EVENTS: Recycled Shakespeare announces auditions

Recycled Shakespeare Company (RSC) will hold auditions for their upcoming play Richard III on Sunday, November 26, 5 to 7 p.m., at South Parish Congregational Church, in Augusta, and Monday, November 27, 5 to 7 p.m., at Fairfield House of Pizza, in Fairfield.

Auditions will consist of individual and group cold readings, but you may come with a memorized piece if you wish. If anyone would like to audition but cannot do so at these times, please call 314-4730 in advance to discuss alternatives. All parts will be offered by Friday, December 1. RSC also seeks people to do tech and stage work, costuming, props, and concessions. Please come to audition or call to join the crew. People of all skill levels and abilities are invited to participate with this grassroots community theater company.

The play will be performed in Fairfield, Waterville, and Augusta, February 23 through 25. Table Read will be 5:30 p.m., on Wednesday, December 21, at Fairfield House of Pizza. All actors are responsible for learning their lines before Blocking rehearsals begin on Saturday, January 6. Rehearsal schedule is basically Saturdays 1 to 5 p.m., in Augusta, and Wednesday 5:30 to 8 p.m., in Fairfield.

Richard III is the tragic story of a tyrant who rises to power through his cunning charm which does not stop at murder. “Plots are laid” as characters build alliances, break the bonds of friends and family, and strive to maintain the kingdom as England nears the end of the brutal War of the Roses. One of Shakespeare’s often performed plays, this production by RSC is reduced to 90 minutes with script editing by Becca Bradstreet and a directorial team of Lyn Rowden, Shana Page, and Murray Herard.

For more information contact 207-314-4730 or see, like and follow Recycled Shakespeare Company on Facebook.

Love is Louder rally held at Mill Park in Augusta

photo by Jonathan Strieff

by Jonathan Strieff

Well over 200 demonstrators gathered at Mill Park, in Augusta, on Sunday, November 12, to take part in the Love is Louder rally organized by State Representative Regan La Rochelle and the Greater Augusta Unity Committee. The event came in response to recent incidents of vandalism and hate speech in Augusta and Hallowell and a rise in neo-Nazi organizing taking place statewide. The rally featured eight speakers including elected officials, the Augusta chief of police, various faith leaders, and the regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, as well as live music, sign and banner painting, and crafts and activities for families.

On August 12, two dozen masked men assembled at the State House behind a banner reading “Keep New England White,” to chant racist and anti-immigrant slogans at passersby. Similar demonstrations occurred in Portland and Lewiston in 2022. Following the August event, swastika graffiti appeared at Mill Park and Cony High School and at least one city council meeting in Hallowell was disrupted by anonymous “zoom bombers,” calling in remotely to shout racist, antisemitic, and homophobic comments at the council members.

Addressing the crowd on Sunday, LaRochelle explained that the Unity Committee organized the event following an outcry from residents looking to “do something” to counter the recent series of hateful displays. “(Residents) were looking for an outlet,” said LaRochelle, “to show what our community and the beautiful state of Maine is truly about.”

The rally began with an up-tempo performance by Pat Colwell and the Soul Sensations. Following a moment of silence and a reading of the names of the shooting victims in Lewiston, LaRochelle first introduced Augusta Police chief, Jared Mills. Mills spoke briefly to commend the organizers and liken the days event to other random acts of kindness that he and his department encounter daily.

Hallowell mayor George LaPointe (photo by Jonathan Strieff)

Next, Hallowell mayor, George LaPointe, described the values of love, tolerance, inclusiveness, and community as fundamental to the character of his city, despite occasional reminders that not everyone feels the same way. “Our work to become a better place is everyones and is ongoing.” LaPointe closed by paraphrasing Edmund Burke, saying, “the only thing necessary for the triumph of hate is for good people to do nothing.”

Rabbi Erica Asch from Temple Beth El, in Augusta, spoke next, connecting recent events in the capital area to a larger national trend. “What has been happening here in Augusta is part of a larger pattern of antisemitism in our country. Since my family and I moved here to Maine 10 year ago the number of antisemitic incidents in the United States has quintupled… Most synagogs, including ours here in Augusta, regularly have police officers patrolling during our holidays and our Hebrew schools.” Rabbi Asch spoke to the many ways the Jewish community feels targeted today and of the importance of events like Love is Louder to grow solidarity.

