PHOTO: China Food Pantry participates in hunger walk

Participants included, from left to right, Nancy Pfeiffer, Jo Orlando, Sandy Massey, Joan Ferrone, Kylee Nicole, Brad Bickford, Caley Palow, Rachel Maxwell, Aurie Maxwell, and Peter Maxwell (cameraman). (photo courtesy of Peter Maxwell)

The China Food Pantry sent a team to participate in the Feed ME 5K Walk Challenge to End Hunger in Maine, on Saturday, April 27. The event is an annual fundraiser sponsored by the Maine State Credit Union to bring awareness to the issue of hunger in our local communities.

Endicott College announces local dean’s list students

Endicott College, in Beverly, Massachusetts, has announced its Fall 2023 dean’s list students. The students include:

Emily Clark, of China, nursing, daughter of Stacy Clark and Christopher Clark.

Oliver Parker, of Augusta, English, daughter of Katherine Parker and Walter Parker.

China committee begins work on revising TIF document

by Mary Grow

Four members of China’s Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Committee started on their planned revision of the town’s TIF document at a workshop session May 13.

The group deliberately postponed any decisions, partly because some of the financial information they need is not yet firm, partly to give themselves time to consider the different points of view expressed.

One figure needing confirmation is how much TIF money is available to be allocated to projects, continuing and/or new. The amount currently expected to be on hand at the June 30 end of the fiscal year is more than $530,000.

The other important figure is how much income to expect from the TIF in 2024-25. The answer depends mostly on the 2024-25 tax rate, which has not yet been set.

For what is TIF money used, and from where does it come

The purpose of a Maine TIF (Tax Increment Financing) program is to expand employment, broaden municipal tax bases and “[i]mprove the general economy of the State of Maine.” Municipal programs need approval by the state Department of Economic and Community Development.

China’s TIF program was established by town vote on March 21, 2015, and amended on June 8, 2021. The current program extends to June 30, 2045, although funding for some of the specific activities in the program expires sooner.

Money for China’s program comes from taxes paid on Central Maine Power Company’s north-south power line through the town and, since the 2021 amendment, on its South China substation. The program estimates annual revenue declining slowly, from $366,209 in 2020 to $249,325 by 2045.

The 60-page TIF document, found on the website, under the TIF Committee under Officials, Boards & Committees on the right side of the main page, is the document current TIF Committee members are reviewing as they consider updates.

Most of the workshop session was spent discussing whether the amount in each of the categories into which TIF funds are divided should be increased, decreased or left alone. In the current TIF document, funding amounts in some categories have deadlines after which they disappear or decrease; the deadlines, too, were discussed.

Two categories, funding for economic development activities and for maintenance of recreational trails, are consistently spent each year. Committee members are considering recommending more money.

The activities account contributes to two events that bring people to town, China Days in August and China Ice Days in February. Town Manager Rebecca Hapgood said if she had time and money, she has lots of ideas for more events that would publicize the town and help local businesses.

For example, she said, with a portable stage and money to pay entertainers, there could be music festivals and similar events all summer.

The trails account supports maintenance work by the Four Seasons Club, on town snowmobile and four-wheeler trails, and the Thurston Park Committee, on trails in the park. In recent years, the two groups’ requests have exceeded the total in the account.

Several accounts are never or seldom used, including money for job training; the revolving loan fund intended to help businesses; and matching grant funds. Defunding them might not be a good idea, however.

Committee members Jamie Pitney and Mickey Wing pointed out how little publicity the job training program has had, suggesting it might be used if people knew about it.

From the audience, Four Seasons Club President Thomas Rumpf proposed converting the loan fund to a small grant fund, to which a town business could apply, for example, to pay for a new sign. And the Four Seasons Club might ask for matching grant funds for a major trail rebuilding project, he said; not this year, because the state grants that would be matched are being used to repair storm-damaged trails.

Reviewing on-going projects, committee members foresee continuing to use TIF money for the South China boat landing. They anticipate requests from the environmental improvements fund as proposed work in China Lake and its watershed takes shape.

