Fairfield election results (Spring 2022)

Looking south down Main St., in Fairfield. (Internet photo)

Unofficial returns from June 14, 2022, primary election according to Fairfield Town Clerk Christine Keller:

Governor:

D – Janet Mills, 192
R – Paul LePage, 366

Representative to Congress, District 2

D – Jared Golden, 198
R – Bruce Poliquin, 231
R – Elizabeth Caruso, 146

Maine State Senate, Dist. 16

D – David LaFountain, 192
R – Mark André, 58
R – Kevin Kitchin, 208
R – Michael Perkins, 117

Maine House of Representatives, Dist. 67

D – Robert Sexak, 199
R – Shelly Rudnicki, 352

MUNICIPAL

MSAD #49 School Budget Validation Referendum

Yes, 472
No, 226

MSAD #49 Continue 3-year Budget Cycle

Yes, 524
No, 167

MSAD #49 School Board

Rae Davis-Folsom, 582
Marlisa Golder, 5
Karen Kusiak, 34
Blank/Other, 111

Question 1: Public Water Expansion

Yes, 282
No, 402

Memorial Day Festivities 2022

Memorial Day Festivities

South China Memorial Day Ceremony

Mon., May 30, 11 a.m.
Veterans Memorial Park
American Legion Post 179
Ceremony only, NO PARADE

China Village

China Village Memorial Day ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. Meet at the Causeway Rd. FMI: Contact Mary Lockhart at 968-2717.

Town of Fairfield Memorial Day parade canceled

The Fairfield Memorial Day parade has been canceled due to the lack of participants and bands. The graveside tributes and luncheon will take place as scheduled, hosted by Fairfield VFW Post #6924, 246 Main St., Fairfield, 207-453-2565.

Madison Memorial day

Please join the members of The Tardiff-Belanger American Legion Post #39 and American Legion Auxiliary Unit #39, Madison, in honoring Our Fallen Heroes on Memorial Day, May 30, at the Memorial Day Ceremonies with guest speaker Brad Farrin, State Senator. Starting at 9 a.m., at Starks Town Office, 9:30 a.m., at the Veterans Monument, at Anson Town Office, followed by scattering of flowers off the bridge; 10 a.m. at the Veterans Monument, at the Madison Library; 10:30 a.m., at the US/Canadian Monument, at Forest Hills Cemetery, on Park Street ,and at 11 a.m., at the Joseph Quirion Veteran Monument, in the center of East Madison.

Mikala Ferland named Ezhaya scholarship winner

Mikala Ferland

Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce has announced the 2022 Joseph B. Ezhaya scholarship winner.

Mikala Ferland was selected as the scholarship recipient from a field of applicants.

Mikala is one of the top students in her class at Lawrence High School, in Fairfield. She also completed a Health Science Certificate at KVCC while still a senior student. She values citizenship and responsibility, along with having a passion for music and martial arts. Her stated mission is to make a significant difference in the lives of others as she moves forward.

Mikala was a member of the National Honors Society and served as secretary and representative of her class during her high school tenure. She assisted in teaching and has participated in martial arts for over seven years. She has a long list of musical accomplishments in her background. Mikala serves as a lifeguard at the Alfond Youth and Community Center (AYCC), in Waterville, since 2020 and has dedicated over 320 volunteer hours at Camp Tracy.

Mikala will attend Kennebec Valley Community College’s nursing program, in Fairfield, in the fall.

The Joseph B. Ezhaya scholarship was established in memory of Joe Ezhaya, a community leader who was known for his generosity and dedication to civic engagement.

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: French-Canadians – Part 2

Water St., Waterville, The Plains, circa 1930. Note the trolley in the center of the photo. The trolley ceased operations on October 10, 1937. Many of the buildings in this photo are no longer there. (photo courtesy of Roland Hallee)

by Mary Grow

(See part 1 of this series here.)

French-Canadians Part & other Catholics

The story of French-Canadian immigrants in the Augusta and Waterville area, as presented by the writers cited, is partly a story of separateness and discrimination evolving into cooperation and mutual respect.

* * * * * *

One of the stations of Waterville’s Museum in the Street in front of the home of Waterville’s first permanent Canadian settler, Jean Mathieu.

Steven Plocher’s on-line history says Québecois began to come to Waterville in the 1820s, first as temporary workers and after Jean (or Jean-Baptiste) Mathieu (or Matthieu) arrived in 1827 as permanent residents. Their numbers increased after the Kennebec Road from Québec Province was improved around 1830.