Augusta mayor, Mark O’Brien, celebrated the Augusta City Councils unanimous decision to establish a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee as sending a decisive message that the city welcomes, recognizes, and values all people.“We don’t always have the power to change the hatred that exists, but we do have control over how we react. We will not be accepting. We will not be intimidated. We will not be silent…No matter what our backgrounds or upbringings, we are united in striving for the protection of individual rights, free and civil debate, and the rejection of intolerance.”

Jonathan Strieff is a freelance contributor to The Town Line newspaper

photo by Jonathan Strieff

EVENTS: One night only! The Poe experience

Preparing for The Poe Experience, is Recycled Shakespeare Company directorial team. Front row, from left to right, Joshua Bickford, Shana Page, Lena Page. Back row, Tammy Werber, and Murray Herard. (photo by Becca Bradstreet)

by Lyn Rowden

Begin your Halloween season with a free night out when Recycled Shakespeare Company presents The Poe Experience.

One night of chilling tales and Gothic poetry by Edgar Allan Poe will be brought to life in the darkness, surrounding the audience with sights and sounds in this unique Reader’s Theater.

Arranged and directed by Shana Page with original music by Joshua Bickford, this unique performance has a local cast and crew of 30 with scene directors Tammy Werber and Murray Herard, and Lena Page as art director.

Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) is a well-known American writer in the Romanticism and Gothic style, the inventor of detective fiction and early pioneer of the science fiction genre. He is especially appreciated today for the eerie qualities of his psychological thrillers. Poems in this presentation include Annabelle Lee and For Annie, with the short stories Cask of Amontillado, The Tell-Tale Heart, and, of course, the perennial favorite, The Raven. Parental guidance is suggested as this show will include special effects and visual components which may not be suitable for young children.

Don’t miss your one chance to go through The Poe Experience. See it if you dare at the South Parish Congregational Church, 9 Church Street, in Augusta, on Sunday, October 8. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., for the 7. p.m. show. All seats are free and accessible to everyone.

RSC is a non-profit grassroots green community theater company, using recycled repurposed materials to present free theater open and accessible to all. Their belief is everyone who wants a part gets a part as they produce quality Shakespeare, original and other royalty free shows. For more information, please contact Recycled Shakespeare Company at 201-314-4730 or

SNHU announces summer 2023 President’s List

Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), in Manchester, New Hampshire, announces the following students to the Summer 2023 President’s List.

Talon Mosher, of Winslow, Alisha Barrette, of Skowhegan, Candice Eaton, of Waterville, Alyson Cass, of Waterville, Matthew Bandyk, of Jefferson, David Gerry, of Fairfield, Stormy Wentworth, of Fairfield, and Jacob Colson, of Albion.

Those named to the dean’s list include: Carrielee Harvey, of Waterville, Robert Farrington, of Augusta, and Ashley Parks, of Anson.

The summer terms run from May to August.

Local residents earn award from WGU

The following local residents have earned an Award of Excellence at Western Governors University, in Salt Lake City, Utah. Whitney Poplawski, of Augusta, has earned an Award of Excellence at Western Governors University Leavitt School of Health.

Brenda Ryder, of Liberty, has earned an Award of Excellence at Western Governors University College of Business.

PHOTO: Triple jump winner Larsen Ronco

Larsen Ronco, 12, of Oakland, took first place in hurdles, triple jump and 4×1 at the recent Youth State Track Meet, held in Augusta, on Saturday, August 12. He is a member of Winslow Summer Track. (photo by Galen Neal, Central Maine Photography staff)

Local scouts attend national event

Thumbs Up from Anthony and Connor: Anthony Fortin, of Troop #603, and Connor Poirier, of Troop #631, both of Augusta, gave the thumbs up as they began cooking breakfast for the contingent at the sub-camp campsite at the Summit Reserve. (contributed photo)

submitted by Chuck Mahaleris

The Boy Scouts of America Jamboree attracted over 13,000 scouts from around the world and over 5,000 visitors to the 10-day event in July including Scouts from Maine.

Over the course of the Jamboree, which takes place every four years, the BSA gathers together. Scouts and Scouters explored all kinds of adventures – stadium shows, pioneer village, Mount Jack hikes, adventure sports and more – in the heart of one of nature’s greatest playgrounds. With 10,000 acres at the Bechtel Summit Reserve, in West Virginia, to explore, and directly across from the New River Gorge National Park, there was no shortage of opportunities to build Scouting memories.

