WINDSOR: Cemetery sexton seeks to upgrade computer software

by The Town Line staff

Cemetery Sexton Joyce Perry informed the Windsor Select Board, at their February 14 meeting, that she has been researching information regarding software for the cemeteries. The costs have ranged up to $6,000. There are several different companies and she recently talked with Julie Finley, from China, regarding a Crypt Keeper program which is what they use. To use this program, there is a one-time fee of $250 to download the program to a laptop. If the town wanted to pay $60 per month, they can access it from anywhere. Perry recommended if they were to do this, they could put it on a desktop computer. Perry gave a presentation of the Crypt Keeper through the town of China’s website. This software can give a lot of information, like where someone is buried, which lot number, which cemetery, photos of the stone and much more. The town of China has hired someone to do their cemeteries and it took them over three months working 40 hours a week.

Perry was asking the select board to approve the $250 program purchase for now, and add in $500 a year in her budget for 2023-24 and continue until the work is done. The board approved the purchase and added they will add the additional $500 a year in her budget until the work is completed.

In other business, Town Manager Theresa Haskell said the town of Windsor has been invited to participate in a one-day household hazardous waste collection which is being coordinated with KVCOG and the town of China, to be hosted by China on Saturday, April 15, from 8 a.m. – noon. The cost to Windsor is $500 and this would allow the town residents to dispose of hazardous chemicals, in a proper manner, that are commonly used around the house.

Resident Patricia Springer asked the town to reimburse the excise tax she paid on a vehicle she purchased in December that was later declared totaled in an accident. The board approved to credit Springer the $124.30 transfer rate.

Public Works Supervisor Keith Hall, and Public Works driver/laborer Timothy Coston brought up the compensation time and are asking the select board to warrant them to be able to comp over 40 hours of overtime, which will equal 60 hours of time off. The board approved the agreement with the conditions that need to be done.

A discussion followed about CDL drivers and a possible position added in next year’s budget. Hall said he needs someone with a CDL license. Springer indicated she conducts CDL classes and would provide information in helping to hire someone.

Resident Colleen Doucette asked what the status was with people in town living in campers. The board indicated the codes enforcement officer, Arthur Strout, is working on this matter and that it takes time. Allison Whynot said there are people living in campers on the Jones Road as well. Selectman Ronald Brann said it is a long process and the town is dealing with human beings, and that an attorney may become involved, which could be costly to the town.

Haskell said the cemetery perpetual certificate of deposit is coming up for renewal and suggested they take the money received for the sale of lots throughout the year, which is a total of $5,625, and add it to the CD. The move from the general ledger account to the CD was approved.

All votes were by unanimous (3-0) votes since selectmen Richard Gray Jr. and Andrew Ballantyne were absent.


At the February 28 meeting of the Windsor Select Board, resident David Shaw asked to discuss fines that were billed to him. Arthur Strout, Codes Enforcement Officer, said he was working on it. Shaw explained he was doing a favor for the occupants of the campers and it was his understanding it would only be for a short period. Shaw did what he could to get the occupants off his property, including getting the law involved. The fines have now reached $4,000. Shaw is asking the town to reduce or forgive the fines for the reasons he had given and the explanation. Strout recommended no less than $1,000 as the fine. The select board approved that $1,000 be paid within 30 days and the property to be cleaned up in the spring.

In other business, Town Manager Theresa Haskell wanted to be sure everyone on the board has received and looked over the new Delta Ambulance contract. She would feel comfortable having an attorney look it over to address some of the questions that have been brought up and suggested by the Windsor Volunteer Fire Department and select board members. The townspeople should be aware of what they will be getting into if they choose to go with Delata Ambulance service as opposed to not having an ambulance service. Selectman Richard Gray said he’d like to see it go to the town as a separate warrant article and for the voters to see if they want an ambulance service or not.

Selectmen Andrew Ballantyne and William Appel Jr. were absent from the meeting.

Select board “not interested” in opting-in on medical marijuana retail store

by The Town Line staff

At the January 17 meeting of the Windsor Select Board, Devin Noonan appeared before the board to see if he could be the first applicant to sign up to be a Medical Marijuana Retail Store. He was informed that the select board refused to honor the petition that was presented because it does not contain the “precise article” that would need to be put on the next warrant issued for the voters to decide. When Noonan asked what happens next, the board said they have no interest to “opt in” at this time. Much discussion followed.

