Covers towns roughly within 50 miles of Augusta.

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: The Grange – Part 1

Vassalboro Grange (photo: vassalboro.net)

by Mary Grow

The mother and father of all United States agricultural organization is the Grange, formally known as the Order of Patrons of Husbandry. The national Grange was organized in Washington, D. C., on Dec. 2, 1867, by a seven-person group headed by Oliver Hudson Kelley (1826 – 1913), a Bostonian who moved to Minnesota in 1849 to become a farmer.

A Grange historian quoted in Ruby Crosby Wiggin’s Albion history wrote that the organization was a response to the “depressed condition” of agriculture after the Civil War. The 1873 financial panic hastened its growth.

In 1864, Kelley, working for the national Bureau of Agriculture, inspected post-war farming conditions in the southern states. He realized the need to help farmers earn their living from their land, found like-minded friends and created the Grange.

Kelley intended the organization as “an agricultural fraternal order,” not unlike Masonry, with rituals, named offices, degrees and an aura of secrecy, Maine Grange historian Stanley R. Howe wrote in a 2010 article reproduced on line.

“Fraternal” was never accurate, however; Howe credited Kelley’s niece, feminist Caroline A. Hall, with gaining women near-equality in the Grange. They had voting rights from the beginning and four of the 16 elected offices in each Grange are exclusively for women.

(Online information says in 1893 the Minnesota Grange elected a woman named Sarah Baird as the first female state Grange President [Master] in the United States. Minnesota’s current state Grange president is a woman, and so is the president of the national Grange, for the first time: Betsy Huber, of Pennsylvania, a Granger since she joined a Junior Grange at age five, has been national president since 2015.)

The name Grange comes from Great Britain, where the part of an estate used for agriculture was called the grange, Howe explained.

As the organization developed and spread, four main purposes emerged.

Economic improvement remained central. Means included cooperative stores, where the organization bought in bulk and sold to members at cost; discounts on things like life and health insurance; and spreading information about improved agricultural techniques, new machinery or seeds and other benefits to farmers.

Education, agricultural and general, was important. Granges published reports, newspapers and bulletins; many Grange halls had libraries; most Granges sponsored educational presentations on topics important to local farmers and the community; many hosted classes and workshops.

Having an organization that operated locally, state-wide and nationally gave Grangers political clout. One of the first national efforts was to pressure Congress to lower railroads’ shipping rates so that farm products could be sent to market more cheaply. Grangers also wanted grain elevators’ charges controlled.

The Grange lobbied for the postal service’s Rural Free Delivery system, so that isolated farmers would not have to choose between driving miles to the post office or paying a commercial carrier to pick up their mail. Grangers supported a variety of national cooperative farmers’ institutions; one source says they were instrumental in making the head of the United States Department of Agriculture a member of the President’s Cabinet in 1889.

Grange members lobbied for the Prohibition movement (implemented by the 18th Amendment to the United States Constitution, in effect Jan. 16, 1919, and repealed by the 21st Amendment, in effect Dec. 5, 1933). They helped implement progressive political ideas, like direct election of Senators (the 17th Amendment, in effect April 8, 1913) and voting rights for women (the 19th Amendment, in effect Aug. 18, 1920). Current national President Huber advocates expanding access to broadband service, especially in rural areas.

Complementing these economic, educational and political goals, at the local level the Grange became the social center for rural towns across the country, providing a community meeting hall and sponsoring suppers, dances and local and imported entertainments. One historian called this function especially important to rural women, who were more isolated than the men.

The Maine State Grange was organized in Lewiston on April 21, 1874, a year after the first Grange in the state was established in Hampden. Grange and state websites say there were 64 Maine Granges with about 2,000 members by the end of 1874; within two years, 228 Granges and 12,000 members; in 1907, 419 Granges and more than 55,000 members; and in 1918, 450 Granges and 60,000 members. Membership peaked at around 62,000 in the 1950s and has declined in recent years.

In 1918, according to that year’s Maine Register, W. J. Thompson, of South China, was Master of the state Grange. His wife held the position of Flora (one of three ritual stations, with Ceres and Pomona, Howe explained) and D. E. Foster, of Augusta, was Steward.

(Wikipedia says Ceres was “the Roman goddess of agriculture”; Flora was “the Roman goddess of flowers” and of spring; and Pomona was “the Roman goddess of fruit and nut trees.”)

Political positions the Maine State Grange took included supporting funding for local schools and the University of Maine and opposing the repeated efforts to move the state capital from Augusta. Augusta’s Maine Farmer newspaper, published from 1823 to at least 1900 (see The Town Line, Nov. 26, 2020), was a Grange publication.

The organization promoted causes that benefited not only farmers, but other segments of society. Howe mentioned sending care packages to soldiers overseas during World War II and building and supporting Grange Cottage to house orphans at Goodwill-Hinckley School, in Fairfield.

Since 1945, the Maine State Grange has been headquartered on State Street, in Augusta.

In the 1880s the state organization added county Granges, called Pomonas. Juvenile Granges started in 1944; Palermo’s Sheepscot Lake Juvenile Grange #106 and Augusta’s Capital Junior Grange #274 were active in the 1950s and 1960s.

A current on-line list from the Maine State Grange says there are 103 active Granges in Maine, counting both local and county Granges. Local ones listed are Benton Grange, Fairfield Center’s Victor Grange and Branch Mills Grange, in Palermo; Vassalboro Grange, in East Vassalboro, should also be on the list, according to its Facebook page.