The 45 scouts and leaders from Pine Tree Council (which covers southern and western parts of Maine) took a bus to the event which was held at the Summit, making stops in Washington, D.C. Contingent Leader, Joan Dollarhite, wrote on July 17, at Camp Snyder outside Washington, D.C., “Tents are pitched, pizza ordered and eaten. We had a great ride and are looking forward to sightseeing tomorrow.” The scouts earned the money for the trip through many fundraisers.

From soaring high above the ground on a zip line to conquering high ropes courses and scaling rock walls, there was no shortage of adventures at the Jamboree. Local Scouts took on the challenge of the climbing wall, navigated their way through orienteering courses, tried new things like branding or welding, and braved the rapids during an exhilarating whitewater rafting trip.

There were also demonstrations from the U.S. Coast Guard and motivational speeches given by Scott Pelley, correspondent for 60 Minutes and former news anchor and managing editor of CBS News who talked about bravery; and Lt. General and Eagle Scout, John Evans, who spoke to scouts about the importance of leadership.

Maine’s scouts not only found their adrenaline rush but also took part in programs designed to foster personal growth and build self-confidence. They also found opportunities to overcome mental and emotional obstacles as well and engage in team-building exercises that required communication, problem-solving, and collaboration. These experiences not only enhance outdoor skills but also cultivate character and resilience. The Jamboree helped to develop leadership skills.

They also took part in a massive good deed. Scouts at the National Jamboree assembled 5,000 “Flood Bucket” cleaning kits consisting of 15 items ranging from rubber gloves and scrub brushes to scouring pads and towels packed tightly into a 5-gallon bucket. These kits serve as essential “first aid” resources that provide flood victims with the practical and emotional support necessary to begin restoration of their homes and personal belongings. The completed kits, valued at $375,000, are being packed tightly into a five-gallon bucket and will be wrapped and transported to a warehouse and then distributed as needed to flooded areas throughout West Virginia as “first aid” resources for flood victims.

Anthony Fortin, of Augusta, attends Cony High School, and is a member of Troop #603. “I earned Radio, Sustainability, and Family Life Merit Badges; did some patch trading; soared across a zip line; had fun at the Camp bashes (parties); attended Catholic Mass with a thousand other Scouts; played the kazoo and the bugle; and met many new people from all over the country,” Anthony said.

Michael Fortin, committee chairman for Troop #603, in Augusta, also attended. “It was fulfilling to see all of the scouts have this amazing experience,” Fortin said. “Many of the scouts on this adventure did not know the leaders and conversely, we did not know most of them. Spending time together provided the leaders with the opportunity to get to know them and witness these young people on their scouting journey. The heat, humidity, and hilly terrain were challenging for us older adults to navigate, but we endured it all to ensure our scouts were safe and had an absolutely awesome time. We saw many examples of scouts who unselfishly embraced the Oath and Law and demonstrated what it truly means to be a Scout.”

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Music in the Kennebec Valley – Part 3

Typical 19th century brass band.

by Mary Grow

Band music

Another type of music in the central Kennebec Valley from early days of European settlement was band music. It was often, but especially in later years not inevitably, associated with military organizations; and like other forms of music, got limited attention in most local histories.

* * * * * *

James North, in his Augusta history, sometimes mentioned parade music, presumably provided by a band, as in his description of former president George Washington’s funeral procession in Augusta on Feb. 22, 1800.

North wrote that the procession was headed by a military escort. It included an infantry company, followed by musicians with “drums muffled, instruments in mourning,” followed by an artillery company.

By 1805, North wrote, Augusta had two military companies, and a group of young men persuaded the legislature (still in 1805 the Massachusetts General Court) to authorize a light infantry company.

The Augusta Light Infantry, which appears frequently in North’s history, was organized in the spring of 1806. North listed its officers and its musicians: fifer Stephen Jewett (the same Stephen Jewett who played the bass viol in church beginning in 1802? – see the July 27 issue of The Town Line) and drummer Lorain Judkins.