Town Manager Theresa Haskell informed the board that the town had received an invitation for two officials from Windsor to attend a meeting with the County EMA and administration in Augusta. The purpose of the meeting would be to discuss current endeavors and issues that are facing the towns and cities in Kennebec County, and to find ways they could assist or augment what the communities are doing. They unanimously decided to send no one at this time.

In other business, Haskell reported the last storm was mostly ice, and took many hours and product to manage. Select board member William Appel Jr. asked if the roads are plowed between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m., when there isn’t much traffic. He suggested it would be a good time to hold off on plowing so the public works employees could get rest. Both Haskell and Public Works Driver/Laborer Timothy Corson said it all depended on the type of storm. The equipment fared well during the recent clean up effort.

Haskell reported receiving a call from Regional Rubbish, of Damariscotta, asking if they could bring MSW they pick up weekly on Wednesday from individual households and dump this at the Windsor Transfer Station. They currently take the trash to West Bath. Many quesions followed:

  • From how many Windsor residents do they pick up?
  • At the 10-cents per pound charge, that would not cover the actual cost of the transfer station expenses.
  • The town of Windsor taxpayers pay half the incurred expenses through the lcoal taxes and the other half is collected at the transfer station.
  • More would have to be charged to businesses like that to cover cost of disposal.
  • It also needs to be determined if they can actually dump the MSW into the hopper with no issues.

The select board instructed Haskell and Sean Teekema, transfer station supervisor, to investigate further to determine if such a move would be beneficial to Windsor.

The next meeting was scheduled for January 31.

PHOTO: Windsor Fair president receives award

Tom, left, is pictured with his wife Karen. Contributed photo

Windsor Fair shares that their esteemed president, Tom Foster, has been presented the Catherine L. Damren Distinguished Service Award by the Maine Association of Agricultural Fairs this past weekend at their annual conference. It means so much to see this award go to someone so deserving. Tom, a farmer himself, has been an asset to the agricultural and fair communities of Maine most of his adult life.

Windsor clerk resigns; select board hears road report

by The Town Line staff

Windsor Town Manager Theresa Haskell (photo by Sandra Isaac)

At an abbreviated meeting of the Windsor Select Board on December 27, 2022, it was reported by Town Manager Theresa Haskell that she had received a letter of resignation from Kyoko Roderick. Following an executive session, the select board voted unanimously to accept the resignation. After thanking her for her 4-1/2 years of dedication to the town of Windsor, they unanimously approved a motion to pay Roderick her banked PTO time of 52-1/4 hours.

Once that was completed, the board approved in a 4-0-1 vote, with Ronald Brann abstaining for personal reasons, a motion to initiate a temporary stipend in the amount of $750 per week to Haskell to cover the position.

The select board and town manager, with much discussion, will be looking at reviewing all expectations for all job descriptions.

At the select boards January 3, 2023, meeting, the board heard a report from Keith Hall, road supervisor, that the Hunts Meadow Road tree trimming has now been completed, with an additional tree at the corner of the Hunts Meadow and Doyle roads taken down. The culvert at the end of the Barton Road and Route 105 is filled and plugged, with water running across the road. DOT has been contacted.

Also, the Weeks Mills Road brush cutting at the Serenity Springs Trailer Park to the Barton Road has begun.

In other business, Haskell reported the monthly figures at the transfer station. The month of December was up from last year $1,418.05 but the number is still down ($1,726.79) compared to the total last year at this time.

Haskell also reported receiving a check from Mark Scribner for $25,000 for the NETCo Inc. scholarship for Windsor residents for the 2023-2024 school year. Scribner was thanked by the board and town manager for his generous donations over the years for this scholarship.

