Urgent funding needed by Winslow Community Cupboard Food Pantry

Winslow Community ­ Cup­board food pantry – which has served more than 20,087 food-insecure households in Central Maine so far in 2023 – is urgently seeking new one-time and recurring monetary donations to meet surging demand. According to Operations Manager Bruce Bottiglierie, the food pantry, which also operates a Mobile Food Pantry that directly serves locations in Waterville, Skowhegan, Fairfield, and more than a dozen other local towns, experienced a 39 percent increase in the number of households needing food-pantry service just from March through August of this year.

“Between the two programs, we have provided more than 1.3 million pounds of food this year to our neighbors in need – and demand just keeps shooting up and up.”

Bottiglierie said he was especially hopeful that area businesses and individuals might choose to donate on a regular basis. Automatic monthly or one-time donations may be set up via PayPal at WCCPantry.com by clicking on the “Donate Now” button on the homepage, which also accepts credit card donations. Donations via check are also enormously appreciated, and may be made by mailing a check payable to “Winslow Community Cupboard” to: Winslow Community Cupboard / 12 Lithgow St. / Winslow, ME 04901. For more information, please contact Bruce Bottiglierie, Winslow Community Cupboard, at 207-616-0076 or Winslow Cupboard@Gmail.com.

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Music in the Kennebec Valley – Part 4

R. B. Hall Band, in Richmond, circa 1878.

by Mary Grow

R. B. Hall Band & Cecilia Club

Kennebec County historian Henry Kingsbury provided a minor exception to the general lack of interest in music in local histories when he included a section headed “MUSIC” in his history of Waterville and wrote two whole paragraphs.

The first was about “the earliest instrumental or band music” in town, “produced by Abel Wheeler, a music teacher, and his two sons, Erastus O. and Sumner A., with fifes and drums.” The Wheelers provided music at the first Waterville College commencement on Aug. 21, 1822, Kingsbury said.

Rev. Edwin Carey Whittemore, in his Waterville history, added that between commencements and military exercises, a brass band was “a necessity” for Waterville. That first commencement parade, he wrote, was led by the Waterville Artillery and “a band of music,” “and bands have existed here from that time on.”

Kingsbury wrote that “a few years later,” (your writer has been unable to find a precise date), “the first Waterville Band was formed.” Waterville College officials promised its members $100 a year for playing at commencements.

Kingsbury listed the eight original band members, most of whom he said were from the Ten Lots section of western Waterville that later became part of Fairfield, and four of the Waterville Band’s successive directors over “many years.” Except for Stephen Jewett (violist and fifer Stephen Jewett from Augusta? – see the July 27 and Aug. 10 issues of The Town Line), none of those named is mentioned in George Edwards’ Music and Musicians of Maine, nor is the Waterville Band listed.

Three of the Waterville Band’s original members were Reward Sturtevant, Anson Bates and Asa B. Bates (1794-1878). The last-named is the man in whose honor the Asa Bates Memorial Chapel in southwestern Fairfield is named (see the Aug. 5, 2021, issue of The Town Line).

An on-line genealogy identifies Asa Bates as a musician and a veteran of the War of 1812. Isaac Bangs’ chapter in Whittemore lists him as one of the three musicians in William Pullen’s militia company, which was stationed in Augusta in September 1814.

An organization called the Waterville band appears occasionally in later years in Waterville’s history. The July 1-3, 1879, Waterville Classical Institute commencement included a procession “escorted by the Waterville band.”

In William Mathews’ memoir of growing up in Waterville in Whittemore’s history, Mathews wrote that in the period between 1825 and 1850 Waterville had three “fine military companies:” the Light Infantry; an artillery company that kept two brass cannons in the small Temple Street house that was its headquarters; and the militia. He implied that each company had its own band.

Waterville’s best-known musical organizations in the late 1900s and early 2000s were the R. B. Hall Military Band and Hall’s Orchestra. Both were organized and led by Robert Brown (or Browne) Hall, who was born in Bowdoinham on June 30, 1858, and died in Portland on June 8, 1907.

