EVENTS: Kennebec Performing Arts Co. to present pops concert

Kennebec Performing Arts Company will present its annual Spring Pops Concerts, on Friday, May 3, at 7 p.m., at Winthrop Performing Arts Center, 211 Rambler Road, Winthrop, and Saturday, May 4, at 7 p.m., at the William and Elsie Viles Auditorium, Cony High School, Pierce Dr. Augusta.

The performances will feature the KPAC chorus, Wind ensemble and jazz band under interim conductors Jason Giacomazzo, Dean Paquette and John Reeves. Enjoy an evening of selections performed by KPAC’s talented community members, including:

Chorus – Ordinary Miracle from Charlotte’s Web; The Gift to Be Simple – traditional Shaker Tune; Distant Land – A Prayer for Freedom, by John Rutter

Wind Ensemble – National Emblem March; Eric Clapton On Stage; Works by Eric Whitacre and Robert W. Smith

Jazz Band – Georgia on My Mind, by Hoagy Carmichael; The Jazz Police, by Gordon Goodwin; Bluebird Land, Maynard Ferguson’s theme

This free event is supported in part by a grant from the Onion Foundation.

Scouts receive Papa Bear award

From left to right, Karla Talpey and Alan Duplessis, of Jackman, Sherwood Hilt, of Union, and John Wood, of Hope, receiving the Ray “Papa Bear” Kimball Award of Service. (photo by Chuck Mahaleris)

by Chuck Mahaleris

Congratulations to John Wood, Alan Duplessis, Sherwood Hilt, and Karla Talpey on receiving the Ray “Papa Bear” Kimball Award of Service at the Kennebec Valley District Annual Scouting Recognition Dinner, held on Sunday, March 24, at the Winslow Parks & Recreation Department Hall. Talpey and Duplessis are both active in Jackman Troop #497 and are members of the Kennebec Valley District committee.

Hilt, of Union, and Wood, of Hope, have been active as district members of both Kennebec Valley District and the former Downeast Districts of Scouting. Wood currently provides Commissioner Service to more scouting units than any other volunteer in the district.

The award is the highest award that an adult leader, committee member or adult volunteer can be nominated for within a unit. The award consideration should be given based on outstanding service to youth within a unit above and beyond that of what is required of an adult. Also his or her ability to exemplify the Scout Oath and Law. The award is given to those who work in support of Scouting without seeking anything for themselves.

Ray “Papa Bear” Kimball was a long time Scoutmaster of Troop #443, in Winslow. He was also highly involved in Kennebec Valley District of Scouting as a district volunteer and a Unit Commissioner. He also spent all of his summers performing the duty of Camp Commissioner for Camp Bomazeen, in Belgrade. Ray also had several sons who were Boy Scouts. Ray was an active member of his community and church. Ray always went above and beyond the call of duty wherever it was. Ray stayed active until he became ill and had to retire from scouting. Raymond Kimball died on November 25, 2007.

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Some early Maine poets

by Mary Grow

As promised last week, no more ponds for a while. Instead, your writer turned to Thomas Addison’s chapter on Literature and Literary People, in Henry Kingsbury’s Kennebec County history. She hopes you will enjoy meeting a few of the writers mentioned.

Addison’s definition of literature covers almost anyone who wrote: newspaper people, historians, educators and sundry others. Your writer has chosen arbitrarily to begin with selected poets.

Many of the names Addison mentioned have no on-line references. Others are listed only as contributors to a book titled The Poets of Maine: A Collection of Specimen Poems from over Four Hundred Verse-makers of the Pine-tree State, compiled by George Bancroft Griffith and published in 1888.

Your writer found excerpts from this book on line. The samples she read have brief biographies and selected poems.

* * * * * *

Amos Lunt Hinds’ book,
Uncle Stephens

A large number of writers came from Augusta, Gardiner and Hallowell. Addison listed surprisingly few from Waterville or towns farther north, and not many from smaller towns.

An exception was the Town of Benton, identified as the home of poets Amos Lunt Hinds and Hannah Augusta Moore.

Amos Lunt Hinds (born in Benton Nov. 12, 1833, or sometime in 1834; died in Benton, April 24, 1908) was the son of Asher Hinds (born in Benton May 2, 1792; died in Benton April 23, 1860) and Lucy Harding (Turner) Hinds (1801 – July 2, 1883), who was either the first or second of his two wives (sources disagree).

The on-line description of Forgotten Books’ 2018 reprint of Amos Hinds’ 1905 Uncle Stephen and Other Verses includes Hinds’ introduction. The poet said the poems were written over 40 years; some had been published in newspapers and magazines, locally and out of state. Hinds collected them into a book “at the suggestion and request of old friends, to whom they are submitted with affectionate greeting.”

An article in the Jan. 10, 1906, issue of the Colby Echo (found on line) republishes a Dec. 27, 1905, Waterville Evening Mail article on the publication of Uncle Stephen. Hinds is described as a Colby graduate, Class of 1858, and a resident of Benton Falls.

The unnamed writer of the article mentioned several poems with local connections.

The one titled The Soldiers ‘ Monument was “read at the unveiling of the monument in this city on May 30, 1876.” The newspaper quoted one verse:

Long let this musing soldier stand,
‘Neath free New England skies,
To all that love the fatherland,
Type of self-sacrifice.

General Isaac Sparrow Bangs, in his military history included in Edwin Carey Whittemore’s Waterville history, describes the founding of the Waterville Soldiers’ Monument Association in March 1864, before the Civil War ended. Its purpose was to provide a memorial to honor Waterville residents who died in the war.

The first fund-raising events were that month. After a Nov. 29, 1865, event, Bangs wrote, the association apparently went dormant until June 1875. By then, donations and interest totaled $1,000, and the town gave a matching sum.

Association committees were formed to design the monument and find a site. Two more fundraisers May 16 and 17, 1876, added $350, and the Waterville Soldiers’ Monument, in what is now Veterans Memorial Park, at the corner of Elm and Park streets, was dedicated on Tuesday, May 30, 1876, Memorial Day.

Another of Hinds’ poems, Old Block House, was about Fort Halifax, in Winslow, the 1906 newspaper writer said.

