The town of China has a new author!

Lance Gilman

Lance Gilman, who was born in Waterville, raised in Bangor (graduated from Bangor High School) and currently a resident of China, is now an author who has just released his first book – Conquering Retirement! Lance is a 20-year veteran combat engineer, army officer and an independent Investment Adviser Representative (IAR). He is also President & CEO of Northern Alliance Financial, LLC (NAF). Headquartered in Auburn, (with nine other locations throughout the state and numerous Fiduciary advisers), Northern Alliance is an independent, comprehensive wealth management firm – focusing on all aspects of investments, retirement planning and wealth preservation.

Conquering Retirement, Strategies to Reduce Threats, Maximize Income & Live Worry-Free covers all aspects of retirement planning. This book is designed to walk you through the seven major areas of a comprehensive financial plan, including: goals, budgeting, long-term care/risk management, social security, tax considerations, Medicare options, and legal/estate planning.

There are a number of ways to get a copy of the book. The easiest way to get your copy would be to call the main office in Auburn: 207-241-7430. The cost of the book is $15.99 and shipping $2, or $17.99 total. Another option would be to go to the NAF website: A link will be available there, where you can order the book. As an alternative to paying for the book, you can also use the phone number above to call and schedule a no cost/no obligation appointment with one of the advisers on the NAF team and receive a complimentary/free copy. Lead the charge, get a plan, and conquer your retirement today!

EVENTS: Mary Matteson to lead sing-a-long

Mary Matteson

On Tuesday, December 5, the South China Community Church will offer a hymn sing-a-long at 1 p.m. Please come and join in singing many of your favorite hymns. Christmas hymns and festive holiday songs will also be sung. To add to the special gathering, they will have bells to ring and refreshments to enjoy after the sing.

New music director Mary Matteson is excited to share this special day with you. She is a retired music teacher who enjoys singing and making music with everyone.

CHINA: New logo approved for town

by Mary Grow

At their Nov. 20 meeting, the majority of China’s select board members enthusiastically and unanimously approved a new town logo, designed by board member Jeanne Marquis.

New logo design

Marquis showed how the simple, symmetrical design can be used as a letterhead for town stationery, on town vehicles and on T-shirts and caps, in color or in black and white.

Summer intern Bailee Mallett and town office staff members started the project earlier this year. After Mallett left, Marquis took over leadership, volunteering her time and artistic skill.

Board members Wayne Chadwick, Brent Chesley and Janet Preston praised the work and voted to adopt the logo, with Marquis abstaining and Blane Casey absent.

Other decisions at the Nov. 20 meeting included:

  • Re-election of Chadwick as board chairman and Preston as secretary;
  • Appointment of Scott Monroe to the Thurston Park Committee and Bradford Sherwood to the Comprehensive Plan Implementation Committee; and
  • Approval of a one-year contract renewal with town attorney Amanda Meader, for calendar year 2024.

Board members reviewed a revised draft of the Planning Board Ordinance, based on versions prepared by Meader and planning board members. The select board majority disagrees with the planning board on a major issue: planning board members want to continue to have the board elected by voters, select board members want the power to appoint the planning board.

Sheriff warns drivers about deer traffic

At the Nov. 20 China select board meeting, Deputy Jacob Poulin, of the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office, issued a warning to drivers to be especially watchful for deer this time of year. November is mating season and hunting season, and deer are paying less attention than usual to traffic, he said. There have been multiple accidents in the area.

Related issues to be resolved before a final draft is presented to voters are whether to retain the district system (each of four planning board members elected from one of four districts in town, plus two members elected from anywhere in town) and how long members’ terms should be.

On other subjects, Town Manager Rebecca Hapgood expected to have more information at future meetings on plans for the storage vault at the town office and on changes at Waterville-based Delta Ambulance, which serves China and other area towns.

The manager announced that a caucus to select an elected or appointed municipal official to serve on the Kennebec County budget committee from District One, which includes China, is scheduled for 6 p.m., Thursday, December 7, at the Windsor town office. More information is available at the China town office.

Hapgood reminded those present that on Monday, Dec. 11, the town office and public works department will be closed from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. for China employees’ appreciation day. The transfer station is not open Mondays.

The next regular China select board meeting is scheduled for Monday evening, Dec. 4.

