The Boston Post Cane

The Boston Post newspaper was founded in 1831 by two prominent Boston businessmen, Charles G. Greene and William Beals, and was one of the most popular daily newspaper in New England for over a hundred years before it bowed to the Hearst publishing machine in 1956. However, according to Barbara Staples, who has made a thorough study of the Boston Post cane caper and has even published two books on the subject, when Edwin Atkins Grozier bought the Boston Post in 1891, it was nearly bankrupt. He made many attempts to increase the newspaper’s circulation and in 1909 he came up with a publicity stunt that has kept the name alive and well in many New England towns for nearly a hundred years since.

As Ms Staples writes, “He had bid on an unclaimed shipment of gold-headed ebony canes and…sent a letter to the selectmen of approximately 700 communities” in New England. The letter was also published in the Boston Post on August 18, 1909, and read as follows:

“Dear Sir – We take the liberty of requesting of you and other members of the Board of Selectmen of your town a little favor, which we trust you may be able to grant. The Boston Post desires to present, with its compliments, to the Oldest Citizen of your town, a gold-headed cane, and as you are doubtless well informed as to the citizens of your town, we ask that you make the selection and presentation.

“The cane is a fine one, manufactured especially for this purpose by J.F. Fradley   Co. of New York, who are generally recognized as the leading manufacturers of fine canes in this country. The stick is carefully selected Gaboon ebony from the Congo, Africa, and the head is made of rolled gold of 14-karat fineness.

“The head of the cane is artistically engraved as presented by the Boston Post to the Oldest Citizen of your town (to be transmitted). The idea is that the cane shall always be owned and carried by the Oldest Citizen of your town, and that upon the decease of the present Oldest Citizen it shall be duly transmitted to the then oldest citizen, remaining always in the possession of whoever is the Oldest Citizen of your town. Upon the head of the cane a blank space has been left where the name of the owner may be engraved locally, if desired.

“We request that in an informal way your board act as trustee of the cane, and see that the stick is duly presented and duly transmitted when such a change of holders becomes necessary. We do not suggest any formal trust or any legal or financial responsibility on your part, but simply that you act in the matter in accordance with the plan outlined as your best judgment indicates. There is no charge whatever by the Post to your board or to the holder of the cane.

“In case your board will undertake to act for us, as suggested, we would request that you notify us to that effect, a directed envelope being inclosed [sic].

“We also inclose [sic] a blank, leaving space for data as to the holder of the cane, and requesting that at your convenience, after the cane is presented, you will fill it out and forward to Gold Cane Department, the Boston Post, to be filed in our archives. We would also be pleased to receive a photograph of the citizen to whom you may award the cane, with his name and address written upon the back. We are sending similar canes to various other towns, and as opportunity serves it is our purpose to publish some of these sketches and photographs.

“A description of the cane is also inclosed [sic], explaining the method of its manufacture and presentation, which we would be pleased to have you hand to your local paper for publication, if deemed worthy. It is possible that there may be sufficient interest in this matter to make the presentation of the cane an occasion for an informal meeting of the friends of the recipient. This lies of course wholly within your discretion.

“We are forwarding the cane, express paid, to your address. If for any reason you are unable to act for us in this matter, kindly notify us at once and hold the cane until we may be able to make other arrangements for its presentation.

“Trusting, however, that you may favor us by acting as requested,

We beg to remain,

Very respectfully yours,

BOSTON POST.

By E.A. Grozier

Editor and Publisher”

The letter to the various towns also included a “Description of the Cane.”

“The cane is a splendid specimen of such manufacture. It is made by J.R. Fradley and Co. of New York, who are widely recognized as the leading manufacturers of fine canes. The materials used in the Boston Post cane are the best obtainable. The sticks are of Gaboon ebony from the Congo, Africa. They are shipped to this country in logs, about seven feet long, and then cut into stick lengths. They are allowed to dry for six months, so they will be thoroughly seasoned. After this they are carefully examined, and all cracked, warped or otherwise imperfect sticks are discarded. The perfect ones are then turned to the desired sized on a lathe, and allowed about three months for further drying. They are given a coat of shellac and rubbed down with pumice, coated with the finest quality of French varnish and then polished by hand with very fine pumice and oil. It takes about a year from the time the ebony logs are cut to produce a perfect stick.

“The gold in the heads of the Post canes is of 14-karat fineness. It is rolled into sheets, cut to the desired size and soldered in a conical tube, then placed in a sectional steel chuck or form, which admits of its being drawn into the exact shape of the finished head. The tops are first cut into discs, and then soldered to the cane after it has been shaped. They are then filled with a hard composition and “chased,” or ornamented by hand, after which this composition filling is removed and they are sent to the polishing room for final finishing.

“The Boston Post cane is not merely an ornamental cane. It is designed for every day usage and will last for many years.

“The following blank was inclosed [sic] with the correspondence:

THE BOSTON POST CANE

                        Town of ______________________________________________

State ________________________________________________

Name of Oldest Citizen __________________________________

Age _____ Place of Birth _________________________________

How long a citizen ______________________________________

Family ________________________________________________

Date of cane presentation ________________________________

Incidents in Life of Oldest Citizen

Please state here anything in the life of the Oldest Citizen that might be of interest. Offices held, if any, Societies? G.A.R. record? Health and habits? ESPECIALLY TO WHAT DOES HE ATTRIBUTE HIS LONGEVITY?

(Please fill out and forward to Gold Cane Department, The Boston Post, for filing in its archives. If convenient, a photograph, with name and address of oldest citizen written upon the back would be appreciated.)

A large number of reports have already been received. From time to time as opportunity serves, the Post proposes to publish in its daily and Sunday editions some of the photographs of the venerable men, who now possess the Post cane. They will present an interesting galaxy of the vigor and longevity of New England manhood.”

A great deal of interest was aroused all over New England by this presentation. Almost without exception the Selectmen of the various towns expressed their cordial approval of the idea and accepted the informal trust with alacrity. The original intent was for the cane to go to the oldest male citizen of the town to be held while that person was alive and then be returned to the municipal officials for rewarding to the next living Oldest Citizen. The cane technically remained the property of the town. (Boston, incidentally, never got a cane.)

In an article in “Seacoast Life” Holiday 1989 (Vol. 5 No.1), entitled “Staff of Long Life,” Barbara Staples writes, “…what originally seemed to be a straightforward gesture was not without problems. The cane awards have endured almost a century as objects of covetousness and controversy.”

“The canes have been fought over, against and about. Cane recipients have been benign, bothered and bewildered. Some potential recipients have been turned away when they could not produce proper birth certificates; one man refused to give up the cane when he moved out of town and it was not recovered until after his death.

“Although on some occasions a heated confrontation took place when more than one person laid claim to the award, the gold-headed ebony canes have not always been welcome. Several women have turned down the cane because they didn’t want their age revealed. A few 90-year-olds turned down the cane claiming they were “too busy.” One town reported they tried to give the cane to a man who exclaimed, “Take that damn thing out of here. It’s for old men and I’m just a young fellow.”

“Well-known inventor Isaac Osgood of Amesbury received his cane on August 6, 1909, but returned it five days later when he learned it was only loaned to him. Osgood adamantly refused to be “custodian of it for a Boston newspaper.”

“From the beginning, the Boston Post stated the canes “are intended as a tribute to honored and useful lives, to thrift, temperance and right living, and above all to the superb vigor of New England manhood.”

“Men had always been cane recipients. That is until the 1940’s, when women throughout the Seacoast exercised their 19th Amendment rights and “raised runctions,” vigorously protesting that the award should not be solely for men. They successfully demonstrated that the head of the cane specifically stated it was to be presented to the ‘oldest citizen.’”