Uncle Stephen, “the first and longest poem in the volume,” honored Stephen Crosby, whom the writer called “one of the early settlers of that portion of Winslow which lies adjacent to Benton Falls.”

Crosby owned a grist mill, and during 1816, the Year without a Summer, he “endeared himself to his generation and his memory to other generations, by refusing to profit by the distress of his neighbors, continuing to sell corn, of which he had a store, at the ordinary price.”

On-line genealogies say Amos Lunt Hinds married Lettice Orr Reed (1834 – Jan. 26, 1910), and name only one child, Lucy Turner Hinds (1866-1966). The “Colby Echo” article says Amos was the father of Asher C. Hinds, Colby 1883 (but see box on the Hinds family).

* * * * * *

Poets of Maine says Hannah Augusta Moore was born in Wiscasset on March 15 of either 1827 or 1828. Her grandfather was Colonel Herbert Moore, of Waterville; her father, Herbert Thorndike Moore, is identified as “of New York City.”

Her mother, who is not named, and her father were both poets, the biography says. The family moved to Philadelphia when Hannah was “a small child” and she started writing there. Then she lived in New York (City?) “for many years.” In 1886, she “came back” to Benton, which she called “dear native land.”

The biography does not say when Hannah had previously lived in Benton, and the following text is not helpful. It says that after her mother died (no date given), she “attended school at Waterville, Me.”

As soon as Moore settled in Benton, Ephraim Maxwell, publisher of the Waterville Mail newspaper, began publishing her work.

Moore wrote under pseudonyms, including Helen Bruce and Wanona Wandering. The biography explains that she avoided “Hannah” “from a dread that she might be supposed to consider herself a second ‘Hannah More.'”

(Hannah More [Feb. 2, 1745 – Sept. 7, 1833] was a British writer whose works included plays and poetry, mostly religious.)

The biography says it was Moore’s own choice to live “like a hidden singer in a hedge.” Her poems were available in the United States and in Europe, and many were set to music. One collection, titled “Plymouth Notes,” sold 40,000 copies in Europe in its first year.

The biography ends by quoting “June in Maine,” one of Moore’s best-known poems. The first stanza reads:

Beautiful, beautiful summer!
Odorous, exquisite June!
All the sweet roses in blossom,
All the sweet birdies in tune.

The poem urges readers to go outside and enjoy

All the dim aisles of the forest
Ringing and thrilling with song;
Music—a flood-tide of music—
Poured the green valleys along.


Buttercups, daisies, and clover,
Roses, sweet-briar, and fern,
Mingle their breath on the breezes—
Who from such wooing could turn?

* * * * * *

Frances Parker Mace

Frances Parker (Laughton) Mace is another Maine poet, who was a friend of Moore’s. Wikipedia says she was born in Orono, Jan. 15, 1836 (or, one source says, 1834, citing her tombstone), daughter of Dr. Sumner Laughton and Mary Ann (Parker) Laughton.

The family moved to Foxcroft in 1837. Mace’s education included Latin “and other advanced subjects” at Foxcroft Academy when she was only 10 years old. Her first poems were published when she was 12, some in The New York Journal of Commerce, Wikipedia says.

The Laughtons moved to Bangor, and Mace graduated from Bangor High School in 1852. Wikipedia says her most famous poem was published in the “Waterville Mail” when she was 18, suggesting a Waterville connection by 1854 – did she and Moore meet then? Your writer found no evidence.

This poem is titled Only Waiting. It was inspired by a friend who asked an elderly man in a poor-house what he was doing and received the reply, “Only waiting.”

The poem begins:

  Only waiting till the
  Are a little longer grown,
  Only waiting till the
  Of the day’s last beam
is flown;
  Till the night of earth
is faded
  From the heart, once full
of day;
  Till the stars of heaven
are breaking
  Through the twilight
soft and gray.

It goes on to describe the man’s readiness to leave his weary life for the company of angels.

The poem was published in the Waterville Mail under the pseudonym “Inez.” Later, a hymn-writer named Mrs. F. A. F. Wood-White, from Iowa (according to one on-line source), claimed she had composed it, creating a dispute that was eventually resolved in Mace’s favor.

Mace married a lawyer named Benjamin Mace in 1855, and for the next 20 years was busy with eight children, four of whom died young. She began writing again when their eighth child was two years old, with a poem published in Harper’s Magazine.

Her collected poems were published in the 1880s, before and after the family moved to San Jose, California, in 1885. She died in Los Gatos, California, on July 20, 1899.

NOTE: For those interested in seeking out poems mentioned in this article, your writer found on line:

Two recent reprints of Amos Lunt Hinds’ Uncle Stephen and Other Verses: a 2016 hardcover edition by Palala Press, and a 2018 paperback by London-based Forgotten Books.

Three reprints of The Poets of Maine: in 2008 by Kessinger Publishing (Vol. 2 only); a 2017 paperback by Forgotten Books; and a 2023 paperback by Creative Media Partners, LLC.

Listed as available on, in January 2024: copies of Frances Laughton Mace’s two poetry collections, Legends, Lyr­ics and Son­nets, originally published in Boston, Mas­sa­chu­setts, by Cupples, Upham, in 1883; and Under Pine and Palm, originally published in Bos­ton by Tick­nor, in 1888. No publisher is given.

More about the Hinds family

On-line sources say poet Amos Lunt Hinds had three younger brothers and a younger sister. The brothers are listed as Albert D. Hinds (1835-1873); Asher Crosby Hinds (1840-1863); and Roswell S. Hinds (1844-1864). The sister was Susan A. Hinds (1837-1905).

Find a Grave website says the Asher Crosby Hinds who was born Jan. 7, 1840, in Clinton, served in Company G of the Third Maine Infantry during the Civil War. He started as a corporal and mustered out as a sergeant. The website quotes the beginning of his obituary from the April 2, 1863, Piscataquis Observer, which says he died in Benton at the age of 23.

Amos and Asher’s brother Albert and his wife Charlotte (Flagg) named their first son, born in 1863, Asher Crosby Hinds.

Wikipedia says Asher Crosby Hinds, born Feb. 6, 1863, and died May 1, 1919, represented Maine’s First District in the U. S. House of Representatives for three terms, from 1911 to 1917.