PHOTO: Local scouts clear cemetery markers of snow

Front row, from left to right, Scarlett Mudie, Bear Cub Scout, Willow Mudie, BSA Scout, “Lizzy” Blais, BSA Scout. Second row, Mrs. Jennifer Fortin, Marleen Lajoie (Col. Ret. ARNG), Tristan Morton, BSA Scout, Trenton Franklin, BSA Scout, Ian Martin, BSA Scout, Carmina Fortin, Jacob Blais, BSA Scout, Becky Blaise, CC Cub Scouts, Jeff Morton, CR (Col. Ret, USA), Anthony Fortin, BSA Scout Third row, Michael Fortin, CC Troop #603, Jon Martin, SM, Brian Franklin, Lynette Mudie, Lonwood Keller, VFW, VFW Post Commander Brian McComb, Phillipe Blais, ASM, Craig Bailey, VFW (MSG ret. USA) Not Pictured: Joshua Demers (Cub Scout Den Leader), Mack Demers (Tiger Cub Scout), and Landon Demers (Lion Cub Scout). (photo courtesy of Chuck Mahaleris)

Each year thousands of service members are remembered in National and State Veterans Cemeteries. This year VFW Post #887 and Troop/Pack #603, of Augusta/Windsor, cleared the markers and stones during a snowstorm to honor over 30 who have not been recognized before.

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Christmas pre-20th century

The Christmas holiday grew in popularity after the Civil War. Certainly, the message of peace and goodwill resonated with Americans who yearned for reconciliation and unity. (photo from the book, Christmas in the 19th Century, by Bev Scott)

by Mary Grow

This article is intended to complete the survey of pre-20th-century social activities in the central Kennebec Valley and, given the current date, to report on Christmas observances.

An organization omitted last week, but covered earlier in this series (see The Town Line issues of April 8 through May 13, 2021), was the Patrons of Husbandry, the farmers’ organization commonly called the Grange. All of the dozen towns and cities covered in this series had at least one Grange; according to the Maine State Grange website, Benton, Fairfield, Palermo and Vassalboro are among 98 Maine towns that still do.

The history of Waterville’s Grange is lost. Edwin Whittemore’s 1902 Waterville history said the Waterville Grange once existed, named three members and concluded, “It is long since defunct.”

The April 8, 2021, issue of The Town Line listed 19 local Granges, including three each in China and Vassalboro and two each in Albion, Augusta, Clinton and Palermo, founded between 1874 and about 1974.

While farming remained prominent, the Grange was a center of social activity, especially in smaller towns. Meetings provided education as well as entertainment, and several Granges had stores where they sold essentials, bought in bulk, to members at discount prices.

In addition to organizational activities, residents had other types of entertainment. Windsor historian Linwood Lowden mentioned minstrel shows, put on by different groups beginning in the 1860s.

He also cited a local diary: “On Monday night, March 29, 1886, the Weeks Mills Dramatic Club performed at Windsor Four Corners. The performance was followed by a ‘sociable.'”

On the west side of the Kennebec, historian Alice Hammond found an advertising poster for the Sidney Minstrels’ Grand Concert on Thursday, Aug. 18, 1898. The location is written in; the cursive script has faded to illegibility.

Vern Woodcock, Boston’s Favorite, had the largest headline; he was described as “the Celebrated Guitarist, and Beautiful Tenor Balladist, in his Comic and Sentimental Songs and Character Impersonations.” Also to perform were Happy Charlie Simonds (“the Merry Minstrel, the Prince of Ethiopian Comedians, and the Champion Clog Dancer of the World”) and other comics and musicians.

The Fairfield history added roller skating to 19th-century local recreational activities. Citing a journal written by a local businessman named S. H. Blackwell, the writers said the roller rink was on Lawrence Avenue, where the telephone company building was in 1988. People of all ages and groups from out of town came to skate.

The China Grange, in China Village.

The China bicentennial history includes a list of available spaces for social gatherings in three of the town’s four villages. In China Village in the early 1800s were “Mr. [Japheth C.] Washburn’s hall and General [Alfred] Marshall’s inn.”

Until the major fire in 1872, there was a three-story building in South China that prominent Quaker Rufus Jones described as a meeting place. Barzillai Harrington’s school building in China’s part of Branch Mills and “the meeting room over Coombs’ store” were available “in the last half of the nineteenth century.”

