Good afternoon! How nice to see you folks and have this opportunity to speak with you. Seeing a crowd like this reminds me of my days in politics. It’s been some time, I must admit, since I’ve run for public office but I still enjoy the thought of doing a bit of campaigning. I understand this is an election year so I’m sure you’ve been listening to all sorts of speeches to convince you to vote one way or another but I assure you I shall not try to persuade you to vote for anyone or anything. I’ll simply take this opportunity to tell you a little bit about myself and about my family, which have deep ties here in the St. Croix Valley.
I’ll begin with my father, William Pike. He was one of the earliest settlers in Calais. In fact, he was present at the first town meeting, back in 1809. At that time, he was elected to be a selectman, a fence viewer, and a hog reeve, I’ll have you know. I guess it was important back then to be sure people had sturdy, well-built fences and that their hogs didn’t get away, though it sounds somewhat less important in this day and age, I must admit. Still, I’m sure he did the job well. He had arrived here about 1805 from Portland. He was well educated and did very well as a businessman, trading in lumber. Unfortunately, he died somewhat prematurely in 1818 when he drowned on his way to Eastport to celebrate the liberation of Moose Island from the British at the conclusion of the War of 1812. Since I was only two at the time I’m afraid I have no clear recollection of my father, only of my mother, Hannah, who was left with several children for which to care. These children included both myself and my brother, James.
My brother, James Shepherd Pike, grew up to become very well-known nationally and very involved in the abolitionist movement. He was a successful journalist for the New York Tribune and served as the associate editor with Horace Greeley, as well as being the chief Washington Correspondent from 1850 to 1860; so he was very much on the national political scene during the years leading up to the Civil War. Abraham Lincoln appointed him to be the United States Ambassador to the Netherlands, a post he held from 1860 to 1866. Then he returned to journalism. He was involved in the presidential election between Ulysses Grant and Horace Greeley in 1872. Of course, he supported Mr. Greeley and Mr. Greeley lost, but James continued working and remained very active in politics until his death in 1882. Now, James is not buried here, of course, although his first wife, Carolyn, is buried over with my mother. She died young and James remarried. He and his second wife, Elizabeth, lived in Philadelphia when he passed away and that’s where they are both buried. Of course, throughout his life he always returned to Calais for a time in the summer and often Mr. Greeley would come to visit. James owned our father’s house where the library now stands, as well as the Mansion House in Robbinston. I’m sure you know it was James who installed those markers along the main road that say “1 Mile to Calais”, “2 Miles to Calais” and so on. He also installed a red granite water trough at a spot on the river known as Pike’s Woods. This was all for running his horses up and down the river between Calais and the house in Robbinston, but I know they still exist and have become local landmarks. To me, it’s quite remarkable that they’re still here.
My own career was not quite as illustrious as my brother’s, but I led a busy and successful life, also, I believe. I was educated here in Calais until I was about 14, then I went over to East Machias to attend Washington Academy. This was during the years before Calais Academy was started so anyone desiring to continue his education beyond grammar school usually went there. After completing my course of study at Washington Academy I went to Bowdoin College where I studied law, graduating in 1837 and passing the bar three years later. After completing my preparation to practice law I returned home and opened a practice here in Calais. After I’d worked a few years and gotten myself established, I married and began a family of my own. That was in 1848. My wife had been born in Eastport but her family had moved to Calais when she was just a girl. Her name was Mary Hayden Green. She was a good woman and a strong Baptist; in fact, she was one of the founding members of the Second Baptist Church. She was especially sympathetic to the cause of the abolitionist movement and was ardently anti-slavery. We traveled to the South not long after we were married and when she saw slavery first-hand she became even more fired for the cause. She had literary tendencies anyway and decided to write. Her first novel was a book entitled, Ida May. It was intended to stir the passions of Northern women against slavery and it did just that. In its day, it was as popular and as well-read as Mrs. Stowe’s, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, though it has not endured in the same way, I know. Why, in just the first 10 months it sold over 50,000 copies! It was a wonderful book and was said to have been a major catalyst for the Civil War, since it was read by so many people and instilled such passion for the cause of the abolitionists. I was, indeed, proud of her. She wrote many other, equally popular books, as well as contributing to magazines and had a full career at a time when most women did not. I believe I can justifiably say that she was ahead of her time.
Well, during this time I was equally busy and involved with my own affairs. I began my political career here in Calais where I served as Major in 1852 and 1853. I then went on to serve in the Maine House of Representatives where I was Speaker of House in 1860. I decided to run for Congress in 1861 and I was elected and went to Washington, where I remained for the next eight years. I served on several important committees, including Reconstruction after the war and I was a member of the national committee to accompany Mr. Lincoln’s remains back to Illinois. That was, indeed, a great honor and a privilege. Unfortunately, I did not win my bid for reelection in 1869 so Mary and I returned home from Washington and I again went to serve in Augusta, after which I settled back into my law practice here in this city. Mary and I had lived in many places and traveled extensively in both the United States and Europe so it was time to enjoy our home, Thorncroft, which was located on Main Street next to the Samuel Rideout house. We had owned a house on the other side of Main Street which Mr. Asher Bassford had built but we sold that and moved into our new home, which we both enjoyed very much. I am sorry to know that both these houses are no longer standing. Mary would be greatly saddened, I am sure. Still, this is progress and the moving on of the world, and I expect, we must move with it or be left behind.
I believe that before I leave you I must mention the Calais Free Library, because both my brother, James, and I were instrumental in the establishing of that institution. You see, when James died in Philadelphia in 1882, he left his house at the end of Union Street, where the present library now stands, along with what was then a rather large sum of money - $5,000 to be exact – to found a library for the city. Well, upon reviewing this bequest more closely and speaking with another Calais citizen, Freeman Hale Todd, it was decided that the house was not really sufficient for the kind of library we envisioned. So, we each pledged additional monies in order to provide for the present building. Unfortunately, I did not live to see the library completed but I am aware that our wishes were carried out after my death. It is a great legacy, I believe, which my brother and I and Mr. Todd were able to provide for the City of Calais and its citizens. I am proud to have had a part in this endeavor.
Welcome and good evening everyone. My name is Theophillis Wilder. I was born in Pembroke on April 6th, 1790 and I died here in Calais on May 10, 1874 at the age of 84. I was living up in Milltown at the time of my death. I had worked in the mills along the river and living in Milltown was very practical for me. I could walk to work and it was a nice little community, very tightknit and friendly. I liked it there. Like a lot of older people, I’m afraid I had a bad fall not long before my passing and, as a result, my happy life came to an end. My dear wife, Lucy, is buried here with me also, though she is not up here with me tonight. I am very glad to have her here with me since we were never separated during our marriage and it was difficult to be without her when I died before she did. I was alone here for twelve years before she joined me and, although I was very sad when she died, knowing she must leave all the wonders of life, I must admit I was also happy to have her returned to me. We’ve been together ever since.