An on-line history by a writer identified as Bob Chenard, drawing on other histories of Waterville’s French-Canadian community, says in the 1820s Mathieu came as far south as Shirley (between Monson and Greenville) and started a food delivery service for lumber camps and settlers north of Bangor.

When he came to Waterville, he moved a wooden house from Fairfield to the east side of Water Street, in an area in southern Waterville called La Plains, “The Plains”. Plocher said his house served as the first French Catholic meeting house. Whittemore, in his 1902 Waterville history, said Father Fortier said the first Mass there. Neither historian gave a date.

Chenard described The Plains as the area along Water Street and side streets off Water Street. When settlement began, the land was “thickly wooded,” with occasional small clearings where livestock could graze. He said there were about 300 French families in Waterville, mostly in The Plains, by the early 1830s; your writer considers the figure of about 30 families in 1835, given by George Dana Boardman Pepper in his chapter on churches in Whittemore’s history, more likely to be accurate.

Most of the inhabitants of The Plains “were very poor,” Chenard wrote. “Some excavated and reinforced shelter in steep slopes as temporary homes. The most prosperous owned some domestic animals.”

Whittemore added an anecdote: “One of the citizens whose wealth now amounts to several tens of thousands of dollars tells how an unsuspicious cow who had strayed upon one of these turf roofs came down through it into the midst of the astonished family.”

Job opportunities Chenard listed included clearing the area that became Pine Grove Cemetery, working in sawmills and other manufactories, farming, lumbering, quarrying and brick-making. In 1855, construction of the first railroad through Waterville provided more jobs and created a second Franco-American settlement in the north end of town.

As mills and manufacturing developed in the 1860s and 1870s, job opportunities multiplied, and more French-Canadians, in Plocher’s words, left behind “their struggling farms and the British government in Québec for the economic prosperity and relative freedom found in the U.S.”

Chenard said “Waterville’s first grocery stores” were opened on Water Street in the 1860s, by “Peter Bolduc and Frederick Pooler (Poulin).” New French-Canadian stores continued to open in the 1870s; Chenard mentioned clothing and jewelry stores, and Plocher wrote,” After the first French store opened in 1862, dozens of other businesses and services followed suit: before long there were stores, doctors, dentists, lawyers, even a theater, all in the Plains.”

A successor store that Kingsbury described was John Darveau, Jr.’s, grocery, opened in 1876. Darveau was born in St. Georges, Québec, Kingsbury wrote; assisted by his brother, Joseph Darveau, and Henry W. Butler, he ran the store until he died in 1891.

The old Lockwood-Dutchess Textile Mill, on Water St., in Waterville. Now the Hathaway Creative Center. It was a mill where many Canadians went to work upon their relocation to Waterville.

The Civil War and post-war industrial development encouraged more immigration. For Waterville, Chenard wrote, the opening of the Lockwood Cotton Mill at the north end of Water Street in 1874 “attracted the greatest number of Franco-American immigrants.”

Mill owners sent representatives to the Province of Québec to solicit workers. Chenard wrote that substantial immigration continued until 1896, when the province got its first French-Canadian minister and all of Canada became more prosperous.

Kingsbury wrote that in the first six months of 1892, the Lockwood Mill produced “8,752,682 yards of cotton cloth, weighing 2,978,000 pounds. To produce these large results, 2,100 looms, 90,000 spindles and the labor of 1,250 people ten hours each week day are required.” In addition, the mill employed 50 to 75 “skilled mechanics” to keep the machinery running.

Chenard wrote that a small minority of the immigrants were doctors or other professional people, but most were extremely poor, and working in the mill was not a way to get rich. “Even the best weavers made only $1 a day”; average workers made 25 to 50 cents a day.

The mill owners helped workers find conveniently-located housing, Chenard wrote. There were “large boarding houses or small cozy homes known as ‘maison de la compagnie [company house],’ which were mostly owned by the Lockwood Company.” Another choice was an apartment in what Chenard called the Bang’s estate, “a long row of tiny red-painted houses.”

Kingsbury wrote that the French Catholic church in Waterville started as a mission served from Bangor, beginning in the 1840s. Chenard described as “Waterville’s first Catholic Church,” St. John’s on Grove Street, built by Jesuit missionary Father Jean Bapst. Pepper quoted an 1851 article from the Waterville Mail encouraging “those connected with other sects” to support the effort to provide a Catholic house of worship.

The first resident pastor was Father Nicolyn, in 1857. After two other priests, Father D. J. Halde came in 1870 and in 1871 bought a lot on Elm Street and had a larger church, St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church, built. It opened in 1874; Kingsbury said it cost $22,000, plus another $8,000 in following years (to 1892).