The article says he attended Coburn Classical Institute and graduated from Colby College in 1883; worked for a Portland newspaper beginning in 1884; and from 1889 to 1911 held clerical positions in the Maine House of Representatives, working for the Speaker.

Hinds edited two procedural manuals, Wikipedia says, an 1899 edition of the Rules, Manual, and Digest of the House of Representatives and in 1908 Hinds’ Precedents of the House of Representatives.

The article cites a 2013 study showing the Precedents “successfully altered the behavior of House representatives, as they became less willing to appeal decisions of the chair.”

This information leads your writer to conclude that Rep. Asher C. Hinds was Amos and Lettice Hinds’ nephew, not their son.

Amos Lunt Hinds and a dozen other family members are buried in Barton-Hinds Cemetery on Eames Road in Winslow, according to Find a Grave.

Main sources

Kingsbury, Henry D., ed., Illustrated History of Kennebec County Maine 1625-1892 (1892).
Whittemore, Rev. Edwin Carey, Centennial History of Waterville 1802-1902 (1902).

Websites, miscellaneous.

A gathering year for the improbables (April Fool’s story 2024)

by Mary Grow

Few humans understand that a year in which two digits in our current Gregorian calendar add up to a third digit – like 2024, because 2 +2 = 4 — is a Gathering Year for the Improbables.

The last such year was 2013 (2 + 1 = 3). The next will be 2035 (2 + 3 = 5).

No human understands what criteria the Improbables use to choose their gathering place. There have been many theories and surmises over the centuries; none has had predictive value.

It is clear, however, that this year the small town of China, Maine, has been honored.

The earliest sighting, in late January, was of a pair of unicorns just off Maple Ridge Road, near the Winslow town line. The person who saw them did not report the sighting until this week.

“I’d had a couple beers, and I thought I was seeing things, like white horses with branches somehow stuck on their heads,” he confessed. “Couple beers don’t usually bother me. Couple unicorns, now, that’s a different story.”

A strange Yeti-like creature captured by a game camera near China Lake with China Baptist Church in the background.

The first Himalayan Yeti (also called the Abominable Snowman) was photographed by a game camera at a home on the northeast side of China Lake, apparently sampling suet from a bird-feeder. Two nights later, he or she returned with two other adults and a youngster. The homeowners took down the feeders and the camera.

In Thurston Park in February, cameras put up to deter vandals spotted 11 Bigfeet (Sasquatches), probably Canadian, and 11 Yowies from Australia playing a game that seemed to be similar to cricket. A park volunteer who studied the film said the Yowies won by a substantial margin, despite being less accustomed to winter weather in Maine.

A Deer Hill resident swears the animal who loped across Deer Hill Road in front of her car late one night was a werewolf. “I watch lotsa horror movies; I know one of them things when I see it,” she explained.

The werewolf was heading west, she said – “probably going down to the river hopin’ to find runnin’ water so’s he could get a drink.”

As word of unusual appearances began to spread, more people came forward to tell their tales. They include:

The bird-watcher who is convinced he saw a roc over Three Mile Pond – “No, it was definitely not a big eagle. Not even big eagles come that big.”
The Weeks Mills woman who did not dial 911 when a dozen centaurs filed down her driveway. “I’m a part-time 911 dispatcher myself, and I know what I’d be thinkin’ if I got a call like that,” she explained.
The South China resident who watched a troop of elves hold an archery contest in his yard. “Man, those little guys can shoot – right into the bulls-eye every time, and so fast you couldn’t hardly believe it,” he said admiringly.
Two China Village residents who interrupted their morning jog to see why the ducks in the open water by the causeway were agitated: they watched Poco, the 50-foot-long water snake from Pocomoonshine Lake, in Washington County, welcoming Champ from Lake Champlain, in Vermont, and Nessie from Loch Ness, in Scotland.

If past Gatherings are a guide, the Improbables will meet and greet in China until April 1. That evening, they will return to their homes until April Fools Day 2035.

Kennebec Valley Council of Governments names Joel Greenwood executive director

Joel Greenwood, from the Kennebec Valley Council of Governments. (photo by Eric Austin)

The Kennebec Valley Council of Governments (KVCOG) has announced that its board of directors has appointed Joel Greenwood as executive director.

Eric Dyer, KVCOG Board of Director’s President and Town Manager of Readfield, announced “We are excited for the opportunity to bring one of our most talented and experienced employees into the executive director role on a permanent basis. Joel is already well known to our membership and fully aware of KVCOG operations and services, which will result in a near seamless transition for the organization.”

Dyer added, “In his new position Joel’s expertise as a planner will strengthen KVCOG’s essential role in supporting regional and local planning initiatives and provide deliberate and thoughtful leadership.

“I am very happy to be able to step up on a permanent basis to lead KVCOG as its next executive director, ” Greenwood said. “My long tenure and experience in the organization will make the transition as smooth and quick as possible. I’m grateful to continue working with the exceptional team at KVCOG that provides high-quality and valuable services to the municipalities of the Kennebec Valley.”

“As an organization, KVCOG will continue to look for new ways to assist communities across the region.” Greenwood succeeds Matthew Underwood, who tendered his resignation to the board of directors in late January. Joel has been with KVCOG since 2011 and has had more than 20 years of experience in nonprofit work, redevelopment, economic development in rural communities and all aspects of rural and urban planning. His years of experience in all aspects of KVCOG’s operations, existing relationships with its members and as an admired mentor and leader to the KVCOG team translates to a bright future for KVCOG and its member municipalities.

Kennebec Performing Arts Company is looking for conductors

With the recent retirement of its longtime leader, Charles T. Milazzo, the Kennebec Performing Arts Company (KPAC) board of directors is accepting applications for conductors of its three groups. KPAC is a regional, nonprofit music performance organization that includes a jazz band, a chorus, and a wind ensemble comprised of local musicians of all ages and backgrounds with the common goal of community fun and high-level music performance.

The schedule for each of the fall and spring seasons consists of a weekly rehearsal for 12 weeks, with two or three performances at the end of each period.

In addition to conductors, KPAC also encourages new members to join its groups. Singers and instrumentalists are always welcome.