The “causeway project” that made major changes to the road, sidewalks and boat launch at the head of China Lake’s east basin is finished. However, committee members and Hapgood and Rumpf recommended improvements: a second dock and buffers on the docks to minimize damage to wind-blown boats; expanded parking where boat trailers neither block access to the four-wheeler trail or impede traffic on Causeway Street; and extended sidewalks.

A related question, not answered, was whether TIF money could be used for maintenance of TIF-funded projects, like putting in and taking out the boat docks.

Pitney, who is a lawyer, compared China’s TIF document and Maine’s TIF law and found several unclear areas. For example, he said, there is no definition or description of the kinds of grants that TIF funds can match; should someone apply for a match, he believes the application would need state review.

The next TIF Committee workshop is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 29.

Copies of annual town report now available at town office and other public places

Copies of China’s annual town report for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2023, are now available at the town office and in other public places around town.

Erskine Academy announces Renaissance award recipients (2024)

Seniors of the Trimester, from left to right, Holden McKenney, Caleb Gay, Nathan Polley, and Austin Nicholas. (contributed photo)

On Friday, April 26, 2024, Erskine Academy students and staff attended a Renaissance Assembly to honor their peers with Renaissance Awards.

Renaissance Recognition Awards were presented to the following students: Olivia Austin, Delaney Brown, Ben Severy, Michael Richardson, Bryana Barrett, Kaylene Glidden, Addison Gagne, Makayla Oxley, Wesley Fulton, and Danny McKinnis.

In addition to Recognition Awards, Senior of the Trimester Awards were also presented to four members of the senior class: Nathan Polley, son of Hillary and Stephen Polley, of Vassalboro; Caleb Gay, son of Laura and Christopher Gay, of Windsor; Holden McKenney, son of Crystal and Jacob McKenney, of Palermo; and Austin Nicholas, son of Michael Nicholas and Tonya Picard, of Chelsea, and Vaunalee and Mike Pion, of Pittston. Seniors of the Trimester are recognized as individuals who have gone above and beyond in all aspects of their high school careers.

In appreciation of their dedication and service to Erskine Academy, Faculty of the Trimester awards were presented to Chris Safford, custodian; and David Farady, English instructor.

David Farady (left), Chris Safford (right)

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Eli & Sybil Jones, Mary Hoxie Jones

by Mary Grow

From Rufus Matthew Jones, your writer goes backward and then forward in the Jones family.

Rufus Jones was the nephew of Eli Jones and his wife Sybil (Jones) Jones, well-known Quaker missionaries. Rufus and Elizabeth (Cadbury) Jones’ daughter, Mary Hoxie Jones, born almost a century later than Eli Jones, was a historian and poet.

* * * * * *

Eli Jones

Eli Jones (March 12, 1807- Feb. 2, 1890) was Abel and Susannah Jones’ oldest son. According to his nephew’s 1889 biography, Eli and Sybil Jones: Their Life and Work, his formal education was limited to China’s one-room schools and three months at the Friends School, in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1827.

Despite a speech impediment, Rufus Jones wrote, his uncle spoke in Friends meetings from an early age, in China and in Providence. Home from Providence, he helped organize, and became secretary of a local branch of the Sons of Temperance; and helped organize the still-active South China public library.

Rufus commented that when Eli took on these community projects, he had “barely become a full-fledged citizen” and had no family example to follow. The explanation, Rufus wrote, was that “there was something in him which forbade rest and inaction” when the inner spirit presented a task.

In addition to working on the family farm, Eli helped run mills in China and Albion.

In 1833, he married Sybil Jones (Feb. 28, 1808 – Dec. 4, 1873), born in Brunswick and living with her parents in Augusta. Her nephew described her (in his chapter on the Friends in Henry Kingsbury’s Kennebec County history) as physically frail, but with “a poetic soul” and a “beautiful, melodious voice and a flow of suitable words to give utterance to the thought which seemed to come to her by inspiration.”