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Louis Masse

The Masse Sawmill site on Rte. 32, in East Vassalboro. (contributed photo)

by Mary Grow

When Louis Masse’s name appeared in last week’s article on the Starrett family of China, knowledgeable Vassalboro residents might have been surprised. They thought he was theirs, founder of the family that owned and ran the Masse mill on the Masse dam, in East Vassalboro.

Same man. First he lived and worked in China, building barns and houses and a water company; then he moved to East Vassalboro.

The Find a Grave website and a genealogy Vassalboro Historical Society president Jan Clowes shared both say Louis Zephirin Masse was born Feb. 18, 1876, in Becancour, Québec. The genealogy adds that his parents were born there, too, and he was baptized there on Feb. 20, 1876. Becancour is a town on the south bank of the St. Lawrence River, about halfway between Montreal and Québec City.

(The 1940 census says he was born in Maine. Masse most likely gave that information to the census-taker himself, in a face-to-face interview.)

In reply to an inquiry from Clowes, Stephen Robbins (Louis Masse’s great-grandson) shared and added to a high-school essay written by Masse’s granddaughter, Marion, in 1950. According to these two Masses, Louis, known as ‘Phirin, began working very young, cooking in a logging camp when he was 11 and taking jobs with neighboring farmers and maple sugar producers and in a cheese factory. One summer, he drove a neighbor’s cattle a mile to and from their pasture daily – “for two cents a week.”

Masse got some basic education as a child, Robbins wrote. It was in French, of course; when he moved to the United States, learning English was his first challenge.

Louis Masse followed his half-brothers south across the border when he was 16, Marion Masse said. He joined one half-brother in a mill in Vermont (probably in Newport, Vermont, on the Canadian border, Robbins added), and then another in Fairfield, Maine, where he worked in Totman’s and Nye’s mills.

After the mills burned (they burned several times; this reference is probably to the Aug. 21, 1895, fire described in the Fairfield bicentennial history), Marion Masse wrote that her grandfather went to a mill in Coopers Mills, in the town of Whitefield. By now, Robbins said he was calling himself Louis, not Zephirin.

Soon Van Renssalaer “Rance” Turner hired him to work on his farm on Turner Ridge, in Palermo, and encouraged him to get an education. When he was 19 or 20, Louis started school in Palermo, with much younger local children as classmates.

In the spring of 1897 he entered Erskine Academy, in South China, as a freshman. Within six months, he was in the senior class.

For part of his time at Erskine, Masse boarded with Samuel Starrett, thus meeting Samuel’s daughter, Edith Emily Starrett (niece of Laroy Sunderland Starrett; born Jan. 29, 1880, according to Robbins and Find a Grave, or Jan. 30, 1881, according to an on-line article). The China history describes her as “a lovely young lady of eighteen.”

Masse became a United States citizen on Dec. 31, 1897, and he and Edith were married July 16, 1898. Masse worked as a carpenter in China and Windsor, the China history says.

Robbins wrote that the Masses lived with Edith’s family for a while. In 1903, Louis built the first home for his family, on Windsor Road not far from the Starretts.

The 1940 census says Edith, like her husband, had four years of high school. An on-line article based on her diaries says she taught at Erskine before she met her husband, but gives no dates.

The Vassalboro Historical Society’s on-line collection has a photograph of a China cabinet, or hutch, Masse built. It has two sections, the bottom with vertically-paneled solid doors and the top with three shelves visible behind the glass doors.

The description says it is seven and a half feet tall, a little over four feet wide and 22 inches deep. On it, Masse wrote: “Married July 16, 1898, Made August 11, 1898.”

In 1905 Masse bought the sawmill (which dated from the early 1800s) on the West Branch of the Sheepscot River, in Weeks Mills. In 1907, according to Robbins, he built his family’s second home, in Weeks Mills village.

In September 1916, Masse organized what became the Weeks Mills Water Company, the only village water system in the Town of China.

Masse’s main goal, the China history says, was to improve fire protection (the village had had major fires in 1901 and 1904). He started “by pumping water from the river to about twenty subscribers, each of whom paid $50 to join the system and was responsible for digging from the central water main to his own house; there were also three hydrants in the village.”