Albion Grange #181 was one of the earlier local Granges, past and present. Maine State Grange Master Nelson Ham oversaw its organizational meeting on July 6, 1875, historian Ruby Crosby Wiggin wrote. There were 36 charter members: 34 couples, the son of one couple and an unmarried woman.

Wiggin said in 1875, only farmers and their families were eligible to join the Grange. Doctors, storekeepers and all other non-farmers were excluded.

In 1873, Albion residents had organized a local stock company to build a community hall. The hall was finished in 1874, and the first Grange meeting was held there.

Until January 1881 Grangers rented the hall only for meetings. In January 1881, the Stock Company leased it to the Grange at $35 a year, and in 1886 the Grange bought the building.

Beginning in October 1875 Grangers ran a cooperative store, buying a variety of items – coffee, salted fish, cloth, raisins, rock salt, cheese, sugar, chewing tobacco, grass seed – in bulk and selling them to members. Meetings included panel discussions, suppers and other forms of entertainment.

On Oct. 4, 1879, Albion Grange held its first fair, in conjunction with Freedom Grange. Independent Albion Grange fairs were held annually into the early 1950s, Wiggin wrote.

By 1892, Henry Kingsbury wrote in his Kennebec County history, Albion Grange had 150 members. In 1902, the Maine State Grange Proceedings says there were 252 members.

In 1903 Grangers added a dining room to their building, which they still used when Wiggin published her Albion history in 1964. On-line sources suggest the Grange had been re-established in 1957, probably after an interval of inactivity.

In Augusta, records show two Granges. The earlier, Capital Grange #248, was organized April 7, 1883, according to Capt. Charles E. Nash’s chapter on Augusta in Kingsbury’s history. The second Capital Grange Master was Samuel L. Boardman, who wrote the chapter on agriculture in the same book.

On Nov. 12, 1901, according to records of the national Grange, Brother Obadiah Gardner carried an invitation to those attending the national convention to visit Augusta on Nov. 19, traveling by train. The flowery letter was signed by Capital Grange Master G. M. Twitchell and Augusta Board of Trade President C. B. Burleigh.

Attractions included touring the city and the State House; meeting Governor Hill and his wife at “the mansion of the late Hon. J. G. Blaine, which remains as it was when he did his great work”; and visiting “the national home at Togus,” then caring for 2,600 Civil War veterans.

The Grange records say that Brother W. K. Thompson, of South Carolina, moved to accept the invitation. Discussion was postponed from the morning to the afternoon session, when Brother Thompson’s motion was “considered at considerable length and unanimously adopted.”

(Obadiah Gardner [1852-1938], a Michigan native who moved to Maine in 1864, graduated from Coburn Classical Institute, in Waterville, and farmed in the Rockland area, was Master of the Maine Grange from 1897 to 1907. He ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1908; was appointed to the United States Senate in September 1911, after William P. Frye died in office; and lost his re-election bid in 1912, leaving the Senate March 3, 1913. He was then appointed to the International Joint Commission to deal with boundary-water issues between the United States and Canada, on which he served until 1923.)

In 1902, M. F. Norcross, the Deputy of West Kennebec County, reported on his Nov. 21 visit to Capital Grange, which then had 60 members. He found there were “[n]ew rituals and badges,” and the members were much interested in “working the third and fourth degrees” under a capable Master. “Bound to succeed,” he summarized.

Later references to Capital Grange are hard to find. The on-line index to the University of Maine’s Raymond L. Fogler special collections library says the library has 110 years of Capital Grange treasurers’ records, from 1883 to 1993.

Capital Junior Grange seems to have been created in or before 1955 and to have lasted until at least 1961.

North Augusta Grange #348 was founded in or before 1899 and existed until at least 1973. In the 1902 Proceedings of the Maine State Grange, Norcross, reporting as Deputy for Kennebec County, said North Augusta Grange had 126 members and a Degree Team and appeared to be doing well.

Nineteen pages later in the same book, Norcross, listing himself as Deputy for West Kennebec County, reported on his Nov. 4 visit to the North Augusta Grange. The Master told him meetings had been suspended temporarily “on account of a drama.” Norcross gave no details, but commented, “It is hoped that the work that the Grange is designed to do is not made a secondary matter.”

19 Granges in the central Kennebec River valley, in the order in which they were founded (as nearly as this writer can determine)

Victor Grange #49, Fairfield Center; established 1874, still active.

Oak Grove Grange #167, North Vassalboro; May 11, 1875.

Albion Grange #181; July 6, 1875.

Albion Grange #181, Oct. 28, 1957; suspended Aug. 26, 1998, for failure to file state corporate reports (according to an on-line source).

Sidney Grange #194; November 24, 1875.

Cushnoc Grange #204, Riverside (Vassalboro); January 13, 1876.

Capital Grange #248, Augusta; Apr. 7, 1883.

Windsor Grange #284; June 2, 1886.

China Grange #295, South China; December 29, 1887.

Clinton Grange #287; March 1888 (according to Kingsbury; this date is out of sequence).

Clinton Grange #287, July 15, 1949; dissolved Sept. 6, 2006, for failure to file state corporate reports (according to an on-line source).

Winslow Grange #320; in existence by 1894.

East Vassalboro Grange #322, 1895; still active.

Silver Lake Grange #327, China Village; 1895 or 1896.

Branch Mills Grange #336, Jan. 1, 1897 (organized in China, most of its life in Palermo); still active.

North Augusta Grange #348, in existence by 1899.

Sheepscot Lake Grange #445, in existence by 1905.

Benton Grange #458, 1906; still active.

China Lake Grange #578, also called China Grange; fall 1974-1976?, China Village.

