Senate refused to ratify it.

The 1831 Maine legislature also incorporated the Town of Madawaska on the St. John River, including, Hatch wrote, the present Madawaska south of the river and some land north of the river. The area north of the river is now Upper Madawaska, New Brunswick, he said.

Hatch quoted part of Governor Samuel Smith’s 1832 annual message summarizing what happened next. The governor said Madawaska residents had organized their town, apparently acting before the state’s approval, and had elected town officials and a legislative representative. New Brunswick officials, “accompanied with a military force,” had arrested and imprisoned many residents.

Smith had appealed to the United States government. Though neither he nor federal authorities were sure the Madawaska residents had acted legally, President Andrew Jackson promptly intervened, and the prisoners were freed.

In following years, Maine governors and legislatures continued to push for a resolution of the boundary issue that would get the British out of the state. Hatch quotes from an 1837 Maine legislative resolution that referred to “British usurpations and encroachments” and said:

“Resolved, that [British] pretensions so groundless and extravagant indicate a spirit of hostility which we had no reason to expect from a nation with whom we are at peace.”

How that peace turned into a war, or at least a pseudo war, will be next week’s topic.

Main sources

Hatch, Louis Clinton, ed., Maine: A History 1919 (facsimile, 1974).
Howard, Millard, An Introduction to the Early History of Palermo, Maine (second edition, December 2015).
Whittemore, Rev. Edwin Carey, Centennial History of Waterville 1802-1902 (1902)

Website, miscellaneous.

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Wars – Part 4

The frigate Warren.

by Mary Grow

Revolutionary War veterans from Albion, China, Clinton, Fairfield

Note One: this article and next week’s will be about a few of the Revolutionary War veterans who lived in the central Kennebec Valley. Selection is based on two criteria: how much information your writer could find easily, and how interesting she thought the information would be to readers. There is no intent to disparage veterans who are omitted.

Note Two: Alert readers will have noticed in last week’s piece that artist Gilbert Stuart was misnamed Stuart Gilbert. Your writer accepts blame for carelessness; she also assigns blame to Mr. and Mrs. Stuart, for giving their son two last names, or two first names, depending on your perspective.

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Ruby Crosby Wiggin wrote that town and state records and cemetery headstones identify more than a dozen Albion residents who were Revolutionary War veterans. Two, Francis Lovejoy and John Leonard, were among early settlers.

Rev. Francis Lovejoy, grandfather of Elijah Parish Lovejoy, was in Albion by 1790. Wiggin found that he served initially in “Colonel Baldwin’s regiment” and later re-enlisted to fill the quota from his then home town, Amherst, Massachusetts.

(Colonel Baldwin was probably Loammi Baldwin [Jan. 10, 1744 – Oct. 20, 1807], who fought at Lexington and Concord in the Woburn [Massachusetts] militia. He later enlisted in the 26th Continental Regiment, quickly became its colonel and commanded it around Boston and New York City until health issues forced him to resign in 1777. Wikipedia identifies him as the “Father of American Civil Engineering” and the man for whom the Baldwin apple is named.)

Wiggin gave no information on John Leonard’s military service. By Oct. 30, 1802, he owned the house in which Albion (then Freetown) voters held their first town meeting. Wiggin wrote that he held several town offices between then and 1811, when his name disappeared from town records.

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A veteran who settled in what is now China, and whose story has been increasingly revealed in recent years, was Abraham Talbot (May 27, 1756 – June 11, 1840). In various on-line sources, his first name is also spelled Abram, and his last name Talbart, Tallbet, Tarbett, Tolbot and other variations.

Talbot was a free black man. He was an ancestor of Gerald Talbot, the first black man elected to the Maine legislature. Gerald Talbot’s daughter, Rachel Talbot Ross, is assistant majority leader in the current Maine House of Representatives.

Born in Bridgewater, Massachusetts, to Toby (or Tobey) Talbot, also a Revolutionary War veteran, Abraham Talbot enlisted in the Massachusetts Line in July 1778 and served his nine months’ term at Fishkill and West Point, New York, until March 1779. He married Mary Dunbar in his home town on Sept. 3, 1787.

When he applied for his pension in 1818, he owned an acre of land in China with a small house on it. He and Mary were the only ones living there, although they had had eight children, born between December 21, 1787, and Feb. 16, 1805, in Freetown (now Albion).