The on-line Maine An Encyclopedia says Hall was an outstanding cornetist – his father was his first teacher – and bandmaster. He composed 62 marches that were published while he was alive, and according to Frances Turgeon Wiggin’s Maine Composers and Their Music, “at least 100” altogether.

John Philip Sousa played a Hall march at the 1900 Paris Exposition, Maine An Encyclopedia says. The United States Navy Band played his Funeral March at President John F. Kennedy’s funeral procession in 1963, according to a 2019 Central Maine Morning Sentinel story.

Hall’s musical abilities were displayed in many municipalities, including Boston, Massachusetts, and Albany, New York, and in Maine Richmond, where as a 19-year-old he directed the Richmond Cornet Band; Bangor (1883-1890); Portland; Augusta; Cherryfield; and Waterville.

He is credited with reviving the Bangor band. In 1884 residents held a week-long celebration during which they showed their appreciation by giving him a “gold Boston Three Star Ne-Plus cornet,” reportedly now owned by the Waterville Historical Society.

Hall began his work in Waterville in 1890, Whittemore said, organizing the “carefully trained” and well-received band and orchestra. In the 1890s, the band not only played at “school and college commencements,” but was hired by the city for summer concerts in Monument Park. Wiggin added that he brought members of the Boston Symphony to join local musicians at Colby commencements.

Wiggin named two local men associated with Hall. Clinton native Herbert C. Hunter (Dec. 18, 1867 – Dec. 11, 1931) was a violinist and cornetist who studied under Hall. Arthur F. Roundy, of Fairfield (Oct. 12, 1881 – ??), music director at Lawrence High School for many years, was a student of Hall’s (according to an on-line source) and played clarinet in the R. B. Hall Band (according to Wiggin).

In 1899, prominent citizens organized a corporation to support the band and orchestra, naming Hall the corporation manager. The corporation paid Hall and band members from collected earnings.

The point, Whittemore wrote, was not to make money, but to support “a band that will be a credit to the city, as Hall’s Military Band and orchestra certainly are.”

Hall was the music director of Waterville’s 1901 centennial celebration. Whittemore’s history says he conducted his orchestra at the Sunday evening, June 22, “religious mass meeting” at City Hall and again at the Monday morning dedication of the new City Hall; conducted his military band at Monday afternoon’s “literary exercise” at Monument Park; and presumably was in charge again as the band led off the first division of Tuesday morning’s parade.

The Bridgton Community Band website says Hall was so lame he habitually used a cane or crutch; he would march carrying his cane. Several sites comment that when playing the cornet, he often played the music an octave higher than it was written.

* * * * * *

The St. Cecilia Society established one of the earliest traditions of musical patronage. St. Cecilia is the patron saint of music. In November 1766, prestigious local gentlemen, in Charleston, South Carolina, created the first private musical society in America.

The Cecilia Club was another late-19th-century Waterville musical group. It is described in Edwards’ history and the description is plagiarized in Whittemore’s, listing officers, conductors and pianists.

(Your writer found on-line references to the St. Cecelia Society, organized in 1766 in Charleston, South Carolina, named after the patron saint of music and described in Wikipedia as “the earliest known private subscription concert organization in North America”; and New York’s Cecilia Chorus, founded in 1906. The latter was a women’s group until 1965; it is now co-ed. A Dec. 16, 2023, concert at Carnegie Hall will include Vaughn-Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem and the world premiere of a piece by American composer Daron Hagen.

(Edwards described an Augusta Cecilia Club, organized in the early 1880s by Mrs. Pauline Myrick and active into the late 1920s. Little information is available, he wrote, because records have been lost.

(In the Aug. 17 issue of The Town Line, on p. 14, is a notice of Damariscotta’s St. Cecilia Chamber Choir auditions, as the group prepares for its December pre-Christmas concert. Information is available at ceceliachoir.org.)