Lucy and I were married around 1820 and we very happy together all our married life. After we’d been married for a while we were overjoyed when Lucy was expecting a baby. Our son, Amos, was born to us in 1824. I was only 34 years old back then and Lucy and I were still living in Pembroke. However, not long after that we moved up to Calais. It was a bigger town than Pembroke and when we came here it was growing rapidly. There were so many more opportunities for work in the mills and shipyards than there were in Pembroke. I shall always remember when I came to Calais for the first time. It was a bustling place! They were building everywhere! It was really growing fast and becoming a beautiful and prosperous looking town. There were beautiful homes as you drove along the river down Main Street and the masts of tall ships were visible everywhere. Why, the wharfs were like beehives. There were men working everywhere, loading and unloading wagons and ships. It was amazing, there was so much activity. The churches and public buildings were all very handsome and Lucy and I were really happy to live in such a nice place. Our son, Amos, grew up here in Calais and eventually he married a wonderful young woman from St. Stephen. Her name was Charlotte Porter. In due time, they had a son, our grandson, and they named him Amos after his father – Amos Parker Wilder. He was born here in Calais and Lucy and I were really happy to have three generations of our family living here. But, you know how children are, and Amos and Charlotte were no different. They were young and had ideas of their own. They were restless to strike out on their own and have some adventure in a new place. So, it wasn’t too long after our grandson, little Amos, was born that they decided to move down to the capital of the new State of Maine, Augusta. We were sad, indeed, to see them go away, knowing that we wouldn’t see them or our new little grandson very often once they’d gone. There just wasn’t much chance to travel back then. You had to work every day and there was no such thing as a vacation. You worked six days a week and only had Sundays off to rest, so, with no free time, Augusta was another world away for Lucy and me. Why, they might just as well have moved to China! Well, off they went, and our son, Amos, started an oil cloth factory in a town near Augusta and he became a very successful businessman so I guess it all turned out for the best.
Y ou know how parents are – they’re all very proud of their children and grandchildren and we were, too. Our grandson, little Amos, who had been born right here in Calais, grew up and his father had made enough money to send him to Yale where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1884 and a Ph. D. in 1892. This was after I had passed on, of course, but we have ways of finding out about our loved ones, even out here! In fact, I heard that my grandson wrote the very first doctoral dissertation in the country on the subject of municipal government. He eventually married a girl named Isabella Thornton Niven and had an interesting career, far from Calais. His life was much different from my life. My grandson moved out to Wisconsin where he became a journalist and was one of the owners of the Wisconsin State Journal. He was even a particular acquaintance of William Howard Taft, who became president. Mr. Taft much admired my grandson and he helped him obtain an appointment from none other than President Theodore Roosevelt, who appointed him consul general in Hong Kong. So, he moved his young family to Shanghai in 1909. Can you imagine? A young feller whose grandfather, me, worked in the mills up in Milltown, and who was born right here in Calais, became the consul general in Hong Kong appointed by President Roosevelt himself. If I’d been alive I swear I’d have found some way to get to China just to see him doing his work there. I’m was that proud of him! Well, he stayed in Shanghai until 1914. At that time he began to have some problems with his health and he was forced to resign. But that didn’t end his career. After he came back to the United States he returned to New Haven, to Yale, where he directed something called the Yale-in-China Association and he also returned to being a journalist.
I guess with his writing ability and with his journalism background, that it’s not a surprise that his young son, my great-grandson, Thornton Wilder, grew up to become such a famous author and writer of plays. I’m sure many of you have heard of my great-grandson, Thornton Wilder. You probably know some of his books, like The Bridge of San Luis Rey and his very famous play, Our Town. They tell me it’s still very popular and still being performed, even now. Why, they’ve even made movies of some of his books and stories. Perhaps you’ve seen some of them. Of course, I’ve never seen a movie. There was no such thing as a movie in my day! I guess it’s just one of the many wonders that have been invented since my time here on this earth ended.
Well, I guess you’d have to say I’m really proud of all my family – my son Amos who started the oil cloth manufacturing business that made the money to send my grandson to Yale where he was educated to become a journalist and to become the consul general in Hong Kong. And then, of course, my great-grandson, the famous author, Thornton Wilder. Who would have thought that I could have produced this family with its roots right here in Calais, Maine? Well, I think it’s time for me to let you all move on to your next visit. I thank you very much for coming this evening. It’s been a real treat for me to talk with you all. I’m especially looking forward to our little gathering out here after you leave. We have a great time! Lucy will be coming, of course, but I only wish the rest of my family was buried here with me so they could come, too. But, of course, they are all far off in other places, I’m afraid. Good night everyone, and enjoy meeting all the others that are here tonight. They all have such interesting stories to tell. I know you’ll enjoy meeting them. Good night.
How nice to see everyone! A warm welcome to you all and I thank you for coming to visit me this afternoon. It’s nice to see so many people here today. And, it’s nice for me to be here with you. I don’t get an opportunity like this every day! But please, allow me to introduce myself. My name is William Corthell and, even though I spent a considerable number of years in other places, Calais was my home for most of my life and I always returned here. In fact, I retired here and it’s here that I died in November of 1908. I was born over in Addison in 1827 and after being educated in the grammar school there I went on to Washington Academy in East Machias and then to what is now known as Colby College, though back then it was known as Waterville College. I was involved in many pursuits during my lifetime, including education and politics, as well as serving in the judiciary. However, if I were to be defined as any one thing it would be as an educator. Teaching and education, including rather broad educational reform, were the most important aspects of my professional life, I would say. Now, you may ask how I came to be in Calais in the first place and how I came to have such a fondness for it, enough to call it my home for over 50 years. Well, I first came here when I was but 20 years old. I arrived, fresh from college, to accept the position of principal at Calais Academy. Calais Academy was only newly founded in those days. In fact, I was the first principal there. So, you can see that I began as a teacher. That was 1857, which was a somewhat momentous year for me since it was not only the year I graduated from college and started a new job here in Calais, but it was also the year I married my wife, a girl named Mary Buck from Robbinston. I’m pleased to tell you that we lived to celebrate our golden wedding anniversary just about a year before my passing. It was quite a memorable affair, I can assure you. Letters and gifts from everywhere and everyone, tokens from my old colleagues and from Western State Normal School, which later became Gorham State College, which I founded. I had an interesting life and I believe I made some important contributions to let me tell you a bit about myself.
Well, as I have stated, I came to Calais to start a new life, both professionally and personally. I had a new job and I had a new wife and I was, indeed, a happy man. This was 1857 and just before the Civil War which, if we had but known, was slated to alter so many of the lives we knew. So many students from the Academy killed, so much bloodshed, so much suffering, so much that we would never have predicted. The Civil War brought a whole new realm of experience for me as well, since it was during this time that I was appointed to be the judge of the Municipal Court, during which time I served on the bench for two important events. Perhaps you know the story of the Confederate bank raiders at the Calais National Bank during the Civil War. Well, I was the judge who served for that case so let me tell you what I know about it: Add the story, however you want to include it.
Now, here’s another event in which I was involved around the same time. Do you know about the Fenian Movement and how it came to the St. Croix Valley? Well, while I’m at it, I might as well tell you about this, as well. Add whatever information you wish to here.