Some of the women connected with infantry members created and presented a company standard, with the motto “Victory or Death.” North described the Sept. 11, 1806, presentation as followed by a parade and a ball (presumably at least the ball and probably the parade included musicians).

By the time the Light Infantry was part of the local Federalist party’s July 4 parade in 1810, there was definitely a band. North wrote that its members politely stopped playing as the parade passed the house where Judge Nathan Weston was addressing the rival Democratic party celebration.

Another association between music and the military is the lists of men who fought in the War of 1812. Kennebec County historian Henry Kingsbury and many local historians listed soldiers (in 1812 and later wars) by name and rank, including musicians.

Most 1812 companies had either two or three musicians, though Kingsbury listed only one apiece for two of Vassalboro’s companies. The majority are described unspecifically as “musicians,” but Kingsbury mentioned a drum major and a fife major from Augusta.

By July 4, 1832, North again described two separate parades by two political parties, with multiple bands and military units. The National Republicans’ parade included “the Hallowell Artillery and Sidney Rifles, each with a band of music,” and the Hallowell and Augusta band, which he said was “one of the best in the State.” The Democrats’ parade included some of the Augusta Light Infantry and a band from Waterville.

There was an Augusta band in 1854, when Augusta city officials (the town became a city in 1849) decided the annual July 4 celebration should include recognition of the 100th anniversary of the building of Fort Western. Events included an extremely elaborate parade, with the Augusta Band providing the music.

And on April 18, 1861, as the Civil War began, North wrote that “the Augusta Band, playing patriotic airs” (including Yankee Doodle), led Augusta’s Pacific Fire Engine Company as members marched to the homes of leading citizens to ask their reactions to the rebellion.

(Their visits started with Governor Israel Washburn, Jr., and included his predecessor, former Governor Lot M. Morrill. North commented that Republicans and Democrats alike expressed support for the federal government.)

By August 1863, either there was another band or the Augusta Band had a second name. North described the return of two volunteer regiments whose members’ nine-months enlistments were up.

The 24th Regiment got to Augusta at 10:30 p.m. Aug. 6, by train; a large number of dignitaries and ordinary citizens and the Citizens’ Band escorted the soldiers to the State House for a welcome and a banquet (after which they slept on the State House floor, too exhausted to continue to Camp Keyes). The 28th arrived around noon Aug. 18; their welcoming parade included the Citizens’ Band and the Gardiner Brass Band, and their refreshments were served on the lawn south of the State House.

In 1864, according to North, it was the Augusta Band that on June 3 escorted the first trainload of wounded men to the new military hospital at Camp Keyes, in Augusta.

* * * * * *

In the village of Weeks Mills, in the southern part of the town of China, there was in the latter half of the 19th century an all-male brass band that the China history says “was more a marching band than a dance band,” because its concerts were mostly outdoors.

Sometimes there were concerts in “a town public hall” that was the second floor of a building on the east side of the Sheepscot, north of Main Street (which is called Tyler Road on the contemporary Google map). There was also a bandstand, “with a flagpole,” that band members built at the junction of North Road (now Dirigo Road, perhaps?).

Quoting a former resident named Eleon Shuman, some of whose family were in the band, the history adds, “Few of the band members could read music, and the band director transcribed their pieces into a simpler notation called the tonic sol fa method which they could follow.”

Oakland also had a town band by the late 1880s. In her history of Sidney, Alice Hammond wrote that the organizers of the 1890 Sidney fair spent most of their money to hire the Oakland Band.

She explained that in the absence of television and Walkmans (never mind smartphones), “To hear the band playing as you strolled around the fair grounds, or went into the hall and sat down to take a break was a treat.”

There were also dances some afternoons – “Anyone who wished to dance paid for one dance at a time.” In 1890, the fair was not lighted, so there was no evening music or dancing.

Hammond’s history included reproductions of two posters.

One advertised a Feb. 5, 1892, exhibition of “The marvels of the modern phonograph,” which would “Talk, Laugh, Sing, Whistle, Play on all sorts Instruments including Full Brass Band.” After Professor R. B. Capen, of Augusta, finished his demonstration, there would be a Grand Ball, with music by Dennis’ Orchestra, Augusta, for dancing until 2 a.m.

The second poster announced an Aug. 15, 1898, Grand Concert by the Sidney Minstrels. The program included vocal and instrumental (guitar, banjo and tamborine solos); it was followed by a “social dance” with music by Crowell’s Orchestra.