By 1874, Chenard said, St. John’s church had been moved to Temple Court and converted to a school. By 1902, Pepper wrote, it was a private home.

In 1880, Kingsbury wrote, Father Halde was succeeded by Father Narcisse Charland, who in 1886 bought a house for a “parochial residence” for $3,600 plus $1,000 worth of repair work. The next year the priest spent another $7,000 to build a parochial school, opened in 1888, which contributed to providing education for mill workers’ children.

In 1891 Father Charland invested $8,788 to build and furnish the Orders of Sisters Ursulines convent. Kingsbury wrote that it served “as a residence for the sisters, a boarding house for girls, and has class rooms for recitations.”

In 1892, Kingsbury wrote, there were between 450 and 480 parochial school students, 21 of them boarders. The church seated 1,100 and had two Sunday morning services, but was “too small to accommodate the worshippers from this large and growing parish, which numbers, including Winslow, over 3,000 souls.”

At that time, Kingsbury continued, Father Charland was also holding monthly services at missions in Vassalboro (see below) and Oakland.

Meanwhile, Chenard wrote that Waterville’s Second Baptist Church, also called the French Baptist Church, opened on Water Street in 1884.

Chenard went on to list a variety of French-Canadian organizations that provided social services to the French community, and cultural activities – music, drama – that spread to the entire Waterville community. Plocher added, “The Franco-Americans also introduced hockey to the city.”

Plocher and Chenard agreed that relations between French-Canadians and the rest of Waterville improved over the years. Plocher wrote, “The Anglos in Waterville were forced to adjust to the new presence, and although there was some prejudice in the Yankee population, it was not long before every business had at least one French-speaking employee.”

Whittemore and Chenard both reported much animosity between the young men of the two communities in early days. Whittemore wrote that young Anglos did not visit The Plains “with good intent,” and when young Francos came into Anglo territory “they came in bands strong enough for offense or defense, as the case might require,” sometimes adding out-of-town muscle.

The two writers further agreed that the animosity was past. “In time, it gave way to a more peaceful understanding which often resulted in warm friendships,” Chenard wrote.

Pepper’s view was that relations among adults were reasonably friendly all along. He wrote that Protestants contributed to St. John’s Chapel in the 1850s and to “larger and later” Catholic enterprises. The Mail often ran notes from the Catholic priest of the time thanking all Waterville people for “generous aid furnished especially in connection with church fairs,” he wrote.

“This liberal disposition and grateful appreciation at and from the beginning have contributed not a little to the development of that marked good will which has ever characterized the mutual relations of Catholics and Protestants, French and Americans in this town and its neighborhood,” Pepper said.

As evidence of late 19th-century integration, Chenard called Frederick Pooler/Poulin “the ‘Father’ of French politicians in Waterville,” elected selectman in 1883 and 1887, member of the first board of aldermen after Waterville became a city on Jan. 12, 1888, overseer of the poor from 1889 to 1892, board of education member in 1898-99 and legislative representative in 1906.

* * * * * *

In Fairfield, according to the Fairfield Historical Society, the first French Catholic Mass was celebrated in 1870 by Father Halde, from Waterville, “in a public hall.” By 1882 there were 104 French-Canadian families in the town, and Bishop Healy had Father Charland from Waterville put up “a small chapel on the grounds of the present church” on High Street.

The first “resident pastor” was Rev. Louis Bergoin, in 1891. The history says he thought “the chapel was too small”; it gives no date for the building of the larger church, but says Right Rev. William H. O’Connell, Bishop of Portland, visited the Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary for the first time on Aug. 18, 1901.

A Portland Press Herald article from April 27, 2015, says the building was put up in 1895. The article says “The church was closed by the Waterville-based Corpus Christi Parish four years ago at the same time it shuttered St. Theresa Church, in Oakland, and St. Bridget Church, in Vassalboro.” New owners in April 2015 planned to convert it to their home.

* * * * * *

Speaking of St. Bridget’s Church, in Vassalboro, it, too, was built primarily by and for an immigrant population of mostly mill workers, the Irish who came to North Vassalboro beginning in the 1840s to work in John D. Lang’s woolen mill. In her history of Vassalboro, Alma Pierce Robbins told the story of the church as she found it in “an anonymously-written history” from 1926.

Robbins explained that Vassalboro businessmen had already opened sawmills, gristmills and tanneries in North Vassalboro, using waterpower supplied by China Lake’s Outlet Stream. But the woolen mill required workers with different skills, so, she wrote, Lang and partners advertised “in English and Irish newspapers.”