Interested candidates can reach out via the KPAC website to complete and submit an application through Google Forms.

Candidates may also request an application by email – Candidates will be contacted for interviews and auditions.

EVENTS: Recycled Shakespeare announces auditions

Recycled Shakespeare Company (RSC) will hold auditions for their upcoming play Richard III on Sunday, November 26, 5 to 7 p.m., at South Parish Congregational Church, in Augusta, and Monday, November 27, 5 to 7 p.m., at Fairfield House of Pizza, in Fairfield.

Auditions will consist of individual and group cold readings, but you may come with a memorized piece if you wish. If anyone would like to audition but cannot do so at these times, please call 314-4730 in advance to discuss alternatives. All parts will be offered by Friday, December 1. RSC also seeks people to do tech and stage work, costuming, props, and concessions. Please come to audition or call to join the crew. People of all skill levels and abilities are invited to participate with this grassroots community theater company.

The play will be performed in Fairfield, Waterville, and Augusta, February 23 through 25. Table Read will be 5:30 p.m., on Wednesday, December 21, at Fairfield House of Pizza. All actors are responsible for learning their lines before Blocking rehearsals begin on Saturday, January 6. Rehearsal schedule is basically Saturdays 1 to 5 p.m., in Augusta, and Wednesday 5:30 to 8 p.m., in Fairfield.

Richard III is the tragic story of a tyrant who rises to power through his cunning charm which does not stop at murder. “Plots are laid” as characters build alliances, break the bonds of friends and family, and strive to maintain the kingdom as England nears the end of the brutal War of the Roses. One of Shakespeare’s often performed plays, this production by RSC is reduced to 90 minutes with script editing by Becca Bradstreet and a directorial team of Lyn Rowden, Shana Page, and Murray Herard.

For more information contact 207-314-4730 or see, like and follow Recycled Shakespeare Company on Facebook.

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Agriculture – Part 5

Spectators line the trotting park in the 19th century. (The Town Line file photo)

by Mary Grow

Race horses and work horses

Some of the central Kennebec Valley agricultural pioneers chose to breed racehorses, specifically trotters, instead of, or in addition to, the cattle discussed last week. For example, Kingsbury mentioned in the chapter on Waterville in his Kennebec County history that George Eaton Shores, of Waterville, who bred Hereford cattle, “also handled some horses, selling in 1879 the race horse Somerset Knox for $2,700.”

The April 2016 lead article in a publication called Fishermen’s Voice: News and Comment for and by the Fishermen of Maine, written by Tom Seymour and found on line, offers historical information on Maine horse racing.

Seymour gave three reasons for the interest in breeding and racing horses in the latter half of the 19th century.

First, he said, by then “technological innovation made farming more efficient,” giving farm families time for recreation. Second, since many farms had horses, “it was only natural to employ these animals in something other than work-related activities.”

The third factor Seymour cited was “the new and hopeful attitude of Americans coming out of the dark days of our Civil War. Returning soldiers and their families needed something to belong to, to feel good about.”

Simultaneously, he wrote, farmers’ organizations began putting on agricultural fairs in late summer and early fall. Therefore, “Maine’s fairgrounds included not only buildings where people exhibited new, perfectly-shaped and sometimes giant vegetables and flowers, but also raceways.”

An on-line source says horses in the first trotting races were “under saddle,” but soon they were “in harness,” pulling first a wagon, then a two-wheeled sulky and as the sport developed, a bike sulky, the light-weight, two-wheeled single-seat cart still used today.

Seymour wrote that there were more than 100 Maine trotting parks during the post-Civil War decades, enough so that “horse owners were able to go from one trotting park event to another, with little time left in between.” With prizes for winning races and publicity that led to stud fees, owning a good trotting horse became financially rewarding, as well as a source of pride and prestige for breeder and owner.

Your writer was unable to learn more about the horse named Somerset Knox mentioned above, except that he was one of many descendants of General Knox, described in an 1895 issue of the Eastern Argus (Portland) as Maine’s most famous horse. General Knox was owned for 14 years by Col. Thomas Stackpole Lang, of Vassalboro, another area farmer who bred both cattle and horses.

A register of American Morgan horses found on line says that General Knox, also known as Slasher, was born in June 1855, in Bridport, Vermont (a town at the south end of Lake Champlain), and died July 29, 1887, in Trenton, New Jersey. He is described as “black with star and snip, nose, flanks and stifles brownish, 15 ½ hands and weighed 1050 pounds.”

(The world-wide web says a star is a white mark on a horse’s forehead between the eyes; a snip is a white patch on a horse’s nose; a stifle is a hip joint; and a hand equals four inches.)

Lang bought General Knox in January 1859, for $1,000. He was used primarily for breeding, as Lang showed in an August 1870 Maine Farmer article he wrote (quoted in the Morgan register).

Lang said of General Knox: “His temper is always good, always cheerful and full of spirits and ambition, and never nervous at the most exciting sights and noises. Strike him in anger or abruptly, and it must be a strong man to hold him even when tired with trotting, yet entirely under control of the voice; attaches himself readily to those who pet him, and when away from home on the boat or on the cars, lies down to rest readily if his groom lies down with him.”

Lang described two trotting races General Knox won in the early 1860s, the first when the horse was seven years old.

The General was supposed to compete in Skowhegan against General McClellan, in response to a challenge from McLellan’s then-owner, G. M. Robinson, Esquire, of Augusta. However, Lang wrote, Robinson withdrew McClellan, because a few days earlier a horse named Hiram Drew had beaten him in Portland and Hiram Drew was running in Skowhegan.

General Knox had 22 days to relax from his stud duties and prepare for the race, “having served 136 different mares since April.” (Lang did not say what month the race was; your writer guesses September.) He “beat Hiram easily in three straight heats, without a break.”

(E. P. Mayo, in his chapter on agriculture in Edwin Whittemore’s history of Waterville, said General Knox outpaced Hiram Drew on Oct. 22, 1863, in Waterville. He wrote that supporters of both horses came from all over Maine to watch the race, “which is recalled even to this day by the oldest lovers of racing as one of the great events of their lives.”)