The river water wasn’t satisfactory, so Masse “dug out and lined with cement a spring on the east side of the village,” whence water was pumped to a hilltop reservoir and flowed downhill to subscribers. A windmill was the first power source, succeeded by gasoline and then electric pumps.

When the China history was published in 1975, the company had “about fifteen customers, whose bills are based on the number of faucets in the house.”

Weeks Mills Water System is listed on the Maine state government’s Sept. 1, 2023, list of public water systems in China. It is described as a community system, with water coming from a 12-foot spring that produces 25 gallons per minute.

After the Masses moved to Vassalboro, the China history says, he continued area construction projects. Several sources credit him as head builder of China’s first consolidated elementary school. The five-classroom building on Lakeview Drive opened in early 1949 and is still part of China Middle School.

Masse bought an existing mill in East Vassalboro in 1912, according to Robbins (the on-line diary-based article says 1914), to expand his lumber business. Robbins wrote that he paid Warren Seaward $1,800 for it, and his family soon moved to the third house he built for them, on the west side of Route 32 across from the mill complex.

According to Henry Kingsbury’s Kennebec County history, the Masse mill was the second one on Outlet Stream in East Vassalboro village. There were two mill buildings, he wrote, a sawmill, still operating in 1892, and a grist mill with a stone bottom story.

Robbins dates this mill complex to 1797. He wrote that after buying the sawmill, Masse bought the grist mill across the stream, thus acquiring full “water rights and dam privileges.”

Robbins wrote that Masse “built a new dam” and replaced old-fashioned machinery. He started with eight men, Robbins said, paying them $10 a week apiece. In Weeks Mills, he worked alongside his crew when an extra hand was needed; whether he did the same in East Vassalboro, Robbins did not say.

Masse founded the East Vassalboro Water Company in 1914. Robbins wrote that it started with eight customers; installing lines to serve their houses took only four months. By 1950, the company served 55 houses.

An on-line source says in the 21st century, the company owns over 13 acres in three lots; its properties include springs and a 650-foot well.

Another source of information about Louis Masse is Alma Pierce Robbins’ 1971 history of Vassalboro’s first 200 years. One of the people she thanked in her introduction was “my grandnephew, the sixth generations of the Robbins family, Stephen Robbins.”

Alma Robbins traced the Robbins family history back through Stephen’s father, Gerald (see below), Maurice, Ira James and Heman, Jr., to Heman, Sr., the first Robbins in Vassalboro. An on-line genealogy says Heman Robbins Sr., was born in 1735 or 1736 in Harwich, Massachusetts, and died about 1817 in Vassalboro.

Alma Robbins’ first mention of Louis Masse in her Vassalboro history is in 1916, when he “installed hydrants and water mains at East Vassalboro.” In 1935, she said, he added seven more hydrants.

The on-line family history says the China Lake outlet dam was built in the 1930s. “Louis Z. directed the project and the W.P.A. [federal Works Progress Administration] provided six workmen.”

In 1940, the census-taker recorded that Masse was 64 years old, still working as a millwright, putting in 26 weeks in 1940. He shared a home in East Vassalboro with his wife, Edith S., aged 60.

Masse sold the water system in October 1943 to his son Herman, from whom it passed to his grandson, Kenneth Masse. Currently, Donald Robbins is listed on line as co-owner and designated operator, and the company is described as an investor-owned public water utility.

Stephen Robbins told your writer that Donald is his first cousin, son of his father’s brother Wallace.

Louis Masse died Nov. 14, 1959, in Waterville, and Edith died Sept. 17, 1960, also in Waterville. Both are buried in Chadwick Hill cemetery, on Windsor Road, in China.

Louis and Edith had three children Their son, Herman Charles, was born in China Oct. 29, 1904, according to an obituary found in on-line Masonic records. Herman Masse ran Masse Lumber Company in East Vassalboro from 1927 to 1969, and the East Vassalboro water system from 1950 to 1982. He died Feb. 2, 1990.

Louis and Edith’s younger daughter, Agnes Masse Plummer, died in 1989.

Their older daughter, Malvena Pearl Masse, was born July 8, 1899, in South China; graduated from Oak Grove Academy, Class of 1917; and died March 3, 1993, in Vassalboro. On Oct. 15, 1921, she married Maurice Smiley Robbins, who was born in Vassalboro Aug. 22, 1893, and died in Waterville Feb. 6, 1970.