Sybil Jones

Sybil attended the Providence Friends School in 1824-25, and worked as a teacher. She wrote poetry; much of it she destroyed, and Rufus observed that what survived was often “tinged with thoughts of death and the grave.”

Eli and Sybil lived in South China until they moved into their own house at Dirigo in or after 1833 (sources differ). The house, still standing on the south side of what is now Route 3 at the Dirigo Road intersection, is described as a north-facing, L-shaped story-and-a-half wooden Cape on a granite foundation. It has been on the National Register of Historic Places since March 22, 1984.

The couple traveled over much of the world, in horse-drawn carriages and wagons, on small sailboats and large steamboats and on the backs of donkeys, spreading Quaker beliefs. Despite her health issues, described by one source as serious back problems, Sybil was often the one who felt called to these missions.

Their first trip was to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in 1840. Their first overseas mission was to Liberia in 1850. In 1852 and 1853 they visited half a dozen northern European countries; in the spring of 1854 they were in southern France.

After their oldest son’s death in the Civil War (see below), Sybil spent time in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. hospitals nursing wounded soldiers. Rufus estimated 30,000 men heard her message. After President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination on April 15, 1865, she twice visited his widow to offer comfort.

Sybil’s last mission, a multi-year trip to England, France and the Middle East, beginning in 1867, led to the founding of Friends’ missions on Mount Lebanon and in Ramallah, the latter named the Eli and Sybil Jones Mission. (Your writer found on line a history of the Friends in Ramallah, written in 2016 by Maia Carter Hallward and titled The Ramallah Friends Meeting: Examining 100 Years of Peace and Justice Work, in Quaker Religious Thought: Vol. 127.)

The first of Eli and Sybil’s five children, James Parnell Jones (1835 – 1864), is locally famous as “the fighting Quaker.” Enlisting in the Seventh Maine Volunteers, he was killed July 12, 1864, at Crystal Springs, near Washington, D. C.

The younger children were Sybil Narcissa (1839 – 1903); Richard Mott (1843 – 1917; his son, Charles Richard Jacob, was Rufus’s close friend for many years); Susan Tabor (1847 – 1913, who lived with her father from his return to China until his death) and Eli Grellet (1850 – 1933 or 1934).

Between foreign trips, Eli was active in town affairs. In addition to the temperance society and the South China library, he helped start Erskine Academy, in South China (in 1883; he was president of the first board of trustees) and held official town positions.

The China bicentennial history says the latter included an undated term as liquor agent, given by state law “a monopoly on the distribution of alcoholic beverages.” The history comments that while he was liquor agent, “China had a dry year.”

Maine had enough temperance advocates in the mid-1800s to persuade the state legislature to enact a prohibition law in 1850. Rufus wrote that many people thought it insufficiently enforced.

China voters hoped to improve enforcement, he said, when, in 1854, they chose Eli Jones their representative to the Maine legislature “by a large majority over two other candidates.” (Though his nephew referred to Eli as a candidate, it is not clear that he was one: Rufus wrote that his election was “wholly unexpected,” and he had been working to elect one of the others.)

Because Quakers follow Jesus’ admonition not to swear oaths (in Matthew 5:34-37), Eli did not participate when the Governor administered the oath of office to the legislators. He stood separately to affirm that he would do his job.

Eli’s committee assignments included the committee on temperance. Rufus wrote that his uncle “seldom spoke, most of his work being in the committee.”

Fellow legislators devised a trick to make the pacifist Quaker speak: they unanimously appointed him major-general in command of a division of the state militia.

Eli rode home to Dirigo that evening and consulted until late with family and friends. When he returned to Augusta, sleepless, the next day, he found almost all the legislators from both houses and many city people waiting to hear what he would say.

Rufus reprinted most of his uncle’s speech. Eli said he feared appointing a pacifist Quaker to head the militia was “a little in advance of the times,” despite progress on temperance and on resistance to slavery.