Lang wrote that he intended to stop racing General Knox, but was persuaded to enter him to uphold Maine’s honor in the Springfield fair (presumably, the fair in Springfield, Massachusetts, now the Big E [for Exposition], dubbed the only multi-state fair in the world and held this year Sept. 15 and 16).

That year (1863 or 1864) General Knox had served 112 mares since April and had 15 waiting. Lang and the General left home on a Thursday morning and reached Springfield Sunday morning. General Knox raced on Thursday and won easily.

They came back as far as Boston Thursday night, “making,” Lang wrote, “in all 21 days from the time he was drawn from service until he had traveled upon cars and boat three days without rest, won his race and was bound home.”

After the race, Lang wrote, four other New England horsemen offered to buy General Knox, bidding up to $30,000. Lang declined. He wrote that Knox had raced only once since, in 1866, and in 1870 was anticipating the most mares he had ever served in one year.

In 1872, the on-line Morgan register says, Lang sold General Knox, for $10,000. The register includes a list of some of his descendants, with remarks about two or three.

Mayo wrote in the Waterville history that Waterville’s trotting park was initiated by the North Kennebec Agricultural Society, legislatively incorporated July 31, 1847 (and mentioned last week in connection with early officers Joseph and Sumner Percival).

In January 1854 the society appointed a committee to find land for a racetrack. A site was chosen in southern Waterville and a half-mile track was built, perhaps the same year.

On Aug. 22, 1863, Mayo found, the track “was leased to the Waterville Horse Association for their annual exhibition.” T. S. Lang was one of the signatories to the lease.

Mayo also found in the society’s records an Oct. 4, 1859, vote of thanks to Lang for donating his horses’ prize money to the society. He quoted: “He ever strove to win all the prizes that he could in order that the society might be the more benefited thereby.”

The North Kennebec Agricultural Society gave annual exhibitions into the 1880s, until increasing competition from nearby towns’ fairs caused members to give up. They leased the track for a while and finally sold it “for the enlargement of our present beautiful [Pine Grove] cemetery.”

* * * * * *

Alice Hammond, whose history of Sidney was published in 1992, did not mention any Sidney horse-breeders, but she gave more detail than many other historians about horses as work animals.

In her chapter on agriculture, she summarized sequential methods of harvesting hay: men mowing with scythes gave way to “horse-drawn mowing and raking machines,” which in turn were displaced by “mechanical reapers and balers.”

On-line sites say the first horse-drawn mowers date from the 1840s or 1850s. The machines became popular after the Civil War, and, one source says, are still used in this century in special areas like nature preserves and organic farms.

But it was in her chapter on transportation that Hammond expanded on the important role horses played on early Sidney. The Kennebec River was important, and she mentioned oxen, for example used to build the first roads.

Most of these roads succeeded bridle paths, which followed earlier Native American trails. In the late 1700s, the “bridle paths were widened to allow pack horses and even carts and sleds in season.”

Through the 19th century and into the 20th, Sidney residents rode horseback or in horse-drawn carts or wagons. Road maintenance depended partly on horse labor; Hammond wrote that between 1860 and 1870, horses pulled the “road scrapers with metal blades” that “were used to shape and smooth the roads.”

“Later,” she continued, “mechanical road machines pulled by horses were used,” until trucks replaced the horses.

Hammond quoted an article written by an earlier Sidney resident, Russell M. Bailey, on winter travel and road maintenance early in the 20th century, with horses still a major power source. She gave no dates for events he described; one of the genealogies in her history says he was born in 1901.

Bailey wrote that there were three kinds of personal winter vehicles. The fastest and fanciest was the single-seat sleigh, “with a sweeping high curved dashboard and luxuriously upholstered seat.” One horse, “a light driving horse if available,” pulled the sleigh.

The pung was “a lower slung, long runnered, single horse utility winter vehicle, suitable for hauling light loads or the family.” For heavy loads, a farmer would use the double sled drawn by a pair of work horses.

To keep roads passable, Sidney and other Maine towns used snow rollers, large wooden and metal contraptions that packed down the snow. On-line sources say horse-drawn rollers were used from the late 1880s into the 1930s.

Hammond wrote that in 1895, Sidney “raised money to build snow rollers.” Bailey described a Sidney roller as pulled by eight horses, in two sets of two teams.

Hammond included a story of a winter storm Bailey remembered that covered roads with more than a foot of new snow under a thick icy crust. When the horses’ hooves broke though the crust, the sharp edges cut their legs.

After protective padding failed, Bailey wrote, “additional men were hired to proceed the lead team to break the crust with their feet and shovels.”

Main sources

Hammond, Alice, History of Sidney Maine 1792-1992 (1992).
Kingsbury, Henry D., ed., Illustrated History of Kennebec County Maine 1625-1892 (1892).
Whittemore, Rev. Edwin Carey, Centennial History of Waterville 1802-1902 (1902).

Websites, miscellaneous.

Waterville Railroad Station

CORRECTION: In last week’s article, the location of Waterville Railroad Station was incorrect. It should have said, the Waterville railroad station was located on what is now an empty lot, on the west side of College Ave., to make room for Colby St. circle where it intersects with Chaplin St., near Burger King. The railroad tracks that cross Chaplin St. are an indication of where the train terminal was located. The locomotive pictured in this 1920s photo, is located where the train tracks cross Chaplin St.

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Agriculture – Part 4

Milking cows in the 19th century.

by Mary Grow


Continuing with the agricultural theme, this article will move readers north on the west bank of the Kennebec River from Sidney to Waterville and will focus on 19th-century cattle breeders.

Samuel Boardman and E. P. Mayo, in their chapters on agriculture in Henry Kingsbury’s Kennebec County history and Rev. Edwin Whittemore’s history of Waterville, respectively, provided lists of Waterville’s pioneer cattle-breeders, partly but not entirely overlapping.

Both historians mentioned Dr. Nathaniel Rogers Boutelle (June 13, 1821 – Nov. 23, 1890). Dr. Boutelle was previously included in this series in the Nov. 24, 2022, article on local graduates of Jefferson Medical College.