Malvena and Maurice Robbins had three sons and a daughter between 1922 and 1932. Their second son, Gerald Laroy Robbins (Stephen Robbins’ father), was by your writer’s calculation, the great grand-nephew of inventor Laroy Sunderland Starrett, whose work was summarized in the Nov. 2 issue of The Town Line. (Stephen Robbins calls him “2nd-great-nephew”). Gerald’s grandmother was Starrett’s niece, Edith Emily (Starrett) Masse.

Gerald Laroy Robbins was born in Waterville Oct. 13, 1925. He interrupted his high schooling to join the Navy in 1944 and came home to earn a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Maine at Orono in 1951.

After a brief stint in New York, Robbins came back to Maine and took a job with Keyes Fibre, in Waterville (the company founded by Martin Keyes, profiled in the Nov. 9 issue of The Town Line).

According to his obituary, he worked at Keyes for 34 years, until he retired in 1988. He died June 5, 2013. The obituary says, “While at Keyes Fibre, he developed a number of improvements for the company’s production machinery and products, and earned two U.S. patents for his designs.”

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).
Robbins, Alma Pierce, History of Vassalborough Maine 1771 1971 n.d. (1971).
Robbins, Stephen correspondence.

Websites, miscellaneous.

CORRECTION: This article previously said the mill complex was dated to 1897. It should have said instead 1797. This has been corrected. We apologize for the error.

LETTERS: What’s so wrong? Work it out.

To the editor:

When I speak with my friends and ask them if they heard the latest news from China ? They say did President Xi order the invasion of Taiwan? I say it’s worse, the town of Palermo has received notice that the town of China, Maine, has given notice to terminate the contract for Palermo residents to utilize the China Transfer Station!

What’s so wrong? Are Palermo residents not paying their fair share of the cost? Will a few rude individuals ruin the capability for all the residents?

While I’m just a part time resident of Maine, I find bringing my trash, recyclables, and swap shop gems to the China transfer station to be a great solution. It’s the next town over so it’s convenient…. I don’t mind buying Blue Palermo bags at Tobey’s … the employees at the transfer station are always pleasant and friendly to me. When I visit the transfer station it’s not crowded or overwhelmed.

So what’s so wrong? It’s a business and, of course, Palermo residents should pay their fair share of the cost to include not only the disposal but operating and capital depreciation. Everyone including Palermo residents need to follow the rules in the disposal of their trash. So what’s the issue?

I would hope that a workable solution could be found to allow Palermo residents the privilege to continue to use the China Transfer Station. Thank you!

Gary Mazoki

China planners hold rescheduled meeting on solar farm

by Mary Grow

On Nov. 14, China planning board members held their rescheduled public hearing on Novel Energy Systems’ proposed community solar farm on Parmenter Hill Road, the section locally known as Moe’s Mountain.

Attendees included nearby landowners who attended the Sept. 26 preliminary discussion and Novel representatives. Main issues were those already raised Sept. 26 – possible contamination, effects on property values and decommissioning at the end of the facility’s useful life (see the Oct. 5 issue of The Town Line, p. 2).

In the interim, codes officer Zachary Gosselin had provided a copy of Novel’s information at the China town office for interested parties to read.

Novel permitting specialist Scott Tempel repeated information he offered Sept. 26, for example that there are no known cases of aluminum or other metals leaching from solar panels – or from widely-used aluminum siding, he added – into soil or groundwater. His assurances were again met with skepticism.

Novel plans soil testing to establish a baseline as part of project construction.

Abutter Jennifer Whitney asked if there would be battery storage on site. The answer was no; there is on some projects, but none is planned here, and adding it at a later date would require another planning board permit.

Tempel again said there will be erosion control measures in place during construction, and that maintenance of the facility will involve planting native grasses and plants that attract pollinators, with occasional mowing. No chemical herbicides will be used.

After the three-quarter hour hearing, board members indicated they will review Novel’s application again at their next meeting, scheduled for Tuesday evening, Nov. 28. A decision is possible if they find the application complete.