19 Granges in the central Kennebec River valley, alphabetical by municipality

Albion (two) Albion Grange #181, 1875; Albion Grange #181, 1957.

Augusta (two) Capital Grange #248; North Augusta Grange #348.

Benton Grange #458.

China (three) China Grange #295; Silver Lake Grange #327; China (Lake) Grange #578.

Clinton (two) Clinton Grange #287, 1888; Clinton Grange #287, 1949.

Fairfield Center Victor Grange #49.

Palermo (two) Branch Mills Grange #336; Sheepscot Lake Grange #445.

Sidney Grange #194.

Vassalboro (three) Oak Grove Grange #167; Cushnoc Grange #204; East Vassalboro Grange #322.

Waterville had none, apparently.

Windsor Grange #284.

Winslow Grange #320.

Main sources

Kingsbury, Henry D., ed., Illustrated History of Kennebec County Maine 1625-1892 (1892).
Wiggin, Ruby Crosby, Albion on the Narrow Gauge (1964).

Websites, miscellaneous.

Ezhaya Scholarship applications now available

photo: Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce

Joseph B. Ezhaya was a community leader who distinguished himself with his warmth, enthusiasm, generosity and particularly, his friendships. Successful candidates for this scholarship should share Joe’s interest in citizenship, community service and exemplify his spirit and vitality.

Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce is encouraging all eligible students to apply for its Joseph B. Ezhaya Scholarship. This $750 scholarship is awarded annually for all four years to a recipient upon successful completion of his/her first semester of college with a 2.0 GPA or better.

To be considered, applicants must meet the following criteria: Must be currently attending a Mid-Maine Chamber area high school: Lawrence, Winslow, Mt. View, Waterville, Messalonskee, MCI, Erskine Academy, Temple Academy, or MeANS School; Must maintain an academic average of a “C” or better; Must complete a required short essay on citizenship; Must show evidence of community service and involvement; Must be enrolled in an accredited New England College or University.

Please visit http://www.midmainechamber.com/cms/joseph-b-ezhaya-memorial-scholarship for more information or call the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce at 207-873-3315.

Submissions may be sent via email to patricia@midmainechamber.com or mailed to Ezhaya Memorial Scholarship Applications, Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce, 50 Elm St., Waterville, ME 04901.

All applications must be received by 5 p.m. on April 28, 2021.

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Agriculture

19th century threshing machine.

by Mary Grow

By the 19th century, Maine farmers realized the benefits of organizing. Samuel L. Boardman, author of the agriculture chapter in Henry Kingsbury’s Kennebec County history, wrote that the Waterville-based Kennebec Agricultural Society, founded in 1787, was the first such group in New England and the second in what would become the United States ((Pennsylvania had the first one). This organization’s goals were to share knowledge and resources – “trees, seeds, tools, books, etc.”

The Kennebec Agricultural Society was succeeded by the Maine Agricultural Society, incorporated Feb. 21, 1818. In 1820 this group sponsored, at Hallowell, the first cattle show in Maine, Boardman wrote.

On Feb. 28, 1820, he continued, the Winthrop Agricultural Society came into existence, expanded April 23, 1832, to include all of Kennebec County and renamed the Kennebec County Agricultural Society. The Kennebec County Society still existed when the Kennebec County history was published in 1892.

Boardman described some of the society’s actions, as recorded in meeting reports. In 1818, members collected information about a newly-invented threshing machine, prepared to buy one if it seemed desirable. In 1822, they voted to spend $30 for Spanish summer wheat seed from Malaga or Gibraltar.

In 1825 they investigated Smith Island Sheep, planning to buy a pair if expedient. In 1834 they voted “that this society decidedly disapprove the sale of ardent spirits on the grounds on the days of their cattle show.”

The Kennebec County society established a fairground in Readfield in 1856, Boardman wrote.

E. P. Mayo’s chapter on agriculture in the Waterville centennial history begins discussion of organizations with the North Kennebec Agricultural Society, incorporated by the state legislature July 31, 1847.

The Society enrolled farmers from Waterville and 10 nearby towns, including Benton, Fairfield, Winslow, Sebasticook (later Benton), Clinton, Albion and China. Members made an early decision to “raise $75 for the purchase of standard agricultural works for a library.” They sponsored their first agricultural show in October 1847.

The author of an on-line list of some of the prize-winners at the North Kennebec Society’s 1863 fair commented on the high-quality cattle displayed, including five from Thomas S. Lang’s beef herd that, in the writer’s opinion, were alone worth the time a farmer spent attending the fair. Lang also won first place in the breeding category with a cow named Bianca.

The cow who placed second to Bianca was raised by Edwin Spring, of Winslow; William Nowell, of Fairfield, owned the third-place cow. The judges commended Mrs. Spring’s tomato ketchup, and 11-year-old Marcia Spring got a special award for her cheese.

Boardman wrote that between 1855 and 1875 the North Kennebec Agricultural Society’s fairs were among the best and best-attended in Maine. He said the Society still held annual exhibitions in 1892; Mayo said after the 1880s, the increase in competing fairs and fairgrounds let to its (undated) dissolution.

In January 1854, Mayo wrote, Society members appointed a committee to find a place for a horse track. They bought land in southern Waterville and built a half-mile track, but apparently used it for their contests for less than a decade before leasing it in 1863 to a short-lived Waterville Horse Association.

The Oct. 10, 1865, New York Times announced that on Oct. 12 the Waterville Horse Association fair would feature a trotting race between two “noted Eastern stallions,” General Knox and General McLellan. This race would have been two years after the race mentioned in last week’s issue of The Town Line in which General Knox beat J. L. Seavey’s Hiram Drew; this writer could not find out whether he won again in 1865. General Knox was one of Thomas Lang’s horses.