Well, that sort of brought to a conclusion my work as a judge. The Civil War was over and I was free to continue my work in education. I continued as principal of Calais Academy but I was always working to bring about educational reform and eventually, this brought me to the attention of people at the state level. I had served in the state legislature and as the supervisor of schools here in Calais. Around this time it was suggested that I run for State Superintendent of Schools, which I did. I was well supported by the Calais community and the Advertiser concluded that I was well qualified, I was good speaker, I was knowledgeable about the responsibilities of the position and that, although I would be a great loss to the city, I would be a great gain to the state. This was high praise and I appreciated it since I had an agenda for educational reform. At this time, and continuing for some time after, teachers received little or no training or education. Generally, a young man or woman would simply complete high school and begin teaching. There was no preparation and no thought about the necessity to teach young people how to teach as well as what to teach. How could the education of our citizens improve if the education of our teachers didn’t improve? And so, I set out to gain this position and I did. Once I became the State Superintendent of Schools for Maine I fought diligently to have the state recognize the need for post-high school level education for teachers. I began as State Superintendent in 1876 but by 1878 another opportunity was presented that I felt I simply could not refuse. I was offered the position as the first principal of the newly founded Western State Normal School in Gorham. This would later become Gorham State College and at the time it was established to provide the training and education for teachers that I had been heralding for so long. Here was an opportunity to mold new educational programs and direct the path teacher education should take in the future. It was important work and I knew it. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I knew that too. I accepted and remained until my retirement in 1905, when I returned to Calais. As a result, I am considered the founder of Gorham State College and, in fact, a building was named for me there in 1926 – Corthell Hall. Quite an honor for me.
At the time I began my work as president of Western State Normal School, I realized I had lived through radical changes in America – the Civil War, mass immigration, changes in government and the structure of the nation, the role of the individual state. Educations like myself and Booker T. Washington in particular, were demanding that education serve a practical purpose. We were both concerned with producing competent teachers. The school at Gorham was not the first in the state, it was the third, but I wanted it to be different. To me the great, imperative need of our schools at that time was to train teachers. I saw in Gorham a school that would not only provide new teachers who would be better trained than ever before, but that would train those teachers who were already teaching without any training or knowledge of what they were doing. It was a monumental task and one I will not explain in more depth but to say that this was a defining moment in education in Maine and in America and the result of this movement was the recognition that teachers could not educate our children without proper training. This was a time of change and reform in education and I am so proud to have been at its forefront.
Well, it was hard to retire and leave all I had built but I must admit that the rest was welcomed. However, I never did stop my work for reform. I continued from my home here to the very end. I believe I had a life well lived and one of some consequence for the future, even down to today, so I could not ask for more. Politically I was a Republican and religiously I was a Baptist. As they say, I lived long and died strong. Certainly strong in my resolve and strong in my knowledge that I had worked hard and done my best. So, I must leave you but no without a sense of appreciation for your time and your willingness to listen to my tale. I was a fortunate man. I lived a good life. I hope you can all say the same. Good-bye my friends.
Hello! Please let me welcome you to the Arnold Lot. It's the oldest lot in the whole Calais Cemetery. My name is James Arnold and I'm glad you could come to visit me today. You know, I have to tell you that when I first came up this afternoon and took a look around I was kind of startled. Nothing looked familiar to me. Then I remembered that I wasn't buried here in the first place, I was moved here later. I was actually buried in the Sandbank Cemetery, near the bottom of Spring Street, but when they started this cemetery they moved us from Sandbank and brought us over here. Boy, I can still remember that ride. Was it ever bumpy coming over those old dirt roads in the back of that horse drawn hearse! I was sure glad to get here. That was about 1836, I think. Before this cemetery was started there were several small cemeteries around town and some people even had family cemeteries on their property. My brother George and my brother Thomas and I were all buried at Sandbank Cemetery and then dug up and moved here later on. Now, we have the three oldest graves in the cemetery since we all died before 1836 when this cemetery was started. George died in 1816 when he was only a year and a half old, and Thomas died in 1829 when he was 19. I died in 1833 when I was only 9. You know, back then this cemetery was different than it is now. Then, this part of the cemetery was in the front. When I was brought here the entrance was right over there, about where that white building is now. (Point to the left toward the building to show people) You got here by going up to the top of Hinkley Hill and going in the road from there. And, that line of big pine trees behind me was the boundary line for the back of the cemetery. In fact, if I remember correctly there was a farm beyond those pine trees. You know, I can remember that there were graves over where those trees are now, on the edge of the cemetery. (Point just behind you and to the right.) I don't remember everyone who was buried over there but I do remember a lady named Mary Cressey. On her gravestone it was written, “She needed a rest.” Well, I guess she got one but I don't think she ever expected to end up in the woods! They've let it get all overgrown. I heard today most of the stones over there are gone now and there are just a few pieces left, but you have to hut really hard to find them. That's kind of sad, I think.
I hope you won't think I'm rude but, you know, to me it seems that lots of things have changed quite a bit. I don't mean to stare but your clothes look very different to me. I never saw anyone out in public with bare legs or feet showing, not even in the summer. Everyone was always all covered up, except for their faces and hands. I know our minister at church, Mr. Hills, would think it was scandalous if he knew I was here with all of you dressed like that. We went to the Congregational church, by the way. In fact, my mother was one of the charter members of the church when they started it in 1825. They built a fine new church up on the top of Calais Avenue, not far from the Sandbank Cemetery where I was buried first. Speaking of my mother, she and my father are also buried here with up boys. We boys are all listed on this stone but Mother and Father are over there. You know, before you came this afternoon, my brother Enoch was up here visiting with me but I just couldn't convince him to stay. He said if you heard his story you might think he'd been involved in the slave trade and he didn't want people to think that. He said he'd come back after everyone had gone so I'm looking forward to seeing him again, then. You know I don't know if he was ever involved in the slave trade, but I sure hope not. I can still hear Father saying it was “BAD business, just plain evil!” Anyway the story of how he died is kind of interesting. Perhaps you'd like to hear it? If you gather around and listen closely, I'll tell you all about it! Well, it goes like this. Enoch, after he got older, grew to love sea and all the ships that would come to dock down at the wharves every day right here in Calais. He told me that he would even try to sneak off and run down to the waterfront, even though Mother and Father warned him not to go near the docks, and even though Father had “tanned his hide” a couple of times when he'd gone down there and been caught. Well, there was just no keeping him away from the water, I guess, because when he was about 16, Enoch ran off to sea. Now, the very last ship he signed onto before he died was a brig named the Charles J Dow. The captain was man named Daniel Richardson and Enoch had come across him down in Delaware when he was looking for a berth on a new ship. Enoch said that Captain Richardson was a fair man and not too hard to work for as long as you followed orders. Enoch liked him. Well, one night Enoch was aboard the Charles J. Dow down in the port of Wilmington. The crew had been working most of the day taking on a full cargo of hard pine lumber and they were setting out for Jamaica on the next tide, bound for Port Maria! Enoch said the crew was feeling skittish about the voyage. Someone had told them the ship was cursed and they were all afraid something might go wrong -everyone except Enoch of course. At least that's how he told it. Well by the time the ship neared the port of Nasaw, down in the Bahamas, the crew had come down with a strange sickness. Nearly every man on board was sick, so finally, the captain was forced to put into Nasaw to get some help for his men. Well, it seems that there wasn't much help for them because almost as soon as the vessel landed, many of the men died, including my brother Enoch. Enoch told me he remembered some of the men saying this was the curse they heard about but Enoch said it wasn't and that they'd just all caught some strange disease down there in the Caribbean. Who knows? There's no way to find out now. Well, anyway, I guess the captain was a good man, at least to Enoch. He know Enoch had a family back home in Calais and he wanted to get his body home for burial so he put him in a barrel of rum to preserve him and sent him home. He could have just buried him in the Bahamas or out at sea, but he sent him home and here he is, right here with me. And that's what happened to my brother Enoch and that's how he came to be here with me and the rest of the family, even though he died way down in the Bahamas. Enoch said he reckoned Father must have said that wasn't a very good use for a barrel of good rum, but that's what happened.