They briefly discussed another set of amendments to China’s Planning Board Ordinance, in preparation for a presentation to China select board members at that board’s Nov. 20 meeting.

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Starrett family of China

There are 20 Starretts and three women whose maiden name was Starrett buried in Chadwick Cemetery, in China.

by Mary Grow

Two weeks ago, this series featured China-born inventor Laroy Sunderland Starrett. As suggested in that story, he was a member of a large family with generations of China connections.

This article will provide information about Laroy Starrett’s family. A warning to readers: there is a fair amount of genealogy, which your writer realizes some people find uninteresting, and a fair amount of contradiction and frustration. The latter are due to lack of information, or at least available and consistent information, about long-dead people who were mostly just ordinary, though of great importance to their families and friends.

Your writer found three sources that should be accurate: a genealogy (spelling Laroy’s name Leroy) included in the China bicentennial history, an on-line transcript of information from the Starrett family Bible and copies of gravestone inscriptions. They do not always agree.

In addition to consistent records, your writer would like more personal information. What did Laroy think of his South China relatives, and vice versa? Did his Massachusetts-born children spend time with their Maine grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins? How did so many 19th-century Starretts get from China to Illinois?

* * * * * *

According to the genealogy in the China history, Abner Starrett and his family were the first Starretts in China.

Abner was born September 28, 1776, in Francestown, New Hampshire. Kingsbury’s Kennebec County history says his father’s name was William, and his grandfather was Hugh Starrett, “who came from Scotland to Dedham.” (Your writer assumes Dedham, Massachusetts. She did not find a Dedham in New Hampshire; Dedham, Maine, was settled in 1810 and incorporated in 1837.)

On September 22, 1800, Abner Starrett married Elizabeth Dane (born in New Hampshire Jan. 23, 1779, the Starrett family Bible transcript says, or July 21, 1779, according to China cemetery records). The couple had four sons and three daughters, born between October 1801 and December 1813. They moved to China in 1814 (Kingsbury’s date).

Abner, Elizabeth and children settled in the area called Chadwick’s Corner on what is now Route 32 South (Windsor Road). Chadwick’s Corner was named for Ichabod Chadwick, who was there by 1797.

Abner Starrett died in China on Aug. 14, 1819, when he was 43 years old. His widow lived until July 21, 1865. Abner and Elizabeth are the earliest of 23 family members buried in Chadwick Hill cemetery, 20 Starretts and three women whose maiden name was Starrett.

* * * * *  *

Abner and Elizabeth’s children were the second generation of Starretts in China, born in the first two decades of the 1800s. The four sons were another Abner (your writer will imitate some, but not all, sources and call him Abner, Jr.), Daniel Dane (Laroy’s father), William and David. All four sons married; at least had three large families, many of whom stayed in China.

Abner, Jr., was born Aug. 14 or Oct. 14, 1801 (the genealogy and the Bible record differ). On Sept. 4, 1823, in China, he married Mary C. Weeks (born March 24, 1802). Mary’s parents – his in-laws – were Abner and Lydia (Clark) Weeks.

Jonathan Clark, Jr., one of the brothers who first settled around China Lake in 1775, and his wife Susanna had a daughter named Lydia (Nov. 4, 1769 – April 8, 1853). An on-line genealogy says Lydia Clark married Abner Weeks (1766 -1846) and had by him two children, Mary Clark Weeks (1802-1889) and Solomon Weeks (1810-1824).

In other words, Abner, Jr., connected himself by marriage to China’s founding family.

Abner, Jr., and Mary had nine daughters and two sons, including two more Marys, Mary Emily and Mary Ann; another Elizabeth; and another Abner. These were the elders of the third generation, born between the 1820s and 1860s; they were Laroy Starrett’s first cousins.

The Bible transcription says Abner, Jr., died in June 1857.

* * * * * *

The first Abner’s second son, Laroy Starrett’s father, was Daniel Dane Starrett, born Nov. 25, 1802 (genealogy) or Feb. 9, 1803 (China cemetery records). On Sept. 25, 1825, he married Anna Crummett or Crummet, born to Joshua and Sarah Crummet(t) of China on Jan. 27 (genealogy) or March 3 (China cemetery records), 1803.