If he was mistaken and the legislature really wanted him to serve, he would, he promised. He would order the troops to ground arms, beat swords into plowshares and spears into pruning-hooks and go home and read the New Testament.

But, believing the legislature was not endorsing such a policy, he would and did decline the appointment.

Rufus wrote that the speech was frequently interrupted by applause and “made a great sensation” not just in Maine, but internationally, being reported in the United States and Great Britain and even in one African newspaper. The intended jest, in his view, let his uncle “preach peace to a very extended audience”; it also gained him increased respect among his fellow lawmakers.

In 1857, Eli helped reopen Oak Grove School, in Vassalboro, after lack of funds closed the high school that had opened in December 1850. He served as principal of the renamed Oak Grove Seminary for a year, the first of 10 men named Jones (including his son Richard, from 1870 to 1874, and his nephew Rufus, from 1889 to 1893) to head the school before 1918. In 1870 and 1871 he was supervisor of schools in China.

Sybil Jones died Dec. 4, 1873, at their Dirigo home. Eli continued to live there with his younger daughter Susan until they returned to South China in 1884, except for two more trips to the Middle East, in 1876 and 1882.

Rufus described his uncle as satisfied with farming, especially fond of and loved by his sheep and other animals; and a lover of all nature, who was happy sitting under a tree watching birds and insects, never knowingly stepping “on a worm or beetle” or killing anything else. He was interested in “fossils and geological specimens.” A frequent and welcome visitor at Quaker meetings throughout the area, he was also a respected speaker at China’s town meetings.

Eli Jones died Feb. 2, 1890. According to the Town of China cemetery records (with which Find a Grave disagrees), he and Sibyl are buried in Dudley Cemetery, with their oldest son, James Parnell Jones, and their younger daughter, Susan Tabor Jones (identified as Susan L. in the town records).

Dudley Cemetery is on the east side of Dirigo Road a short distance south of Eli and Sybil’s house, farther from the road than Dirigo Friends Cemetery. Family members buried in the Dirigo yard include Eli’s parents, Abel and Susannah Jepson Jones; his sister, Peace; and his brothers, Edwin and Cyrus.

* * * * * *

Rufus and Elizabeth Jones’ only child, Mary Hoxie Jones (Eli Jones’ great-niece), was born July 27, 1904, in Haverford, Pennsylvania, and lived there or in adjoining Bryn Mawr most of her life, spending vacations at Pendle Hill, in China.

From 1916 to 1922, she was a student at the Baldwin School, a private, non-sectarian girls’ school in Bryn Mawr. She graduated from Mount Holyoke College, in South Hadley, Massachusetts, in 1926.

Mary Hoxie Jones was steeped in Quakerism all her life, often traveling abroad with her parents. From 1939 to 1951, she held staff positions with the American Friends Service Committee, and served on its board of directors for many years afterwards.

Her historical writing started with collecting and organizing documents about her family’s history and genealogy. One product was a short biography of her father, published as a pamphlet by the Friends Home Service Committee in 1955, in London.

More general works included a 1937 history of the Friends Service Committee from its founding in 1917, and a 1961 history of New England Friends in the latter half of the 1600s. The first book she dedicated to her father, to his great pleasure.

A series called Pendle Hill Pamphlets included a history of Quaker poets and a collection of notes her father made for his sermons and talks – notes which, she commented, he never appeared to use. Apparently they served to “fix a central idea firmly in his mind” and “as a springboard” for his speeches.

Jones’ work was recognized when Haverford College made her a research associate in Quaker studies in 1962 and awarded her an honorary doctorate in 1985.

Her first published book of poems was Arrows of Desire (1931). Beyond This Stone came out in 1965, Mosaic of the Sun in 1975.

The first poem in Beyond This Stone is a light-hearted tribute to her father on his 70th birthday, Jan. 25, 1933. Before reciting some of the many greetings he received, she began:

I wish you much felicity
Now that you have reached seventy.

