Fairfield Historical Society quilt show tradition resumes

Example of a friendship quilt that was created by the 1986-1987 second grade class of Fairfield’s South Grammar School with the assistance of their art teacher.

by Marion Foster

The Fairfield Historical Society announces the resumption of the FHS Quilt Show which they have hosted every other year, until the Covid Pandemic interfered. On Saturday and Sunday, July 10 and 11, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., more than 50 quilts will be displayed at the Victor Grange, in Fairfield Center. These quilts belong to either the FHS or local residents. Others who have quilts of local interest that they would like to show are invited to call the FHS at 453-2998.

Although both antique and contemporary quilts will be included, all are relatively new when viewed through the history of quilting. There is evidence that quilting was done in 3400BCE when layers of fabric and padding were stitched together. Initially such quilts were of totally practical purposes of warmth and insulation. By the 12th century, quilted clothing was introduced to Europe by the Crusaders who wore it beneath their armor. In the late 17th and early 18th centuries, quilt making came to America.

In Colonial America quilting was often a leisure time activity for those of wealth. The quilts of this time were very decorative and displayed the exquisite stitchery, needlework, and creativity which did their makers proud. Many Baltimore Album quilts still exist as examples of these fine quilts. After 1840, less grand but often time consuming, pieced or patchwork quilts of printed fabrics became more common. During the Civil War Era of the 1860s many quilts were fashioned and sold to raise money for the Abolitionist cause. Many more were made and donated to the troops on both sides to honor their cause and keep them warm. Very few of these beautiful tributes have survived. Most commonly, simple but practical quilts were made from leftover fabric scraps or worn out clothing and tied together for everyday bed covers.

During the Victorian Era, Crazy Quilts became very popular. These quilts were comprised of irregular shapes of fancy fabric, luxuriously decorated with fine stitchery and elaborate embellishments. Due to this popular 19th century fad, many examples of these lovely quilts have survived.

Many, many other variations and styles of quilt have endured or evolved through the ages: some of these are Wholecloth, Amish, Feed Sack, Medallion, Block, Album, Sampler, Applique, Patchwork and Friendship quilts. Quilting Guilds continue to flourish in Maine and many are eager to see what has been created during the isolation imposed by the Covid pandemic. On display this year will be an antique “postage stamp” patchwork quilt made of tiny squares pieced together. Also of interest is an example of a friendship quilt that was created by the 1986-1987 second grade class of Fairfield’s South Grammar School with the assistance of their art teacher. This quilt was gifted to their teacher, Mrs. Duplessis, and remains a treasured possession.

In an effort to foster post-pandemic community spirit, the Victor Grange will provide seating and sell food during the two-day event. This event is open to the public and all donations are very much appreciated.

2021 District 5 champions

Messalonskee U-10 All-Stars defeat Skowhegan Riverrats, 16-10, for the District 5 championship
Advance to state tournament

Members ofthe Messalonskee 10U All-Star team, in Oakland, include, front row, from left to right, Brandon Frowery and Scout Engleright. Middle row, Anthony Parisi, Owen Laplant, Bennett Pottle, Kolby Pelletier and Hunter Poulin. Back row, Kolby Bernier, Preston Ponitz, Kyle Cummings, Caven Gooding and Chase Dempsey. (contributed photo)

June 2021 Local election results for Vassalboro, China and Fairfield

Town meeting photo from 2017. Photo courtesy of Dan L’Heureux

Vassalboro

by Mary Grow

In Vassalboro’s written-ballot elections June 8, Christopher French was elected to succeed John Melrose on the board of selectmen, with 128 votes; and Jolene Clark-Gamage was re-elected to the school board, with 134 votes. Neither had an opponent on the ballot.

Three referendum questions were approved. Town Clerk Cathy Coyne said the votes were as follows:

To approve a new “Town of Vassalboro Marijuana Business Ordinance,” 123 votes in favor and 32 opposed.
To reaffirm the $8.3 million school budget approved the previous evening, 137 votes in favor and 18 opposed.
To continue the school budget referendum for another three years, 93 votes in favor and 55 opposed.

The total number of votes cast was 156, Coyne reported.

China

by Mary Grow

China voters, acting by written ballot, approved all but one of the 26 articles presented at their June 8 annual town business meeting, Town Clerk Angela Nelson reported.