The Starrett genealogy says Daniel and Anna had five sons and seven daughters between Dec. 17, 1826, and Dec. 27, 1848. The Find a Grave website lists only six children, three sons and three daughters. Both include Laroy, born in 1836.

The genealogy says four daughters married men from China and two married men from neighboring Vassalboro. One died before her second birthday.

According to the genealogy and the China history, the only son who definitely remained in China was Laroy’s younger brother, Samuel C. Starrett. Born April 30, 1844, he served in the Civil War and came home to marry Charles Mosher’s daughter, Emily, on Feb. 26, 1869.

Samuel and Emily had five sons and two daughters, the genealogy says. They named their youngest son, born in 1887, Leroy S., presumably after his uncle.

Samuel served as a China selectman from March 1876 to March 1878 and again from March 1881 to March 1883. (His father, Daniel, had been a selectman in 1840.) In 1882 and 1883 he was among the founders of Erskine Academy, South China’s private high school near Chadwick’s Corner, and served as the school’s first treasurer.

Kingsbury wrote that Samuel Starrett was the second commander of South China’s James P. Jones G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic) Post, organized in April 1884. In the summer of 1885, he helped organize the South China lodge of the Ancient Order of United Workmen, serving as its first “master workman.”

In April 1890, Samuel and Daniel Starrett were among seven men – two others were Chadwicks –the China history lists as founders of the Chadwick Hill cemetery association, created to care for the cemetery. The only Daniel in the genealogy is Laroy and Samuel’s father, Daniel Dane; in 1890, he would have been in his late 80s.

About 1900, the China history says, Samuel Starrett and Louis Masse built “a store with an apartment above it” on the north side of South China’s Main Street (then the Augusta to Belfast highway), near the church. The first man to live in the apartment and run the store was Samuel and Emily’s son, George (Laroy’s nephew), born Jan. 7, 1882.

According to the genealogy (but not to any other source your writer could find), Laroy and Samuel’s youngest sister, Mary (born in China Dec. 27, 1848), was a doctor, who married another doctor, Dr. Horace W. Sibley, of Vassalboro, on Jan. 27, 1870. (See box.)

Laroy’s mother, Anna, died March 3, 1875, the genealogy says. Daniel died Feb. 9, 1896, aged 93 (genealogy) or February 1897, aged 94 (Bible).

By March 1875, Laroy’s meat chopper had become popular. He was either still in Newburyport, or had moved to Athol, where his wife Lydia died in February 1878, leaving him with a teen-age son and three younger daughters.

Laroy founded L. S. Starrett in 1880; various sources say the company expanded quickly. By the time his father died in the 1890s, Laroy must have been fairly well-known as a Massachusetts businessman.

The genealogy in the China history says four of Samuel’s sons (Laroy’s nephews) moved to Athol to work in the factory. Ernest (born Nov. 30, 1876) spent more than 50 years there before coming back to South China, where he and his wife Aurie (Austin) lived in “the brick house” until their deaths in the 1960s.

* * * * * *

The first Abner’s third son was named William. The printed genealogy and the China cemetery records agree on William’s dates (Sept. 28, 1804 – March 29, 1841) and his wife’s name and dates (Mary Ann Calder, March 20, 1805 – Dec. 21, 1890).

The Bible record says William died April 29, 1841. An on-line genealogy gives his wife’s name as Mary Ann Thurlow and says they married on April 21, 1827. This source says they had at least three sons and a daughter – more of Laroy’s cousins.

* * * * * *

After William, Abner and Elizabeth had three daughters, Elizabeth (June 6, 1807), Lucinda (Jan. 28, 1809) and Sarah (Aug. 28, 1810). Elizabeth married a South China Chadwick; Lucinda married Thomas Giddings, almost certainly from Weeks Mills village in China; and Sarah married Edward Emerson, whom your writer has been unable to trace.

* * * * * *

Abner and Elizabeth’s fourth son, David (born Dec. 1, 1813), married on Sept. 23, 1838, Sarah D. Chadwick (born Aug. 6, 1820). David and Sarah had seven sons, born between 1840 and 1864 – more (younger) cousins for Laroy.

According to the genealogy, the oldest boy, born July 16, 1840, was named David. The Find a Grave website calls him Pvt. David Chadwick Starrett and says in the Civil War he served as a private in the 67th Illinois Volunteer Infantry.