CHERRYFIELD’S BOSTON POST CANE

Gender isn’t the only question that has had to be addressed. With the passage to time another issue surfaced; define “oldest citizen.” In 1993, then Cherryfield Selectman Chairman Peter Dustin conducted some research into the matter and offered a report to the Board of Selectmen suggesting a variety of criteria that could be used to define who should be eligible for this singular honor.

  1. Oldest “citizen” verified as the oldest registered or active voter regardless of place of birth.
  2. Oldest “citizen” born in the town and still living there although this individual may have lived “away” at times in their life.
  3. Oldest resident regardless of voter status, place of birth, or length of town residency.

Mr. Dustin relied heavily on Mr. Henry Scannell, a researcher for the Boston Public Library, himself a “Boston Post cane aficionado,” and summarizes as follows:

“Mr. Scannell has been collecting information on the canes for years and along with his assistant in the Microtext section of the Boston Public Library are the best experts available. In Mr. Scannell’s opinion, Option 1 above is the closest to the original intent. Option 2 would be second, but discriminates in a modern world where the majority of Americans do not live in their place of birth. Option 3 is the least desirable because it could include a nursing home resident who had no claim to citizenship in the town where the care facility just happened to be located. Trying to set a length of residency would likewise be arbitrary.

“Therefore: It appears that a bona fide registered voter would be a legitimate “citizen” of the town regardless of where they were born, OR a life-long native resident (registered or not), would both fulfill the original intent of the award.”

At their February, 2007, meeting the Cherryfield Board of Selectmen addressed the latest Boston Post cane dilemma – how to preserve and protect what has now become an object of considerable historic value to the town.

There seems to be no accurate distribution list of the 700 towns in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and possibly Vermont, which received the Post canes, but various researchers can account for over 440 canes. The majority of these towns still have their canes and have reacted to the pressures of time in a number of ways. Some towns still award the actual antique to their oldest citizens by whatever definition. Some have chosen to keep their canes on display and instead present an alternative award to the honored recipient; some give a replica and other towns have opted to award certificates. Some say it is for the safety of the valued gold-tipped cane, but others claim it is because there is superstition among the elders that the cane hastens one’s demise.

It was decided to place the original Cherryfield Boston Post cane in the custodianship of the Cherryfield-Narraguagus Historical Society, who will also be responsible for keeping track of who should have the award. The Society plans to keep it on permanent display in their new home on River Road along with a full history of the cane and its recipients.

AN INCOMPLETE HISTORY OF THE
BOSTON POST CANE IN CHERRYFIELD

Cherryfield received one of the canes and awarded it to Emory S. Wilson, age 86. He was born in Steuben on September 31, 1823, and died on February 17, 1911 in Cherryfield. He was the son of Mark Wilson and Sally Small.

The following persons were known to subsequently hold the cane during the periods indicated if known:

Jacob T. Campbell

Charles Campbell

Carroll Campbell

Emery Small Wilson

Nathan C. Tucker had the honor of receiving the cane, but it is not known how long he held this honor. He died July 2, 1922, at the age of 86. He was born in Cherryfield August 27, 1836, and married Sarah Ann Shaw, a teacher, of Milbridge on Nov. 7, 1871. They had four children: Ralph, Bessie, Blanche, and Roy. (Contributed by Esther Marchand)

Alma Torrey 1976-May, 1979
Walter Farren +/- 1981 – June, 1984 Age +/- 100
Grace Ramsdall – 1987 Age 96
Anna Grant – 1989
Horace Tucker – March, 1990
Frank “Guy” Morse May, 1990 – Oct. 1990 Age 93
Howard Strout 1991- July, 1993 Age 94
Arthur Grant 1993 – November, 1993 Age 94
Coris Sproul January, 1994 – Refused it. Age 92
Crystal Turnball April, 1994 – Age 97
Richard Newton 1996 – 2004 Age 92
Edson “Ted” Schoppee 2004 – October, 2005 Age 94

Obviously there are many gaps to be filled, but it is felt that when the effort can be made, a thorough examination of the minutes of the meetings of the Cherryfield Selectmen will yield a complete record. Any persons with information regarding former recipients of the Cherryfield Boston Post cane should contact Cherryfield-Narraguagus Historical Society President Kathy Upton at 546-2076.

— Burni Andres
2007

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Fall-Winter 2009: Volume 35, Number 2

Web Site Improvements:

Much work was done over the summer months – adding more pictures of our sale items and adding new items, as well.

Be sure to check the website for all of these things.

Our website is: www.cherryfieldhistorical.com and the user name = cnhs2010.

For those of you whose dues are current, the password is ___________

Orders can now be placed on line and you can pay dues and make donations online, also.  We are slowly getting into the 21st century!

Living History Day:

We are planning to schedule the first “annual” Living History Day in September 2010.  Ricker Blacksmith Shop will be open that day with ongoing demonstrations.  Suggestions for other appropriate activities should be directed to Kathy Upton at 207-546-2076.

Historic Tour #4:

The tour date for 2010 will be Saturday, July 17th.  The tour will start at the museum at 88 River Road, Cherryfield.  Tickets may be purchased in advance or on that date.

Moving Days:

Two days of moving were done in September and another scheduled for November.  These moves completed the transfer of everything from the “old” museum to the “new” museum.  Many thanks to all of those who helped with trucks, cars and back-breaking work!

                 

Missing Newsletters:

An effort is being made to get all of the past newsletters on the website.  Some, however, are among the missing.  Those include Volume 6 (all), Volume 7 (all) and Volume 8 (all).  If anyone can provide those we would sure appreciate it.

You can reach us by e-mail at the following address: info@CherryfieldHistorical.com

Cherryfield Free Public Library:

The main entrance has been moved to the new addition and access is from the parking lot.

The public computer room is complete with four wireless computer stations.  The “Teen Room” will have two wireless computer stations, a game table and Nintendo game capability.

The younger folks’ room had a new Pirate Table & Chair Set and will have beanbag chairs with lap desks for the pre-teen youngsters.

The original main room is being completed as a reading/research room with desk space for laptop use. The genealogy room computer is in place.

News of Cherryfield – August 28, 1914:

Merrill Patten gets $250 scholarship at Harvard;  Many visit Beddington Lake

Miss Alice Dresser, who is to be married Sept. 1, was given a tin shower by her friends and relatives.

Mr. and Mrs. David W. Campbell, 2nd, and daughters, Elizabeth and Mary, spent a few days at the Baldwin cottage at Hancock Point this week.

Alfred Farnsworth and crew will commence work on the new dam at Beddington early next week for G. R. Campbell & Co.

Wedding invitations are out announcing the wedding of Miss Annie Sproul to Mr. Watson of New York, which is to take place in town this week.  The groom arrived in town last Saturday night.

Albert Nickels, who has been spending two weeks in town and at his cottage at Ripley, has returned to business in St. Louis, Mo.

Mrs. Lewis of Malden, Mass., arrived recently to visit at Dr. and Mrs. Moreland’s on New Street.

Dr. and Mrs. York of Boston have arrived to visit Mr. and Mrs. Charles Eaton’s.

Miss Susie Eaton is spending the summer with her aunt at Peaks Island.

Charles Stewart is employing a force of 23 in his blueberry factory, this week.

Mr. and Mrs. John Jewett of Cornell, Wis., are receiving congratulations on the birth of a son, John Jewett, Jr., last week.

Miss Esther Freeman, who has been spending two weeks at Sullivan, a guest of Mrs. Eugene Simpson, has returned to town.

A large auto truck in being tried out in bringing the blueberries from the barrens to the factories here in town.

Sheriff Coffin of Machias was in town on business recently.

Dr. Moreland is seriously ill at his home on New Street.

Mr. and Mrs. George Meserve and family of Portland are visiting in town.

Frank Kelliher of Winter Harbor is in town for a few days.

Fred Small, who has a position in a bank in Boston, is in town visiting his aunt,

Mary Ann Small.