Waterville’s Cecilia Club was organized Oct. 15, 1896, through the “persistent labors of Mrs. George F. Davies and Mrs. Frank B. Hubbard.” Initially 19 members, there were 80 by October 1897, when they sang in a festival in Bangor, and about that number in 1902.

Whittemore and Edwards wrote that Waterville’s Cecilia Club sang in Maine Music Festivals as well as locally, including during the centennial celebration. Both credited Fairfield members’ contributions.

The last sentence of this section of Whittemore’s history reads: “The Cecelia club holds high place in the esteem of the people [Edwards wrote “held a high place in the esteem of the people of the State] though perhaps it never will attain the popularity possessed by ‘The singing school kept at Col. Hayden’s’ in 1795.”

Your writer found no other reference to this singing school.

Among the several Haydens who were early residents of Winslow and Waterville, Whittemore and other contributors to his history gave the title of Colonel to the senior Charles Hayden. He was identified as an east-side (Winslow rather than Waterville) resident who was a school agent in 1798; moderator of a First Universalist Society meeting Nov. 17, 1831; and member of the building committee for the west-side church that meeting attendees voted to build.

(This 1832 church at the intersection of Elm and Silver streets has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1978. See the June 24, 2021, issue of The Town Line)

An on-line genealogy lists a Charles Hayden, born in Massachusetts in 1767, who came to Winslow with his parents in (according to Kingsbury) 1789. Charles’ father, Josiah Hayden, was a Revolutionary veteran, active in town affairs into the early 1800s. His mother was Silence Hayward or Howard Hayden; Waterville’s Silence Howard Hayden DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) chapter was organized Jan. 3, 1898.

Dedication to R.B. Hall

R. B. Hall

According to the Maine An Encyclo­pedia website, on Aug. 14, 1936, Waterville officials held a tribute to R. B. Hall during which a Memorial Band Stand was dedicated; and on May 11, 1981, Governor Joseph Brennan signed a bill making the last Saturday in June R. B. Hall Day.

The bandstand was in what is now Veterans Memorial Park, at the intersection of Park and Elm streets. Your writer was unable to find it.

An on-line program for Waterville’s June 29, 2018, observance of R. B. Hall Day at the Opera House lists performances by town and state bands from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., including the R. B. Hall Memorial Band and the Hallowell Community Band playing together for half an hour and massed bands for another half-hour.

Governor Janet Mills proclaimed June 24, 2023, as R. B. Hall Day. On-line sites note celebrations in Richmond and Rockland.

Main sources:

Edwards, George Thornton, Music and musicians of Maine: being a history of the progress of music in the territory which has come to be known as the State of Maine, from 1604 to 1928 (1970 reprint).
Kingsbury, Henry D., ed., Illustrated History of Kennebec County Maine 1625-1892 (1892).
Whittemore, Rev. Edwin Carey, Centennial History of Waterville 1802-1902 (1902).
Wiggin, Frances Turgeon, Maine Composers and Their Music, 1959.

Websites, miscellaneous.

WINSLOW: CMP rep explains need to upgrade transmission lines

by Jonathan Strieff

More than 30 residents gathered at the Winslow Public Library to attend the monthly town council meeting on Monday, August 14. After a roll call vote and approval of the minutes from the July meeting, the first order of business was to award the 2023 Spirit of America award to Wallace “Wally” LaFountain. LaFountain served as a teacher at Winslow High School throughout the 1950s and ‘60s before going to work for the Department of Education, in Augusta.

He was the longtime head coach of the Winslow High School football team and started the school’s wrestling program. He was a 1940s “all-decade” football star and received a bronze star for serving overseas during World War II. His receipt of the Spirit of America award was met with a standing ovation by all present.

Next, representative Ben Shepherd from Central Maine Power Co. addressed the council with a 10-minute presentation concerning the need to upgrade and possibly reroute a 23-mile long section of transmission lines running between Winslow and Augusta. Built in 1920, Section One, as this particular stretch of transmission line is called, connects two substations and provides service for more than 77,000 CMP customers in Winslow, Benton, Vassalboro, and Augusta.