William Farris (1755 – Oct. 19, 1841) was another veteran who in 1832 applied for his pension from China, having previously lived in Vassalboro from either 1796 or 1802 (sources differ). He was a native of Yarmouth, Massachusetts, and on Oct. 5 1775, married Elizabeth Burgess of that town.

An on-line history says he enlisted three times in three regiments: Nov. 1, 1775, for two months in Colonel Putnam’s regiment; February 1775 (a misprint for 1776, as the writer says he enlisted “again”) for two months in Colonel Carey’s regiment; and April or May 1776 for four months in Colonel Berckiah Bassett’s regiment.

His first terms were spent building fortifications in Cambridge and Dorchester, outside Boston. His third enlistment ended in the fall of 1776 on Martha’s Vineyard, “guarding the shore.”

Col. Rufus Putnam

(Colonel Putnam was probably Rufus Putnam [later a Brigadier General], a French and Indian War veteran who was instrumental in building the fortifications that forced British troops to evacuate Boston in mid-March 1776. Colonel Carey was probably Colonel Simeon Cary, commander of “the Plymouth and Barnstable County regiment of the Massachusetts militia,” which was at the siege of Boston. This writer failed to find Colonel Bassett on line.)

William and Elizabeth Farris had “at least eight children.” After she died around 1805, on March 18, 1806, he married a 22-year-old Vassalboro woman, Martha “Patty” Long. He bought a piece of land in Vassalboro in 1816, but was a China resident by 1832. His annual pension amounted to $33.33.

The China bicentennial history lists seven other early residents who were Revolutionary War veterans, including Joseph Evans. Evans, for whom Evans Pond is named, arrived in 1773 or 1774 and left his wife and children in the wilderness when he enlisted.

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Michael McNally (about 1752 – 1848), sometimes spelled McNully, was a veteran who ended his life in Clinton. He served in the Pennsylvania Line up to 1781. An 1896 on-line source says his descendants claimed that his role was driving the horses that pulled cannons.

Family stories reproduced on line give two accounts of his arrival in Pennsylvania: one says he was born as his family emigrated from Ireland, the other that as a youngster he ran away from home and crossed the Atlantic alone. He settled in Clinton around 1785 and “raised a large family.”

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The Fairfield Historical Society writers who produced the town’s bicentennial history in 1988 listed four early settlers who served in the Revolutionary army and 10 veterans who moved in after the war (eight from Massachusetts, one from New Hampshire and one from Georgetown, Maine).

The most prominent was William Kendall (1759 – 1827), referred to in one section as General William Kendall. The history says he enlisted from Winslow in March 1777 and obtained an honorable discharge in 1780. An on-line source says he was a drummer “in various New England regiments.”

Having bought most of the area that is now downtown Fairfield, including an unfinished dam and mill building, Kendall completed that project and added saw and grist mills in 1781. The village center was called Kendall’s Mills until 1872.

On Christmas Day 1782, Kendall paddled up the Kennebec to Noble’s Ferry (Hinckley) in his birchbark canoe and came back with his new wife, Abigail Chase. The couple lived first in a log house by the river at the foot of present Western Avenue, then in Fairfield’s first frame house and later in a large brick house at the corner of Newhall Street and Lawrence Avenue. The last housed Bunker’s Seminary (briefly mentioned in the Oct. 21, 2021, issue of The Town Line); it was torn down in the 1890s.

The Fairfield history says Kendall served eight years as a selectman. An on-line source adds that he was Kendall’s Mills postmaster in 1816, Somerset County Sheriff and a member of the first Maine Senate. He and Abigail had eight sons and three daughters. Kendall is buried in Fairfield’s Emery Hill Cemetery.

The cemetery, on the river side of Route 201 at the foot of Emery Hill, is near the site of the log house built by Jonathan Emery in 1771 that is called the first house built in Fairfield. Jonathan’s son David (born in Massachusetts Sept. 24, 1754) was one of the four Revolutionary soldiers who enlisted from Fairfield. The historians doubt the story that he enlisted in September 1775, inspired by Colonel Benedict Arnold’s troops marching up the Kennebec on the way to Québec, because dates don’t match.

They did find records showing that David Emery joined the Second Lincoln County Regiment on Mach 12, 1777. On Feb. 2, 1778, he transferred to the Continental Army, where he became part of General George Washington’s personal guard. After being mustered out Jan. 23, 1779, he came back to Fairfield and on April 5, 1782, married Abigail Goodwin. He died in Fairfield; one on-line source gives his date of death as Nov. 18, 1830, another as Nov. 18, 1834.