Mayo wrote that Boutelle’s father, Hon. Timothy Boutelle, was one of the two men responsible for bringing Ayrshire cattle into the area. (The other was John D. Lang, of Vassalboro.) Nathaniel Boutelle and William Pitt Addison Dillingham (see last week’s article) were among early importers of Jerseys, “now so popular among us.”

Dr. Boutelle was active in town affairs. Chapters in the history of Waterville list him as, in 1839, one of Waterville’s first fire-fighters; in 1866, one of 19 members of the legislatively-chartered Ticonic Water Power and Manufacturing Company that in 1868 oversaw building of the Lockwood dam; and in 1873, among organizers of the Waterville Library Association.

In 1875 he and his wife, Mary (Keely) Boutelle (April 6, 1833 – Feb. 14, 1920), were members of the committee (including several other women) who decided where to locate the Soldiers’ Monument honoring Civil War dead. From 1884 until his death, Boutelle was president of Waterville’s Ticonic National Bank (his father was president of the older Ticonic Bank from 1832 to 1855; in 1902 his son George was president of Ticonic National Bank).

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Availability of Ayrshire and Jersey cattle, plus Devons (introduced by Joseph Percival and his brother) and Durhams (imported by Col. Reuben H. Green or Greene, of Winslow), meant that “many of our farmers of moderate means were able to obtain valuable specimens of their several breeds, and the success of agricultural operations in this vicinity are [sic] largely due to them,” Mayo said.

Joseph Percival (Jan 31, 1813 – Feb. 7, 1898) was the second son of William Percival (1786 – 1859), who came from Massachusetts to Winslow in 1804 and in 1807 moved to Cross Hill, in Vassalboro, where he farmed for the rest of his life. William married Elizabeth “Betsey” Fairfield (Feb. 26, 1785 – Oct. 13, 1858) on Dec. 20, 1805.

Four of William and Betsey’s eight children were boys, all of whom were involved, to some extent, in agriculture. Warren, the youngest (March 27, 1819 – July 19, 1877), stayed in Vassalboro and bred Cotswold sheep, Mayo wrote. Sumner (1805, or c. 1808 – July 23, 1869), Joseph and Homer (March 27, 1816 – Apr 6, 1898) moved north to Waterville.

Two different historians, Mayo (above) and Kingsbury, made references to Joseph “and his brother,” without naming the brother. Kingsbury said Joseph “and his brother” ran a general store from 1835 to 1859; then Joseph went into farming, specializing in breeding Jersey cattle (and Cotswold sheep, Mayo said).

After the Maine legislature incorporated the North Kennebec Agricultural Society on July 1, 1847, Mayo wrote, Joseph Percival was its first treasurer and Sumner Percival was a trustee. Sumner Percival was the society’s second president, and a later president was Joseph Percival (though since no date was given, he could have been a son or nephew of the first treasurer).

The Oct. 16, 1862, issue of The Eastern Mail (found on line at Colby College’s ever-helpful Digital Commons) listed prize-winners at the North Kennebec Agricultural Society’s annual exhibition. Homer Percival’s Devon heifer got second place for dairy cows, and his undescribed cow placed fourth; and in a separate heifer judging, his three-year-old took first place in that age category.

Joseph and Sumner were both in Waterville’s earliest fire department, with Dr. Boutelle. Joseph held many municipal offices, including first selectman for at least one term around 1861, and served three terms as Waterville’s representative to the Maine legislature, in 1850-52 and again in 1861 (the 30th, 31st and 40th sessions).

Sumner and Homer worked primarily as bankers. Sumner was cashier of the Ticonic Bank and later first cashier of the Peoples’ Bank, organized in 1855. Homer succeeded Sumner at Peoples’ Bank in 1859; was the first treasurer of Waterville Savings Bank, organized in May 1869; and when three banks merged to become People’s National Bank in March 1865, he became that bank’s cashier, serving until 1893. His son, J. Foster Percival, succeeded him and held the position when the bicentennial history was finished in 1902.

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In the chapter he wrote on Waterville in the Kennebec County history, Kingsbury credited George Eaton Shores (March 27, 1812 – May 14, 1910) with bringing the first Hereford cattle to the central Kennebec area, working with Hall Burleigh (then of Fairfield, according to Mayo, and later of Vassalboro). Shores is also on Boardman’s list of agricultural pioneers.

Shores, Kingsbury wrote (in 1892), “belongs to a class of men who stand at the very sources of national prosperity, but whose ranks in New England are becoming alarmingly thin—the successful farmer.” Mayo called him “one of the men who has ever been in the front rank of agricultural effort in this section.”

Active enough at 91 to ride in the 1902 centennial parade, he was identified in another chapter in Whittemore’s history as “the oldest citizen who was a native of Waterville.”

Shores was the younger son of James Shores, who in 1809 bought a 200-acre farm in western Waterville (by 1892 partly in Oakland). Kingsbury wrote that James raised his son to be a farmer, and George “liked it, stuck to it, has given it the intelligent, faithful service of a life-time, for which devotion it has given him pleasant occupation, a handsome competence and a vigorous, happy old age.”

George Shores inherited the family farm in 1856. By 1867, Mayo said, he had made it one of the best farms in town; but he left it to move to “the village as it was then called,” buying 160 acres that included Oak Hill.

(Whittemore’s description says Shores bought “most of the land between College and Main streets, from the railroad station to the top of Main street hill.” This information should be helpful to those who remember where the Waterville railroad station used to be, on the east side of College Avenue about where the Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter now stands.)

Shores’ Herefords won many prizes at fairs, Kingsbury and Mayo wrote. He sold one pair of white-faced yearling steers for $300, a sum Kingsbury called “surprising” and Mayo called “astonishing.”

Shores and his first wife, Sophia (Wyman) Shores (April 12, 1810 – Feb. 22, 1855), had seven children, of whom only one, Amasa (1839-1926), was still alive in 1892 and was “a farmer on the old homestead.” (Consumption, or tuberculosis, killed the other children, and Sophia died of the same disease, according to Kingsbury.)

Cattle breeds raised in Central Maine

Ayrshires are dairy cattle, originally from Ayrshire in southwestern Scotland. The first Ayrshires in America came to New England in the 1820s.