After five more near-rhymes, including “postal” with “Pentecostal,” “thorough” with “Vassalboro” and “Kansas” with “pansies,” the first stanza ends:

Or who else could maneuver
A message out of Herbert Hoover?

Many poems express Jones’ appreciation of nature. Others show her dislike of war and of modern inventions, including the atom bomb; machines that destroy nature to build highways; man-made “hardware in the sky” and flights to the moon while the local trains don’t run reliably; and Christmas that has become “a frantic helter-skelter” and a “worry” when it should be “a stillness.”

Wild Geese combines the themes.

The wild geese leave the north and fly
In V formation through the sky.
Honking above the pines and lake
I hear them, far away and high,
And hearing them my heart will break
Knowing that man has fashioned wings
To fly, like birds, great silver things.
Each carrying bombs, the planes go forth,
A wedge of death, as autumn brings
The wild geese flying from the north.

Main sources

Beard, Frank A., and Roger G. Reed, National Register of Historic Places Inventory – Nomination Form Eli and Sybil Jones House, February 1984.
Grow, Mary M., China Maine Bicentennial History including 1984 revisions (1984).
Jones, Rufus M. Eli and Sybil Jones (1889).

Websites, miscellaneous.

Correction to Meeting House location

Your writer was probably in error when, in the April 25 article on Rufus Jones, she cited the source that said the family drove from South China north (on what is now Route 202) to the Pond Meeting House twice weekly, while he was a child in the 1860s and 1870s. Elizabeth Gray Vining, in Friend of Life: The Biography of Rufus M. Jones, wrote that his family worshipped at the Friends meeting house at Dirigo.

A reference in Jones’ Finding the Trail of Life to the road through the woods to meeting as “hilly” supports Vining: current Route 3 east to Dirigo is hillier than Route 32 north to Pond Meeting House.

The Dirigo meeting house was abandoned in 1884, when Friends meeting moved to South China Village. Your writer found no information on how long it had been used.

China Girl Scouts raise funds for humane society

China Area girl scouts are, front row, from left to right, Brownies and Daisies Riley Libby, Camille Rines, Colette Cobb, Anahlise Raymond, Lyrah Raymond, Ayla Garnett, and Elyse Martin. Back row, Juniors Willow Sullivan, Carden Cobb, Madi Pomelo, and Cora Sullivan. (contributed photo)

In October of 2023 China Area Girl Scout Troop #1496 voted on areas of interest to explore as a year project. Animals won the vote. The scouts learned about the in-progress building of the new Kennebec Valley Humane Society facility. After reaching out to the Director Hillary Roberts, the troop decided a group to bring supplies needed to stock the shelves of the new facility which was set to open in early 2024.

The troop read through the wishlist of the Humane Society found on Amazon. The girls were promised an in-depth tour of the facility at the time they dropped off the supplies.

The troop made up of 11 girls ages six to 12 decided together to make individual crafts with their own families to earn money to buy supplies for the humane society. The troop reached out to Meg Randazza, organizer of the 44th annual China Maine Craft Fair. Meg provided the girls with a booth space to set out their handmade crafts which included jewelry, Christmas ornaments and decorations, beaded key chains, primitive decor, weaved decorations, and candle centerpieces.

Without putting a price on the crafts made, and having customers choose the price for each sale, the girls earned $674 for the humane society.

The girls then individually chose items they wanted to order for the animal in need in our area. These items included kitten formula, dog and cat food, blankets, laundry soap, puppy and kitten feeding bottlers, leashes, small animal chew toys, a cat stuffed animal with a heart beat for orphan kittens.

Before delivering the supplies the girls hand sewed over 20 cat nip filled baby socks to donate as well.

They were given a tour by Volunteer Manager Allie McCarthy this spring and were able to see over 40 cats, 20 dogs, two chinchillas, and two rats that will benefit from these supplies, and also six orphan kittens being fostered who need more kitten formula.