John Philip Sousa’s inaugural playing of The Stars and Stripes Forever, in Augusta

John Philip Sousa

An on-line site called Military Music says John Philip Sousa’s The Stars and Stripes Forever was played for the very first time by Sousa’s Band in the new (opened in 1896) city hall, in Augusta, Maine, on May 1, 1897. Because at that time the march had no title, some historians inaccurately date the first performance to a May 14 concert in Philadelphia.

Contributor Jack Kop­stein wrote that Sousa composed the march as he was returning from Europe late in 1896. His original version called for “Piccolo in D-flat, Two Oboes, Two Bassoons, Clarinet in E-flat, Two Clarinets in B-flat (1-2), Alto saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone, Three Cornets (1-3), 4 Horns in E-flat (1-4), Three Trombones (1-3), Euphonium, Tuba, Percussion.”

Augusta’s Museum in the Streets (on line) says by May 1, 1897, Sousa’s Band was “the most famous in the land,” and Sousa was “America’s ‘March King.'” The afternoon concert presented some of his earlier compositions; “Sousa’s band enthralled the Augusta audience with spirited music, and his first encore was a new untitled march” – the one that became The Stars and Stripes Forever.

On-line sites give different versions of the words for the march. The one attributed to Sousa begins, “Let martial note in triumph float / And liberty extend its mighty hand….”

Your writer’s personal favorite begins “Be kind to your web-footed friends / For a duck may be somebody’s mother.” (The web attributes these words to radio comedian Fred Allen [1894-1956].)

Augusta’s 1896 city hall was designed by John Calvin Spofford (Nov. 25, 1854 – Aug. 19, 1936), a Maine-born, Boston-based architect well-known for designing public buildings in New England. In addition to municipal offices, the building included a city auditorium.

Kopstein, writing in 2011, said the building served its municipal function until 1987; it then became an assisted living facility. An on-line description of the Inn at City Hall says it now has “31 apartments with its historic decor preserved throughout the complex.”

Main sources

Grow, Mary M., China Maine Bicentennial History including 1984 revisions (1984)
Hammond, Alice, History of Sidney Maine 1792-1992 (1992)
Kingsbury, Henry D., ed., Illustrated History of Kennebec County Maine 1625-1892 (1892)
North, James W., The History of Augusta (1870)

Websites, miscellaneous.

EVENTS – Red Cross: Donation shortfall may impact blood supply

The American Red Cross has seen a shortfall of about 25,000 blood donations in the first two months of the summer, which makes it hard to keep hospital shelves stocked with lifesaving blood products. By making an appointment to give blood or platelets in August, donors can keep the national blood supply from falling to shortage levels.

Right now, the Red Cross especially needs type O negative, type O positive, type B negative and type A negative blood donors as well as platelet donors. For those who don’t know their blood type, making a donation is an easy way to find out this important personal health information. The Red Cross will notify new donors of their blood type soon after they give.

The Red Cross needs donors now. Schedule an appointment to give by downloading the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

All who come to give throughout the month of August will get a $10 e-gift card to a movie merchant of their choice. Details are available at

Upcoming blood donation opportunities Aug. 16-31:

Augusta: Monday, August 28, 11:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., Augusta Elks, 397 Civic Center Drive, P.O. Box 2206;

Gardiner: Saturday,August 19, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m., Knights of Columbus, 109 Spring Street;

Waterville: Friday,August 18, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m., Best Western Plus Waterville Grand Hotel, 375 Main Street;

Winslow: Wednesday, August 30, noon, – 5 p.m., Winslow VFW, 175 Veterans Drive.

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Music in the central Kennebec Valley

The 1866 Hook organ at the South Parish Congregational Church, in Augusta.

by Mary Grow

After the frustration of finding only scanty and random information from local historians on how central Kennebec Valley residents cared for their destitute neighbors, your writer decided to continue frustrating herself on a more cheerful topic: music.

There were music and musicians in central Maine before the Europeans’ arrival. Music historian George Thornton Edwards provided a bit of information on native American music in his Music and Musicians of Maine.

The early European settlers, too, enjoyed and appreciated music, Edwards wrote. At first it was mostly sacred and mostly vocal.

An 18th century Viol.