A 2016 assessment identified numerous issues with the aging infrastructure, including insufficient working clearances for linemen, broken and otherwise compromised conductors and insulators, the lack of a static wire to protect the system from lightning strikes and more than 90 of the 632 utility poles along the route failing a basic visual inspection. After submitting to a Nonwire Alternative review with the Public Utilities Commission in 2019, the PUC certified the project to rebuild Section One out of public necessity in July 2022 and granted final approval to the project last month.

CMP has an additional environmental survey to complete by the end of the year and to decide if the rebuilt transmission line will follow the current route or a slightly shorter route along another existing right of way. Construction is expected to start in January 2025 and be in service by the end of that year.

The board unanimously voted to add Peter Newkirk to the planning board.

Following the Town Manager’s monthly report about several new municipal hirings and ongoing infrastructure projects, Second District councilor Dale Maclean, proposed an item not on the agenda to direct the town manager to launch an investigation into allegations that Third District council member Jerry Quirion violated Maine’s Open Meeting laws by discussing municipal business with a quorum of council members outside of official public meetings. The resolution passed with six in favor and one abstention.

During public comment, many residents expressed anger that commenting on the town’s Facebook page had been disabled. The post in question related to the appointment of police chief, Lenny McDaid, to a new role as Director of Public Safety, now including the fire department as well. Town manager Erica LaCroix explained the decision to remove the public comments from the website came on advice from counsel, when the comments crossed the line to defamation.

Several amendments to the town’s medical marijuana ordinances to also allow for the cultivation and sale of adult use recreational marijuana received second readings and were approved unanimously. Also approved unanimously was an authorization agreement with the city of Waterville for emergency service dispatch, as Waterville was recently recertified as Public Saftey Access Point or PSAP dispatch.

New business receiving first votes included renewing the town contract with the Humane Society Waterville Area for animal services and the appropriation of excess revenues to cover budget overruns, largely due to an increase in overtime pay to the fire department.

The restructuring of the fire and police departments under the shared Public Safety department was expected to save the town money, but so far this has not been the case. Another public saftey budget overage resulted from budgeting money to hire new personnel, and for the necessary equipment to outfit them.

One item of new business passed without a second reading was the appropriation of $16,940 to board up the windows of the old Winslow Junior High School.

EVENTS – Red Cross: Donation shortfall may impact blood supply

The American Red Cross has seen a shortfall of about 25,000 blood donations in the first two months of the summer, which makes it hard to keep hospital shelves stocked with lifesaving blood products. By making an appointment to give blood or platelets in August, donors can keep the national blood supply from falling to shortage levels.

Right now, the Red Cross especially needs type O negative, type O positive, type B negative and type A negative blood donors as well as platelet donors. For those who don’t know their blood type, making a donation is an easy way to find out this important personal health information. The Red Cross will notify new donors of their blood type soon after they give.

The Red Cross needs donors now. Schedule an appointment to give by downloading the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

All who come to give throughout the month of August will get a $10 e-gift card to a movie merchant of their choice. Details are available at RedCrossBlood.org/Movie.

Upcoming blood donation opportunities Aug. 16-31:

Augusta: Monday, August 28, 11:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., Augusta Elks, 397 Civic Center Drive, P.O. Box 2206;

Gardiner: Saturday,August 19, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m., Knights of Columbus, 109 Spring Street;

Waterville: Friday,August 18, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m., Best Western Plus Waterville Grand Hotel, 375 Main Street;

Winslow: Wednesday, August 30, noon, – 5 p.m., Winslow VFW, 175 Veterans Drive.

EVENTS: 52nd Annual Blueberry Festival coming to Winslow

One of Maine’s all-time most popular, beloved, and downright yummy summer events – Winslow’s annual Blueberry Festival – is coming this year on Saturday, August 12, from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., to the Winslow Congregational Church, 12 Lithgow Street, Winslow. Admission to the festival grounds is FREE.