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Rufus Matthew Jones — Part 2

by Mary Grow

Part of Rufus Matthew Jones’ story of his early life, in his 1921 book titled A Small-Town Boy, was summarized last week. This week’s article continues his story, starting with his primary schooling in one-room schoolhouses in South China and Weeks Mills.

Rufus Matthew Jones

Jones wrote that he was “four years and six months old” when he first walked with his older sister the quarter-mile to the South China schoolhouse, just south of the four corners. He was starting at the beginning of the 1867 summer term; only younger students attended, because “the big boys” were doing farm work.

The woman teacher taught all ages and all subjects. After the morning prayer, Scripture reading and hymn, she called the grade levels one at a time to the blackboard at the front of the room to begin lessons.

Winter sessions, Jones wrote, were different. The back two or three rows of seats were occupied by “big boys and girls,” and discipline was a problem. Teachers were likely to be men, on the theory that muscle mattered – though he promptly cited a woman who maintained excellent order and a man who provided “a fine illustration of educational chaos.”

The latter, he said, was physically removed from the schoolhouse by some of the unruly older boys. His successor, a physically smaller man, quickly established moral authority over the students and led a successful session.

These schools had books, blackboards and chalk, but little else of supplies or equipment. Jones wrote of learning geography without maps or a globe, and physics and physiology without equipment or experiments.

Jones claimed that he learned the first three letters of the alphabet on his first day of school – “the most momentous intellectual step I have every taken.” He marveled that “all of Shakespeare’s plays, the whole of the English Bible, Browning’s Ring and the Book, and everything else I have ever read are made up of those letters I learned in that Primer Class!”

At 15, Jones walked three miles each way to the Weeks Mills one-room school, because the teacher there was outstanding. The next fall he began 11 weeks at Oak Grove Seminary, in Vassalboro.

He was one of the boarding students, sharing a dormitory room with another boy. Fathers took turns bringing them home for weekends, and mothers supplied a week’s worth of food, which the students ate cold or cooked – boiled eggs, for instance – in their rooms.

At Oak Grove, Jones began learning Latin – by the end of his college education he was proficient in Latin and Greek – and studied astronomy under an excellent female teacher. Even at Oak Grove, there was “no telescope, no observatory, no proper instruments,” but he learned enough to skip astronomy in college, earning a 95 on the exam without taking the course.

In the spring of 1879, Jones wrote, he and his father were planting potatoes together when he informed his father that he wanted to go to the Moses Brown Friends School, in Providence, Rhode Island. The family had no money for the undertaking; Jones was awarded a scholarship that covered a year’s tuition and board.

Another chapter in A Small-Town Boy deals with his informal leadership of a group of boys about his age, especially their outdoor lives. He summarized: “We were absolutely at home on the water, in the water, on the ice or through the ice, in the woods, or in the snow.”

One exciting episode he recounted involved out-of-town pirates net-fishing surreptitiously in China Lake. He and his gang assembled a fleet of rowboats, equipped themselves with grapnels and “revolvers and old muskets” and went in search of the invaders.

In the north end of the east basin, they found two men who had stretched nets from the northernmost island to each shore. The men hauled in their nets and made for shore, chased by the boys shooting “in the air or on the water where we were sure not to hit them.”

The boys caught up as the men reached land and scared them into promising never to return.

Jones wrote about two others of the five China Lake islands that he and his friends frequented as teenagers. Round or Birch Island, in the east basin, was a place for a corn roast and perhaps an overnight camp-out. The amusement park on Bradley’s Island, in the west basin, included a bowling alley.

A Small-Town Boy has brief verbal portraits of some of the Jones’ neighbors, identified by first names only. One was a shy, quiet man “who gave the impression of being very stern and grouchy.” When his mowing machine tipped over and trapped him, Jones wrote that the only thing he said to the neighbor who lifted the machine off him was “That’s all I need of thee.”