(While searching on line for a stallion named General McLellan, this writer learned that after a European tour in 1855, then-Captain George B. McLellan designed the McLellan saddle, which the United States Cavalry adopted in 1859 and used until World War II.)

“Nelson” and his breeder Charles Horace Nelson, in a photo that appeared in The Centennial History of Waterville, 1802-1902, by Rev. Edwin Carey Whittemore. The chapter on agriculture was written by E. P. Mayo.

Charles Horace “Hod” Nelson, of Sunnyside Farm, breeder and owner of the horse Nelson (also mentioned last week) rented the North Kennebec Society’s track to train his horses, and from 1887 to 1897 owned the former Society’s Central Maine Fairgrounds. The Lost Trotting Parks website says Nelson sold the property in 1897 to the City of Waterville; Mayo wrote that it was sold “for the enlargement of our present beautiful cemetery.”

In 1904 and 1905, and perhaps later, on-line sites mention the fairs at the Central Maine Fairgrounds, located where Seton Hospital was built in 1965. The fairgrounds had a large two-story exhibition hall, and tents were set up on the grounds.

In addition to palmists, “Honest Bill’s Wonder Show” and a photographer who offered “old fashioned tintypes made ‘while you wait,'” the Maine Memory Network website says the fair included “horse racing, livestock competitions and shows, and other entertainments.” This writer found no record of who owned the fairgrounds or sponsored the fairs.

Two other organizations Boardman listed were the South Kennebec Agricultural Society, incorporated in 1853, and its successor in1860, the Kennebec Union Agricultural and Horticultural Society. Both included Augusta and towns south and west.

The Eastern Kennebec Agricultural Society was organized in the spring of 1868. Members immediately bought 16 acres off the west side of Dirigo Road, in China, and built a half-mile track, completed in time for an inaugural three-day exhibition to open Oct. 20. In 1869 a 40-by-60-foot exhibition hall was constructed.

Boardman wrote that the Society held seven fairs, the last in 1874. The majority of exhibitors were from Albion, China, Vassalboro and Windsor. Boardman explained that bad October weather reduced fair receipts to the point that the Society ran out of money. It was disbanded in December 1877 and the land sold.

Windsor later joined Chelsea, Pittston and Whitefield to form the South Kennebec Agricultural Society. Boardman wrote that it was organized in March 1888, leased land and built a half-mile track at South Windsor Corner and held its first fair Oct. 3 and 4, 1888.

The legislature chartered the new Society in February 1889, adding the Lincoln County towns of Jefferson, Somerville and Whitefield. Boardman wrote an exhibition hall was added that summer, and up to 1892, “the annual fairs have been successful in the highest degree.”

The South Kennebec Society survived, but less successfully and renamed an association, well into the 20th century. In the spring of 1973 the Maine legislature passed an emergency bill deleting the requirement that members be from the towns listed in the 1889 charter.

The bill’s preamble explained that it was passed as emergency legislation, effective immediately rather than 90 days after the session ended, because agricultural societies are economically important “since they encourage one of Maine’s basic industries”; legislative action is “vitally necessary” to increase the South Kennebec Agricultural Association’s membership; and expanding membership is “essential” before 1973 Association meetings.

Albion, China, Sidney and Vassalboro also organized local fairs in the 19th century, Boardman wrote. In 1869, the Maine Board of Agriculture suggested that agricultural societies help organize and support local farmers’ clubs; Boardman wrote that many such clubs were organized, but gives no specifics.

Well before then, a Vassalboro Agricultural Society was organized in 1820, according to Alma Pierce Robbins’ history of the town. She wrote that it awarded premiums and prizes for “wheat, corn, hemp, flax and silk” and “cattle, sheep and swine.”

Albion’s first agricultural society, according to Ruby Crosby’s Wiggin’s town history, was the Farmer’s and Mechanic’s Club of Albion. Organized Oct. 5, 1863, it held annual fairs, the first on Oct. 13, 1863. (This writer suspects the fair was organized before the club.)

Wiggin wrote that fair displays included varied livestock, mostly horses, oxen and cows, “a large display of farm produce and vegetables” and miscellaneous foodstuffs and home-made items. She listed 16 different kinds of potatoes named in fair reports over the years.

The reports on annual fairs end in 1991, Wiggin found; she believed the fairs did not end then. Gradually, she wrote, horses took over, and the fairs moved to the trotting park near Puddle Dock, in southern Albion. The trotting park became a plowed field a few years before she published her history in 1964.

Augusta probably had only one trotting park, although on-line and written information might be describing two different ones. According to The Lost Trotting Parks website, the trotting park was built in 1858 on the west bank of the Kennebec River, just south of Capitol Park. The website shows an excerpt from an 1892 publication, Agriculture of Kennebec County, Maine, and an aerial view of the park, an oval track with what looks like a grandstand on one side.

The website says the aerial view is a postcard, property of the Kennebec Historical Society. In 1892, according to this site’s information, the Capital Driving Park Association managed the park.

When Kingsbury’s history was published in 1892, Capt. Charles E. Nash wrote in his chapters on Augusta that the Augusta Park Association, organized in 1888, owned and operated the trotting park “adjacent to the state house grounds.” He is probably referring to the 1858 park; some 19th-century city maps show Capitol Park and the grounds around the State House as a single unit. However, the river is not visible in the aerial view.