Wikipedia describes Ayrshires as medium-sized; white and red, with the red varying from “a shade of orange to a dark brown”; and capable of producing up to 20,000 pounds of milk a year. The article summarizes information from an Ayrshire Cattle Society paper to say that they are popular because of their “longevity, hardiness, and easy calving.”

The Devon, named after a county in southwestern England, has a more complicated history. An on-line history of Red Devon cattle says Julius Caesar found their ancestors when he invaded Britain in 55 B. C. The article says they “were possibly brought by the Phoenicians, around four hundred years earlier, to trade for Cornish tin.”

A New South Wales (Australia) government website calls the breed “prehistoric and thought to be descended from the original cattle in Britain.”

South Devon

Wikipedia distinguishes American Milking Devons, North Devons and South Devons. The article on American Milking Devons says in 1624 Edward Winslow brought “three heifers and a bull” to the Plymouth Colony. The Australian website says the breed’s “hardiness and practicality” made them a logical import for the colonists.

These animals’ descendants spread along the east coast. In the early 1800s, other British breeds were imported and cross-bred to improve the stock, especially in New England where the breed was concentrated. Devons were used as draft animals and to provide both milk and meat.

Red Shorthorn Durham

Durhams are commonly called Shorthorns. The breed was developed by crossbreeding in Durham county in northeastern England in the late 1700s. An on-line history says brothers named Charles and Robert Colling started by breeding cows named Cherry, Duchess, Strawberry and Old Favourite with a bull named Hubback.

The on-line Encyclopedia Britannica describes breed characteristics as “short horns, blocky conformation, and colour ranging from red, red with white markings, white, or roan resulting from a mixture of red and white hairs.”

The first Durhams imported into the United States came to Virginia in 1783; an on-line source says the breed “became favorites of the pioneer, furnishing meat, milk and power.”


The Hereford, yet another red cow with white (in the 1700s and now; in the 1800s, interbreeding produced some that were grey or grey and white), came to America from Herefordshire in England’s West Midlands. One source says the breed probably was “founded on the draught ox descended from the small red cattle of Roman Briton and from a large Welsh breed once numerous along the border of England and Wales.”

Various sources agree that Kentucky politician Henry Clay brought the first three Herefords to the United States in 1817, where they spread rapidly. Herefords are primarily beef cattle.


Jerseys are dairy cows valued for their milk, which is high in butterfat and protein. They are fairly small; their coats come in shades of brown, with fawn common.

Originally from the English Channel island of Jersey, and probably descended from imports from Normandy, Jerseys were recognized as a separate breed around 1700, Wikipedia says. Information varies on when Jerseys first came to America. One site says colonists brought them in 1657; three others date the first imports to the 1850s.

Main sources

Kingsbury, Henry D., ed., Illustrated History of Kennebec County Maine 1625-1892 (1892).
Whittemore, Rev. Edwin Carey, Centennial History of Waterville 1802-1902 (1902).

Websites, miscellaneous.

Waterville Railroad Station.

CORRECTION: In this article, the location of Waterville Railroad Station is incorrect. It should have said, the Waterville railroad station was located on what is now an empty lot, on the west side of College Ave., to make room for Colby St. circle where it intersects with Chaplin St., near Burger King. The railroad tracks that cross Chaplin St. are an indication of where the train terminal was located. The locomotive pictured in this 1920s photo, is located where the train tracks cross Chaplin St.

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Agriculture – Part 3

Southdown sheep.

by Mary Grow

This subseries began last week to talk about some of the central Kennebec Valley’s agricultural pioneers whom Samuel Boardman named in his chapter on agriculture in Henry Kingsbury’s Kennebec County history.

One was Rev. William Pitt Addison Dillingham, of Sidney, who was previously noticed in an introductory essay on agriculture in the March 18, 2021, issue of The Town Line.

Dillingham (Sept. 4, 1824 – April 22, 1871) was primarily a minister, mostly in the Universalist church. Sidney historian Alice L. Hammond wrote that one of his posts was with the Sidney First Universalist Society, of which his father-in-law, Dodavah or Dodivah Townsend (June 4, 1775 – Dec. 4, 1852; one of Sidney’s early settlers), was among the organizers in June 1840.

Dillingham and his wife, Caroline Price Townsend (born May 25, 1817), owned a farm that Hammond said was called Fairview Farm and was also the home of Caroline’s father.

(The 1879 map of Sidney shows no Dillingham property. There is a D. Townsend house, on the north side of Bartlett Road, closer to Tiffany Road than to Pond Road. The 1856 map shows the same D. Townsend property.)

Hammond wrote that Dillingham brought two sheep breeds, Oxford Downs and Southdowns, to Sidney in 1858.

Oxford Downs sheep.

The Southdown, according to Wikipedia, is the smallest of British sheep breeds “and the basis of the whole Down group of breeds.” Southdowns were first bred in East Sussex, England, around 1800, for both wool and meat.

Boardman said it was Charles Vaughan, of Hallowell, who brought the first Southdowns into Maine, in 1834.

Wikipedia says Oxford Downs were bred in Oxfordshire (hence the name) in the 1830s, by cross-breeding Cotswold rams with Southdown and Hampshire Down ewes. The result is a large sheep with short white wool and “a large, meaty carcass,” making it a breed raised primarily for meat.

C. K. Sawtelle also raised sheep in Sidney, according to Hammond and Boardman.

Boardman called cattle – cows and oxen – “the real basis of successful agriculture.” He again credited Benjamin and Charles Vaughan for importing valuable breeds that got the Kennebec Valley off to a good start.

Soon, however, interest waned, and herds began to deteriorate, Boardman wrote. Among a new generation of farmers who “took up the responsibility of obtaining high priced registered stock from abroad, or improving the best of that which remained” in the 1830s and 1840s, he named Luther and Bradford Sawtelle, of Sidney.

The index to Hammond’s history has almost two pages of Sawtelles, from Abbie Z. to Zypporah, plus a column of Sawtells; and there is a multi-page summary genealogy. Kingsbury explained that an early Pond Road settler named Moses Sawtelle had seven sons and was distantly related to another settler named John Sawtelle: “This accounts for the frequency of the name in Sidney.”