Well, I've been talking a long time. Since it's getting late, I'd better let you get going. You have to go over to meet this young lady, Fannie Duren, right over there. I was talking to her earlier and she seems very nice so I think you'll enjoy your visit with her. By the way, she thinks your clothes are very unusual, too. I'm glad to have made your acquaintance and I thank you most sincerely for coming to visit with me this afternoon. I hope we see each other again, sometime. Good bye.
Hello, everyone. It’s very nice of you to stop by this afternoon. I’ve really been looking forward to talking with you today. It’s rather exciting for all of us to be up here in the sunlight this afternoon. After all, we’ve all been gone for such a long time. In fact, I just realized that I’ve been gone for 100 years! I can hardly believe it could have been that long but it has. Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Margaret Gladys Hayes. I was born in 1901 and I died when I was 14 years old in 1916. I would have had my 15th birthday on May 8th of that year but I died in March so I never celebrated my birthday that year.
I must tell you that I’m not actually buried right here. That’s why you don’t see a gravestone. My actual gravesite is easy to find. Just go down the center road of the cemetery. Keep going until you come to the first DelMonaco lot on the left with the statue of Jesus. I’m buried right across from it. I’m up here instead because all the others who are here today didn’t want me to be way down there by. So, since this lot was empty I came up here instead. I hope you don’t mind.
My story is a bit sad, I’m afraid. My poor family seemed to be followed by tragedy for several years and I was the second one to bring sadness to my parents. You see, there were four children in my family and three of us died before we were grown up. The first was my older sister, Cecilia. She died in January, 1916, just two months before me, and my little brother John died three years later in 1919. He had the influenza virus that killed people all over the worth at that time. If you’ve come here other summers, you may have met him. He was here a couple of years ago, I think. My parents, David and Mary Hayes, were both from New Brunswick. Father had been born in Woodstock and Mother was from Milltown, N.B. Father was a laborer in the mills. There were lots of them on both sides of the river in those days so it was easy to find work. Of course, the work was hard and the hours were long. Father worked six days a week for 12 hours a day and he never had a vacation but he never complained as I recalled. He was just happy to have a job to take care of Mother and us kids.
Well, I’d better get on with my story. It really begins with my sister. She’s the one who got sick first. Actually, we both died from the same illness, tubercular meningitis, but Celia came down with it first. It was a terrible disease and there wasn’t much to help anyone who caught it. They didn’t have vaccinations in those days, or antibiotics either, so lots of people just didn’t survive when they got sick and poor Celia was one of them. So was I for that matter. Poor Celia was sick for only about two weeks and then she died. I remember how hard it was for my parents. We were all so sad and shocked. None of us ever thought she’d die. We just thought she was sick and would get better. But she didn’t. That’s why I was so frightened when I started to get sick right after my sister died. I remember that I was in grade nine at the Convent School. You know, back then everyone went to grammar school for nine years instead of eight, then we went to four years of school at Calais Academy. So, I was still going to school with the Sisters of Mercy but I was really looking forward to starting at Calais Academy in the fall. Anyway, I’d been working hard to prepare for high school. One of the sisters was helping me. She said I was a good student but I needed to work on my Latin more and also on my algebraic equations so I’d be better prepared for Geometry and for my Latin courses. Everyone studied Latin in those days. It really did help understand English better if we had a good understanding of the Latin roots. Sister said it improved our vocabulary, too, and I guess it did. Then, all of a sudden, I got sick, just like my sister. I wouldn’t have thought too much about it if it wasn’t for Celia having just died. I started to cough, like a had a cold, and I remembered the doctor had said that meningitis was very contagious and my parents would have to watch the rest of us children to be sure we didn’t show any signs of having caught it from Celia. My sister Florence was 19 and little John was only four and neither one of them got it. But Celia and I were only two years apart and we slept in the same room and were really close so I guess it makes sense that I was the one who got it. Of course, my parents tried to take precautions so I wouldn’t catch it but it must have been too late. I remember they moved me out of Celia’s room and kept us apart while she was sick but it didn’t work. Maybe I’d already caught it. Maybe I caught it when Celia did and it took longer to come out. I don’t know. I only know that I became very sick, very fast. The coughing was terrible. It seemed worse than Celia’s had been and I remember feeling really scared. I would lie in bed and my heart would start to beat fast and I would begin to panic. I tried to calm myself down but it didn’t work. Finally, I would cry and scream for my mother to come. I didn’t want to but I was just so frightened and Mother could always make me feel better. She’d rub my back and hold my hand and tell me not to worry – that everything would be okay. But I don’t think she really believed it. More than once I remember looking up at her and seeing tears in her eyes, even though she tried to assure me nothing bad would happen. I think she was just as scared as I was but she didn’t want me to know. Finally, near the end of February, I came down with pneumonia on top of the meningitis. That was the end, I guess. I couldn’t seem to get any rest. I coughed so badly I just couldn’t go to sleep, and if I did I woke up coughing after only a few minutes.
It’s funny but I can still remember that last day. I haven’t thought about it for a long time but talking to all of you it’s become quite clear in my mind. It was early March, the 3rd I think, and it was one of those days when the sun is bright on the snow and there’s a promise of spring in the air. It would have been a beautiful day if I hadn’t been so sick but it just seemed sad to feel so bad and have the promise of spring so apparent when I knew in my heart there wasn’t any promise for me. Father knew the end was near. I heard him talking softly in the hallway with the doctor. I heard someone say the word “priest” and in a little while Father Pettit came from the church. I heard voices but it was sort of foggy and far away sounding, but I’d stopped feeling frightened. Isn’t that strange? Father Pettit put holy oil on my forehead and it felt cool and nice. I don’t remember much after that – just a kind of restless sleep – then it was over. I felt good after that, I remember, but of course I’d slipped away, though I guess I didn’t realize it.