The usual accompaniment to a church choir was a bass viol. Portland’s Second Parish Church seems to have been a leader in expanding use of instruments. Edwards wrote that the cornet and clarinet (or clarionet) had supplemented the viol before 1798, when the church acquired the first church organ in the city.

Augusta wasn’t far behind. In 1802, according to Edwards and to James North’s Augusta history, residents of the North Parish raised $35 to buy a bass viol and build a box for it. Stephen Jewett played the viol; Edwards commented that “ultra conservative” residents no doubt disapproved.

North included a reference from 1796, when Hallowell Academy, opened May 5, 1795, celebrated the end of its first year with public student recitations. North quoted from the May 10, 1796, issue of the Tocsin (Hallowell’s second newspaper): the public presentation included “vocal and instrumental music, under the direction of Mr. Belcher the ‘Handel‘ of Maine.”

(“Mr. Belcher” was Supply Belcher [March 29, 1751 – June 9, 1836]. Born in Massachusetts, he fought in the Revolution; moved to Hallowell in 1785; and in 1791 settled in Farmington for the rest of his life. He published in 1794 a collection of his sacred compositions called The Harmony of Maine.)

North borrowed from Edwards’ history a description of another series of musical events that started in early 1822, when a group of musically-inclined South Parish Congregational Church parishioners brought to the town “Mr. Holland,” a professor of music from New Bedford, Massachusetts. (Your writer has failed to find Mr. Holland’s first name or dates.)

Holland began a new method of teaching “psalmody” (the singing of sacred music, especially in church services) and gave piano lessons. His singers joined the church choir, and the ensuing interest led to raising money to buy a $550 British-made organ, the first organ in Augusta. It was installed on Sept. 4, North said.

The next Sunday, “Mrs. Ostinelli,” Sophia Henrietta Emma Hewitt Ostinelli (May 23, 1799 – Aug. 31, 1845), played the organ. She was the daughter of Boston composer, conductor and music publisher James Hewitt, and the new wife of Italian-born violinist and conductor Paul Louis Antonio Ostinelli (1795 – 184?). An on-line source calls her “pianist, organist, singer, and music teacher.”

Edwards wrote that her husband was described as a violinist “without a peer in America at that time.” He was also an orchestra conductor.

On Sept. 19 and again on Sept. 25, Holland directed “an oratorio of sacred music,” held, Linda Davenport wrote in her Divine Song on the Northeast Frontier, at the church. The concerts were benefits, the first for Holland and the second for the Ostinellis.

Music was provided by church members – the church did not seem to have its own “ongoing musical society,” Davenport wrote – plus choir members from Hallowell’s Congregational and Baptist societies. At one of these concerts, maybe both, Ostinelli played violin solos.

Davenport reprinted the program of the Sept. 19 concert. Each of the two parts began with an organ voluntary, followed by vocal music, both chorus and solo. Seven of the 15 pieces performed were by George Frideric Handel; one was by Franz Joseph Haydn.

North wrote the Holland concerts were the last time such “first class concerts” were presented in Augusta until June 1859, when Ostinelli’s daughter Elise, Madame Biscaccianti, sang.

Holland moved back to New Bedford in September 1823, Edwards wrote. “It is said that his influence on the musical life in Augusta is felt to this day (1928).”

The same year Cyril Searle was “temporarily located in Augusta and he continued the excellent work which had been started by Mr. Holland.”

North devoted three pages to Searle – not to his musical career, but to a description of the sketch he did of Augusta, probably in 1823 (definitely after Maine and Massachusetts separated in 1820, and before a building he included burned on Nov. 8, 1823).

When Augusta’s first Unitarian church, called Bethlehem Church, was built in 1827, it had an organ, North wrote. This church, according to Henry Kingsbury’s Kennebec County history, was on the east bank of the Kennebec, where the Cony Flatiron Building (formerly Cony High School) stands today. Since most of the Augusta Unitarians lived on the west side of the river, a new church was built only six years later on State Street, about a block north of the present Lithgow Library.

In later descriptions of new church buildings, North occasionally mentioned an organ; apparently by the 1830s, they were common enough not to be worth noting.

An event he described that will remind readers of the old saying, “The more things change, the more they stay the same,” and in which music played a minor role, occurred in 1832.