They thereby funded town departments and services and grants to other entities for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2021; and gave selectmen authority to act on their behalf in various ways, including selling a 1982 grader and a 40-acre lot on the east side of Lakeview Drive opposite the Cottages at China Lake.

On a separate ballot, they approved the Regional School Unit #18 budget for 2021-22.

The defeated article would have appropriated $26,471 for FirstPark, the regional business park in Oakland. The vote was 135 in favor and 138 opposed, with five blank ballots.

The final warrant article, which was approved on a 198 to 65 vote, said that if any other article did not pass, “the amounts appropriated in FY 2020/2021 for the subject article shall be deemed adopted for FY 2021/2022.”

At the 2020 town meeting, voters appropriated $39,000 for FirstPark for 2020-21.

Fairfield

Unofficial returns from the town of Fairfield, according to town clerk Christine Keller included the following results:

For MSAD #49 school board: Joel Bouchard, 91; Danielle Boutin, 85; and Marlisa Golder, 73.

Also, questions on the MSAD #49 school budget referendum, the district nutrition program and the adult education program all passed.

In regard to the town annual budget referendum, all articles, 2 through 31, passed overwhelmingly, which included all outside agencies that petitioned for funding.

New Dimension FCU announces scholarship program winners

Jack Begin, left, accepted his scholarship certificate presented on Tuesday, April 27, 2021. Alyssa Bourque went to the Silver Street location to get her scholarship certificate on Monday, May 3, 2021. (contributed photos)

New Dimensions FCU awarded a Cony High School student and a Lawrence High School student each with a $2,500 scholarship for their first year in college.

Each year, New Dimensions FCU awards scholarships to deserving high school seniors that demonstrate strong character, community involvement, and academic success.

This year we received many applications from students; therefore, making it a difficult task to determine which of the students would walk away with a scholarship. After much deliberation, the New Dimensions Scholarship Committee selected two students who stood out so profoundly because of their dedication and perseverance during the pandemic while maintaining academic success and forward-moving achievements. New Dimensions has announced that Jack Begin, from Cony High School, in Augusta, and Alyssa Bourque, from Lawrence High School, in Fairfield, have been selected as the 2021 New Dimensions Federal Credit Union College $2,500 Scholarship winners.

Jack Begin tells us that he is to report to the United States Naval Academy on June 30, 2021, where he begins his first year in his engineering degree. Alyssa Bourque will be attending the University of Vermont, where she will study biomedical engineering.

Ryan Poulin, chief executive officer, states, “At New Dimensions, we understand the power of education, and we promote the financial success and aspirations of our younger generations. We encourage all students who graduate high school and plan on attending school in the fall to participate in our scholarship program. Making this one of the many ways we contribute to the communities we serve.”

For more information, contact NDFCU at (800) 326-6190 or visit www.newdimensionsfcu.com.

Victor Grange to host drive-thru supper

Victor Grange in Fairfield (photo: facebook.com/victorgrangefairfield)

Victor Grange #56, in Fairfield Center, hosts a drive-through supper from 4:30 to 6 p.m., Saturday, April 24. The meal includes baked beans and hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, coleslaw, rolls or biscuits, desserts and (non-alcoholic) drinks. Cost is $10 per meal, with proceedings to be used for work on the Grange Hall.

Children’s book author Jeanine Deas to hold book signing

Jeanine Deas

Local children’s book author Jeanine Deas will be signing copies of her new book, Twinkle, Twinkle, Where You Are at an appearance at Retail Therapy Consignment Boutique, 270 Kennedy Memorial Drive, Waterville, on Saturday, April 24, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Masks, social-distancing, and a limited number of customers at any given time will be required. Personally-signed copies of Twinkle, Twinkle Where You Are and the author’s previous book, Anna’s Little Buddy, will be available for $10 each.

Twinkle, Twinkle, Where You Are is about love and longing,” Jeanine Deas says. “During COVID – and after that – it offers a magical way for children (and adults) to endure times of isolation and separation from family and friends. My desire is that readers will come to understand that when distance, time, or even death separate us physically from those we love, we are always connected through the ever-present energy of our relationship. It’s the ‘TWINKLE’ that gives us hope.”

For more information, please call (207) 213-4600.