In Clinton, Kingsbury said, John P. Billings built Centennial Hall, on Church Street, in 1876, apparently as a public hall. He sold it to the Grange in 1890; in 1892, the Grangers used the ground floor and the second floor was “used for exhibition purposes.”

Milton Dowe wrote that Palermo’s “first known building for recreation” was on Amon Bradstreet’s farm, described as between Donald Brown’s land (in 1954) and Sheepscot Lake. Dances were held there until the hall and farm buildings burned about 1890.

In Branch Mills Village, Dowe said, the large hotel east of the Sheepscot and north of Main Street (where the Grange Hall now stands) had a dance hall on the second floor of the ell. Behind the hotel was a dance pavilion. Both were destroyed in the 1908 fire that leveled the entire downtown.

In her Vassalboro history, Alma Pierce Robbins mentioned that the big schoolhouse on Main Street, in North Vassalboro, was used for “‘benefit’ gatherings of many kinds” from the time it was built in 1873, though she gave no specifics before the 1960s.

Sometimes the weather – or a person’s mood – forbade socializing. Lowden’s history has a paragraph titled “B.T.V. (Before Television),” in which he talked about books people could read and reread during long evenings, based on inventories he reviewed.

Some families had no books, he wrote. If there was only one, it was a Bible.

A relatively well-off resident named Reuben Libby, who died around 1814, had four books plus a pamphlet (subject not given). The books were a Bible; a dictionary; Young Man’s Best Companion (also called The American Instructor, described on line as first published in 1792 and offering an easy way to teach spelling writing, reading and arithmetic); and a book described as a “selection” – Lowden did not know whether it was poetry or prose.

Benjamin Duren’s 1814 inventory listed a Bible and a dictionary, two geography books, an arithmetic book and two unnamed others.

A former sea captain’s 1831 inventory listed two nautical books, the American Coast Pilot (first published in 1796) and Bowditch’s American Practical Navigator (first published in 1802, though there were earlier versions from 1799), plus The Poets of Great Britain Complete from Chaucer to Churchill (the work is described by Wikipedia as 109 volumes, published by John Bell between 1777 and 1783; Lowden did not say whether the set was complete).

* * * * *

Christmas was not much of a holiday in the 19th century, according to the few local accounts your writer found.

In Lowden’s history of Windsor, he used diary entries from the 1870s and 1880s to support his claim that “Mostly it was a quiet day at home.”

The longest account is from the diary of Roger Reeves, a farmer and carpenter. In 1874, Lowden learned, Dec. 24 was a cloudy day with rain that turned to snow; nonetheless, Reeves traveled to Augusta and spent $1.50 on Christmas presents.

Christmas day Reeves “spent the day making picture frames in his shop, doing his regular chores, and otherwise busying himself about the place.” That evening, he joined people gathered around a Christmas tree at Tyler’s Hall to exchange presents, enjoy an “antiquarian supper,” sing and socialize.

(Albion historian Ruby Crosby Wiggin also came across such a supper, though it was planned at a Feb. 8, 1878, Grange meeting, not associated with Christmas, and was in the meeting report spelled “antignarian” – to Wiggins’ delight.

Wiggin consulted her Webster’s dictionary and found that “gnar” meant [and still means, though the web offers additional meanings] “to snarl.” “Anti” means against; so she concluded approvingly that “antignarian” had to mean “not snarling but friendly or smiling.”)

Orren Choate (June 20, 1868-1948), another Windsor diarist, spent Christmas 1885 “at home with his parents,” identified on line as Abram and Adeline (Moody) Choate. They had company in the afternoon.

Christmas evening, Choate skipped a Christmas dance in South Windsor because he didn’t want to drive that far in the cold. Instead, he and his father spent the evening playing cards at the home of his father’s younger brother, Ira Choate.

In Vassalboro, one of the women’s clubs Alma Pierce Robbins mentioned in her town history was the Christmas Club on Webber Pond Road, “where the women met for sociability and sewing for Christmas.” These meetings were held all year at members’ houses, she said; but she gave no indication of when the club was founded or how long it lasted.

Another source of Christmas information was Revolutionary War veteran and Augusta civic leader Henry Sewall’s diary, as excerpted in Charles Nash’s Augusta history for the years 1830 to 1843.