Nearly 750 blueberry pies and “all things blueberry” baked goods will be available for sale. Blueberry pies ($15 each; 2 for $25) may be picked up at the church anytime from 3 to 7 p.m. the previous evening (Friday, August 11) or the day of the festival (Saturday, August 12) from 7 a.m. until they are sold out.

Blueberry Pancake Breakfast

Kicking off the 52nd Annual Blueberry Festival on Saturday will be a delicious Blueberry Pancake Breakfast, from 7 to 10 a.m. Cost of the breakfast will be $7 per person and $5 for children ages 12 and under, payable at the door.

Other Great “Festival Festivities”

In addition to the “all things blueberry” pies and other culinary delights, festival patrons will enjoy a Lobster Shore-Dinner raffle; a silent auction; a Blueberry Café; live classical, pop, folk, and blues music from musicians Josh Bickford (11 a.m. church organ concert), Ritchie Bartolo, Will McPherson, Noah Carrett, Jake Hickey, and others; local crafts vendors; a yard sale; children’s activities; a FREE BOOKS for kids table; an agricultural exhibit featuring goats; a firetruck and police car, and more.

More about the 52nd Annual Blueberry Festival

A beloved community favorite since 1972, the Blueberry Festival raises funds to empower the local humanitarian/Christian-service work of Winslow Congregational Church, celebrating its 195th birthday this year.

Everyone seeking a wonderful opportunity to gather and enjoy a treasure trove of “all things blueberry” is cordially invited to attend this year’s Blueberry Festival!

For more information about the 52nd annual Blueberry Festival, please call (207) 872-2544 or visit: https://winslowucc.org/blueberry-festival/.

Catherine Gibbs awarded degree from University of Alabama

Catherine Gibbs, of Winslow,  received a bachelor of arts degree in communications and information sciences  from the University of Alabama, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

PHOTOS: Local youths Kidz Bop in Bangor

Ava Frost, 8, and her best friend Sophia Barnaby, 8, both of Waterville, having a fun time at the KIDZ BOP Never Stop Tour, at the Maine Savings Amphitheater, in Bangor, on Saturday, July 22. They enjoyed everything but loved the confetti that shot out at the end and the beach balls that were thrown into the crowd during the whole concert. (photo by Mark Huard/ Central Maine Photography)

Griffin Smith, 8, Winslow, and Charlie Smith, at the KIDZ BOP Never Stop Tour, at the Maine Savings Amphitheater, in Bangor, on Saturday, July 22. (photo by Mark Huard/ Central Maine Photography)

Alaina Lambert named to dean’s list

Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), in Worcester, Massachusetts, has announced that Alaina Lambert, of Winslow, a member of the class of 2026 majoring in biology and biotechnology, was named to the university’s dean’s list for academic excellence for the spring 2023 semester.

Local students named to Springfield College dean’s list

Springfield College, in Springfield, Massachusetts, recognizes the following local students for being named to the dean’s list for academic excellence for the 2023 spring semester:

William Banks, from Jefferson. Banks has a primary major of physical education.

Kaitlin Morrison, from Winslow, has a primary major of Comm. Sci. and Disorders.

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: How towns cared for their poor (conclusion)

In many areas, poor families were auctioned off to the lowest bidder.

by Mary Grow

Benton, Clinton, Fairfield, Waterville, Winslow

This fourth and final article on the ways central Kennebec Valley towns carried out their responsibility to care for their poorest residents will provide bits of information about half a dozen towns not already discussed.

* * * * * *

For Benton (which was part of Clinton until March 16, 1842, when it became a new town named Sebasticook, changed to Benton on March 4, 1850), Henry Kingsbury had only one sentence about paupers: “The poor of the town have never been numerous, and are cared for [in 1892] by individual contract.”

In his Kennebec County history, he related an informal example. In the early 1800s, he wrote, a family named Piper proposed moving from Anson, Maine, to Ohio. As they were canoeing down the Kennebec, the canoe upset at Ticonic Falls, in Waterville, and the father drowned.