Fairfield issues request for qualifications for public drinking water infrastructure planning project

Fairfield Town Manager Michelle Flewelling.

The town of Fairfield has issued a request for qualifications (RFQ) to support civil and environmental engineering services for the planning and development of a public drinking water infrastructure plan. This initiative will inform the town’s assessment of existing municipal public infrastructure amid the town’s ongoing per-and polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) concerns, including costs and build-out scenarios for the expansion of public infrastructure.

Identified areas throughout the town will be evaluated for potential infrastructure expansions, as the expected project area extends between Route 139 via the Norridgewock Road and the Ohio Hill Road near its intersection with Route 201. Fairfield’s town council will review qualified firms and/or teams of consultants to assist with developing a comprehensive Public Water Infrastructure Expansion Plan, which will include, but is not limited to, identifying the scale, scope, and costs associated with extending public water to the PFAS affected area(s).

“We are dedicated to launching a thoughtful and comprehensive process, which will incorporate engaging subject matter experts and reviewing success models. These efforts will focus on transparent and community-oriented input approaches as we evaluate RFQ responses that fit the needs of the municipality,” said Fairfield Town Manager, Michelle Flewelling. “The evaluation process will illustrate continuing efforts by the town to achieve safe and clean drinking water for the town’s residents and community.”

The town encourages interested parties to submit preliminary proof of concept(s) for how they believe their vision coincides with, and supports, the town of Fairfield’s stated objectives. Additional information regarding interested firms or teams of consultants will be especially helpful to Fairfield’s Town Council and should include relevant project management and planning experience, previously completed infrastructure projects, and preliminary design and engineering guidance for the future planning and potential construction of a new and/or expanded public water drinking system(s).

Please submit any questions and/or associated requests for information (RFI) to the Town Manager at mflewelling@fairfieldme.com, subject line: “Infrastructure RFQ”, no later than April 23, 2021. All RFI submissions will be answered by April 30, 2021. RFQ responses are due no later than 2:00 p.m. (ET) on May 7, 2021. The RFQ and more information about this development opportunity can be found on the Town of Fairfield’s website.

Submitted by Sabrina Jandreau, Development Coordinator, Central Maine Growth Council

TOWN OF FAIRFIELD NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING

PUBLIC NOTICE

Town of Fairfield

TOWN OF FAIRFIELD NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING

The Fairfield Town Council will hold Public Hearing via Zoom & in the Council Chambers at the Community Center, at 61 Water Street, on Wednesday, April 14, 2021, at 6:30 p.m., for the purpose of hearing public comments on the following matters:

To hear from the public on a liquor license renewal application (Class XI – Restaurant) submitted by Joda, LLC D.B.A. Meridians Kitchen Bar, 166 Main St, Fairfield.

A Special Amusement Permit renewal application for the purposes of entertainment, music and dancing submitted by the American Legion, Post #14, located at 86 Main Street.

Proposed revisions to the Tax Assessment Ordinance.

Copies are available at the Town Office. All interested persons are invited to attend the public hearings and will be given an opportunity to be heard at that time.

Signed: Christine Keller,
Town Clerk

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.

Noah Lambert, of Fairfield, wins the 2021 Virtual Slam Dunk Contest

Noah Lambert, 16, from Fairfield (photo by Central Maine Photography)

by Mark Huard

Noah Lambert, 16, from Fairfield, is 6-feet, one-inch tall and was one of eight chosen in the Big Time Hoops Maine Dunking Competition.

He works out and practices two to four hours a day or more.

With post season all-star games and festivities being canceled last year into this year, Fort Kent Native Tom Bard wanted to try and put something together for the kids that allowed them to showcase their skills. With everything being virtual over the last year he came up with the idea of doing a virtual 3-Point & Dunk Contest.

Tom had posted a couple questions through social media asking those who follow the page as to who should be invited and send out the the invites based on that input. The kids selected recorded their dunks at their home gyms and sent them back once completed.

Once I had everyone’s videos, I edited and and packaged it as the Big Time Hoops 3-Point Shootout and Dunk Contests and put it up on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5vp2U-wdE8M&t=2634s).

Fans voted on who they thought won the Dunk Contest, and Noah Lambert, of Lawrence High School, in Fairfield, was crowned champion. Lambert has been playing basketball now for nine years!