Sewall was a Congregationalist who attended church regularly. He often participated in religious exercises on other days, like the four-day meeting in May 1831 that began daily with a 5:30 a.m. prayer meeting and ended around 9 p.m. after the evening lecture.

Nash was selective in his choice of entries. Between 1830 and 1843, he included only seven Dec. 25 entries (of 14).

Sewall’s 1830 diary entry for Dec. 25 identified the day as Christmas and reported on the warm rain that broke up the ice in the Kennebec. Dec. 25, 1834, had another weather report; the temperature was eight below that Christmas.

In 1832 Dec. 25 was a Tuesday (according to on-line sources). Sewall called the day Christmas and wrote that he listened to Rev. Mr. Shepherd’s “discourse” proving the divinity of Christ.

Four of the entries strike an odd note, and are not explained in Nash’s book. On Dec. 25, 1838, and again in 1839, Sewall wrote merely, “Christmas (so-called).” He expanded on the theme in 1841, writing, “Christmas, so-called, which was employed here in consecrating St. Mark’s church, for their future worship.”

(St. Mark’s Episcopal congregation organized in 1840; Wikipedia says the first church was a wooden building just north of the present Lithgow Library. James North wrote in his Augusta history that the cornerstone was laid July 4, 1841, and the building was first used for worship that Christmas. Construction cost was $6,248; the church was 46 by 85 feet with a 110-foot tall “tower and spire.”)

On Dec. 25, 1843, Sewall, who had noted that he turned 91 on Nov. 24 (and on Nov. 28 recorded that he had finished “sawing a cord of wood, with my own hands”) wrote: “Christmas, as held by Episcopalians, is a misnomer.”

North, in a biographical sketch, commented that Sewall was “pious and rigidly orthodox in his religious views. Towards the close of his life his religious rigor was much softened.”

Main sources

Dowe, Milton E., History Town of Palermo Incorporated 1884 (1954).
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).
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).
Nash, Charles Elventon, The History of Augusta (1904).
North, James W., The History of Augusta (1870).
Robbins, Alma Pierce, History of Vassalborough Maine 1771 1971 n.d. (1971).
Wiggin, Ruby Crosby, Albion on the Narrow Gauge (1964).

Websites, miscellaneous.

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Social clubs in Kennebec Valley

Phonograph, circa 1890.

by Mary Grow

Last week’s article talked mostly about ways early settlers interacted socially as individuals and families. This week’s piece will describe some of the 19th-century organizations that united residents and kept them busy, and related topics.

Kennebec Valley towns had a variety of organizations, some branches of national groups and others home-grown. Some built headquarters buildings; other groups met wherever they could, in public spaces or private homes.

In her chapter on social life in Edwin Carey Whittemore’s centennial history, Martha Dunn described some of Waterville’s 19th-century organizations. Separate chapters listed others.

The first Waterville literary organization for which Dunn found records was the Shakespearean Club, whose members presented Shakespeare’s plays. Started about 1852, it included men and women. Meetings were held weekly “during the winter season” at members’ houses.

Dunn named two members: Baptist church pastor Rev. N[athaniel] Milton Wood, “a man of strict tenets and naturally lugubrious cast of countenance,” who reportedly “not only excelled but delighted in the representation of comic parts”; and Mrs. Ephraim Maxham (the former Eliza Anna Naylor, according to on-line sources), wife of the Waterville Mail owner-editor, who “was especially skilled in the rendering of tragedy.”

The club disbanded during the Civil War and after the war reformed as the Roundabout and continued another half-dozen years, becoming, Dunn wrote, less intellectual and “more given to feasting and social enjoyments.”

Mrs. James H. Hanson (the former Mary E. Field, of Sidney) wrote a chapter in Whittemore’s history on the Waterville Women’s Association, an organization praised by Dunn and in Henry Kingsbury’s Kennebec County history. Dunn called it the place “where women may work – and enjoy – together, independent of society distinctions or church affiliations.”

A wealthy widow named Sarah Scott Ware (Mrs. John Ware, Sr.) founded the Association in 1897, with working women and girls foremost in her mind. She wanted to provide a “homelike” place for them, with “facilities for literary and womanly culture and usefulness,” beginning with a lending library.