The ads brought many Irish workers, both from Ireland and from earlier Irish communities in Boston and as far away as New York. Robbins found in the 1850 federal census a list of “new names” in Vassalboro with the countries of origin. Thirty-eight families were from Ireland; 12 were from England; four were from Canada; two were from Scotland; and John McCormack’s birthplace was given as “Atlantic Ocean.”

Many of the Irish were Catholic, and the nearest Catholic church, in Waterville, was a five-mile walk, Robbins wrote. Irish workers began departing for other mill towns where Catholic churches were nearby.

The unnamed mill agent in 1857 arranged for Mass to be said in workers’ homes. When attendees overflowed the houses, the “old Engine House Hall” became the new venue, where Waterville priests held services, at first four times a year and later once a month.

Workers continued to move away, however, and, Robbins wrote, in or a bit before 1874 mill agent George Wilkins, with the help of Waterville’s Father Halde, bought from the mill owners a lot at the intersection of Main Street and Oak Grove Road on which to found St. Bridget’s Catholic Church.

The original building was moved farther south on Main Street and served until it was destroyed by fire on Nov. 5, 1925. A new building was started the next year; the first service was Nov. 14, 1926.

St. Bridget’s Church was also sold and is now Vassalboro’s St. Bridget Center, available for rent for private and public gatherings.

Main sources

Fairfield Historical Society, Fairfield, Maine 1788-1988 (1988).
Kingsbury, Henry D., ed., Illustrated History of Kennebec County Maine 1625-1892 (1892).
Plocher, Stephen, Colby College Class of 2007, A Short History of Waterville, Maine
Found on the web at Waterville-maine.gov.
Robbins, Alma Pierce, History of Vassalborough Maine 1771 1971 n.d. (1971).
Whittemore, Rev. Edwin Carey, Centennial History of Waterville 1802-1902 (1902)

Websites, miscellaneous.

Karen Normandin appointed president of KVCC

Karen Normandin

Board of Directors gives unanimous support

FAIRFIELD, ME — Maine Community College System (MCCS) President David Daigler announced recently that Karen Normandin has been appointed president of Kennebec Valley Community College, in Fairfield, effective June 1.

Normandin has been serving as acting president of Kennebec Valley Community College (KVCC) since May 2021.

“I am honored to have been selected as the next president of Kennebec Valley Community College,” Normandin said. “This college has a long history of providing excellence in academic programming and workforce training opportunities. We are on an extraordinary journey of growth and transition.”

“As we move forward, I am excited to be in a leadership role, working with the faculty and staff to continue the great work that KVCC is known for in this community,” she said. “I look forward to continuing that tradition and strengthening the ties to our community.”

Normandin has worked at KVCC for more than 30 years, serving in multiple leadership positions, including vice president of student affairs, enrollment, marketing and recruitment; dean of student affairs; director of educational support services; and director of TRIO student support services.

“Karen is a champion of the KVCC community and will be an excellent leader,” Daigler said. “She has a deep understanding of the college and an unwavering dedication to its people and the broader community. I look forward to working with her to advance the college during this critical time.”

The MCCS Board of Trustees unanimously supported the appointment.

“Karen has extensive experience and deep ties to the students, faculty and staff at KVCC,” said Board Chairman Bill Cassidy. “Her proven leadership skills will serve the students, faculty and staff well.”

Normandin is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Education in Higher Education Leadership at Capella University. She has a Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology from Ball State University, in Indiana, and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Saint Anselm College, in New Hampshire.

In 2020, Normandin was a John T. Gorman Fellow, which identifies and develops leaders in the public sector, and she twice received the KVCC President’s Award in recognition of her leadership within the KVCC community.

She serves as vice chairman of the Kennebec Behavioral Health Programs Advisory Board; executive board member of the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce; and previously served on the Nursing Advisory Board for KVCC, in addition to being a member of multiple professional organizations.

Normandin was selected from an initial field of more than 40 candidates following a national search.

Normandin succeeds Dr. Richard Hopper, who is currently interim president of Greenfield Community College, in Greenfield, Massachusetts.

Kennebec Valley Community College, with campuses in Fairfield and Hinckley, enrolls about 2,300 students engaged in more than 35 programs of study.

Waterville Rotary Club donates money to improve high school challenges

MSAD #49 (Lawrence) – from left to right, Dan Bowers, Lawrence HS Principal; Patricia Watts, Assistant Superintendent; Jeff Melanson, President, Waterville Rotary Club.