In 1920, the Lost Trotting Parks website says, city and state changed the trotting park to a recreational field on which an Augusta semi-pro baseball team played for years. (Confusingly, this information seems to come from the 1892 book.)

The Fairfield bicentennial history includes a brief and frustratingly undated history of the Fairfield trotting park, which was located on the west side of West Street, about where Lawrence High School and Keyes Field are in 2021. Two local civic-minded entrepreneurs, Amos Gerald (1841–1913) and Edward Jones Lawrence (1833–1918), are credited with building it.

Other names the Fairfield historians associate with the park are John Hiram Gilbreth (1833-1871), described in an excerpt from a 1939 memoir as “[a]bout the first of the really famous horsemen of Fairfield”; and in later years Ralph Jewell (1883-1960). (An on-line Cornish [Maine] Agricultural Society race card reveals that Jewell’s brown gelding, McKinney Volo, placed fifth of five and fourth of five in two races at Cornish on Aug. 5, 1936.)

The Fairfield history reproduces an undated September 29 and 30 race program for Fairfield Park, with five trotting events and one pacing event and winners’ purses from $100 to $250.

The trotting park is shown on an 1891 map in the Fairfield history, and it was active on Aug. 21, 1895. The races hosted that day attracted participants and spectators from miles around, and the town lumber mills closed at noon so interested employees could join the crowd. As a result, no one noticed the fire that started in the boiler room of a lumber mill on the river until it had a good hold. Despite efforts by firefighters from all around the area, the connected mills that made up Fairfield’s lumber industry burned.

Dedication to Nelson

Photo by Roiland Hallee

An inscribed granite marker at the Sterling Street Playground, in Waterville, honoring the life of the horse Nelson. The playground is part of what was once Sunnyside Farm, the home to Nelson, a champion trotting stallion. The marker was placed almost 100 years to the day of the death of the horse on December 3, 2009.

Main sources

Fairfield Historical Society, Fairfield, Maine 1788-1988 (1988).
Kingsbury, Henry D., ed., Illustrated History of Kennebec County Maine 1625-1892 (1892).
Robbins, Alma Pierce, History of Vassalborough Maine 1771 1971 n.d. (1971).
Whittemore, Rev. Edwin Carey, Centennial History of Waterville 1802-1902 (1902).
Wiggin, Ruby Crosby, Albion on the Narrow Gauge. (1964)

Websites, miscellaneous.

Mainers have more help available to pay monthly health insurance bills

Submitted by
Consumers for Affordable Health Care
Contact: Helen Roy, China, Maine, 207-480-2137, Certified Application Counselor

Mainers have more health coverage options than ever. Free help is available to anyone who needs assistance understanding their options. Sorting through those options can be challenging, even for the most sophisticated consumer. The American Recovery Plan has made available more help paying monthly premiums for many people who buy private Marketplace insurance through HealthCare.gov. Many others who did not qualify for help in the past may also now be eligible for premium assistance.

People who are uninsured or worried about being able to pay for their coverage should act quickly. Starting April 1, people who already have Marketplace coverage can update their application to take advantage of the new premium assistance. This current Special Enrollment Period with the Marketplace, where people can enroll in coverage, receive additional premium assistance, and change plans ends on May 15.

There is additional help with premiums for those who are unemployed; they may be eligible for coverage with a $0 premium. Those with COBRA coverage can get help paying for that coverage for a limited time. People with income that was too high in the past can now get premium assistance. Full coverage through MaineCare remains available for those with limited income. You can learn more about MaineCare and how to apply at CoverMe.gov.

Maine’s Health Insurance Consumer Assistance Program (CAP) toll free Help Line provides free assistance to people who need help understanding coverage options and applying for and enrolling in coverage. The CAP was designated by Maine’s Attorney General and the Bureau of Insurance in 2010. Certified Application Counselors provide free, unbiased information about private individual Marketplace insurance and public coverage programs, including MaineCare.

Anyone who is uninsured, worried about losing their health coverage or concerned about not being able to afford health insurance are encouraged to call the CAP Help Line at Consumers for Affordable Health Care (CAHC) toll free at 1-800-965-7476. CAHC is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization located in Augusta with the mission to improve access to affordable quality health care for all people living in Maine.

Don’t delay – Now is the time to look into changes that are making it easier for Maine people to afford the coverage they need. Visit HealthCare.gov to update your plan to receive the extra assistance or to enroll in coverage or call the Consumer Assistance Help Line at 1-800-965-7476 for help.

Check for unclaimed property

Be sure to check for unclaimed property by visiting https://maineunclaimedproperty.gov on occasion, as new properties are added continuously. For unclaimed property in another state, you can search the national database of unclaimed property at www.missingmoney.com.

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Livestock

Fulling mill.

by Mary Grow

Besides crops, the other major facet of agriculture is livestock. For early Kennebec Valley settlers, cattle, a term that includes milk-producers, meat-producers and draft animals, were especially important.

North Fairfield settler Elihu Bowerman, whose account of his early life was excerpted in the Fairfield Historical Society’s bicentennial history (and quoted in the March 18 issue of The Town Line), acquired two cows in the summer of 1784. The cows were turned loose, and Bowerman claimed “he ran hundreds of miles in the woods after cows, often without shoes.”

Vassalboro’s 1792 assessors’ report, excerpted in Alma Pierce Robbins’ history of the town, listed “96 cows, 114 oxen, 37 horses, 104 steers, and 124 swine.” The town also had a tannery and a slaughterhouse.

In his history of Windsor, Linwood Lowden wrote that the first cattle were heavy breeds like Durhams. Horses came into favor later, and so did milk cows, he wrote. Other local historians, including Alice Hammond in her history of Sidney, list milk cows and chickens as essential for an early farm family.