The other three early settlers who fought in the war were Josiah Burgess (1736 – 1828), a lieutenant from March 1776 to March 1779 in the First Barnstable Company from his home town of Sandwich, Massachusetts; his younger brother Thomas (1741 – 1820), who served in Josiah’s company for a week; and Daniel Wyman (1752 – 1829), who moved up the river from Dresden to Fairfield in 1774 and served three years in the Second Massachusetts Line. After independence, each Burgess brother served as a Fairfield selectman and Thomas was town treasurer for two years.

Jonathan Nye (November 1757 – September 1854) was born in Sandwich, Massachusetts, and is identified on line as serving as a private in 1775 and 1776 at Elizabeth Islands, first in Captain John Grannis’s company and later in Captain Elisha Nye’s company.

(The Elizabeth Islands are an island chain south of Cape Cod and west of Martha’s Vineyard; they compose the town of Gosnold, Massachusetts, named after the British explorer Bartholomew Gosnold, the first European to visit them, in 1602.

(John Grannis was a captain of marines, identified in several on-line sources as spokesman for America’s first whistle-blowers. In February 1777, nine shipmates aboard the frigate “Warren” chose him to jump ship and carry to the government in Philadelphia their charge that Esek Hopkins, in charge of the Continental Navy, was “unfit to lead.” The Continental Congress fired Hopkins.)

The Fairfield history says after Nye’s first one-year enlistment, he enlisted again from Sandwich in the spring of 1777. He was at Saratoga when Burgoyne surrendered and at Valley Forge during the winter of 1778. At some point he became a sergeant. He was honorably discharged at West Point March 7, 1780. After that, the history says, he enlisted yet again for short terms and served on privateers.

The on-line source names his first wife as Mercy Ellis from Sandwich. The bicentennial history calls her Mary Ellis, and says Nye married her “soon after his discharge [in the early1780s, then] and settled in Fairfield.” The history also says that in the spring of 1835, when Nye applied for one of the land grants Congress had just authorized, he said he had lived in Fairfield for 35 years, indicating he moved there in 1800. And in an account of the Nye family in another section of the book, Jonathan Nye is said to have moved from Sandwich to Fairfield in 1788, with his cousins Bartlett (August 1759 – 1822), Bryant and Elisha (Nov. 2, 1757 – 1845) Nye.

On March 18, 1820, Jonathan Nye married again, to Abigail Fish, who died in 1850. When he applied for a military pension in 1820, he said she was not strong enough to help with their farm, and he could not do much because of “blindness caused by small pox while in the army and a lameness in both knees.”

Col. Nathaniell Freeman

Jonathan Nye’s cousins Bartlett and Elisha were also Revolutionary veterans. Bartlett Nye, according to an on-line family history, served from July 2 to Dec. 12, 1777, in Rhode Island and Massachusetts and again for four days, Sept. 11 through Sept. 14, 1779, as a corporal in Colonel Freeman’s regiment responding to “an alarm at Falmouth [Massachusetts].”

(Colonel Freeman was probably Nathaniel Freeman (March 28, 1741 – Sept. 20, 1827) from Sandwich. He had a medical practice, became active in the Revolutionary movement as early as 1773, was a militia colonel from 1775 and a militia brigadier general from 1781 to 1791.)

Elisha Nye was also in Colonel Freeman’s regiment. He is listed on line as serving for several very brief periods in 1778 and 1779.

After the war, each of the brothers held political office. In 1812, Bartlett Nye was in the Massachusetts General Court, where he supported making Maine a separate state; his term had ended before the decision was taken in June 1819. Elisha, the Fairfield history says, “served as Representative from the County” in 1816, presumably also to the Massachusetts General Court.

Main sources

Fairfield Historical Society, Fairfield, Maine 1788-1988 (1988).
Grow, Mary M., China Maine Bicentennial History including 1984 revisions (1984).
Kingsbury, Henry D., ed., Illustrated History of Kennebec County Maine 1625-1892 (1892).
Wiggin, Ruby Crosby, Albion on the Narrow Gauge (1964).

Websites, miscellaneous.

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Albion, South China libraries

Albion Public Library

by Mary Grow

The majority of the central Maine towns and cities this series is covering have public libraries. Previous articles have talked about the three whose buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places – Lawrence Library, in Fairfield (the Nov. 11 issue of The Town Line), Lithgow Library, in Augusta (Nov. 18) and Brown Memorial Library, in Clinton (Dec. 2).