A second-generation Benton resident named Isaac Spencer rescued the Piper son, Joseph, “snugly wrapped in a blanket,” and brought him to his house. Joseph’s mother also survived, but she could not support her son, so he stayed with Spencer.

Kingsbury wrote that Joseph Piper “became a successful farmer.” He died in the 1850s, leaving a large estate on part of which a grandson named Charles was living in 1892.

* * * * * *

Kingsbury wrote that Clinton’s first poor farm, which existed before Benton and Clinton were separated in 1842, was “about half a mile west of Morrison’s Corner.”

Morrison’s Corner was, and as Morrison Corner still is, the four corners where Hinckley Road, running roughly north to south, meets Battle Ridge Road, which runs northeast to connect to Upper Bellsqueeze Road, and Ferry Road, which runs southwest to the former Noble’s Ferry on the Kennebec River.

By 1879, according to that year’s Kennebec County atlas, Clinton had a new town farm east of the original one, on the east side of Hill Road (which runs north-northwest out of downtown Clinton toward Canaan).

* * * * * *

Crossing back to the west side of the Kennebec, the 1988 Fairfield bicentennial history has no reference to a town farm, poor house or almshouse or any other town-funded method of caring for paupers. The first town meeting after the town was incorporated was on Aug. 19, 1788; the first reference to appropriations says that in 1793 “The Town first raised money for schools,” but lists no amount and mentions no other expenditures.

The history gives a short paragraph to what became the Goodwill-Hinckley School (described in the May 20 and June 3, 2021, issues of The Town Line). Rev. George W. Hinckley founded what started as Good Will Farm in June 1889, in the part of Fairfield now called Hinckley, “as a home for boys.”

In November 1889, the history continues, “the Good Will Home Association was organized as a home for needy boys with funds Rev. Hinckley had been collecting for some time.” The writers go on to describe 20th-century changes.

At the end of the bicentennial history is a reproduction of a 1909 map of Fairfield that shows a building labeled “Town Farm.” It is on the south side of a road running east from Green Road to Nye’s Corner, which is south – downriver, toward the Fairfield business district – of the Goodwill School.

A map from the mid-1980s shows the former road as a trail. It does not appear in any form on a contemporary on-line map.

(According to the 1909 map, the town farm was a short distance east of a four-way intersection where at least two families named Green lived. There was a schoolhouse on the east side of the intersection.)

* * * * * *

Waterville was part of Winslow from 1771 to 1802, and Oakland was part of Waterville until 1873, when it became a separate town called West Waterville (changed to Oakland in 1883).

Kingsbury explained that the growth of water-powered manufacturing on Messalonskee Stream, the outlet of Messalonskee Lake, led to the development of an industrial center separate from Waterville’s, which was based on and near the Kennebec.

Kingsbury’s accounts of poor farms in Winslow, Waterville and Oakland are frustratingly incomplete. As he often did, he assumed future readers would have access to the same documents he had, and would recognize the names of families, roads and localities that were part of his daily experience in the 1890s.

In his chapter on Winslow, he wrote that until 1859, paupers were bid off. That year, “the town voted $3,200, and bought the Blanchard farm.”

If the former Blanchard farm was still the town farm when the 1879 Kennebec County atlas was created, it was in a part of town more settled than officials usually chose for an almshouse.

The map shows the Town Farm on the west side of what is now Clinton Avenue (Route 100) running northeast along the Sebasticook River to Benton. The farm is marked about halfway between the top of the hill in Winslow and the Hayward Road intersection. Along this stretch, the map shows a dozen houses (occupied by, among others, several Getchell and Fuller families and two whose last name was Town) and a schoolhouse diagonally north of the town farm.

Kingsbury was slightly more informative on Waterville (unlike the Waterville centennial history; the summary of the 100 years from 1802 to 1902 doesn’t mention the poor, and since the book has a names-only index, finding any other reference is time-consuming).