News of Cherryfield (continued)

Burton Ashe, who has been spending a two weeks’ vacation with relatives in town, returned to work on the Boston Elevated railroad Saturday.

Carn Schoppee, who has been seriously ill the past ten days, is gailing strength slowly.

Miss Eliza Hunt and daughter, Susan, are spending the summer at their cottage at Scituate, Mass.

Mrs. Frank Campbell, who was called to Holyoke, Mass., last week because of the death of her brother, William Engle, has returned to Cherryfield.  On Mrs. Campbell’s return trip she visited in Springfield and Boston.

Mrs. Margaret Whitcomb of New York is spending the summer with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Dresser at Yarmouthville.

Miss Lillian Nagel will attend the Massachusetts General Hospital training school this fall.

A large number went down the river Friday to spend Sunday at the Island House and the numerous cottages at Pond Island.

Mrs. Lester Godfrey and daughter, Bertha, are spending the summer at Watch Hill, R. I.  The Godfreys will live at Hotel Empire in Boston this winter.

Chester Willey, Cherryfield Academy, 1914, will enter Bates College this fall.

Miss Katherine Hale has been a guest at the home of Charles Campbell, on Campbell Hill, the past week.

Miss Hazel Eaton will attend the Massachusetts General Hospital training school this year.

Friends here will be interested to learn that Merrill Patten, grandson of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Patten, recently received word that he had been awarded a scholarship at Harvard college of $250 on account of his high rank there last year.  Mr. Patten will return this fall as a senior.  David Patten, brother of Merrill Patten, is attending the Tech summer school at Machias this month and will return to Massachusetts Technology this year as a Junior.

Miss Lizzie Crippen is a guest of Mrs. Grace Baldwin in Boston.

There will be no Sunday services at the Congregational church Aug. 30.

William Van Wart, Cherryfield Academy, 1914, will enter Bowdoin college this September.

Alton Dorr will go to Bates college this fall as a freshman.

Mr. and Mrs. Campbell Hunt have recently bought a two family house in Allston, Mass.

Walter Willey, who has been spending his two weeks’ vacation in town with his father, Thaddeus Willey, and visiting at the A. G. Campbell cottage at Pond Island, returned to business in Boston, Friday morning.  Mr. Willey is employed in the office of R. H. White & Co.

Philip Campbell has gone to Chicago to work for Swift & Co.

The Schoppee House at Beddington lake has been a very popular place this summer.  The road of some 25 miles has been repaired and it now makes one of the most beautiful automobile trips around this section of the county.  The Schoppee House has long been noted for its famous dinners and the view from the house is well worth seeing.  In driving to the lake, one goes through the large track of barrens which at present is a place of unusual interest because of the great number of blueberry pickers there.  Some families make enough picking berries in the short season of three weeks to support themselves during the year.

Name:______________________ Address:_____________________________

E-mail address: _______________________________

_____ Dues ($5.00 per person/per year)  Life Membership ($100.00) _________

_____ New Museum Fund Donation

_____ Cannon Fund Donation

_____ 2010 Tour  $20 per person

Colby Atlas (soft-cover) Maine residents ($25.00) _____ Others ($23.25) ______

Cherryfield Territorial Boundaries ME residents $6.00) ____ Others ($5.85) ____

Mills of the Narraguagus ME residents ($7.20) ____  Others ($7.00) _____

Era to Remember  Maine residents ($11.50) _____  Others ($11.10) _____

1896 Map of Cherryfield  Maine residents ($5.00) ____ Others ($4.85) _____

Notes & Envelopes  Maine residents ($5.00) _____  Others ($4.85)  ______

Cherryfield Patches  Maine residents ($4.25) ____   Others ($4.15) ____

Cherryfield Note Pads – Maine residents ($4.25)_____ Others ($4.15)

Note Cards with env. – Tour Houses – Maine ($2.60 or 3 for $7.00) ____

Others ($2.50 or 3 for $7.00)______

Photos – Houses; Flowers; Aerial Views – Maine ($2.10)______Others                                                        ($2.00)______

1881 Maps (13’x19″)  Maine ($12.00) _____  Others ($11.50) _____

1896 Map Photos – Maine ($3.00) _____  Others ($2.90) _____

 

——————————–All prices include shipping ————————–

Make checks payable to: Cherryfield-Narraguagus Historical Society

And mail to:            P. O. Box 96, Cherryfield, ME 04622-0096

Dues and Addresses:

Annual dues are $5.00 per person – on a calendar year basis.  Please keep your address current so the newsletters won’t come back to us.  If there are three *** on your label, this is your final newsletter. (* = 2009, ** = 2008 & 2009, *** = 2007, 2008 & 2009 are due).

 

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Leslie “Bud” Randall presented the Boston Post Cane

by Burni Andres

Bud Randall Boston Cane

Bud Randall

“I would tell them how I’ve had a good life,” Bud Randall offered on his 95th birthday last Monday when he was presented with Cherryfield’s Boston Post Cane honoring him as Cherryfield’s most senior citizen. The gold and ebony Boston Post Cane has been presented to the oldest citizen in the town since the tradition began in 1909 and was most recently held by the late Eunice Harrington Grant.

Leslie “Bud” Randall was born “up on the ridge” in Cherryfield on September 22, 1913. When he was four years old, his father swapped houses with Bion Willey and moved his family to Wilson Hill Road. Randall “went to the old school across the brook” and has been a Cherryfield resident all his long life. He has two children, four grandchildren, and has lost count of the great-grands and great-great-grands. He has been married three times. “They’ve all passed away. We had a good life. They were good to me and I was good to them.”

“I’m not crippled up. I’m getting along all right. It’s lonesome though, I’ll tell you that. I have a dog for company.” Randall is very grateful for relative good health. Although he has some diet restrictions, his eyesight is good and he’s “thankful for that” because he loves to read westerns to pass the time. He almost never watches television any more. He doesn’t wear a hearing aid and he still drives an automobile. His red pick-up was stolen and right now he’s driving a PT Cruiser provided by the insurance company. “I think I’ll get a Buick,” he muses. “I like a cigar and I smoke a pipe. I don’t inhale, so I guess it don’t hurt me any.”

For a man of 95, he keeps active. He rides his exercise bike every day and still mows his large lawn and that of a neighbor with a riding mower. “I used to love to dance. I’d love to go to one right now. I can dance just as good as I ever could. Do you know where they’re having them now?”

“I always hunted deer. Some submarine sailors used to come up from Connecticut and hunt with me and I’d go to Newfoundland for moose and caribou.” A large, mounted caribou head and a rack of moose antlers are hung on the living room wall, mute testimony to the success of these excursions. “Sometimes I’d go with Walter Tucker or Charles Cirone.”

He has fond memories of working as Deputy Sheriff for Washington County and 33 years for Wyman in the blueberry business. The only advice he has to offer is “you’ve got to get along with people.”

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Fall-Winter 2008: Volume 34, Number 2

WWW.WOW!

Thanks to a wonderful friend, we now have a website (still under construction, but already rated as excellent by those who have seen it). Go to www.cherryfieldhistorical.com and be greeted by a picture of our museum. Browse around, let us know what you think and make any suggestions for improvement. We are really excited about being able to bring this to our members and the general public. We hope the result will be an increase in our membership. There is a section for “members only” which will be available to current members (dues paid up to date – user = ____ / pw = __________). The user name and password will be provided by separate e-mail to others as dues are paid. The user name and password will be changed annually.

E-mail addresses:

Please note on the order form that there is now a place for your e-mail address. Future newsletters may be sent that way – you may then print them, if you wish. You would also be able to forward them to others whom you think might be interested.

Historical Tour:

Our 2nd Annual tour was more successful than the first, seeing an increase in both sites to tour and participants. It was a beautiful day and the comments about the tour were very encouraging.