An on-line genealogy calls him Pvt. David Chedwick Starrett. He lived in Orono in 1850 and Alna in 1860, this source says, citing census figures; he “registered for military service in 1862.”

This genealogy does not say where he was in 1862. Its earliest mention of Chicago is his marriage there, on Oct. 24, 1895 (when he was 55); and it says he died and is buried in Chicago.

David and Sarah’s second son died when he was 14, in November 1861. The next boy, Edwin Burnham Starrett, lived to be 90, residing in Massachusetts, Missouri and Wisconsin and dying in Elgin, Illinois.

Son number four, Adrian Frank Starrett, born in 1851, married a girl from Vassalboro, and lived for a while in Alna, but he, too, went to Chicago, where he died May 29, 1931.

David and Sarah’s next two children both died before their second birthdays. Moody Thurston Starrett was born in the fall of 1856 and died in the summer of 1858 (exact dates differ). His sibling, born in April 1860 and died in June 1861, was either a son named Winfield Scott Starrett (genealogy) or a daughter named Winnie Starrett (China cemetery records).

The youngest son, Dr. Carlton Elmer Starrett, was born May 15, 1864, in Alna, and died May 1, 1908, in Chicago. His gravestone in Bluff City cemetery in Elgin, Illinois, says he was a major and a surgeon in the Illinois National Guard’s Third Infantry and was a veteran of the Spanish-American War (1898).

Back to Laroy’s uncle and aunt, David and Sarah Starrett: the China bicentennial history uses them to show how bad China roads were in the 1830s. The history cites town records reporting a July 8, 1834, meeting at which voters recommended giving the couple $125 “for damages by them sustained in consequence of a bridge being out of repair (as they say).”

The vote needed endorsement by the spring 1835 town meeting. On March 23, 1835, voters created a committee to review and settle the Starretts’ claim. The history says town records do not include the outcome.

Attentive readers will have noted that the China history dates this episode about four years before the genealogy in the same book says David and Sarah got married. Your writer can offer no explanation.

The on-line genealogy says David (and presumably Sarah) lived in Alna for about 10 years and in Chicago for about 20 years; another on-line source says Sarah was in Illinois in 1900.

Sarah Chadwick Starrett died Aug. 25, 1903, and David Starrett died either Jan. 13 or Aug. 13, 1907, both by then back in Maine, according to on-line sources. They are among the family members buried in Chadwick Hill cemetery.

The Wall Cemetery

Speaking of the frustrations of limited research:

A long Sibley genealogy found on line says Horace W. Sibley (perhaps Laroy Starrett’s brother-in-law) was born in Augusta in 1845, son of William H. Sibley (Oct. 29, 1818 – Dec. 8, 1901) and his first wife, Judith W. Lowell (Sept. 5, 1809 – Sept. 1, 1878). It says nothing about Horace’s wife.

The genealogy lists William as a farmer in Vassalboro in 1850 and an Albion resident in 1860. It says he and Judith are buried in the Wall cemetery, in Vassalboro.

The comprehensive section on cemeteries on the Vassalboro website does not list a Wall cemetery.

In the Wall cemetery on the west side of Riverside Drive, in Augusta, about three miles south of the Augusta-Vassalboro line, Find a Grave lists seven Sibleys, including William (1815 – Dec. 8, 1901) and Judith Lowell (1811 – Sept. 1, 1878), but no Horace.

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).

Websites, miscellaneous.

CHINA: Two positions filled with write-ins

by Mary Grow

Two positions on China boards have been filled, after Nov. 7 write-in votes were counted and winners informed.

Town Clerk Angela Nelson reported incumbent Michael Brown received six votes for the District 1 planning board seat, and incumbent Michael Sullivan received five votes for the District 3 budget committee seat. Both have accepted re-election.

The town website,, says there is still an opening for a planning board member from District 4, the southwestern quarter of the town.

Appointed boards that need additional members include the comprehensive plan implementation committee, the board of appeals (two open positions) and the board of assessment review (an alternate member). These board members are not appointed by districts.

Residents interested in serving on any of these boards or committee are invited to call the town office at 445-2014.