The Waterville Rotary Club recently donated $500 to four local high schools to provide support to youth who are experiencing homelessness or other challenges that impact their learning and/or engagement in school.  Members of the Club’s Community Services Committee delivered checks in person to each of the schools. These donations dovetail with the club’s focus the past two years on providing resources in the community to address food insecurity and/or lack of access to basic necessities, issues which have been exacerbated by the pandemic.

MSAD #49, in Fairfield, plans to use the funds specifically for food, clothing, or transportation. They may also use some of the funds to purchase sports equipment or materials for students that do not have means to purchase these items to participate in a sport or other activity.

Winslow High School – from left to right, Roger Krause, Waterville Rotary Club; Ms. Jones (JMG teacher) and some of the JMG students who help organize and stock the Raider Closet.  (JMG = Jobs for Maine’s graduates)

Winslow High School will use the funds to support their Raiders Closet.  Non-perishable food and clothes will be purchased, as needed.  In some cases, food-specific gift cards will be provided to families to purchase perishable items.

Messalonskee High School, in Oakland, has an initiative that provides food for families for the weekend and snacks during the school day.  They actively seek additional funds to provide for necessities that many of us take for granted in our daily lives, such as personal hygiene items, clothing, school supplies and food that can be prepared with minimal resources for those in temporary housing.

Messalonskee High School, from left to right, Keith Morin, Assistant Superintendent/Chief Academic Officer; Katelyn Pushard, Waterville Rotary Club; Carl Gartley, Superintendent.

Waterville High School will use the funds to support their school’s Food Pantry.  They may also use some funds to purchase other necessary items for students, such as seasonal clothing.

All the representatives from the various schools expressed a deep appreciation for this donation and the show of support for their most vulnerable students.  The committee members truly enjoyed the opportunity to visit the schools, meet with staff and students, and hear about the ways that our local schools are looking out for their students.

For more information about the Rotary, visit the website at watervillerotary.com.

Waterville High School, from left to right, Michele Prince, Waterville Rotary Club and the four class presidents,  Kate Rice, freshman, Emily Campbell, senior, Brianna Bates, junior, and Gabby St. Peter, sophomore. (contributed photo)

PHOTOS: Battle of Maine winners 2022

Grand champion

Club NAHA Karate-Do Team Member Matthew Christen Captured 1st place in forms and 2nd place in weapons at the Battle of Maine Martial Arts Championships. He also won the Grand Championship Title for forms. (photo by Mark Huard)

Double winner

Huard’s Martial Arts Student Madalyn Taylor 7 of Fairfield captured 1st place in forms and 3rd place in fighting at the Battle of Maine Martial Arts Championships on March 26. (photo by Mark Huard)

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Wars – Part 12

The Civil War left China, like Albion and other towns, deeply in debt, paying to outfit the soldiers and compensate their families.

by Mary Grow

Civil War

The United States Civil War, which began when the Confederates shelled Fort Sumter, South Carolina, on April 12, 1861, and ended with General Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, Virginia, on April 9, 1865, had the most impact on Maine, including the central Kennebec Valley, of any 17th or 18th century war.

Nonetheless, your writer’s original plan was to write only a single article about the Civil War. As usual, she found an oversupply of material that she hopes will interest readers as it interested her; but she still limits coverage to two articles, for three reasons.

The first and most important reason to downplay Civil War history is that unlike, say, the War of 1812, the Civil War is already familiar. Citizens who know nothing about the Sept. 13, 1814, bombardment of Fort McHenry (which inspired Francis Scott Key to write the poem that became the national anthem) recognize at least the names of battles like Bull Run and Gettysburg. Many people can name at least one Civil War general; few can name one from the War of 1812.

A second point is that numerous excellent histories of the Civil War are readily available, including books specifically about Maine’s role.

And the third reason is that this war is recent enough that some readers undoubtedly have memories of their grandparents telling stories of the generation before them who fought in the Civil War.

Any reader who would like to share a family Civil War story is invited to write it, attach photographs if available and email to townline@townline.org., Att. Roland Hallee. Maximum length is 1,000 words. Submissions will be printed as space permits; the editor reserves the right to reject any article and/or photograph.

* * * * * *

Maine historians agree that the majority of state residents supported President Abraham Lincoln’s decision to fight to preserve the Union. Those who initially disagreed, James W. North wrote in his history of Augusta, found themselves a small enough minority so they either changed their views or moderated their expression.

By 1860, the telegraph was widely used. News of Fort Sumter reached Augusta the same day, followed two days later by Lincoln’s call for 75,000 three-months volunteers, including one regiment from Maine.

On April 22, North wrote, the Maine legislature, in a hastily-called special session, approved enrolling 10,000 soldiers in ten regiments for three years, plus “a State loan of one million dollars.”