The Third Annual Tour is being planned for the weekend of July 26, 2009. This will give everyone time to mark their calendars and plan to join us for a wonderful social and historical day.

Cherryfield Library:

The Capital Campaign has received two grants totaling $75,000 – one from the Stephen & Tabitha King Foundation and one from the Davis Family Foundation. These funds will ensure that ground-breaking will take place in the spring of 2009, while applications for further grants are being submitted throughout the winter.

Phoenix Risen from the Ashes

By Arabella McNamara Mitchell

On the evening of December 10, 1903, occurred the regular and teacher meeting of the Cherryfield Baptist Church. We had been studying about the beautiful temple at Jerusalem, and as we came out into the starlight, the clock striking in the tower called attention to the beauty of our temple as it stood grand and fair against the starry sky. It never looked so symmetrical and beautiful, and never had it seemed so dear as we congratulated ourselves on worshipping in such a church home.

Before daylight, we again stood looking up at our beautiful meeting house, but now with tears in our eyes as we saw it being devoured by flames – the tall, graceful steeple now only a frame of living coal. We watched it till it fell and darkness settled over the ruins. Dark indeed was the outlook for the Baptist Church! Not only was the building gone with no insurance, but as an organization, the church had no claim to the foundation nor to the lot on which it was situated.

When the meeting house was built, the Methodists alone owned a place of worship in Cherryfield; the Congregationalists, Universalists and others bought pews in the new house and worshipped with the Baptists. A pew-owners organization was formed and to it belonged the lot. This explains why the church had no insurance when the building was destroyed.

It had been standing about 30 years, having been dedicated April 15, 1874. It was largely the gift of our spirited townsman, David Campbell, at the cost of $16,000 and had a seating capacity of 500.

It was a building of which the whole town was justly proud. To the members of the church who had worshipped within its walls – especially those who had seen its walls rise 30 years before – it was more than pride; it was reverence and affection. Truly our hearts ached and our courage ebbed when we saw it in ashes.

Fable tells of a Phoenix who, when its work is finished, is consumed amidst sweet odors; while from the ashes of the parent bird arises a young Phoenix, destined to fill the place of its predecessors. The history of the new building seems almost as miraculous as the birth of the fable bird.

To build a new house of worship under existing circumstances seemed almost impossible, and to add to the difficulties, our beloved pastor, Rev. Fred A. Snow, was just leaving us. We must face the situation alone; yet, not alone for the Divine Helper has been ever at our side.

The church realized as never before its entire dependence on the Almighty Father, and after much earnest prayed, we were able to say, “The God of Heaven, He will prosper us; therefore, we will arise and build.”

The church not only prayed, but also “the people had a mind to work”, and when people both work and pray, things are brought to pass.

The Methodist people kindly offered the use of their meeting house, and this kindness will ever be remembered with gratitude.

The church became incorporated that business might be done legally, and the pew-owners gave to it their claim to the foundation and lot; and at the beginning of the New Year, the church was ready for work. A soliciting committee consisted of Deacon Charles Campbell, Deacon James P. Laurence, and Mr. P. B. Guptil. During the winter, the soliciting committee was busy, and all friends of the church and all sister churches in the state were given an opportunity to help in the work. Generous ____________ was the response. Friends at home and abroad showed their interest and sympathy, and we feel assured that the prayers of those 14 churches who prayed as well as gave were heard before the throne in Heaven and brought added blessings to the struggling church in Cherryfield.

In the spring of 1904, our hearts were gladdened and our hands strengthened by the coming among us of Pastor Rev. Brown E. Smith. The church had been well supplied with preaching during the winter, but the need of a pastor was sorely felt and the sending to us of a man of his experience and devotion to the work seemed another token of our kind Father’s care.

Enough money was now in the treasury or pledged to encourage the building committee to begin work. An architect was engaged and plans made for a new house on the old foundation, which had not been greatly injured by the fire. Mr. John Strout was engaged as master builder, and to his ability and faithfulness and the carefulness of Deacon Campbell in ordering material is the fact due that in every item of building the cost has fallen below the estimate.

Through the summer, the work progressed slowly but with great care in both labor and material, all things used being of the best and done to last many years. At the end of the first year, the house was boarded and the roof shingled when cold weather compelled the work to stop. Before time for the work to begin again, our hopes from the Amasa Wiley estate were realized, and we were able to begin work in the spring assured that before another winter had passed we could dedicate our new meeting house.

Since that time, the work of furnishing money and materials has seemed to be under the direct guidance of God. Many times the work seemed coming to a stand on account of a lack of funds, but each time some new friend has come forward and the work has gone steadily onward.

We have yet to provide appropriate seats and our fine pipe organ is yet to be replaced, but we feel satisfied that these will come in His own good time.

The work of raising money has been under the direction of Deacon Gilbert H. Ward, and our success is largely due to his good courage and untiring devotion. The work of keeping the accounts and ordering material and all business incident to such work has been done by Deacon Charles Campbell, while Deacon James F. Laurence has looked after the daily work of the builders. If to any shall the welcome, “well done and faithful servant!” be said, it must surely greet these two aged saints who have carried so many burdens and carried them so cheerfully and effectively during the past two years. Their lives have been long among us, and this meeting house is a fitting crown to their labor of love.

As we look back over the two years, we see only pleasant remembrances. The building and soliciting committees have held their meetings together, and other members of the church have always been welcome and have aided greatly by their advice and in encouragement. Our pastor, too, has been with us in every detail of the work, and his counsel and cooperation have been no small item in the great whole. The work has gone on without friction. Sometimes the solicitors have had hard problems to solve, but they have met only kindness and good will. The builders have had their share of difficulties. The burdens of both committees have been shared by the whole church and its many friends and will only serve to bind all more closely together.

And now, remembering God’s great love to us and His help in our time of need, this is our word to others in a like struggle. “Be strong and of good courage. Be not afraid neither be thou dismayed, for the Lord thy God is with thee whither-so-ever thou goest.”

Boston Post Cane:

Leslie (Bud) Randall received the cane on his 95th birthday. The cane is presented to the oldest citizen of the town and has been traditional since 1909 when the Boston Post newspaper gave each town a gold-headed cane for that purpose.

Bud was born in Cherryfield and started his school days at the Lower Corner School. He spent many years working in the blueberry industry and as a Washington County deputy sheriff.

A nice write-up of the event was done by Burni Andres in the Downeast Coastal Press.

Store:

Visit our store on the website and see what items we have for sale. Pictures of each item will be coming later. Use the order form at the end of the newsletter.

We hope to be adding new items in the spring and summer of 2009.

Cherryfield Celebration:

Cherryfield and Milbridge are planning to combine their annual celebrations this year. The main reason given is lack of volunteers. Major portions of each celebration will be retained – the Salmon Run in Cherryfield and the Codfish Relay in Milbridge.

Cherryfield Alumni:

The scheduled date is Saturday, June 20, 2009. More in the spring newsletter.

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Posted in Newsletters | Comments Off on Fall-Winter 2008: Volume 34, Number 2

Spring 2008 Volume 34, Number 1

Historical/Architectural Tour:

Our Second Annual Tour will be held on Saturday, July 12, 2008. Advance tickets can be purchased (see order form on last page). The tickets are $20. per person. We would appreciate having a list of each person in your group, so your tickets can be made out properly. All tickets will be held at the Historical Society Museum at 88 River Road, Cherryfield – you just need to sign in and start your tour. All sites will be numbered for convenience.

This year’s highlights will be:

Alexander Campbell House – guided tours (John Brace)
Ricker Blacksmith Shop – demonstrations by George Brace
Charles Nickels House – guided tour (Roberta Bayrd)
Jewett/Hamilton House – guided tour (family)
Adams House – guided tour (Winhams)
Congregational Church
Baptist Church – return engagement
Burbank/Freemen/Campbell House – guided tours (Royal Montana) – return engagement
Historical Society Museum
Others may be added, and will be included with the official tour guide which you will receive with your tickets.