Poor Mother and Father, losing two daughters within less than six weeks. The whole town felt badly for them. There was even a little article in the Advertiser that said, “Much sympathy is expressed for Mr. and Mrs. David Hayes, whose home has, within the past month, twice been invaded by death, and two daughters taken, both bright and happy young girls.” The funeral was a mass of the angels at the Church of the Immaculate Conception and all the children from the Convent School came with all the Sisters of Mercy. How nice of them, don’t you think? You know, I can’t help wonder what my life might have been like if I had lived. Would I have gotten married and had children of my own? And poor Celia, what would she have become? Did you ever think how strange life is? How some people live such long lives while others don’t seem to get much chance to live at all? I wonder why that is. And I was so happy, too, just like the newspaper said. I would have loved to continue to do all the things I liked to do as a girl and to grow up but it just wasn’t to be. Perhaps we should all be careful to live our lives the very best way we can. After all, we never know how much time we have. Well, I didn’t mean to be so serious. I hope you’ll forgive me. It’s just that I do think about these things sometime. Oh my, what time must it be? I really must say good-bye, as much as I hate to have you go. I cannot begin to tell you how happy you’ve made me by coming to visit like this. Why, it’s been the very best day I have had in over 100 years. Doesn’t that sound funny? If I ever get a chance to do this again, I hope you’ll come back, or just stop by my gravesite and say “Hello” some time. I’d like that. Good-bye and thank you so much for coming to see me.
Hello, everyone. I hope you’re all enjoying this nice afternoon as much as I am. It’s been a really long time since I’ve been “above ground” and it sure is nice to be here. In fact, I wish I could stay longer, maybe even spend a few days with you, but I know my time here is limited so I’d better get started on my story. Let me tell you who I am. My name is Charles Frost but my friends call me Charley and I’ve been dead since January 6, 1892. I can tell you that I never thought when I got out of bed that morning that it would be my last day on earth, but it was.
I lived up in Milltown and even though I was young – I was only 15 when I died – I was a laborer in the mills with a steady job making regular pay. I quit school when I was just 12 to help my family after my father became unable to work. A lot of fellas quit school and went to work back then. They had to if there wasn’t anyone else to help provide for the family. Someone had to work or there was no food on the table and in our case, I was the only one supporting the whole family. They were relying on me to bring home my pay every Saturday night. Otherwise, there’d be no money coming in at all. Once in a while one of the churches or the Benevolent Society might be able to help out a little but it wasn’t anything regular and it wasn’t enough to keep a family fed. My parents were good people, they were just poor and never seemed to have much luck. So, after my father’s accident I left school and started working any place they needed a strong boy to do whatever needed doing. Pretty soon, I got a steady job in one of the mills. In those days, there were lots of mills up in Milltown. That’s why they called it Milltown, I guess. In fact, down along the river, just below Salmon Falls, there were so many mills they stretched clear across the river to Canada. Why, you could walk from one side of the river to the other if you wanted to because there were mills built right over the water on pilings. There were more mills up above the falls, too, and more mills farther down river. You see, everything was made of wood back then and the mills made all kinds of things that were shipped out to other places on the big ships that came in to the wharfs down to Calais. There were mills that made wooden boxes, and wooden laths, and wooden shingles. Why, there was a mill for just about everything you could make out of wood. It was a busy time on the St. Croix River and it was easy to get work, so lots of us boys from poor families got jobs working for Mr. Eaton or Mr. Gates or Mr. Wentworth. Heck, most of us would just as soon be working and earning some pay than going to school. I always said I was glad to be working instead of going to school but underneath that wasn’t really true. I just didn’t want people to feel sorry for me or think I was unhappy – especially my parents. The truth is I was a pretty good student. My teachers said I was smart and I really liked to read and do arithmetic. But, I knew I had to do what I had to do to help my family, and I had to make the best of it, so I did. I worked hard, did my best and I got on pretty well. Besides, the other boys and I always found time to have a little fun whenever we could. In fact, that’s what we thought we were doing on that last day back in 1892, but it didn’t end up that way, I’m afraid. Let me tell you exactly what happened.
That day it was cold. It was January right after Christmas and the New Year. We didn’t get much for Christmas that year but we went to church and had as nice a dinner as my mother could put together with what we had and it was a good day. Well, on that last day I’d been to work and I remember my mother had packed me a ham sandwich for my lunch. I remember because a ham sandwich was something I didn’t have very often – lots of days it was just bread and butter – but my uncle had killed a pig and he gave us some of the ham so that day I had a ham sandwich. Boy, did it taste good! Well, during our lunch break – it was usually about 15 minutes – some of us fellas were talking and we decided that after work that evening we’d go down to Mr. Eaton’s shingle mill to just kind of fool around. Sometimes we liked to do that. We’d look for things that had been left behind when the mill closed, or pick up a few bits of wood that were laying around that we could take home to burn in the stove, or maybe find a few shingles for building or selling to someone – whatever we could find. And besides, we liked to horse around and have a little fun. Well, on this particular night there were four or five of us down there on the wharf near the mill pond. We were careful not to make too much noise so no one would hear us and come to find out what was going on but, all the same, we were laughing a bit and I suppose we weren’t paying as much attention as we should have to where we were and what we were doing. You know, you always had to be careful around any of the mills and I’d been told to stay away from them after hours. I should have known better and I should have been more careful but a young fella didn’t always think about such things in my day. Maybe they still don’t, I don’t know. Anyway, all I remember is that one minute we were laughing and having fun and then I stepped back to get out of the way of one of the other boys who was fooling around and pretending to be a boxer and the next thing I knew I fell backwards into the mill pond.
I knew right away I was in trouble. I can remember that. The water was ice cold. There were even some pieces of ice floating on the pond and I panicked. You see, I couldn’t swim. I should have been able to. All the other boys could. But I just never learned. I went in the water in the summer when it was hot but I was careful never to go where it was deep and I never let the other boys know I couldn’t swim. Besides, I worked all the time and didn’t have time to do more than just cool off on a hot day anyway. So now, here I was in the mill pond in freezing cold water and I knew I was in big trouble. I was going under so I splashed my arms around and yelled and the others tried to help but the water was so cold and my clothes were heavy and I just couldn’t stay afloat. I tried, I really did, but I couldn’t stay on top of the water and I couldn’t see and I couldn’t reach the wharf and the water went down my throat and my friends didn’t know what to do and then, I sank and I never came up again. I don’t remember much after that, only the cold and sinking, and then I guess I just blacked out. Anyhow, that was the end for me. Only fifteen – I would have been sixteen in a couple of months – and it was over.
Well, the other boys took off when they saw I wasn’t coming up again. They spread the alarm in a hurry and a bunch of men seemed to come out of nowhere to look for me. They searched for my body late into the night. They hated to give up hope in case I somehow managed to survive but they couldn’t see and it was late so they stopped until the next morning. As soon as dawn came they started looking for me again. Now that it was light it didn’t take them long to find me but, of course, it was much too late. Still, they’d found me so I know that must have been some comfort to my mother and father and the rest of the family. I’ve often wondered how they ever got by without me. I was all they had. I hope they didn’t end up in the poor house. People did in those days. If only I’d listened. I’d been told to stay away from Eaton’s mill since there’d already been several other drownings at the same place but we just wanted to have some fun during the time we had away from work and we never thought anything would happen.