Luther Sawtelle (Aug. 7, 1800 – June 25, 1872) and Bradford Jorel Sawtelle (May 18, 1811 – Nov. 12, 1897) were sons of John and Thankful (Robbins) Sawtelle. When Kingsbury wrote his history in 1892, he said Luther’s oldest son, Ambrose, was living on the family homestead, a farm Luther bought in 1824 called Pleasant Plain Farm, and Bradford (by then in his early 80s) was farming part of it.

Summer Sweet apple.

Hammond listed apples, hay and potatoes as other important products of Sidney farms. Hay, she pointed out, was a common export from much of Maine to cities in Massachusetts while horse-drawn transport prevailed. In 1850 she found that Sidney “produced more than 5,700 tons of hay.”

Apples were the “second largest crop” in Sidney in the first half of the 1800s. Farmers planted apple trees “along stone walls or together in clumps on less desirable land” that wasn’t as good for raising hay. Early varieties included Baldwin, Ben Davis and Stark.

Hammond named Sidney farmer Paul Bailey as an experimental apple breeder, “originating a variety named Bailey’s Golden Sweet.”

An on-line source called Out on a Limb Apples recognizes another Sidney-bred apple: Ichabod Thomas created the Summer Sweet around the year 1800. It’s described as a yellow apple with “a beautiful golden apricot-orange blush” and usually “apricot around the stem area.”

The Summer Sweet is “medium-small,” about two inches in diameter, firm-fleshed, with “a mild sweet flavor, best for fresh eating or sauce. It makes a thick, creamy, tropical-flavored sauce—with hints of banana and pineapple —that takes a while to cook down and may need some added water to keep it from burning to the bottom of the pot.”

Ichabod Thomas

On-line sources say that Ichabod Thomas (March 14, 1758 – Feb. 25, 1845) was born in Marsh­field, Massa­chusetts. He was a Revolu­tionary War veteran, having served almost a year in two different regiments. Moving to Maine, on March 10, 1791, he married Mehitable Crosby (Sept. 16, 1767 – April 26, 1842) in Winslow; she was from Albion.

The couple had seven children between 1791 and 1805. The oldest was born in Vassalboro, before Sidney became a separate town on Jan. 20, 1792.

Thomas was a respected citizen, according to records Hammond found and another on line. She identified him as Sidney’s first town clerk, elected at the first town meeting. An on-line record says he held the office two later years, and was a selectman for five years and town treasurer for two non-successive terms.

He and Mehitable died in Brownville, Maine, and are buried in Brownville Village Cemetery with his mother, Eleanor (Mrs. Joseph) Thomas, who died in June 1823 aged almost 96.

Other Sidney residents were apple growers, on various scales. In 1876, Hammond said, the largest apple orchard in Kennebec County was the Bowman brothers’ on Middle Road, which had 75,000 trees.

Hammond wrote that Sidney’s apple crop became less important after the mid-1800s, “as the original trees grew old and there were few new plantings.”

Sweet corn was “a major crop for a good many years” in Sidney, Hammond said. She credited Isaac Winslow, “of Vassalboro,” with learning how to process food while he was in France “on naval duty” and starting a canning factory “around 1840.”

Sweet corn, Hammond wrote, was well suited to less specialized farms: “It provided a cash crop, utilized the farm manure, produced cattle forage, and used family labor….”

It was in 1850 that the railroad along the east bank of the Kennebec River first reached Waterville, Hammond wrote, expanding markets for up-river farmers. Sidney farmers ferried crops to railheads in Riverside and North Vassalboro while the water was open.

In winter, “they risked their lives, teams, and loads to venture across the ice. Many stories have been told of the close calls they had and of the not-so-fortunate who went through the ice.”

Isaac Winslow and corn canning

An on-line account says a Frenchman, Nicolas Appert, invented canning vegetables as a method of preserving food in 1809, thereby earning a reward offered by the Emperor Napoleon as he sought to feed the French Navy. The process was quickly brought to England and America.

For sweet corn, the process consisted of taking the kernels off the cob; putting them in a glass bottle (originally) or a can; heating them to kill bacteria; and sealing the container. First done by hand, it was soon mechanized.

Isaac Winslow

Another on-line site, a Warren County, Ohio, web page, says: “Isaac Winslow is believed to have been the first to successfully can sugar corn for market. He made his experiments in 1842, and applied for a patent which was not granted until 1863.”

Isaac Winslow is mentioned in Alice Bibber’s 1989 paper titled Nearly All in the Family: Nathan Winslow and His Family Network, published in Vol. 28 of Maine History and available online through the University of Maine’s Digital Commons.

Bibber’s focus was on the extended family that assisted Isaac’s older brother, Nathan Winslow (born in March 1785), a Portland-based inventor and merchant whom she credits with “launching the first corn-canning operation in the United States.”

Canned corn from 1800s.

She added, “Although twentieth-century historians credit Isaac with being the first person to preserve corn in tin cans, at least one contemporary who talked with Nathan Winslow about the business stated that the latter had made the experiments.”

Bibber mentioned Isaac as sailing to Le Havre, France, in 1818, not in the Navy but on a family whaling ship; and taking his ill sister-in-law, Nathan’s wife, to Madeira in 1842, where she died early in 1843.

“Some time earlier,” Bibber wrote, “Isaac Winslow had returned home with information about a French method of preserving food in sealed cans.” Nathan and Isaac decided to try it; Bibber wrote they used as “a base of operations” the family farm, which was apparently in Falmouth.

A factory was set up in 1852. When patents were issued in 1862, Bibber wrote, they were in Isaac Winslow’s name, but “assigned to” Nathan’s nephew, John Winslow Jones.

Bibber mentioned Vassalboro once: after Isaac’s father married Lydia Hacker, from Massachusetts, his wife’s family moved to Brunswick and “made marriage ties with a Vassalboro family.”

There is one more possible connection: the Winslows were Quakers, and Vassalboro and China had relatively large numbers of Quakers. However, your writer found no evidence confirming Alice Hammond’s statement that Isaac Winslow lived in Vassalboro.

Main sources

Hammond, Alice, History of Sidney Maine 1792-1992 (1992).
Kingsbury, Henry D., ed., Illustrated History of Kennebec County Maine 1625-1892 (1892).