A Note from the President:
Hello…my name is Kathy Upton, and I would like to introduce myself to you. I have lived all my life in Cherryfield. My interest in local history and genealogy was fostered by my mother, Margery Brown. We spent many happy hours working on Cherryfield history and researching our own genealogies.

I know many of you live “away”, but I would like to have you all involved with the society. We want to hear from you! Tell us what you think about our newsletters. We can only make them better with your input. If you have a story or family information you would like to share, please send it to us. We are always looking for articles to put into the newsletters. Send us inquiries and we will put them in. You never know who will have what you are searching for!

Between all of us, we have a huge collection of research material. I am looking for people who are willing to do lookups for others. You will find a list of what I have below. Just make a list of what you have and how we can contact you. Happy hunting …

My Research Materials

Vital Records for the following:
Northport, ME
Vinalhaven, ME
North Haven, ME
Hope, ME

Lamson & Tibbetts books:
Narraguagus River Families
Pleasant River Families
Jonesborough Families

Family Histories:
Lamson Family of Jonesport
John Huntley of Lyme CT (I & II)
The Descendents of John McKusick & Mary Barker
George Hall & His Descendents
The Wilsons of Cherryfield 1641 – 1970

Other books:
Early families of Gouldsboro
The Wakefield Memorial
Some Cherryfield Marriage Records 1790 – 1899
Cherryfield Cemetery Records
MOCA Records for Waldo and Knox Counties
Sunbury County, New Brunswick Census 1851 – 1891

He will be missed …

The genealogy world suffered a great loss with the passing of Leonard F. Tibbetts on April 6, 2008, at the age of 95. He was born in Jonesport, Maine, May 25, 1912.

Anybody who has researched families from Western Washington County has benefited from his many years of research. His genealogical materials will be donated to the Jonesport Historical Society

Cherryfield Free Public Library:

The Library has started its Capital Campaign to raise $200,000 for a new addition. This section will include the Margery Brown Genealogical Library, which is presently housed at the Historical Society. The floor plan will be somewhat open to allow for group meetings and activities.

An architect’s drawing will be available at the Historical Society, along with brochures describing the addition in further detail. Those interested in contributing to this project may send donations to the library at 35 Main Street, Cherryfield, ME 04622.

The first major donation has been awarded from a foundation which supports library expansions, so we have a good start. We hope to start construction next spring.

The Library has enjoyed an increase in use by at least three times since the move to Main Street. Computer classes are now being offered and wireless internet is available.

“Cowboys”

The following poem was written by LeRoy Harmon (1917 – 2002) and submitted by Marion Merritt Buchmann

The event of which I am speaking
Happened in the year of 34
In the little town of Deblois
While the wolf howled round the door.
Uncle Sam he got big hearted
Seeing the boys were half starved
And gave them a bunch of cattle
Consisting of cows stags and calves.
Now and elder man named Wilber (Merritt)
Took this herd to tend
And all the boys in Deblois
Came forth with hands to lend.
Now there is a gent named Charlie (Merritt son)
A horse man he pretends
And on his Bronc every morning
You’ll see him round the bend.
I daren’t say he uses glue
Or that they tie him in
But I think he be deceited (de-seated)
If his broncs back should bend.
Now there is another cowpuncher
Jack is his nick name (Torrey of Beddington)
But I don’t believe his riding
Has ever earned him fame.
He rides a large black horse
That is noted for his brown (s/b brawn)
And someone carries a ladder
So Jack can get on.
Of course this young cowboy
Know one prayer to say
And he utters it very solemnly
As they lay those cows away.
Now there is one elder fellow
I’ll mention for old times sake,
Years of hard work and worry
Every hair of his did take.
Why I mention this young fellow
He has and endless tongue
He never tries to herd it
Just lets the darn thing run.
Yes there is another horse man
I almighty near fergot
He always rides a pony
The only westoner in the lot. (I believe he means my Dad,
Clyde Merritt, son of Wilber)
There is a wild and wolly eastoner
He pack a large shot-gun
He says he can shoot an eagle
But he let a fox run.
Now all these punchers are good sports
I think they are all sane,
But of course you know that Ranching
To them is a brand new game.
And I hope all the boys in Deblois
All that I haven’t named
Will some time in the future
Earn some worthy fame.
14 verses of Bull–ony
LeRoy Harmon
Deblois, ME 1934

Marion Merritt Buchmann writes:

Some years ago I promised to send this poem to the Historical Society and I just came across it in my albums and do not believe I ever sent it. It was written by my Uncle LeRoy Harmon, born in 1917 in Hadleys Lake Maine and died in 2002 in Maryland. He was living in Deblois with his sister and husband, Adelia and Clyde Merritt and was seventeen years old at the time he wrote this. His Dad had died and my mother, Adelia had taken him in until he was of age to go into the Coast Guard where he spent his career.

After the depression and the dust bowl out west, trainloads of cattle were shipped to Cherryfield and my grandfather, Wilber Merritt as mentioned in his poem, was charged with their safe keeping and feed until they went to the slaughter house in Cherryfield which I believe was near the train station. I was two years old in 1934 so of course have no memory of it but I will write comments of what I remember to clarify the poem. I thought this might be of interest as I faintly remember seeing something about the cattle and the cowboys when I was in the historical building. I enclose copies in his original handwriting. He says 18 verses at the end and I only count 14 so I feel that one page is missing and I don’t know why.

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150th Anniversary of the Epping Baseline

by Burni Andres

In honor of the 150th anniversary of the completion of the Epping Baseline, Nancy Willey, “the Baseline Lady,” will conduct two bus tours on Sunday, August 12, 2007, at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. The tours will begin at the Cherryfield Academy on Main Street in Cherryfield and will commence with a brief history lesson to help those on the tour appreciate more fully the significance of what they will be seeing up on the barrens. She will also discuss the geology of the area through which the tour will pass, so that her “students” will recognize such glacial effects as a kame, a kettle hole, and an erratic when they see them.

Nancy Willey has earned her nickname by initiating students of all ages into Baseline history and lore. “It’s been a passion of mine for twenty-eight years,” she says. It all started in 1979 when, as the 8th grade history teacher at Milbridge School, she was instructed to come up with a project within her own discipline that would familiarize her students with the metric system. She decided to have the children measure the baseline in meters, thus teaching them something about the metric system and local history at the same time.

A report in the local newspaper states, “By 8:30 a.m. the class arrived at the site of the east monument of the base line at Epping. Dragging a piece of lobster pot warp which was 50 meters long, the students marched and measured for more than three hours, arriving at the west monument in time for lunch…After eating lunch…the class hiked out to Rte. 193 in Deblois where a school bus driven by school custodian Paul Bradbury was waiting for them….”

Willey recalls that first excursion with laughter. “The bridges were out. The road wasn’t kept up. The kids had to wade through the brooks and alder swamps.”

The students in Willey’s eighth grade class that year were Dawn Beal, Leland Beal, Donnie Bradbury, Lynn Cochran, Sean Cousins, Melanie Crabtree, Scott Hill, Heidi Huckins, John Kinghorn, Barry Lumley, Brent Lumley, Bruce Lumley, Larry Martin, Mike Perrone, Joel Perry, Lynn Reynolds, Richard Rossi, Kelly Strout, April Tucker, and Timmy Tucker. They all survived the ordeal and contributed to the “Baseline Anthology,” which was the follow-up assignment. Some have gone on to distinguish themselves locally. Perhaps the class that started it all will have a reunion and take the tour again on August 12.

An Abbreviated History of the Epping Baseline

Drawing on a number of sources, but most particularly an article written by Andrew Kekacs in 1991, which was based on “a thick stack of documents” compiled by Harold E. Nelson of Newport, “who has studied the coastal survey for more than a decade,” Willey has pieced together quite a thorough history of the baseline, which we will outline briefly.