There was a funeral at the Baptist Church up in Milltown, I expect. That’s where we went to church most Sundays. My mom was a church woman even though my father didn’t go too often. In the advertiser they said I was a “smart industrious boy and the principal support for his folks, who were poorly off.” That was sure true. I was buried in a pauper’s grave, I suppose. It was further down there in the cemetery where there aren’t any gravestones. It looks like it’s empty but it’s not. It just has people buried there who didn’t have any money and couldn’t afford a headstone. I don’t know if it was really called the pauper’s cemetery but it seemed like that just the same. Well, that’s my story, sad but true. And now, I’d better say so long to all you good folks. There’s a gathering after all you people leave and I want to be ready for it. It’s been a long time since I’ve had any fun and I’m really looking forward to it. I hope to see you all again sometime, though. That would be nice. Thanks for coming and good bye.
Hello, everyone. It sure is wonderful to see all of you. I haven’t been up above ground for a very long time. Look what it says on my gravestone – died, 1859 – and someone told me it’s 2015! I was born in 1846. So that’s 169 years ago. My goodness. I can hardly believe it was that long ago. You know, I’ve been looking forward to being here ever since I learned I could come today. It’s so wonderful to smell the air and see the grass (pause a minute) and. . . . .to see how differently you are dressed. It’s very interesting. People in my time never dressed like you, I’m afraid. You look much more comfortable than we were, though, especially in the hot weather. Perhaps I’ll get a chance to try on some of these new styles before I go back. I’ll ask, but I don’t suppose they’ll let me. I doubt it but it’s worth a try. Well, I think it’s time I told you who I am. My name is Miss Frances Perthena Duren and I am very pleased to make your acquaintance on such a fine afternoon. But please, call me Fanny. Everyone does. Frances is so much more formal, don’t you think. And my middle name, Perthena, did you ever hear it before? I doubt it. I never knew any other girl with the name Perthena. I was the only one. I don’t know where Mother got it. It sounds like Greek Mythology to me. Still, it was sort of nice to have a really unusual name like that. The other girls, especially at school, used to ask me to tell people my name because they liked the sound of it – they said it was very elegant and sophisticated sounding. Well, let me tell you about myself, besides my name, I mean. My father was William Duren. He and my mother are buried here with me. They’re right over there were it says Father and Mother. Their names are on the big stone in the middle, too. Father was rather a prominent citizen of Calais, even though he wasn’t born here. He was born in Waterville in 1811 but he moved to Calais with his parents in 1827 when he was about 16. Calais was a booming town in those days and all during my rather short lifetime they seemed to be building something somewhere all the time. There was so much trade going on in lumbering and shipbuilding that there was a lot of work for people in the mills and on the wharfs so lots of people were coming here all the time to find jobs. That’s why my grandparents came here and not long after they arrived in town my father went to work as well. He started working in the lumber business. Sometimes things went well for him and sometimes they didn’t but he always seemed to do well in the end. Papa always worked hard and became a well-respected businessman. He was very interested in politics and although he didn’t get really involved until after I died, I’ve heard he represented the city in the State Legislature and he represented the county in the State Senate, so that’s pretty important, I think. He was also the Mayor of Calais from 1872 to 1876. I wish I’d lived to see that. I think it would have been quite fun to have been known around town as ”the mayor’s daughter”. Perhaps I would have even used Perthena as my name instead of plain old Fannie. Mother would say I was “getting above myself” if she heard me say that. Oh, well, I guess none of that was meant to be because I was only 13 when I died and Father didn’t become the Mayor for another 13 years.
It was June 20th, 1859 when I died. We lived in Milltown then and I died right in my room at home. I still feel sad to think about it. I missed so much. I didn’t live to be the mayor’s daughter or to do the things I dreamed about doing when I grew up. When I was alive I was always very popular with everyone I knew. Mother says one must practice humility and that I should not be a braggart, but if you know something is true and you say, even if it is about yourself, I don’t think that’s really bragging, it’s just telling the truth and that’s what everyone says we’re supposed to do. That’s what Mother and Father always said and that’s what we learned at Sunday School. You know, sometimes the things grown-ups tell us get kind of confusing. Well, that’s what I think, anyway. I know Mother wouldn’t like it if I told you this, so I’ll tell you quietly so she won’t hear, but everyone said I was a bright and promising young girl and when I died they even wrote in the Advertiser that I was liked by everyone in the whole town, so it must be true. Anyhow, I always felt like people liked me. I think it was because I was always friendly and nearly always happy. I just really liked to talk to people and I always liked to learn about new things. I loved to hear about faraway places and I often dreamed about travelling around the world when I grew up. I wanted to visit all the places I’d read about. You know, I had so much fun when I was alive I never thought about it ever coming to an end. It just seemed like it would go on forever. There were so many things I wanted to do. I just never thought I would become sick the way I did, and I never thought I would die. You know, even now, I really don’t know what was wrong with me. I only know it was a terrible sickness. Dr. Swan and Dr. Holmes both came to our house, day after day, but neither one of them could say what was wrong with me. They just didn’t know for certain what I had. They just called it a lingering illness. And neither one of them could save me in the end. At first I thought I was just a little sick. I thought I must have a cold or the flu. But when it began to last a long time I began to feel afraid. I wanted to get better quickly and be able to go out and see my friends and go back to school. I had been looking forward to going to Calais Academy in another year or two. Calais Academy had just been built and was a really pretty building that Mr. Bassford had designed. It was on Academy Street and it was very important looking – nothing like the little school I went to in Milltown. I couldn’t wait to go there. As time went by and I didn’t get any better, in fact, I just kept getting worse, I became more and more scared. Nothing the doctors did seemed to help me and I felt so sick and it lasted for so long. I felt worse every day. I really don’t mean to complain, Mother would say I shouldn’t, especially since we really hardly know each other, but there was so much pain and it never seemed to go away. It just hurt all the time. The suffering was so very bad. I tried to be brave. I tried as hard as I could. I didn’t want to worry my parents. They looked so worried already. But, can I tell you something? Sometimes when I was alone, and I felt sure no one could hear, I would just lie in my bed and cry, especially late at night. It just hurt so much and I was so frightened. In the end though, I remember, I was actually glad when it was over. At least the pain was gone and really, dying wasn’t nearly as frightening as I thought it would be. I remember poor Mother and Father crying by my bedside but I felt okay. I wished I could let them know that I was okay and that all the suffering was over and that I was really in a better place. But I couldn’t. They’ve told me that after you all go away today we all get together so I hope my parents can come, too, so I can tell them I’m alright. I know they must still be worried. Before I go, please let me share what was written about me in the paper three days after I died. This is what was written on June 23rd, 1859:
Thus has passed from earth to heaven a bright and promising girl, who not only had a strong hold upon the affections of her parents, brother and sister, but a large portion of this community, as frequent expressions of sympathy during her long and painful sickness testify. While her suffering was intense, her patience was remarkable. Though she has departed, she still lives. Her sun has set, but we trust has already risen in another sphere, where it will shine in an endless day.