By 1902 the club had well over 100 members. Its rooms provided books, magazines and newspapers; games; and a sewing machine. Women and girls attended late-afternoon programs and evening classes (Kingsbury listed instruction in “needlework, penmanship, music and a variety of useful arts”). The group ran a lunchroom, an employment bureau and a second-hand clothing distribution center.

Funding came from donations and, Hanson wrote, “the successful doll sales and May-basket sales.” For those she credited the enthusiasm and skill of the young members; they “were also indispensable in the work of the schools,” she wrote.

The Women’s Association spun off the Women’s Literary Club in the winter of 1891-1892. Dunn wrote the members met “fortnightly during the winter season” for literary and musical programs, gathering in church vestries, at Waterville Classical Institute (so named in 1865; after 1883, Coburn Classical Institute) or in members’ houses.

A separate club called the Literature Class, with a dozen members, met weekly “during the winter months.”

Augusta, according to Kingsbury, had a Benevolent Society, started about 1842 “by Miss Jane Howard, a maiden lady whose name is still fragrant in this community, by reason of her many deeds of benevolence and charity.” Later renamed the Howard Benevolent Society and in 1883 The Howard Benevolent Union, Kingsbury said its work was primarily “clothing the poor.”

The Fairfield bicentennial history records a Ladies Book Club, started in 1895. As described in the Nov. 11, 2021, The Town Line, one founding member was Addie Lawrence, whose father a few years later donated money to build Fairfield’s Lawrence Library.

Vassalboro historian Alma Pierce Robbins listed – without dates – four clubs, at least three identified as women’s clubs, and said two of them “met at members’ homes year ’round.”

In Palermo, historian Milton Dowe wrote, the Branch Mills Ladies Sewing Circle first met on March 10, 1853, hosted by Mrs. B. Harrington (almost certainly the wife of Barzillai Harrington; he was recognized in the Sept. 23, 2021, issue of The Town Line for starting a high school in China’s side of Branch Mills Village about 1851).

The sewing circle remained active for years; its members were responsible for construction of the Branch Mills Community House in 1922.

Among national/international organizations with local affiliates, the Masons, mostly the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons (A. F. & A. M.), had branches in many Maine towns.

Windsor had Malta Lodge for about five years in the 1880s, according to Leonard Lowden’s town history. Members customarily met “weekly on Saturday nights.” After the lodge shut down, on “Saturday evening, December 12, 1885,” the few Windsor men still interested joined the lodge in Weeks Mills, “on Saturday night, May 29, 1886.”

Kingsbury wrote that Benton’s Lodge was organized Nov. 21, 1891, and as he finished his county history in 1892 was “in a flourishing condition.” Members met every Thursday evening in one of Benton’s schoolhouses.

Masonic lodges were also noted in histories of Augusta (four lodges, the earliest founded in 1821); China (four lodges, the first dating from 1824); Clinton (Sebasticook Lodge, chartered in May 1868); and Fairfield (Siloam Lodge, chartered March 8, 1858, with 13 members).

Sidney’s branch of the A. F. & A. M. was Rural Lodge No. 53, according to Alice Hammond’s town history. A dozen men, some members of a lodge in Waterville, started it on April 25, 1827.

The lodge disbanded in 1836, she wrote, “because of the violent anti-masonic feeling which prevailed at that time.” The China bicentennial history expanded on that theme, quoting from Thomas Burrill’s history of Central Lodge.

Burrill said “Antimasonry” started about 1829 and soon “assumed a most formidable type of persecution, both against Masons and Masonry.” Central Lodge members got rid of their paraphernalia, sending “their beautiful painted flooring” to a Lodge in St. Croix and abandoning their hall. The Lodge reassembled in 1849.

Sidney’s Rural Lodge was revived in 1863, Hammond said. A Masonic Hall was built in 1887 and dedicated Jan. 3, 1888. After the dedication and installation of officers, members went to Sidney Town Hall “where a bountiful repast was served and a social time enjoyed.”

Rural Lodge No. 53 is still active, listed on a Maine Masons website, with a photo of the white wooden lodge hall at 3000 Middle Road. The website also lists Lodges in Augusta, China (China Village), Clinton, Fairfield, Waterville and Weeks Mills (China).