Milton Dowe, of Palermo, born in 1912, wrote both a 1954 history of his town and a booklet of reminiscences, Palermo, Maine: Things That I Remember in 1996. In the latter he observed, without giving a date, that teams of oxen, “strong but slow moving” were common. If an ox died, he pointed out, the meat was eaten – “This was different than losing a horse.”

Lowden cites one Windsor farmer who died in 1812 and another who died in 1813, each leaving one horse and one cow. A Windsor farmer who died in 1817 had two cows and a bull, two yearlings and a calf, four sheep, five pigs and two swine.

(Other sources use “pig” and “swine” interchangeably. Wikipedia says a pig is “any of several intelligent mammalian species of the genus sus, having cloven hooves, bristles and a nose adapted for digging”; and a swine [the word is both singular and plural] is “any of various omnivorous, even-toed ungulates of the family suidae.”)

Lowden surmises that the man who died in 1817 had owned at least one team of oxen, because his belongings included an ox yoke and ox-cart wheels. Also in the inventory was a pair of sheep shears.

Carding mill

Lowden could find no statistics on sheep in Windsor, but he assumed they were numerous, because before 1815 Owen Clark built a fulling mill on the West Branch of the Sheepscot River. It changed hands almost immediately, and ran “for many years.” There was apparently an associated carding mill or carding machine.

(Wikipedia explains that in a carding mill, wool fibers were brushed into alignment to make the wool into rolls for spinning or batting for quilts. In a fulling mill, wooden mallets powered by water pounded woolen fabric to make it thicker and more compact.)

Ruby Crosby Wiggin mentioned in her Albion history that William Chalmers, who had a gristmill on Fifteen Mile Stream by around 1800, “later is said to have built other mills including a carding mill.” Wiggin also found Jonah Crosby’s account book in which he recorded trades he made. Sometime in 1814 he loaned 10 sheep to Benjamin Webb for a year, expecting in return 10 pounds of wool.

Henry Kingsbury, in his Kennebec County history, listed three carding mills in Waterville, one in Sidney and a three-story-tall carding mill in East Vassalboro that started in business before 1816. In 19th-century China, he wrote, there were two carding mills on the West Branch of the Sheepscot River, in Branch Mills, one north of Main Street and one south.

From the 1700s well into the 1800s, cattle, horses, mules, pigs, sheep, geese and other animals often shared common grazing land, instead of being fenced on their owner’s land. Animals that wandered off the common land could and often did damage gardens and crops.

Town Pound in Waldoboro.

At many early town meetings voters discussed the town pound, a feature of New England town life brought from the Old World. The pound was an area enclosed by walls of fieldstone, granite or wood, with a wooden gate, where stray animals were corralled until their owners reclaimed them.

Each town was legally required to have a pound and to appoint a pound-keeper to round up and restrain loose livestock. To reclaim a strayed animal, the owner was usually required to pay a small fee to the pound-keeper and to recompense any neighbors whose property the animal had damaged.

The first town meeting in Vassalboro, held May 2, 1771, elected 22 town officials, including four hogviewers, but there is no record of a pound or pound-keeper. Historian Robbins quoted another vote from the record: “Swine shall run at large without ringing, with a yoke on their necks according to the law.”

The warrant for the Sept. 9, 1771, Vassalboro meeting asked voters to decide “what the Town will do about Pounds.” What the town did was vote to build two pounds before June 5 [1772], on two specified lots, and to have town residents build them on the first Monday in December 1771, with absentees to be fined “two shillings and eight pence Lawful money.”

Kingsbury adds that the dilapidated remains of a 19th-century stone pound were still standing in Vassalboro when his history was finished in 1892.

Another view of Town Pound in Waldoboro.

Albion’s first town meeting, when the future town was still Freetown Plantation, was held Oct. 30, 1802, Wiggin wrote. Apparently it was not until the fifth meeting, on April 16, 1804, that voters in what was by then the Town of Fairfax elected a pound-keeper (unnamed). Wiggin recorded that the April 1804 meeting also banned horses from the common and prohibited swine running at large.

A March 1805 Fairfax meeting approved a town pound. A month later voters reconsidered and reapproved the question and, Wiggin related, provided detailed specifications.

The pound was to be 32-feet-square. Walls more than four-feet-tall were to be supported by eight-inch cedar posts and made of five-by-four-inch ash or pine rails. The gate was to be hung on iron hinges, with a lock and key.

The pound was to be by Abraham Copeland’s house, and he was chosen pound-keeper. The bid to build it was awarded to Thomas J. Fowler, low bidder at $37. Presumably he met the voters’ June 20 deadline.

At the same meeting voters decided that neither hogs nor sheep could run loose, except that “Phineas Farnham’s sheep shall have the privilege of the road the width of his lot.”

(When William Chalmers was chosen tax collector at the Oct. 30, 1802, meeting, Abraham Copeland and Phineas Farnham were his bondsmen, financially responsible for making sure he performed his duty. Their appointment suggests they were respected men of property.)

The 1805 wooden-walled pound lasted until 1822, when a March town meeting approved Joel Wellington’s offer to build a new one for $20. It was to be near Edward Taylor’s house, and Taylor was chosen pound-keeper.

Kingsbury wrote that in 1803 voters in Harlem, now China, banned geese from the common. They must have approved building a pound around the same time, because Kingsbury said that in 1805 Ephraim Clark (one of the brothers of Edmund Clark, whose homestead was a topic in the March 18 The Town Line history article) was chosen pound-keeper, and reportedly held the job until he died in 1829.