In the early 1800s, our new nation was busy discovering and defining itself. The Louisiana Purchase in 1803 doubled the size of the United States and the Lewis and Clark Expedition set off to explore and map the west. Meanwhile, all along the eastern seaboard, shipping had increased dramatically since the American Revolution and trade was flourishing, but the accuracy of existing nautical charts was poor.

In 1807 Congress authorized the U.S. Coast Survey to map the Atlantic seaboard from Maine to Louisiana to aid in both navigation and national defense. To determine exactly how this could best be done, Albert Gallatin, Secretary of the Treasury under Thomas Jefferson, asked leading scientists for proposals, and the successful proposal came from a Swiss immigrant, Ferdinand Rudolph Hassler. He “proposed a survey based on a chain of triangles stretching from mountaintop to mountaintop down the Appalachians” and he became the 1st Superintendent of the U.S. Coast Survey.

Known as the Eastern Oblique Arc, the chain would serve as the framework for linking individual harbor surveys. It was an ambitious proposal, a major scientific undertaking at a time when geodetic surveying was in its infancy. However, according to Nelson, “in the 1800s, the United States was at the leading edge of this technology.”

Six lines, measured with extreme accuracy, were built to facilitate Hassler’s plan. They were in southwest Alabama, northwest Georgia, the Chesapeake Bay area, off Long Island, NY, in Massachusetts, and Downeast Maine. It was most common for baseline sites to be selected on open coastal beaches, because a line of about eight miles was needed, along with visibility at the ends to mountaintops. The rugged coast of Maine made it necessary to site the last baseline well inland and that has proved to be its salvation, for whereas the Epping Baseline Road is extant, no remnants remain of the other five baselines.

Once a baseline was constructed it became the one “known” side of a triangle. The principle of triangulation used in surveying over great distances is, “that if one side of a triangle is of known length and at least two of the three angles in the triangle have been determined, a length for the remaining two sides can be calculated. The three now known sides may then each become the only known side for other triangles, and the system expands.” (Nelson)

Kekacs writes, “Any error in measuring the six lines would be compounded by the mathematical calculations used to create the Eastern Oblique Arc. Such errors ultimately would reduce the accuracy of the coastal survey.” (His article in 1991 was occasioned by the GPS measuring project, spearheaded by Harold E. Nelson, that found the Epping Baseline to be accurate to within a centimeter – less than one-half inch.)

The site for the last of the baselines, the Eppling Plains from Columbia to Deblois, ME, was chosen in 1853, preliminary surveys were made in 1854 – 1856 and towers for heliotropes constructed. In May, 1857, local farmers and lumbermen were hired to grade a 12-foot-wide path along the proposed line. Where necessary, the path was cut into banks or raised by stone cribbing so that the incline or decline never exceeded one foot in six meters.

Epping Tower

On July 15, 1857, Benjamin Franklin’s great-grandson, Alexander Dallas Bache, 2nd Superintendent of the U.S. Coast Survey, arrived to oversee the measurement of the baseline. Jefferson Davis, then Secretary of War and later President of the Confederacy, visited the survey party while they were camped on the barrens. In his memoirs, his wife Varina writes, “On a plateau near the top were white tents pitched, one for each of us, an excellent cook, tenderloin steaks from Bangor, vegetables from the neighboring farms and to all this comfort was added the newest books, and an exquisite and very large musical box which played “Ah, che la morte,” and many other gems of the then new operas of Verdi.”

According to the daily recordings in the Journal of Measurement – Epping Base 1857, bad weather slowed the survey crew until July 27, when conditions improved making it possible to finish the measurements and comparisons on August 7, 1857.

The U.S. Coast Survey, now known as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, marks its 200th birthday this year with a special website: www.celebrating200years.noaa.gov. They honor both Hassler & Bache among their Top Ten History Makers.

The Baseline Lady has lost count of the number of tours she has led over the 5.4 mile long Epping Baseline Road through the years, but she has helped literally hundreds of school children appreciate the uniqueness of their region. In September 2004, she led a group from the Senior College across the barrens. “Wow!” wrote Joan Stevens of Addison. “That’s the best word to describe our adventure yesterday on the Baseline Road. Everybody had a great time and we learned so much. You made the history and the people come alive for us. It was a beautiful day to be up on the barrens and for us to see the “purple mountains majesty above the fruited plains.”

This was probably the last group to see the southwesterly marker in its original setting, for in October 2004, the Maine State Museum removed the marble monument to its facilities in Augusta. Even though it was in an obscure setting, it had become the target of vandalism over the years and showed damage from target practice and other abuse. Despite that, one could still clearly read the carved lettering “U.S. Coast Survey,” “A.D. Bache Sup’t,” “Base No. 9,” and “1857” and fortunately, most of the road itself is still intact, stretching the eye and the imagination to the horizon. The Cherryfield-Narraguagus Historical Society is home to what is left of the eastern marker.

Support for these tours is being provided by S.A.D. 37, Worchester Wreath, Fickett Properties, Cherryfield Foods, and Jasper Wyman & Sons. Charlie Corliss has volunteered to drive the bus. Donations from the tours on August 12 will benefit the Cherryfield Academy Restoration Fund. For more information and to make reservations call Nancy Willey at 546-2259 or Polly Craft at 546-9748.

 

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Boston Post Cane Presentation to Eunice Grant

by Burni Andres

Cherryfield – June 24, 2007

Eunice Harrington Grant, 95, was honored as the most senior resident of the Town of Cherryfield on Sunday June 24th at the family homestead in Deblois. She was presented with the Boston Post Cane and given a framed certificate recognizing her as the town’s eldest citizen. Kathy Upton, President of the Cherryfield-Narraguagus Historical Society, made the presentation on behalf of the Cherryfield Board of Selectmen and the Town of Cherryfield.

Eunice Grant

Eunice Grant was an only child, born in Cherryfield on January 5, 1912. The family lived on the Stillwater Road and her father “worked in the woods and in the sawmills.” She attended Cherryfield Academy and still goes to Alumni Association meetings. After graduating in 1929, she attended four summers (equal to one year) of “normal school in Machias,” what is now the University of Maine at Machias. This qualified her to be a teacher and she taught in one-room schoolhouses for two years, one year in Columbia and one year in Deblois, before marrying Martin Andrew Grant on June 28, 1933, and beginning a family.

All five of Mrs.Grant’s children were present at the festivities – Polly Craft of Cherryfield, Don Grant of Orono, Violet Harrington of Cherryfield, David Grant of Brewer, and Jim Grant of Michigan – as well as many of her 10 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

They shared many happy memories of growing up on the old homestead and great love and admiration for the family matriarch. They recalled the great vegetable and flower gardens that Mrs. Grant maintained until 2004 when ill health made it necessary for her to give up her independence and move back to Cherryfield where she lives with her daughter Polly.

Now she keeps busy with reading, crossword puzzles, crocheting, knitting, and braiding rugs. She’s recently taken up Sudoku – that number game that is all the rage and routinely defeats much younger puzzlers, including yours truly. When I told her she was “as bright as a button,” she responded, “Yes, but I don’t know why.” Her family attributes her clear head, general good health, and longevity to keeping active and she exudes a gentle spirit of kindliness and interest in others.

Mrs. Grant’s mother, Hittie Tracey Harrington, held Cherryfield’s Boston Post Cane in 1985 and the family agrees that Eunice has the same determination as her mother. Right now she is recovering from hip surgery and determined to fly to Michigan next May for a family wedding.