The Order of the Eastern Star, related to the Masons and open to women and men, had branches in China, Fairfield and Waterville, among other towns.

Another widely represented organization was the Independent Order of Good Templars (I. O. G. T.). Founded in New York State in 1852, it soon became an international temperance organization open to men and women. Maine’s Grand Lodge of the I. O. G. T. was created in the summer of 1860.

The Sons of Temperance, founded in 1842, also organized in the area, including, Kingsbury wrote, three local branches in China.

In Vassalboro, historian Robbins saw temperance as an issue from the 1820s. In 1821, eight “innkeepers” got liquor licenses, she wrote; by 1829 Congregational pastor Rev. Thomas Adams was preaching temperance.

In 1834, Robbins wrote, Vassalboro’s Juvenile Temperance Society was organized. The president was Abiel John Getchel; an on-line search found a Vassalboro resident of that name (spelled Getchell) born in Vassalboro in 1815, so 19 years old in 1834. One of three executive committee members was Greenlief Low, born in 1817.

R. B. Hall

Vassalboro had three I. O. G. T. Lodges, Robbins wrote. Each had its own meeting hall: “a nice little hall” at Riverside (demolished in the 1930s): “Golden Cross Hall” in North Vassalboro; and Maccabees Hall “in Center Vassalboro or Cross Hill.”

The buildings were supposed to be only for the organizations’ events, Robbins wrote, but later she said Maccabees Hall was the scene of “many meetings.” The Riverside hall hosted dances, “Christian Endeavor plays” and “demonstrations of ‘fireless cookers'” by the University of Maine Extension Service.

(Wikipedia says The Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavour was founded in 1881 in Portland by Rev. Francis Edward Clark, with the goal of bringing young people to interdenominational Christian belief and work. By 1906 there were more than four million members around the world in “67,000 youth-led…societies.” Causes members supported included temperance.)

Dowe wrote the Good Templars and Christian Endeavor were active in 19th-century Palermo. The East Palermo schoolhouse, he wrote, served as a community center and “church for prayer meetings and the Young People’s Christian Endeavor.”

The schoolhouse also hosted singing, spelling and writing schools, Dowe said. When phonographs first came to Palermo, an unspecified group or person would charge admission to listen to one in the schoolhouse.

In her history of Sidney, Alice Hammond found another reference to phonograph shows: she reproduced a poster advertising PHONOGRAPH!, an exhibition starting at 7:30 p.m., Friday, Feb. 5, 1892, at the Grange Hall, in Centre Sidney.

“There will be an exhibition of the marvels of the modern phonograph,” the poster promised. “It Will Talk, Laugh, Sing, Whistle, Play on all sorts Instruments including Full Brass Band.”

Professor R. B. Capen, of Augusta, would explain the device. Admission was 20 cents, half price for children under 12.

The exhibition would be followed by a supper “Furnished at the Hall” and a Grand Ball, with music by Dennis’ Orchestra of Augusta, dance tickets sold at 50 cents for each couple and dancing until 2 a.m.

Another organization Lowden noted was the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.), the Civil War veterans’ organization founded in 1866 in Illinois and dissolved in 1956 after its last member died. The Windsor post was organized June 2, 1884, and met in its hall on the second floor of the town house “on each Saturday night” (with at least one Wednesday evening gathering – see the paragraphs on Civil War soldier Marcellus Vining in the March 31, 2022, issue of The Town Line).

Augusta had Masons and Odd Fellows; a lodge of the Knights of Honor (its chief officer’s title was dictator, according to Kingsbury); Dirigo Council No. 790 of the Royal Arcanum (1883); and Tribe No. 12 of the Independent Order of Red Men (1888).

Late 19th-century organizations in Fairfield included local Masons and Odd Fellows; an Eastern Star chapter; and the Past and Present Club, organized by 15 women in 1892 and accepted into the General Federation of Women’s Clubs in 1899.

Waterville had Masons, Odd Fellows, Good Templars, a Tribe of Red Men and numerous other groups. Whittemore listed Hall’s Military Band, the late-19th-century successor to local brass bands first organized in 1822; a choral group named the Cecilia Club, organized in 1896; and since 1892 the Waterville Bicycle Club and the Waterville Gun Club.