In a meeting sometime between 1801 and the end of 1804 in Great Pond Plantation (later Palermo), voters decreed that hogs running at large had to be both yoked and ringed. Those who were not were impounded by the hogreeves. Voters chose as many as 14 hogreeves some years, Milton E. Dowe wrote in his 1954 Palermo history.

Fairfield, by contrast, at its first town meeting on Aug. 19, 1788, elected a single “Hog Ref,” one Thomas Blackwell.

At Palermo’s first town meeting, held Jan. 9, 1805, Millard Howard found that voters elected Daniel Clay as pound-keeper, assisted by an unreported number of “field drivers, who were to control domestic animals running at large with the exception of hogs which were controlled by hog reeves.”

The compilers of the Fairfield Historical Society’s history located a pound in Larone, the settlement on Martin Stream in the northern end of town, close to Norridgewock. Citing an earlier history of Larone and giving no dates, they wrote that the pound was 40-feet square and six-and-a-half-feet high. Town records credit 17 men who each gave a day’s work to build the pound.

For some farmers, by the middle of the 19th century, livestock had moved from an essential part of life and livelihood to a source of prestige. Local histories include accounts of breeders who made Maine nationally famous with their prize-winning cattle and especially their speedy trotting horses.

One of the latter, described by E. P. Mayo in his chapter on agriculture in the Waterville centennial history, was Nelson, born in 1882 and described on-line as “the only Maine bred trotting horse to be elected as an immortal in the Harness Racing Hall of Fame.

Thomas Stackpole Lang, of Vassalboro, brought Nelson’s maternal ancestor to Maine around 1860, and C. H. Nelson, of Waterville’s Sunnyside Farm, brought his sire from Massachusetts. C. H. Nelson was the horse’s breeder, owner, trainer and driver.

Nelson won his first Maine State Fair races as a two-year-old and a year later as a three-year-old. As a five-year-old he won a New England race. In 1890 and 1891 he set records in Indiana and Michigan and was much admired throughout the mid-west, and afterward continued to race in New England and New Brunswick.

Currier & Ives made six prints of Nelson. Other Maine trotting horses who were subjects of Currier & Ives prints include Lady Maud and Camors, two of many horses sired by Lang’s General Knox.

Mayo described a famous race between General Knox and Hiram Drew, bred by J. L. Seavey, of Waterville. Held Oct. 22, 1863, in Waterville, it drew a large and excited crowd from all over Maine. General Knox won.

Cattle breeders Mayo mentioned include Col. Reuben H. Green, of Winslow, one of the people who first brought Durhams to the area; Joseph Percival (Devons); Dr. N. R. Boutelle, owner of the Millbrook Herd, and others, including William Addison Pitt Dillingham (profiled in the March 18 The Town Line), who introduced Jerseys; and Hon. Timothy Boutelle, of Waterville, and John Damon Lang, of Vassalboro, (Ayrshires).

Mayo credits Green with the introduction of Bakewell sheep (better known as Leicesters; Robert Bakewell [1725-1795] was a British farmer famous for introducing selective breeding techniques to produce improved cattle, horses and sheep). Dr. Boutelle was one of the first to breed Merinos, and Joseph Percival, of Waterville, and Warren Percival, of Vassalboro, were Cotswold breeders.

John Damon Lang (1799-1879) was the first owner of the large farm on Dunham Road, the section of Old Route 201 south of Getchell’s Corner, that was later Hall Burleigh’s. He was also instrumental in developing the woolen mill that became the economic heart of North Vassalboro; his son, Thomas Stackpole Lang, was mill agent in the mid-19th century.

Hall C. Burleigh, born in 1826, grew up on a farm in Fairfield and in 18881 moved to the former Lang farm, in Vassalboro, with his wife, Clarissa K. (Garland) Burleigh and their 11 children. Well before then he had been breeding cattle, specializing in Herefords; by 1860 he was exhibiting in Maine and by the 1870s was recognized throughout New England and beyond.

A Henrietta, Texas, cattleman, Captain W. S. Ikard, reported attending the September 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, where he saw Burleigh’s Herefords, including a bull named Compton Lad. Burleigh’s and other Herefords so impressed him that he is credited with importing the first Herefords into Texas.

In 1879 Burleigh went into partnership with former Maine Governor Joseph R. Bodwell. The two imported close to a thousand head of cattle that Burleigh chose from all over Britain. An 1893 on-line biography says by 1893, Burleigh’s cattle had won “more prizes in the show rings of the United States than those of any other individual in America.”

Next: agricultural organizations

Main sources

Dowe, Milton E., History Town of Palermo Incorporated 1884 (1954).
Dowe, Milton E., Palermo, Maine Things That I Remember in 1996. (1997)
Fairfield Historical Society, Fairfield, Maine 1788-1988 (1988).
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).
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.

PHOTOS: Action on the ice!

Central Maine Youth Hockey player Kolby Pelletier, 10, of Sidney, looks to get into position during a recent game. (photo by Sarah Fredette, Central Maine Photography staff)

Central Maine Youth Hockey player Jace Poulin, 9, of Winslow, gets the puck during a recent game in Brewer. (Photo by Sarah Fredette, Central Maine Photography staff)

Central Maine Youth Hockey goalie Michael Loubier, 10, of Winslow, gets ready for the next shot as he enjoyed a stellar game against Brewer recently. (photo by Sarah Fredette, Central Maine Photography staff)

COVID-19 vaccination info

For your health’s sake, give vaccination a shot.