This man, Jones said, was secretly “one of the tenderest-hearted persons in the town.” He heard that a neighbor with a sick wife was low on firewood: he left a load of stovewood in the dooryard one night. He heard another family was out of butter: he left them a can of milk with “a four pound chunk of butter” floating in it.

Another neighbor made a hole in the gable of his barn so barn-swallows could come and go, and let Jones and his friends – and birds – eat the cherries from his two cherry trees. Yet another, when his seasonal farm chores were finished, hurried to help any neighbor who was behind schedule with planting, haying or some other job.

Jones mentioned one ungenerous neighbor. The example he related said this man sold some hens to a buyer in the far end of town, and on the journey, some of the hens laid eggs. Seller and buyer argued “for a long period” over who owned the eggs.

Jones had written an earlier book about his boyhood. A Boy’s Religion from Memory was published in 1902, and as the title says, focused more on his religious and spiritual life than on his small-town surroundings.

The Trail books begin with Finding the Trail of Life (1926), which partly repeats and expands on A Boy’s Religion. It was followed by The Trail of Life in College (1929) and The Trail of Life in the Middle Years (1934).

These books contain a mix of Jones’ outer life, as he attended high school and college and began his career, and his inner life, as life-altering decisions were shaped and carried out primarily according to the inner voice or inner light that Quakers take as their guide.

From the Friends School, he went to Haverford College, in Haverford, Pennsylvania, outside Philadelphia. Founded by Friends in 1833, it had been accepting non-Quakers since 1849, but did not admit its first women until 1969 (as transfer students; full acceptance dates from 1980).

Jones wrote in The Trail of Life in College that he enrolled as a sophomore in the fall of 1882. Studying Latin and Greek, philosophy and mathematics, he did extra work and took advanced classes. By the end of junior year he needed “only a few hours per week” for another year to earn his bachelor’s degree.

He therefore arranged to write a master’s thesis the same year, 1884-1885, and earned both degrees. The thesis was on American history; but, he wrote, it was his graduation essay on mysticism that was more influential in his later writings.

Returning to the South China family farm, Jones received two offers in two days: a graduate fellowship in history at the University of Pennsylvania, and a one-year teaching position at Oakwood Seminary, described as a Quaker boarding school, in Union Springs, New York.

With the guidance of Aunt Peace (mentioned last week as a powerful influence) and the inner light on which he so often relied, Jones chose teaching – a decision he said he never regretted.

His career kept him away from China, except for vacations, for most of the rest of his life. He taught for two years at Moses Brown School, in Providence. In 1889, he was considering graduate work at Harvard when he was invited to become principal of Oak Grove Seminary in neighboring Vassalboro.

He served four years, 1889-1993, with younger brother Herbert as business manager. In later autobiographical works, he wrote about how much he gained in the Oak Grove community, in leadership skills, problem-solving and friendships.

In 1893 he again planned graduate work at Harvard. This time he was distracted when “the call came to me” to teach philosophy at Haverford and edit the Friends’ Review (later The American Friend).

He took the train from Vassalboro, “leaving my beloved Oak Grove Seminary for the last time with my face wet with quiet tears,” and stayed at Haverford until retiring in 1934. The Find a Grave website says he earned a master’s degree from Harvard in 1901.

Jones traveled in Europe for pleasure as a young man, and later on major errands as a leader among American Friends, especially during the world wars. He was among organizers of the American Friends Service Committee in 1917, and worked for the organization the rest of his life. One AFSC mission in which he participated was an unsuccessful 1938 attempt to talk peace with Adolf Hitler.

Pendle Hill, England

In the summer of 1888, Jones married his first wife, Sarah Hawkeshurst Coutant, of Ardonia, New York, whom he met at Oakwood. It was she who encouraged him to take the Oak Grove job in 1889. Their much-loved son, Lowell Coutant Jones, was born there Jan. 23, 1892. Sarah died of tuberculosis in 1899; Lowell died of diphtheria in 1903.