This piece will describe other local libraries your writer finds interesting, mostly arranged alphabetically by town.

A digression is in order here to explain different concepts of “public library.”

The clearest version of “public” is a library that is owned by the municipality, run by a staff who are municipal employees and funded (mostly) by taxpayers. Augusta’s Lithgow Library is in this category; its website calls it “A Bureau of the City of Augusta, Maine.”

Lawrence Library, in Fairfield, is similarly described as “a department of the town of Fairfield.” It has a five-person advisory board (if the website is up to date, there are two vacancies).

Clinton’s Brown Memorial Library is one of the departments listed on the town website. The website lists three trustees.

Each of these libraries has a separate Friends group whose mission is to seek donations.

Another type of “public” library is a library that lets everyone borrow its books and other resources, free of charge, and is owned and run by a private association, normally headed by a board of trustees or other similarly-named group. The Albert Church Brown Memorial Library, in China Village, and the South China Public Library are examples of this organizational type.

Little Free Library is a 21st-century organizational form that will be described in the next article in this series, with local examples.

Albion, the town immediately north of China, seems to have used two other forms of library organization for two successive institutions, one started in 1864 and the other in 1981.

Albion’s 19th-century library represented the type of library that is not truly public, but is at least partly financed by, and its services offered only to, dues-paying members. For the Albion Division Library, organized April 19, 1864, the dues were nominal; some member-supported libraries have charged significant fees.

Ruby Crosby Wiggin wrote in her Albion town history that a share in Library of Albion Div. 55 cost a man 50 cents a year, and required him to sign the library’s constitution and bylaws. Women, identified as “Lady Visitors” rather than members, also had to sign the documents, Wiggin wrote; they were charged 10 cents every three months.

The Division apparently met at least monthly, because Wiggin wrote that books “could be taken out or returned only at regular meetings.” Rules limited each member to one book at a time, with a four-week maximum borrowing time before a fine was incurred. But, she wrote, books could be renewed, and librarians’ records showed members keeping a book “for nearly a year by returning it each month and then taking it out again.”

Wiggin’s history includes the names of the first 17 men who joined the library in 1864 and 1865, and the five women who took out books at the first Division meeting. She also listed the 46 books in the original collection, a mixture of fiction and non-fiction that included a few names familiar to 21st-century readers, like Longfellow’s Tales of a Wayside Inn, Robert Burns’ poems, Francis Bacon’s Essays and George Eliot’s The Mill on the Floss.

The library’s non-fiction collection included travel books by Peter Sutherland and Bayard Taylor; both volumes of Joel Tyler Headley’s 1847 Washington and His Generals; and a three-volume history of Turkey. Fiction included Ten Nights in a Bar Room and What I Saw There and several other novels by Timothy Shay Arthur.

Wiggin talked about the library’s first two years, but said nothing about when or why it closed.

The present Albion Public Library, dating from 1981, is an organizational hybrid. The town website says it is “a 501 (c) (3) charitable organization, an Agency of the Town of Albion, Maine.”

Organization Treasurer Richard “Rick” Lawrence explained that Flora Wing Champlin created the public library in 1981 in a corner of the Albion School library, with permission from the School Administrative District #49 directors. What was initially “a brave band of informal trustees” organized in 2001 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit trust.

Between August 2001 and February 2002, Lawrence said, the trustees raised money to build a single-story library building at 18 Main Street (Routes 202 and 9), on a lot “cheerfully” donated by Roddy and Hattie Robinson. They then signed an agreement with town officials giving the Town of Albion ownership of the land and building, with the trustees to run the library.

In the last two years the trustees have expanded the library by adding a connector building between the main library and a storage room to the south. Lawrence said the project cost about $234,000, of which less than 10 percent came from town meeting voters’ approval of special requests.

The Town of Benton currently has no public library, and neither on-line sources nor Kingsbury’s 1892 Kennebec County history record one in the past. Kingsbury, however, would not take this lack as a criticism of the town. He wrote, “The intellectual status of a community may be generally premised from its educational facilities, and in this respect Benton compares favorably with her sister towns.”

Benton Elementary School library has its own cheerful website. Town residents are eligible for the Maine State Library’s Books by Mail program.

The Town of China has two libraries. The story of the South China library follows; the Albert Church Brown Memorial Library, in China Village, was described in the Dec. 2 issue of The Town Line.

photo courtesy of South China Library

The South China Library, founded in 1830, justifiably calls itself “Maine’s oldest continuously operating public library.” It was mentioned in the July 1 issue of The Town Line for its 20th-century connection with Rufus Jones.