The Bicycle Club, Whittemore wrote, rented an entire floor of the Boutelle Block at Main and Temple streets. The premises hosted meetings and social events; gambling and liquor were banned.

The Gun Club’s five-man team won state championships in 1897, 1898 and 1901. The club produced two individual state champions, Walter E. Reid once and Samuel L. Preble twice (no years given).

Main sources

Dowe, Milton E., History Town of Palermo Incorporated 1884 (1954).
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).
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).
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.

Windsor manager instructs planners to review building codes

by The Town Line staff

The Windsor Select Board dealt with an abbreviated agenda on November 22, with three board members in attendance. Selectmen Andrew Ballantyne and William Appel Jr. were absent.

Town Manager Theresa Haskell mentioned the building code has not been reviewed since 2006. The select board decided to request the planning board committee to review the code. Haskell has sent the current code to Joel Greenwood at Kennevec Valley Council of Governments for review.

Sean Teekema, transfer station supervisor, talked about the discussion on whether they want to continue to accept propane tanks. He said he has spoken to a company that prefers to pick up at least 50 tanks, but Teekema said the transfer station has not had 50 total tanks in the past six years.

Haskell also reported receiving a document updating the General Assistance Ordinance from 2021 to 2022. There will need to be another public hearing to accept the updated document. The select board held a public hearing on December 6. Nothing has been confirmed as of this printing.

There was also a request to have the three RSU members, the superintendent, and the Windsor School principal attend the December 6 select board meeting.

Haskell also reported the contract from Mid Maine Generator for the fire department tower generator came in at $10,800, which is $700 less than the original estimate of $11,500. The contact has been signed and the work will begin soon.

The board also approved the closing of the town office on Monday, December 19, from noon to 2 p.m.

In other business, Haskell mentioned the food bank raised $1,016 at the bake sale that was held at Hussey’s General Store on November 19.

WINDSOR: Town trucks ready and waiting for snow

by The Town Line staff

The Windsor Select Board was informed at its November 7 meeting, by Road Supervisor Keith Hall, that the trucks are ready and waiting for the snow to come. He also reported that his search for prices to install heated headlights on the equipment would be around $750. In other road related business, Town Manager Theresa Haskell was informed by the Maine Department of Transportation that Route 105, from Augusta to Somerville, is scheduled for repairs in 2023.

Haskell also reported the waste management state fee will be increasing from $2 per ton to $5 per ton for construction and demolition debris, beginning in January 2023.

The town manager also reported:

  • The water quality test results for the town office all came back good;
  • The town received a grant reimbursement in the amount of $1,660 from the Maine Municipal Association for various public works safety items that have been purchased;
  • The town has received a paid certificate from Kennebec Savings Bank on the Windsor Volunteer Fire Department fire truck, and that the 2021 public works Western Star was paid off on November 9.

Selectman William Appel Jr. made a request, and all select board members agreed, that at least one of the Windsor School Board members be present at one of the select board meetings per month so the board can have an update or address any questions there may be regarding school business. It was also mentioned to have the state representative also come on an annual basis.

The next meeting of the Windsor Select Board was scheduled for November 22.

Whitefield Lions announce poster contest winners (2022)

From left to right, Madyson Glidden, of Whitefield, Avery Childs, of Palermo, Aurora Peabody, of Jefferson Village, Skyler McColet, of Chelsea , and Zoie Elliot, of Windsor. (contributed photo)

For over three decades, Lions clubs around the globe have been sponsoring a very special art contest in schools and youth groups. Creating peace posters gives children everywhere the chance to express their visions of peace and inspire the world through art and creativity. The Whitefield Lions Club has announced this year’s winners of their annual Peace Poster Contest. This year’s theme is “Lead with Compassion”. Area schools who participated were Jefferson, Whitefield, Palermo, Chelsea, and Windsor. Local community members participated in judging these fine works of art. The Whitefield Lions expresses appreciation to all the families and teachers who came to the spaghetti dinner and supported their students in the awards night held on October 27. These winners will go on to the state level competition.