Augusta had filled two companies by the end of April. Other Kennebec Valley companies joined them; they camped and drilled on the State House lawn. The Third Regiment started south June 5, 1861; those soldiers were promptly replaced by others from other parts of Maine, volunteers succeeded by men paid bounties and in 1863 by draftees.

North wrote that the first draft in Augusta was held July 14 through 21, 1863, starting two days after the New York City draft riots began, with news arriving hourly. In Augusta’s Meonian Hall, eligible men’s names were drawn from a wheel by a blindfolded man named James M. Meserve, “a democrat of known integrity and fairness, who possessed the general confidence.”

The process began with selection of 40 men from Albion. Augusta followed, and, North wrote, the initial nervousness gave way to “a general feeling of merriment,” with draftees being applauded and congratulated.

Being drafted did not mean serving, North pointed out. Physical standards were strict; out of 3,540 draftees, 1,050 were “rejected by surgeon for physical disability or defects.” It was also legal to pay a substitute or to pay the government to be let off.

Augusta remained a military hub and a supply depot through the war, centered around the State House and Camp Keyes, on Winthrop Hill, at the top of Winthrop Street. There were large hospital buildings on Western Avenue, North wrote, which were so crowded by 1863 that the Camp Keyes barracks were also fitted up as hospital wards. The trotting park between the State House and the river was named Camp Coburn and hosted infantry and cavalry barracks and enlarged stables.

North described the celebratory homecomings for soldiers returning to Augusta when their enlistments were up, like the one in August 1863 for the 24th Regiment. The “bronzed and war-worn” men had come from Port Hudson, Louisiana, up the Mississippi to Cairo and by train to Augusta, a two-week trip. Greeted by cannon-fire, bells, torch-carrying fire companies, a band, state and city officials and “a multitude” of cheering citizens, they marched straight to the State House, enjoyed a meal in the rotunda and “dropped to sleep on the floor around the tables, being too weary to proceed to Camp Keyes.”

Historians describing the effects of the Civil War on smaller Kennebec Valley towns tend to emphasize two points: the human cost and the financial cost.

Ruby Crosby Wiggin found as she researched the history of Albion a record saying that “out of 100 men who went to war from the town of Albion, 45 didn’t come back.” She listed the names of more than 150 Albion soldiers, six identified as lieutenants.

By 1862, Wiggin wrote, the state and many towns offered enlistment bonuses. In addition, towns paid to equip each soldier. Total Albion expenditures, she wrote, were $21,265; the state reimbursed the town $8,033.33.

Wiggin concluded, “No wonder the town was heavily in debt at the close of the Civil War.”

The China bicentennial history says almost 300 men from that town served in Civil War units. The author quoted from the 1863 school report that said attendance in one district school was unusually low, “the large boys having gone to the war.”

The Civil War left China, like Albion and other towns, deeply in debt. The China history says when the State of Maine began tallying municipal costs and offering compensation in 1868, China had paid $47,735.34 to provide soldiers. The state repayment was $12,708.33, and town meetings were still dealing with interest payments and debt repayments into the latter half of the 1870s.

China town meetings during the war were mostly about meeting enlistment quotas, and, the history writer implied, by 1864 voters were tired of the topic. In July and again in December 1864, they delegated filling the quota to their select board.

When the late-1864 quota had not been filled by February 1865, voters were explicit; the history writer said they agreed to “sustain the Selectmen in any measures they may take in filling the quota of this town.”

The Fairfield historians who wrote the town’s 1988 bicentennial history found the list of Civil War soldiers too long to include in their book and noted that the names are on the monument in the Veterans Memorial Park and in the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) record books in the public library across Lawrence Avenue from the park.

Of Larone, the northernmost and likely the smallest of the seven villages that made up the Town of Fairfield for part of the 19th century, the history says, “Larone furnished her full quota of ‘boys in blue’. These averaged one for every family, three-fifths were destined never to see their homes again.”

Millard Howard, in his Palermo history, wrote that “The Civil War was by far the most traumatic experience this town ever experienced.” Of an 1860 population of 1,372, 46 men, “or one out of every 30 inhabitants,” died between 1861 and 1865.

Looking back from the year 2015, Howard wrote somberly, “No other war can remotely compare with it.”

He listed the names of the dead, with ages and causes of death where known. The youngest were 18, the oldest 44. More than half, 26, died of disease rather than wounds; Augustus Worthing, age 31, starved to death in Salisbury prison, in North Carolina.