I think it was very nice of them to say that. It makes me feel good to know people really did like me. You see, I really wasn’t bragging, it was true. But you know, even after all these years, I wonder what memories of my life I might have had if only I’d lived to grow up. Well, I mustn’t think about that right now. I really must bid you all farewell. The afternoon is passing by and you have other people to visit. It’s been very nice meeting all of you. Thank you for coming. Good bye everyone. Please come to see me again.
Well, my goodness, just look at all you people who have come to visit me this afternoon. Why, it makes me think of the old days back at the store when I saw people every day. In fact, as I look around this crowd I’m sure I recognize some faces. You might have grown up some since I saw you last or gotten a little bigger or older but I can still tell who you are, I think. If I’m not mistaken isn’t that. . .(try to find someone from the neighborhood that would have gone into Ruth’s store as a kid; someone like one of the Becketts, Lori Howard, anyone. Allen can help you know for whom you might look, I expect.) I thought that was you. And there’s. . . (name a couple more, if possible.) It certainly is good to see all of you again. I wish I could give you all a free popsicle or some penny candy just for coming but I’m afraid I’m not in the store so I can’t do that but please know that I wish I could. My intentions are good just the same. For those of you who don’t remember me, I’m Ruth Clark and for probably 50 years of so I worked in Clark’s store on Washington Street. Of course, in the end, after my father died, I ran it, but I started working there when I was just a kid. The store was right near the corner of Germain Street, just down the street from the Catholic Church on the same side. Why, even the nuns came in to get something once in awhile. The convent was just around the corner on the Avenue so it was close by and they could walk to it. Of course, they never came alone. There were always two of them when they came.
Well, let me tell you a little about myself, in case you don’t know me. I was born in Calais, of course, on April 17, 1910. My heavens, can you believe it, that’s 105 years ago?! It doesn’t seem possible it could have been so long ago but it has. Back in the “old days” you know, shopping for groceries was a whole lot different that it is today. Some of you might be surprised to find out what it was like back then, so I’ll tell you. To start with, it was 1938 when the first so called “supermarket” came to Calais. It was the A&P down on lower Main Street, just about where the roads kind of bends before it gets to Union Street. The Unobskeys built it but since lots of people didn’t even own a car and, if they did, they only had one and the man in the family took that to work, the new supermarket didn’t really hurt our business too much, at least in the beginning. It was another 15 or 20 years before it really began to change, but still I managed to stay in business my whole life, right up to 1971 when I passed away. Back in the old days, before big supermarkets, there were small neighborhood grocery stores all over town. Sometimes there were more than one on the same street. Why, at one time there were four or five just on Washington Street. Let me see if I can remember them all for you. There was my store, of course, then there was a small A&P across the street. It was there before the big one started in 1938 and lasted until about the war, I guess. Phil Hollingdale ran that one. Then there was Eddie Boyd’s store down on the corner of South Street. All the families on that end of Washington Street went there, and also people on South Street, and Franklin Street, too, I suppose. Then, let’s see, Ernie Jacobs had another store on Washington Street, close to Swan Street. And there was Hayman’s store on the other corner of Germain Street from me. That became Chick’s store later on but they both sold beer, which, I must admit helped to keep them in business, but we had never sold beer at Clark’s and I refused to do it, regardless of whether or not it would have helped business. I just wouldn’t do it and I’m not sorry I didn’t either. And, I have to tell you I expected my customers to be loyal. They all knew that if they needed a loaf of bread or a bottle of milk and I was closed, they just had to knock on the door of my house which was just next door and I’d come out and open the store for them so they could get what they needed. Then, of course, there were other stores in all parts of town. There were a couple more A&P stores in town, there was Lunn’s store over on Union Street, there was Ted Donovan’s on Price Street, Gibson’s on North Street, Don Donovan’s up near Knights’ Corner, Hamilton’s in Milltown. I’m sure there are some others I’m just not remembering, but you get the picture. So, when my father built Clark’s store back in 1920 it was a good way to make a living. Every neighborhood needed a store nearby cause people had to walk to do their grocery shopping. My father was Willis Clark and he and my brother, Louis, ran the store from 1920 when it was built until, oh, around the early 40’s, I guess. My brother died in 1943 and then my father died the next year, 1944. After that I took over the store and I ran it alone from that time on. You know, back then, we carried everything people needed. We had bread and milk, and we sold meat, of course, got it fresh every couple of days, and we had vegetables and canned goods – all the staple items. Most of the little stores in town were what we called “service” stores – we provided service. That just meant that a person could come into the store with their grocery list, hand it to the clerk and the clerk would “put up the order” for them. That meant the clerk would do the shopping. He’d go and get each item on the list and take it to the counter. Once he had gathered everything you wanted he’d bag it up for you – all while you waited. The last place I can remember that did this was Nason and Yardley’s store over in St. Stephen. They probably put up orders into the 1970s maybe. You could even call in the order if you wanted and someone would deliver it to you.
Well, as time went by, I have to admit, it got harder and harder to make a live in the store. There was the big A&P and all the small ones closed, some of them with no warning. Murray Tingley and Louis Morrison had a little store on Main Street and one night as they were closing a guy from the company, A&P, came up behind them and said, “Okay boys, we’ll take those keys.” And that was that. This was 1941 and the war was starting so Louis always said it really didn’t matter because he and Murray were immediately offered fulltime employment working for Uncle Sam. I guess when a thing like that happens it’s just as well to take it in your stride. Then when they opened the new IGA on Washington Street things got worse for my business. Also, everyone had a car by this time – sometimes more than one so they didn’t have to rely on having a store nearby anymore. They could just drive to the store, wherever it was. So, I sold less and less, and offered less variety. I just could stock everything anymore. I couldn’t compete. Finally, all the small stores that were still open, including me, were down to selling bread and milk and hot dogs – maybe a little hamburg – along with a few jars of mayonnaise, or mustard, or ketchup – things people might run out of and send one of the kids to get. Of course, I also sold things the kids would buy like pop in the old cooler filled with coldish water that always smelled musty no matter what I did, or potato chips, or popsicles, or ice cream bars, and, of course, penny candy. That was a staple in all the small stores. It was popular with all the kids who stopped in on their way to or from school. If they were careful and chose things that you got more than one of for a penny they could get a whole little brown bag full for a nickel. There were candy cigarettes, and bubble gum ones, and Bazooka bubble gum, and candy buttons on a long paper strip, licorice pipes, and fire balls, and those little candy pies with the tiny tin spoon to eat them with. There was always a big selection. I bet some of you here who came to my store when you were a kid can remember some of the others but that’s what comes to my mind right now.