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88 River Road

by Burni Andres

CNHS1Thanks to the generosity of Phil Harriman, 88 River Road is the new home of the Cherryfield-Narraguagus Historical Society. “This house has a lot more room and we have stuff we can’t begin to display where we are now. This house is in much better condition than the Patten Building, it’s out of the flood plain, and it’s a building we can heat,” says Margery Brown, Founding Member and President of the Historical Society. “I’m delighted that Phil has given the house to the Society, so that we can continue to collect and display information pertinent to Cherryfield and I hope that it will encourage others to join us in our efforts to preserve Cherryfield history.”

Mr. Harriman is putting a new roof on the building and having a picture window installed in the kitchen overlooking the river because he’s “always wanted one in that location.” After some new wiring and plumbing and probably a new furnace are installed, the Society plans to redecorate and begin moving in, hopefully in early 2007.

Society Vice-President, Kathy Upton, says, “I’m just as pleased as punch. It’s such a positive thing for the Society and will be a great home. I think it’s good for Phil and for the Society. It puts us on firm ground, literally, and will make us more useful, more accessible, because we’ll be able to stay open year round.”

Although it is not listed in the “Guide to the Cherryfield Historic District,” the house was probably built around 1840 by William Burnham II, grandson of the Machias Burnhams of Burnham Tavern fame. Washington County Sheriff Benjamin Farrar was living there according to the 1861 Map and his second wife, Permelia, was William Burnham’s daughter. Some years later it served as the residence of Ulysses Gardner who lived in the farmhouse and ran “Gardner’s Grocery Store” downtown, in a long-gone building on Main Street right next door to the building that presently houses the Cherryfield-Narraguagus Historical Society.

Phil Harriman has been an advocate for Cherryfield all his long life. He was born on New Street in 1918 and shortly thereafter his family moved across the river to Elm Street. His father, John Harriman, ran a “1st Class clothing store in the best building on Main Street” that stood next to what is now Richard Kapral’s art studio. “It really was the best building,” says Margery Brown. “It was a nice, big, square building.” Joanne Willey remembers taking dancing lessons on the third floor of the Harriman Building; “A dancing instructor used to come down from Bangor to teach ballroom and tap dancing.” That building was later compromised by flood and finished off by fire.

After graduating from Cherryfield Academy, Phil went off to college and his work took him out of town for some time. In 1948, he bought the property at 88 River Road and for the next decade ran it as a sportsman’s lodge called the “Narraguagus River Inn.” “That was when the river was famous for salmon,” he says. During this time, he actually lived in Boston and later Portland, working as an engineer for the telephone company. He used his Aeronca TriPacer three-passenger airplane to “commute” to Cherryfield every few weeks during good weather and maintained an airstrip between the Elementary School and the pond on River Road behind the house.

In the early 60s he moved back to town and ran Cherryfield Motors for the next sixteen years. He kept his airplane for pleasure and would “fly down the river and over the islands, then back through Harrington and up to Deblois.” “All the school children used to look out the window and watch him land,” Kathy Upton recalls. “It was a lot more exciting than lessons. Then the school put up the backstop and that put an end to that.” Listen to Kathy tell about it in her own words:

When “the river went to hell, the fish stopped coming in and the fisherman stopped coming,” so Phil closed the inn and used the house as his own residence. “The government is spending a lot of money trying to find out what happened to the salmon,” he says, and Phil has been helping them for the past several decades. He has been an outspoken advocate for community involvement in salmon conservation and restoration as a founding member of the Maine Atlantic Salmon Federation and a Founding Member and long-time officer of the Narraguagus Salmon Association. He also produced a video about salmon fishing that is in the Historical Society archives.

In 1974, he inspired and was a Founding Member of the Cherryfield-Narraguagus Historical Society. In April 1977, he published Mills of the Narraguagus, a well-researched study of what was “In the late 1800’s, one of the largest concentrations of water-power-driven mills in the State of Maine…” turning twelve to fifteen million feet of timber into lumber annually. “The primary purpose of this article,” he wrote in the foreword, “is to create interest among the residents of Cherryfield and vicinity in the history of the town of Cherryfield and the Narraguagus River. It is hoped that some persons might be interested enough to assist in compiling other histories of the area, possibly on such subjects as shipbuilding, businessmen of the 1800’s and early 1900’s, the old houses of Cherryfield, the blueberry industry, and a complete history of the town dating back to the late 1700’s. It is also hoped that this article might stimulate more interest in and more support for the Cherryfield-Narraguagus Historical Society….”

After his parents died, Phil moved into their house next door leaving the house at 88 River Road vacant for the past twenty-some years. Now the house will have a new and useful life as the home of the Cherryfield-Narraguagus Historical Society. Secretary-Treasurer Joanne Willey says, “I’m just thrilled to pieces about it. First of all we need a new place and this will allow us to have more displays.”

One of the new displays will be Phil’s sister Helen Holland’s collection of teddy bears. “She had hoped to someday have a museum in Vermont with these,” he says, but when Helen died a year and a half ago and left that dream unrealized, Phil asked Maine State Police Officer Barry Curtis of Cherryfield to go to Vermont and collect many of the bears for the police to use in their work with children who come into their care through accidents, etc. The rest of the collection will be displayed in various vignettes throughout the new museum. “I was acquainted with his sister Helen,” says Joanne, “and we anticipate displaying the teddy bears as a tribute to her.”

Phil Harriman is not a man who leaves dream-fulfillment to chance. He is a hands-on sort of person and the man who is making the Cherryfield-Narraguagus Historical Society’s dreams come true.

For more information call Kathy Upton at 546-2076 or Joanne Willey at 546-7937.

 

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Margery Brown Honored by 2 Those Who Care

by Burni Andres

Margery Brown

Margery Brown in the first Cherryfield-Naraguagus Historical Society building.

Margery Brown of Cherryfield is one of a group of outstanding volunteers from Eastern Maine who will be the honored guests of WLBZ 2 at the annual 2 Those Who Care Awards. The awards will be presented at a gala invitational ceremony on Wednesday, October 5, 2005 at the G. Peirce Webber Campus Center at Husson College in Bangor and will be televised as a primetime special on WLBZ 2 on October 18, 2005, 8:00pm.

Margery moved to Cherryfield with her late husband, Ted, in 1952 and began her life as a volunteer in 1953 by helping with the school lunch program where she “helped serve the food, cleaned up the mess afterwards and did whatever the cook asked you to do.” When her family was young she did a stint as a Sunday School teacher, but she is being recognized now primarily for her work during the past thirty-one years as one of the founding members of the Cherryfield-Narraguagus Historical Society (and 31-year President) and the Cherryfield Free Public Library, and for her more recent service as a member of the board of selectmen and a variety of related committees, the Washington County Council of Governments, the Sunrise Economic Council, the Washington County Commissioner’s Budget Advisory Committee, the Cherryfield Celebration Committee, and for numerous caring interventions on an individual level.

Unofficially labeled the “town historian”, it is rightly thought that Margery Brown knows more about the town of Cherryfield than anyone else in the world. She served as town clerk from her home for nine years (1963-1972) and on the planning board for ten years. In 1995 she secured a grant and put all the existing town records on microfilm. Through these activities she was introduced to what is now her primary interest, genealogy. She and her late husband cleaned and catalogued more than 40 historic cemeteries in the area and she personally fulfills the genealogical requests received by the Historical Society.

On one recent evening, Margery realized that she had two meetings in Cherryfield and one in Calais scheduled for 6:00pm. “I think I just over-extended myself,” she recalls saying. She sees her work as a way to serve the community, and conversely, as a way to fill her own life with meaningful activity. Although her schedule can be demanding and is the source of much family amusement, of the “Where’s Mom?” variety, she expresses no interest in slowing down. She is a two-time cancer survivor and has often lent support to other cancer patients by taking them on the 120-mile round trip to Bangor for treatment, as well as sharing her caring ear.