Sidney voters spent a lot of town meetings in the 1860s talking about the war, according to Alice Hammond’s town history. As early as 1861, they approved abating taxes for volunteers.

As the war went on, voters authorized aid for volunteers’ families and monetary inducements to enlist for residents and non-residents, with preference given to residents. At an 1863 special meeting, they authorized selectmen to borrow money as needed “to aid families of volunteers.”

Hammond noted that Sidney was debt-free before the war, “but in 1865 it issued bonds for $24,000, a debt from which it recovered very slowly.”

Alma Pierce Robbins found from military records that 410 men from Vassalboro enlisted for Civil War service. From census records, she listed the 1860 population as 3,181.

As in other municipalities, voters approved wartime expenses. Robbins wrote that $7,900 was appropriated for bounties and aid to soldiers’ families in 1861. The comparable 1863 figure was $16,900. Perhaps for contrast, she added the 1864 cost of the new bridge at North Vassalboro (presumably over Outlet Stream): $1,057.82 (plus an 1867 appropriation of $418.62).

In Waterville, General Isaac Sparrow Bangs wrote in his chapter on military history in Reverend Edwin Carey Whittemore’s 1902 centennial history, recruiting offices opened soon after the news of Fort Sumter. A Waterville College student named Charles A. Henrickson was the first to enroll, and, Bangs wrote, his example “proved so irresistibly contagious at the college that the classes and recitations were broken up” and the college temporarily closed.

Henrickson was captured at the Battle of Bull Run, July 21, 1861. He survived the war; later in the Waterville history, Chas. A. Henrickson is listed among charter members of the Waterville Savings Bank, organized in 1869.

These Waterville soldiers became companies G and H in the 3rd Maine Infantry, Bangs wrote. After drilling in Waterville, they went to Augusta and were put under the command of regimental Colonel Oliver O. Howard. On June 5, Howard was ordered to Washington, “carrying with him, as Waterville’s first contingent, seventy-four of her boys into the maelstrom of war.”

Bangs spent years verifying the names of 421 men who either enlisted from Waterville or were Waterville natives who enlisted elsewhere. The names are included in Whittemore’s history.

Bangs added that the Maine Adjutant-General’s report says Waterville provided 525 soldiers. He offered several explanations for the discrepancy, pointing out the difficulties of accurate record-keeping.

Waterville paid $67,715 in enlistment bounties, Bangs wrote. Henry Kingsbury, in his history of Kennebec County, put the figure at $68,016 and said the state reimbursement was $19,888.33.

Linwood Lowden wrote in the history of Windsor that more than one-third of Windsor men aged 17 to 50 fought in the Civil War, most of them in the19th and 21st Maine infantry regiments.

Like other towns, Windsor paid bonuses to enlistees and, Lowden wrote, $2,663.87 “in aid to soldiers’ families…from 1862 through 1866.” He added that Windsor first went into debt during these years.

Camp Keyes, Augusta

A history of Camp Keyes found on-line says that the 70-acre site on top of Winthrop Hill, on the west side of Augusta, had been used as, and called, “the muster field” since before Maine became a state in 1820. It was still available, although the militia had become less significant, when the Civil War broke out.

On Aug. 20, 1862, Maine Adjutant General John L. Hodsdon designated the field one of Maine’s three official “rendezvous areas” for militia and volunteers and named it Camp E. D. Keyes, in honor of Major-General Erasmus D. Keyes, a Massachusetts native who moved to Kennebec County (town unspecified on line) as a young man. He graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1832 and fought in the Civil War until 1863, when a superior removed him from command, claiming he lacked aggressiveness.

(The other two Maine rendezvous areas were Camp Abraham Lincoln, in Portland, and Camp John Pope [honoring General John Pope from Kentucky], in Bangor.)

Thousands of Civil War soldiers from Maine passed through Camp Keyes. It also housed Maine’s only federal military hospital, named Cony Hospital in honor of Governor Samuel Cony.

After the war, the site remained a militia training ground. The State of Maine bought it in 1888. In 1893 the militia became the National Guard and continued to use the training ground, with Guard headquarters in the Capitol building until 1938.

The on-line site gives an undated description: “Small buildings were constructed of plywood for mess halls, kitchens, latrines, store houses, and lodging for senior military officers. Companies pitched their tents on pads that had been built.”