Maine residents age 60 and older are now eligible for vaccination against Covid-19 as part of Phase 1b.

Because Maine’s supply of vaccine is limited, appointments may not be immediately available and will be scheduled on a rolling basis.

There is no charge for the Covid-19 vaccine, but you should be prepared to provide any insurance information and proof of eligibility at the vaccination site. Additional vaccination sites will be added in the coming weeks.

If you are currently eligible under, contact your employer or professional association about vaccination.

The Covid-19 vaccine requires two doses. You must receive a vaccine from the same provider, either Pfizer or Moderna, for both doses. When scheduling your second dose, make an appointment with the same vaccination site where you received your first dose and follow their process for signing up for the second dose.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is also available at some sites.

Some locations are now accepting or preparing to accept appointments for Maine residents age 60 and over. Appointment availability is dependent on vaccine supply. These listings are subject to change and will be updated regularly. A complete list of vaccination location can be found at https://www.maine.gov/covid19/vaccines/vaccination-sites.

Women’s Equal Pay Day to be held March 24, 2021

by Mary Grow
External Communications, Waterville Branch, American Association of University Women

The Waterville Branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) will observe Equal Pay Day 2021 on Wednesday, March 24.

Equal Pay Day is the date each spring that women catch up to men in terms of how much they earned in 2020. In other words, because women, on average, earn less for comparable work than men do, they must work longer for the same amount of pay.

Traditionally, Waterville AAUW branch members have observed the day with a bake sale at the Waterville Shaw’s supermarket, selling cookies to men for $1 and to women for 80 cents.

Because of the pandemic, this year they plan two substitute activities, for AAUW members and non-members. First, they ask people to write to their U. S. Senators and Representatives asking them to support the Paycheck Fairness Act. Second, they urge people to wear red on March 24, to signify that women are “in the red” in terms of pay.

The Paycheck Fairness Act is intended to update, clarify and close loopholes in the 1963 Equal Pay Act. In the 116th Congress (January 2019-January 2021), the House of Representatives passed the Paycheck Fairness Act; the Senate did not act.

Equal Pay Day was first observed in 1996, to illustrate the pay gap between men and women. On average in 2021, women working full-time are paid 83 percent of what men working full-time in comparable jobs are paid.

The average gap is greater for mothers, who earn 70 cents for each dollar a man earns and for whom Equal Pay Day in 2021 is June 4, and for women of color. Latina women are worse off, earning on average 55 cents for each dollar comparably employed men receive; Latina women’s 2021 Equal Pay Day is not until Oct. 21.

Mailing addresses for Maine’s four Congressional members follow. Each has a website with information on sending him or her an email or telephone message.
Representative Chellie Pingree:

U. S. House of Representatives
2162 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington DC 20515.

Representative Jared Golden:
U. S. House of Representatives
1223 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515.

Senator Angus King:
U. S. Senate
133 Hart Building
Washington, DC 20510.

Senator Susan Collins:
U. S. Senate
413 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510.

Northern Light Inland Hospital mass vaccination clinic a big success

Northern Light Inland Hospital vaccinated 1,024 people on Saturday, March 6, 2021, at its first mass vaccination clinic at Kennebec Valley Community College (KVCC) in Fairfield. (contributed photo)

Northern Light Inland Hospital vaccinated 1,024 people on Saturday, March 6, 2021, at its first mass vaccination clinic at Kennebec Valley Community College (KVCC) in Fairfield. The Hospital had already administered more than 1,500 doses since January 26 at smaller clinics at KVCC.

The Saturday vaccination clinic was an amazing day filled with excitement and happiness from patients and more than 80 Northern Light Health staff and volunteers and KVCC staff and students.

Inland Hospital received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback from those attending the vaccine clinic, many calling it very well-organized and a wonderful experience thanks to the friendly staff and volunteers. People were excited and relieved to be getting vaccinated, some saying the vaccine gives them hope.

“We’ve all been waiting for this day,” said Terri Vieira, president of Inland Hospital. “More vaccine supply means more people can be vaccinated, and now with people 60 and older eligible for the shot, we know we will be busy. We appreciate that our community has been anxious, and we are eager to expand our clinic so we can protect more and more people. KVCC has been instrumental in helping us make this clinic a success; and of course, we can’t do it without the dozens and dozens of dedicated staff and volunteers.”

“We remain profoundly grateful for the partnership with Inland Hospital that makes this all possible,” said Richard Hopper, president of KVCC. “I want to personally thank the KVCC Information Technology and Security staff as well as faculty and student volunteers who have joined in this historic effort.”

KVCC nursing faculty and students are joining the effort as volunteers. Marcia Parker, chairman of the KVCC Nursing program says, “We are so excited to play a role in Inland’s vaccination clinics!” Parker noted students’ participation is not part of their required clinical hours but added, “It is still a wonderful opportunity to help protect the health of the people in our community and get more real-world nursing experience.”
Scheduling a vaccine appointment

Those age 60 and older, along with employed teachers and school staff, including bus drivers, and licensed childcare workers as defined by the state are eligible to schedule a vaccine appointment. Please visit covid.northernlighthealth.org/publicvaccine or call 207.204.8551. The phone line is open seven days a week from 9 am – 5 pm. Appointment openings are updated every Monday and Wednesday at 2 pm after the Hospital learns how much vaccine it will receive that week.

How to volunteer at clinics

If community members would like to apply to volunteer for a vaccination clinic with Inland Hospital or other Northern Light Health facility, please sign up online through its community volunteer process at https://covid.northernlighthealth.org/Volunteer/Register.