In 1902 Jones married for the second time, to Elizabeth Bartram Cadbury (Aug. 15, 1871 – Oct. 26, 1952). Their only child, Mary Hoxie Jones, was born July 27, 1904.

Family summer vacations were often spent at Pendle Hill, a simple wooden house on the west side of Route 202 in China, overlooking China Lake. Jones and his brother Herbert “cut trees for lumber and designed the house” during the 1915 Christmas vacation, according to the China bicentennial history.

Other sources say a local carpenter did the building the following spring, badly enough so that the Jones brothers did extensive follow-up work. Also on the property was a log cabin that Rufus Jones reportedly built himself.

Jones named the house Pendle Hill (your writer assumes after Pendle Hill, in England, where Quaker founder George Fox had a revelation in 1652). Pendle Hill was added to the National Register of Historic Places on Aug. 4, 1983, at the same time as the Pond Meeting House, on Route 202, and the Abel Jones house, in South China.

Jones died in Haverford on June 16, 1948. His widow died Oct. 26, 1952. Both are buried in a Haverford Friends cemetery.

Main sources

Jones, Rufus M., A Small-Town Boy (1941).
Jones, Rufus M., Finding the Trail of Life (1926).
Jones, Rufus M., The Trail of Life in College (1929).

Websites, miscellaneous.

Katrina Smith announces re-election bid campaign

Katrina Smith

Maine State Representative Katrina Smith, District #62, has announced the launch of her re-election campaign to the Maine State House. Elected in 2022, Rep. Smith has served the last session on the Inno­vation, Development, Economic Advancement and Business Committee overseeing Economic development, licensing and growth initiatives for the state of Maine.

“I will continue to be a voice for the people of my district and have been so grateful for their ongoing support and encouragement. I am always available to my constituents and no matter the political party will continue to tackle the problems that are important to them,” Smith said.

“I look forward to continuing to represent the towns of China, Palermo, Somerville, Windsor and Hibberts Gore and hope to talk to as many people as possible during the campaign season!”

Katrina can be reached at, at 207-230-9583 or on her facebook page: Representative Katrina Smith.

CHINA TIF COMMITTEE: One of two applications meets funding requirement

by Mary Grow

China Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Committee members found only one of two applications submitted to their April 29 meeting met the requirements for TIF funding.

Both requests, from the South China public library and The Town Line newspaper, were submitted under Project C.3 in China’s TIF plan, titled “Marketing the Town as a Business Location.”

Committee members recommended funding for The Town Line, but not for the South China library.

Committee member Jamie Pitney was unsure why either qualified as an example of marketing. Both are valuable assets to the town, he said, but neither does any active marketing; “they just sit there.”

After discussion among committee members and Town Manager Rebecca Hapgood, a majority agreed that some of what the newspaper does, without charging the town, could count as marketing. They mentioned the unpaid advance publicity for major events like China Days in August and China Ice Days in February, and the weekly lists of town events.

They therefore recommended to the select board a $3,000 appropriation for The Town Line operations. The vote was 4-0-1; Pitney abstained, saying he would like the town attorney’s opinion before making a decision.

The library’s request for $30,000 to complete work on its new building, at 27 Jones Road, was received with sympathy. “Nobody wants to make a motion to turn down a library,” Pitney commented.

Committee members tried to fit the request into some category eligible for TIF money, but they failed. They voted unanimously not to recommend TIF funding for the library.

As Pitney pointed out, TIF disbursements are governed by the state’s economic-development-based standards. The local committee’s options are therefore limited.

China’s current TIF document was approved by town voters on June 8, 2021, and by the state Department of Economic and Community Development on Nov. 18, 2021. Pitney suggested it is time for the committee to consider revisions. These could include recommending removing programs that are no longer used, adding programs included in updated state TIF standards and reallocating funding.

Committee members scheduled work sessions to consider revisions for 6 p.m., Monday, May 13; Wednesday, May 29; and Monday, June 10.

An amended TIF document would need approval by China voters, perhaps at the Nov. 5 elections, and by the state.