Main sources

Fairfield Historical Society Fairfield, Maine 1788-1988 (1988).
Grow, Mary M., China Maine Bicentennial History including 1984 revisions (1984).
Hammond, Alice, History of Sidney Maine 1792-1992 (1992).
Howard, Millard, An Introduction to the Early History of Palermo, Maine (second edition, December 2015).
Kingsbury, Henry D., ed., Illustrated History of Kennebec County Maine 1625-1892 (1892).
Lowden, Linwood H., good Land & fine Contrey but Poor roads a history of Windsor, Maine (1993).
Marriner, Ernest, Kennebec Yesterdays (1954).
North, James W., The History of Augusta (1870).
Robbins, Alma Pierce, History of Vassalborough Maine 1771 1971 n.d. (1971).
Whittemore, Rev. Edwin Carey, Centennial History of Waterville 1802-1902 (1902).
Wiggin, Ruby Crosby, Albion on the Narrow Gauge (1964).

Websites, miscellaneous.

FAIRFIELD: Town to hold public hearing to review PFAS report on drinking water expansion

Looking south down Main St., in Fairfield. (Internet photo)

The Town of Fairfield will be holding a public hearing at the Fairfield Community Center, located at 61 Water Street, on Wednesday, March 23, at 6:30 p.m., to discuss the recently completed report by Dirigo Engineering and associated options for extending public drinking water. At the hearing, members of the public will have the opportunity to review potential changes to public water infrastructure within the town.

Community members and residents are encouraged to attend in-person, with a virtual hearing option available as well.

“Providing a public forum for the town’s residents to understand the proposed project and report will assist the Town of Fairfield in educating the public, achieving clean drinking water goals, and addressing impacts related to PFAS contamination,” states Fairfield Town Manager Michelle Flewelling. “The town’s priority is and will continue to be the well-being of its residents, and allowing the public to ask questions and submit feedback will help address this challenge going forward.”

Hired through a recent RFQ process, Dirigo Engineering has completed a feasibility report to assist the town with determining necessary water infrastructure extensions needed within the bounds of the municipality. Dirigo Engineering, based in Fairfield, is a consulting firm that provides professional services through civil engineering, with specialties including wastewater engineering, environmental services, and water supply engineering.

Additional information regarding the municipality’s ongoing PFAS investigation, including the Dirigo Engineering Report, can be found on the town’s website: www.fairfieldme.com.

For questions or additional information, please contact the Town of Fairfield at 207-453-7911 or info@fairfieldme.com.

Dirigo Labs announces selection as AWS activate provider

photo credit: Dirigo Labs

Dirigo Labs, Maine’s newest accelerator program, has been designated as an Amazon Web Services (AWS) Activate Provider, allowing Dirigo Labs-based startups and entrepreneurs to access exclusive benefits to help accelerate growth as they build their respective businesses. The accelerator, launching its first cohort in March, will host appro­ximately 10 Maine-based startups representing a range of industries including biotechnology and information technology.

Startups affiliated with Dirigo Labs who are building or about to start building web-based programs on AWS may apply for the AWS Activate Portfolio and receive free AWS credits, technical support, training, resources, and more. Inclusion in the Activate program differentiates the Dirigo Labs accelerator as an important solution to the maturation of startups building and scaling their companies on AWS.

“Being designated as an AWS Activate Provider will allow Dirigo Labs participating founders access to an exclusive toolset to help them succeed at every stage of their development,” states Dirigo Labs Managing Director Susan Ruhlin. “We welcome all cohort members to take full advantage of these incredible benefits.”

Dirigo Labs will offer a 12-week curriculum for seed-stage entrepreneurs scaling their startups. Topics will include product development, fundraising strategies, revenue modeling, and pitch refinement. Utilizing regional assets to encourage job creation and retention while improving access to capital for startups, Dirigo Labs is building an innovation ecosystem that supports entrepreneurship and showcases central Maine as a destination for business development and success.

“Joining an impressive portfolio of AWS Activate Program companies, including Coinbase and Toast, Dirigo Labs will provide opportunities and services to startups in our accelerator that they wouldn’t have had access to before, such as AWS Cloud credits, AWS business support, and access to the Activate console to help their business prosper,” elaborates Central Maine Growth Council Development Coordinator Sabrina Jandreau. “We look forward to working with our startups to utilize these opportunities while supporting rural business development for years to come.”

Startups and potential mentors interested in learning more about Dirigo Labs and submitting an application can visit www.dirigolabs.org.

Dirigo Labs is a regional startup accelerator based in Waterville, Maine. With a mission to grow mid-Maine’s digital economy by supporting entrepreneurs who are building innovation-based companies, the Dirigo Labs ecosystem brings together people, resources, and organizations to ensure the successful launch of new startups. Dirigo Labs operates under Central Maine Growth Council and is supported by several organizations, academic institutions, and investment firms.