By then Maine’s capital had moved to Augusta. The legislature, meeting in secret session, discussed a controversial proposal to cede land to Great Britain to resolve the conflict over the Maine-Canada boundary (a conflict that led to the Aroostook War of 1839 – see the March 17, 2022, issue of The Town Line).

An anonymous source sent information on the secret deliberations to Luther Severance, publisher of an Augusta newspaper, who printed it. Legislators demanded to know the source. Severance refused to answer committee questions and was threatened with a contempt citation, but was apparently never prosecuted.

Enough of Augusta’s elite sympathized with Severance to organize a dinner in his honor, at which speakers denounced legislators, praised the free press and, North quoted from Severance’s newspaper, enjoyed “an excellent dinner, moistened with the best old Madeira, and accompanied by fine music.”

* * * * * *

There were also privately run singing schools, Edwards wrote. Millard Howard wrote in his Palermo history that schoolhouses were one place singing schools met. He added that by the late 1800s, schoolhouses were also sites for “some rowdy dances with frequent fights.”

Edwards’ history includes names of people, mostly men but some women, who ran singing schools. One was Coker Marble, whose singing school in Vassalboro operated for more than 20 years in the period from 1836 through 1856.

An on-line Marble genealogy provides limited information on not one but two men named Coker Marble. The genealogy starts with Samuel Marble (Oct. 23, 1728 -?) and Sarah Coker (June 21, 1735 -?), who married in 1754 in New Hampshire. They had at least three children: Hannah and John, both born in 1755, and Coker Marble Sr. (Sept. 28, 1765 – Aug. 30, 1823).

Coker Marble Sr., married twice, according to the on-line genealogy. He and his first wife, Polly Mason, whom he married about 1796, had at least one daughter.

On Jan. 1, 1801, in New Hampshire, he married Rhoda Judkins (1776 -1864). The oldest of their six children was Coker Marble Jr. (Feb. 8, 1802 – Sept. 10, 1882), who was born in Vassalboro.

In his chapter on Vassalboro in the Kennebec County history, Kingsbury named Rev. Coker Marble as pastor – presumably the first pastor – of the Second Baptist Church, organized at Cross Hill in 1808 with 37 members but, Kingsbury said, “probably…no church property.” From the dates in the genealogical information, this pastor must have been the senior Coker Marble, who would have been in his mid-40s in 1808.

Grave marker for Elder Coker Marble Sr., left, and his wife, Rhoda, on right., at the Cross Hill Cemetery, in Vassalboro.

Vassalboro cemetery records show that Coker Marble Sr., named as Elder Coker Marble, and Rhoda are buried in Vassalboro’s Cross Hill cemetery, with the two youngest of their four daughters.

(Your writer also found on line a biography of a Massachusetts doctor named John Oliver Marble. The biography specifies that he was the son of John and Emeline [Prescott] Marble and the grandson of Rev. Coker Marble. Dr. Marble was born April 26, 1839, in Vassalboro. He graduated from Colby in 1863 and received his medical degree from Georgetown in 1868.)

Coker Marble Jr., married Marcia Lewis (March 19, 1806 – Dec. 17, 1881) on Aug. 31 or Oct. 20, 1824, in Whitefield. Between 1825 and 1853 Marcia bore seven daughters and three sons. The sons were named Arthur, Edwin and Henry.

From the birth and death dates, your writer concludes that it was Coker Marble Jr., who ran the Vassalboro singing school, probably beginning when he was in his early 30s. The genealogy lists two of his and Marcia’s children as born in Vassalboro, in 1837 and 1841, and two others in Hallowell, in 1839 and 1845.

The on-line site says the younger Coker Marble lived in Pittston in 1870 and Skowhegan in 1880; Marcia is listed in Pittston in 1870 and in Milburn in 1880 (Milburn might then have been part of Skowhegan). Both died in Bath (another site says Coker Marble died in either Bath or China) and are buried in Bath’s Maple Grove Cemetery.

Main sources

Davenport, Linda, Divine Song on the Northeast Frontier Maine’s Sacred Tunebooks, 1800-1830 (1996).
Edwards, George Thornton, Music and musicians of Maine: being a history of the progress of music in the territory which has come to be known as the State of Maine, from 1604 to 1928 (1970 reprint).
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).
North, James W. , The History of Augusta (1870).

Websites, miscellaneous.