When we discussed this award one recent afternoon, it was very typical that she spent most of the time talking about the contributions of the other award winners she had recently met. She seemed most impressed with those who greet returning soldiers at the Bangor Airport. We agreed that it’s always nice to be recognized for one’s efforts, but I got the clear impression from Margery Brown that she does what she does for the love of it and rather wonders what all the fuss is about.

2 THOSE WHO CARE was developed by WLBZ 2 in partnership with the United Way of Eastern Maine to honor truly exceptional people – men and women from throughout Eastern Maine who unselfishly make a difference in the lives of others. 2 THOSE WHO CARE is sponsored by Merrill Bank and Webber Energy Fuels. For more info go to www.wlbz.com

 

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New Life for Cherryfield Academy

by Burni Andres

Cherryfield AcademyCherryfield Academy was incorporated 176 years ago by an Act of the Maine Legislature on February 19, 1829, “…for the education of youth, and the promotion of piety and morality….” The original Board of Trustees reads like a Who’s Who of Cherryfield – Samuel Merrill, Phineas Bond, John Upton, Philo Lewis, James A Campbell, Tobias Hall, Joseph Adams, William Nichels, Alexander Campbell, Alexander Nickels, Jeremiah O. Nickels, James Small and Charles Hall. Many generations of these distinguished families were educated at the Academy and some descendents still reside in the town.

In 1886, Judge James Milliken became Cherryfield’s first historian by writing a small volume, The Narraguagus Valley – History of the Early Settlers. The Judge’s son, Dr. Charles J. Milliken, served as treasurer of the Academy in 1895-6. The Doctor’s son, James C. Milliken, founded the Milliken Insurance Company (later bought by Hollis Fickett from James Milliken’s widow, Charlotte). In 1948, James C. Milliken wrote a short narrative about the Academy, borrowing liberally from his grandfather’s little history book and family experiences. I, in turn, borrow liberally from James’ notes and from original documents supplied by Margery Brown of the Cherryfield-Narraguagus Historical Society. As usual when writing about matters historical, I siphoned some of this material directly from the mind of Margery Brown, Cherryfield’s living historical encyclopedia and current President of the Society.

In 1948, James C. Milliken wrote: “Until 1850, the school led a sort of itinerent [sic] life, being held first in one place and then in another. For the first ten years, the sessions were held in an old meetinghouse, which had been remodeled and repaired for the purpose. The site of the building was near the present location of the Baptist Church. In 1839 this structure was burned, and for ten years the school languished. A private school was taught for a time in Lyceum Hall.”

“In 1850, the Union School District was formed in order to provide the Academy with a suitable and permanent home. The present building was erected by the district and deeded to the Trustees. This generous act afforded the School excellent accommodations, and attracted the attention of those interested in higher education to Cherryfield. Competent teachers were employed, and the excellence of the instruction given drew many students, who are today among the active men and women of this and many other states.”

The “Catalogue of the Officers and Students of Cherryfield Academy for the year ending February, 1853” lists a Board of Trustees including some Campbells, Nickels, and Smalls plus a Willey, a Wakefield, a Burnham and a Nash among those at the helm. It lists two teachers, Francis A. Gates, A.M. and Miss Catharine R. Lord, and a total of 198 students – 99 “Gentlemen” and 99 “Ladies” – a student/teacher ratio that would surely be frowned upon today.

The textbooks used in the “English Branches” are listed as “Bible; Town’s Fourth Reader; Webster’s and Worcester’s Dictionaries; Brown’s Grammar; Weld’s Parsing Book; Thompson’s Seasons; Smith’s Geography; Burritt’s Geography of the Heavens; Smith’s Astronomy; History of the United States: Boyd’s Rhetoric; Hedge’s Logic; Comstock’s Natural Sciences; Foster’s Book Keeping; Watts’ on the Mind; Wayland’s Moral Science; Lambert’s Physiology; Wood’s Botany; Worcester’s Ancient History; Wayland’s Political Economy.”

In addition to English, Latin, Greek, French and Spanish were taught. The Trustees take the opportunity to include some general remarks, to whit, “This Institution is located in the pleasant village of Cherryfield, on the Stage road leading from Bangor, Bucksport and Ellsworth to Calais, Eastport and the Provinces: and the Trustees, in issuing this, their first Catalogue, take pleasure in saying that, in its success, their most sanguine expectations have been fully realized. In the facilities it affords for acquiring an education, either for practical life, or for advancement to the higher Institutions of our country, they believe it to be equal to any of the kind in the State, and therefore recommend it as such, pledging themselves that nothing shall be wanting on their part to sustain the high reputation is has already gained.”

The “Terms” are explained as dividing the year into four terms of eleven weeks each; commencing with the Spring Term on Feb. 23, followed by the Summer Term beginning on May, 25th, the Fall Term beginning on August 24th and the Winter Term beginning on November 23rd.

The “Expenses” are the last item listed. “Board, including lights, fuel and washing, can be had in private families, at from $1.50 to $2.00 per week. Tuition, for Common English Branches, $3.00 per Term: Higher English Branches, and the Languages, $4.00: Drawing (extra), $1.00.”

Getting back to James C. Milliken’s 1948 narrative we read, “In 1873, in order that the town might take advantage of the Free High School Act, the Academy building was leased to it for a nominal sum, and a school was carried on under the provisions of said act until 1895. Previous to that time it was recognized throughout the State that the interests of common school as well as higher education would be advanced by reorganizing the old academies. The Legislature of 1893 encouraged this movement by assisting many of them liberally. The Trustees of this Academy applied to the legislature of 1895 for aid, and having obtained it, opened the present school April 15, 1895.”

The Academy remained an educational and community center until 1967 when S.A.D. #37 was formed and Narraguagus High School was constructed, after which, the Trustees deeded the building to the Town of Cherryfield for use as a Town Office and community building. The town used it until 1999. During this period the town renovated a portion of the first floor lecture hall into offices, and two classrooms in the rear of the first floor were developed into the town’s library. Union Hall, the historic second story auditorium with its magnificent vaulted ceiling, stage and exquisite acoustics, was closed to conserve energy.

In 2000, after the completion of a new town office building and post office on Route 1, the Academy building as deeded back to the Board of Trustees. Since then it has housed the Cherryfield Free Public Library, some 1st floor rooms have been available for various group meetings, and the building has been maintained at a subsistence level. The effort to conserve energy, along with advancing age, caused degradation of the plastered walls and ceiling to the point of being dangerous and the auditorium was closed for safety reasons. This winter, the Cherryfield Library will be relocated to its new home in the old Union Trust building on Main Street.

The Board of Trustees, led by Chairperson Nancy Willey, have embarked on a plan to bring the Academy building back to life. With the help of Down East Resource Conservation & Development (RC&D) they secured two small grants. With these, they hired Chris Glass, a historical architect from Camden, to study the existing building and submit plans for getting the building up to code – which includes removing some walls, installing an elevator, improving bathrooms and installing a sprinkler system so the building is suitable for general public use – while preserving its historical character. The roof has been repaired and the chimneys inspected.

Last spring several local businesses donated money to clean up and paint Union Hall. To date, the ceiling and walls of Union Hall and the ceiling over the stairs have been restored and painted. The signature magnolia medallion in the ceiling has been restored to its original splendor and, if the Trustees have their way, it will some day once again have a chandelier hanging from its centerpiece.

Fundraisers and donations are on-going and if the success of the recent Harvest Festival is any indication, the Trustees have the full support and enthusiasm of the community. They plan to sponsor suppers, plays, a Miss Cherryfield pageant, and a full range of Cherryfield Celebration activities. The Trustees, all Academy graduates recognizing their advancing years and a dearth or possible replacements, have amended the by-laws allowing relatives of Academy graduates to serve as trustees, thereby insuring an influx of new ideas and energy.

“We realize this is a tremendous undertaking,” Nancy Willey told me, “but we wish to make Cherryfield Academy once again, the educational, social and cultural focus of our community.”

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