According to the China bicentennial history, a group of South China men met in January 1830 “at the Chadwick schoolhouse” (near the present Erskine Academy, south of South China Village) and created the South China Social Library Society. (Kingsbury gives the year as 1832.)

The history quotes the organization’s goals: “improving our leisure hours to advantage; cultivating science in the community at large; and encouraging the present and rising generation in the same worthy pursuits.” Membership was sold in shares at a dollar each, and more shares could be “bought” by donating books. Borrowers were limited to one book at a time, unless they owned more than one share.

The bylaws allowed members to gather whenever they chose to discuss literature “not inconsistent with virtue and decorum.” For at least the first four decades the library reportedly accepted only non-fiction; the history mentions a paper presented to an 1870 meeting “commenting on the increasing public taste for ‘worthless’ fiction.”

Kingsbury wrote that the library did well. A $96 25th-anniversary gift from “Samuel Gurney, of London” (Kingsbury did not explain how a Londoner knew there was a library in South China, Maine), “gave fresh impetus,” he wrote.

(Wikipedia profiles a British philanthropist named Samuel Gurney [1786-1856] and mentions his son, also Samuel Gurney [1816-1882], but does not associate either with libraries or Maine. The younger Samuel Gurney, also a philanthropist, was co-founder of the Metropolitan Free Drinking Fountain Association, created in 1859 to give London people free, safe drinking water. In 1867 it was extended to animals and renamed the Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough Association.)

The South China library’s books were housed in second-floor rooms above Ambrose H. Abbott’s store (he was the second librarian, from 1836 to 1866, succeeding Constant R. Abbott [almost certainly a relation, but on-line genealogies were not helpful]). In April 1872 a major fire destroyed most of South China Village, including Abbott’s store and the library’s 500 or so “choice” (Kingsbury’s word) books.

When the library reopened the next year, the China history says Eli Jones was president of the association. The library re-started with 80 books “and $6.58 in the treasury.”

Kingsbury wrote that the reopened library was free to all, supported by “subscriptions and donations.” In 1892, it was housed in the South China Friends’ meeting house and open on Sundays and Thursdays.

In 1900 Wilmot R. Jones donated the small lot on the south side of Main Street where the library has lived since, and the association had the building put up. Wilmot Jones was library association president from 1899 to 1919, and Rufus Jones from 1919 to 1948, according to the China history.

In the summer of 2016, library trustees bought the 1815 Abel Jones house on Jones Road, within half a mile of the original library building. The house has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1983 (see The Town Line, July 8).

The Jones lot is large enough to accommodate a new library building, now under construction.

The China bicentennial history counts the former Dinsmore Library, in Branch Mills Village, as a third library in China. Geographically it is on the China side of the town (and county) line that runs through the village. Nonetheless, in this series it will be treated as a Palermo library, and will be described in the next article.

Other Maine towns with two separate libraries

A superficial on-line search has found China is not the only Maine town with two separate libraries.

The Town of Harrison has the Harrison Village Library and the Bolsters Mills Village Library; the latter also serves Otisfield. The Harrison Village Library opened in 1908 in a stone building partly funded by Daniel H. Caswell, Sr.; it was renamed after Caswell in 1947. In 2004, the library moved into the former town office and resumed its first name. The stone building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.

The Town of Kennebunkport has the Cape Porpoise Library and the Louis T. Graves Memorial Public Library (originally the Kennebunkport Library, renamed to honor donors in 1921). The Graves library’s two-story brick Federal-style building dates from 1813; it was the United States Customhouse from 1831 into the 20th century, with the town library on the second floor after 1898, and has been on the National Register since 1974.

The Town of Standish has the Richville Library and the Steep Falls Library. The latter, opened in 1917, was for many years the Pierce Memorial Library, in honor of donor Henry Pierce. Its brick Colonial Revival building, designed by Edward F. Fassett (son of Francis H. Fassett; see The Town Line, Feb. 4), has been on the National Register since 2004.

Main sources

Grow, Mary M., China Maine Bicentennial History including 1984 revisions (1984).
Kingsbury, Henry D., ed., Illustrated History of Kennebec County Maine 1625-1892 (1892).
Wiggin, Ruby Crosby, Albion on the Narrow Gauge (1964).

Personal interview.
Websites, miscellaneous.