In Waterville, Kingsbury found, the poor were bid off from 1811 (or earlier) until about 1842. In 1811, five paupers cost the town from 35 to 65 cents a week, for a weekly total of $2.59. In 1812, the town supported a dozen people and the cost went up to $3.48 a week.

(Ruby Crosby Wiggin’s comments about doctors’ fees, cited in last week’s article, suggest there might have been occasional additional charges.)

From 1837 records Kingsbury quoted a decision that the poor as a group “be sold at auction for one year.” Samuel H. Batchelder was the successful bidder, charging $865.

Around 1842, Waterville officials bought from Joseph Mitchell and George Bessey a 90-acre farm to use as a town farm. At an unspecified later date, the town also acquired a woodlot in Sidney, apparently intended to complement the farm.

The 1879 Kennebec County map shows Waterville’s town farm a short distance south of downtown, on the south side of Webb Road. It was just west of the intersection with Mitchell Road, which current maps show coming south from the back of LaFleur Airport to Webb Road.

In March 1890 the house on the town farm burned down. Officials then bought seven acres from George Boutelle and “built the present excellent city alms house at a total expense at $6,444.”

(George Keely Boutelle was a prominent Waterville lawyer and businessman who helped organize and lead several banks and was active in civic organizations.)

By 1892, Waterville’s “poor department” was costing more than $9,000 a year, Kingsbury added.

The 1873 separation of West Waterville (which became Oakland) from Waterville would have required the new town to assume the care of its indigent residents. The 1879 map of the new town shows a town farm not far west of downtown, on the north side of what is now High Street (Route 137 heading west toward Smithfield). Comparison with a contemporary on-line map puts the farm site about half-way between the Oak Street intersection and the Gage Road intersection.

Kingsbury provided evidence that in the early 1890s Oakland was both running a town farm and caring for paupers off the farm. Appropriations listed in a town report for the fiscal year that ended Feb. 28, 1892, included “support of poor,” $1,100 and “town farm,” $500.

A current on-line map labels the road along the east shore of McGrath Pond that connects Route 137 with Route 11 (the Oakland-Belgrade road) as Town Farm Road. A town farm on this road, if there were one, would have been west of the one in use in 1879.

Story of the Bray sisters

Did local methods of caring for the poor lead to those who were bid off to local families being turned into unpaid and mistreated farm and household help? Linwood Lowden said “without doubt” the system led to abuses; an on-line source says there is no evidence of abuse.

Your writer found one piece of writing that looks at bidding out from the paupers’ viewpoint: a short story by Sarah Orne Jewett called The Town Poor.

Two prosperous women in a small Maine town detour on their way home from a church event to visit two elderly sisters, Ann and Mandana Bray, who ran out of money and saw their house and possessions sold at auction and themselves bid out.

They live in a dingy upstairs room in a shabby farmhouse on a run-down farm. The couple with whom they live, named Janes, are not their social equals, and the complaining wife is not enthusiastic about sharing her house with two more adults. The sisters admit to their friends that they haven’t been to meeting because they lack outdoor shoes that their caretakers never remember to buy for them, nor do they have enough stovewood to keep their room warm.

But they bring out the four china teacups saved from the auction, the last of the homemade peach jam from the peaches that grew by their former house, tea and cheese and crackers. The friends have a warm reunion; and Ann says next time, she’ll invite Mrs. Janes, too; the woman means well and deserves cheering up, because she has a hard life and none of the happy memories the Bray sisters have.

See part 1 here.
See part 2 here.
See part 3 here.

Main sources

Fairfield Historical Society, Fairfield, Maine 1788-1988 (1988).
Halfpenny, H. E., Atlas of Kennebec County Maine 1879 (1879).
Jewett, Sarah Orne, A White Heron and Other Stories (1999 edition).
Kingsbury, Henry D., ed., Illustrated History of Kennebec County Maine 1625-1892 (1892).

Websites, miscellaneous.