China TIF committee hears reports

by Mary Grow

Members of China’s Tax Increment Finance (TIF) committee met Oct. 30 to receive progress reports on town projects funded with TIF money.

Representatives from the China Lake Association, China Region Lakes Alliance, Four Seasons Club, Thurston Park committee and China Broadband committee reported on expenditures and plans. Town Manager Rebecca Hapgood summarized town use of TIF money.

The Four Seasons Club uses TIF funds to rebuild recreational trails in China. Club president Tom Rumpf said the goal is trails so good they will need only routine maintenance in the future.

He told Hapgood the annual Ice Days fishing derby that the club coordinates is scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024.

China Region Lakes Alliance executive director Scott Pierz and China Lake Association president Stephen Greene explained hold-ups in some of the work planned in the China Lake watershed to improve the lake’s water quality.

Earlier this fall, the lake association and the Kennebec County Soil and Water Conservation District received a federal Clean Water Act grant for about $100,000, to be spent in 2024 and 2025. Greene intends to use the TIF grant and other association money toward projects carried out under the grant.

Hapgood said once money is approved for a project, it carries forward if the planned work gets postponed.

Committee members decided to set Friday, Dec. 29, as the deadline for submitting applications for TIF funding for the 2024-25 fiscal year.

The TIF committee advises select board members on how to allocate TIF funds each year, after committee members review proposals and recommend expenditures. The money comes from taxes Central Maine Power Company pays on its north-south line through China and its substation in South China.

The TIF program was created by the Maine legislature and is overseen by the state Department of Economic and Community Development. Participating municipalities develop local plans for using TIF funds, which local voters approve.

China’s 60-page “Second Amended TIF Program,” approved in 2021, is on the website, under the TIF Committee in the category Officials, Board & Committees.

Committee members scheduled their next meeting for Monday evening, Jan. 22, 2024.

China committee re-explains fees at transfer station

by Mary Grow

At their Nov. 14 meeting, China transfer station committee members re-explained that facility users should expect to be charged for many items they donate to the free-for-the-taking building.

Not everything that someone donates is picked up by someone else, and rejects end up being thrown out. If the item can be disposed of without cost, like metal, glass that is crushed and used for road mix or clothing that goes to the separate donation box down the hill, there is no fee.

If getting rid of the item will end up costing taxpayers money, there is a fee.

Sometimes, as committee chairman Paul Lucas illustrated, the fee is reimbursed. Lucas remembers paying $2 to leave something and, when it was picked up before he left the premises, getting his money back.

He and Town Manager Rebecca Hapgood both suggested an alternative disposal method for things that seem too good to throw away: put them by the road with a “Free” sign and watch them go.

The other major topic Nov. 14 was the China-Palermo contract under which Palermo residents use China’s transfer station. Palermo select board member and transfer station committee member Robert Kurek said Palermo had just received notice of China’s intention to terminate the contract, effective Nov. 13, 2024.

Kurek expects Palermo officials will ask their town attorney for advice.

Committee members have discussed at length complains about some Palermo residents – “Always just a few,” Lucas commented – who evade rules and when challenged react rudely.

Transfer station stickers now available

New China transfer station stickers are now available at the China town office, for a $2 annual fee. They will be required for China residents to enter the transfer station beginning Jan. 1, 2024.

Town Manager Rebecca Hapgood said the stickers are “cling, not sticky,” so they won’t mess up the vehicle to which they are affixed. They show the vehicle’s license plate number, but not the name of the town, as a privacy protection.

In other business, station Manager Thomas Maraggio reported on pending equipment upgrades and on satisfactory relations with Albion, whose residents are now allowed to dispose of some items not covered by their curbside pick-up program.

Maraggio recommended increasing the budget for equipment maintenance next year.

Director of Public Services Shawn Reed added that his department needs money to fix the leaking roof of the sand shed.

Reed said he is waiting for recommendations from the state Department of Environmental Protection for dealing with PFAS-contaminated water at the transfer station (see the Oct. 19 issue of The Town Line, p. 3).

Committee members scheduled their next meeting for 9 a.m., Tuesday, Dec. 19. Lucas indicated he might not be there: after six or seven years on the committee, he is ready to resign and let someone else take his place.

Hapgood reminded him of the shortage of volunteers for town positions.