I didn’t make a lot of money in the store but it was a good life. I have to tell you that as hard as it was to make a living I miss it. I wish I could go there right now and sit on that old stool behind the candy counter and wait on a few kids. I think I miss the kids the most. Every day they stopped in morning and afternoon on their way to or from school. The same kids every day, mostly. They spent a few cents and stopped to talk and tell me what happened at school or what was going on at home or around town or what they were doing on Saturday. You know, all the things kids think about. I don’t suppose that’s changed much since I’ve been gone. In those days all the kids walked to school, not like today. Well, I’ve talked long enough. I really must go. But not before I tell you how wonderful it’s been to see some of my old friends and visit with some new ones. Thank you so much for spending this time with me. Things have changed a lot, they certainly did in my time, but I’m not sure all the changes are for the best. Sometimes the old ways just seem better to me. I knew all the families and they knew me and when they were in trouble or short of cash I would always help them out with a few groceries. No one had to know. We looked after each other. Well, I’d best be going and so had you. I’ll look forward to seeing you another time. Good-bye.
Jane: Look, Solomon, we’ve got company. You’d better put that napkin back on the table. It’s not polite for us to be thinking about eating when people are here to visit. We can have something after they leave.
Solomon: Yes, of course, you’re right. Let me greet these people. Welcome, folks. Jane and I were running a little late today so we were just getting ready to have a bite to eat but that can wait. It’s not every day we have visitors and we’re really happy to see you. In fact, I don’t know when we had any company last. It could be 100 years or more, I suppose. My word, where has the time gone? Do you think it could be that long, Jane?
Jane: Well, mercy, yes, I believe it could be. It’s been a very long time, I know that, but I also know I’m awfully glad to see these folks. Welcome, everyone. We heard you were dropping by but we thought it would be awhile before you got here or we wouldn’t have begun to get ready to eat until after you’d come and gone. But, just as Solomon said, that can wait. You are far more important and we are so glad to see you. We came here today especially to visit with you and also, to pay a visit to our two boys here, John and Wallace.
Solomon: That’s right. They’re buried together right over there. John was our older son and his name is here on the front of the stone. You see, it reads, “Sergeant John H. Coy, a member of Co. K., 6th Regt. Maine Volunteers, wounded at Rappahannock Station, Virginia, Nov. 7, 1863, age 28 years, 5 months, and 7 days.” (Silence for a few moments.) Still hard to remember, isn’t it Mama?
Jane: (Doesn’t really speak but nods agreement and mumbles Mmm.)
Solomon: Well, then there was our younger boy, Wallace, he was only 20. His name is on the back. “William Wallace Coy” [William was his real first name but we always called him by his middle name, Wallace.] “William Wallace Coy, a member of Co. D, 6th Regt. Maine Volunteers, killed at Rappahannock Station, Virginia, Nov. 7, 1863, age 20 years, 9 months, and 7 days.” They were always close, so we decided to bury them here together and use the same stone for both of them, one on one side and one on the other.
Jane: Yes, I’m afraid they were close in life and close in death, it’s sad to say. Both our boys were went off to fight in the Civil War as much as we were sorry to see them go. We were so afraid something would happen to them, right from the beginning, but nothing would stop them going. Then they both ended up at the Rappahannock Station down in Virginia in the fall of 1863. It was a terrible battle. The news about it was bad, worse than some others, and the losses were heavy, I remember that. That was on November the 7th. I’ll never forget that day, that’s for certain.
Solomon: Yes, it was bad day, to be sure. The only thing we can be thankful for is that it was an important victory for the North and we like to think it helped to win the war. That our boys died for something important. It’s hard to lose two boys on the same day, very hard, even now. You know, there were so many local boys who fought in the Civil War and so many who were killed or wounded in one battle or another. Poor Joel Haycock, and Dr. Holmes son, Frank, both killed at Fredericksburg. Then there was young Frank Barnard just up there where you see the tall obelisk. He was at Rappahannock Station. He was our boy Wallace’s sergeant. Wallace was in Company D. Poor Frank was wounded on November 7th then he died at Armory Square Hospital in Washington, just like our other boy, John, here.
Jane: Oh, my, that was a hard year, wasn’t Papa?
Solomon: It sure was.
Jane: Even now, it’s still hard to think about it. I don’t know which was the worst – poor Wallace, only 20 years old, shot in the head – at least he died instantly – or John, a young man with a family, shot in the thigh and lingering for six weeks, having his leg amputated, then dying anyway two days before Christmas.
Solomon: Yes, and then John’s wife, Mary died leaving those three children orphans. Of course, we all pitched in to help take care of them. The oldest was Charlotte, who was born just three days after John and Mary were married. Boy, that caused a problem when we tried to prove they were, indeed, married so we could get the orphan’s pension for those children, didn’t it Jane?
Jane: I guess it did. What a scrape that was for a time. Why, the application turned out to be over 50 pages long. I thought for a while we’d never get that pension.
Solomon: Yes, and I was the Justice of the Peace who married them so I had the proof but it still took forever to get it approved by the government. It sure did work slowly. Poor little things. When their father died Charlotte was only 8 years old and Frank was 6. The baby, little Wallace, was 2. They weren’t much older than that when their mother died a few years later. The poor little things were orphaned at a young age. Lucky they had us.
Jane: Yes, it was, but they were good little kids and we were happy to take them in and give them a home. And their Aunt Sarah and her husband, Gustuvus Lawrence, helped out, too, so together we all looked after them okay. Those kids sure were sweet little things, weren’t they, Solomon? We had lots of good times. Frank and little Wallace mad us think of our own boys when they were little.
Solomon: My, gosh, yes, and when we took them out to Wisconsin they sure loved living on the farm with all the animals. They were all good little workers, too, especially Frank. Why, he’d milk the cows and slop the hogs and gather eggs just like a grown-up. He was a regular one man farmer. Oh, you know, Jane, we’d better explain to these folks about going to Wisconsin. They must be wondering how we got out there. Well, folks, when money got tight around here a lot of people were leaving for the West so we finally joined them. We packed up the kids and what we could take with us and went out to Wisconsin where we could work the land in order to get it for nothing. It was a great opportunity.
Jane: It sure was. Why, so many people were doing the same thing – either going to Wisconsin or Minnesota, especially – that they even named a county in Minnesota Washington County and the river there the St. Croix.
Solomon: Well, my dear, that was all a long time ago now, I’m afraid. There’s been a lot of water over the dam, as they say, or down the St. Croix!
Jane: Yes, but still it’s awfully nice to be here at this resting place with our boys again, even if it does bring back some painful memories. And it’s awfully nice to meet all these nice people. We’re pleased they came to visit our boys’ grave, too. It’s nice to think people still remember our loss after so many years.
Solomon: Yes, it is, Jane. The Civil War nearly tore the heart out of the country. I know it tore the heart out of us. Coming back here has helped a bit to heal some old wounds. I think we should have come sooner.
Jane: I think you’re right. We probably should have. But now I think we’d better say good-bye to these nice folds. They’ve been awfully food to stay and listen to the two of us ramble on about things that happened a long time ago. They’re kind folks. But then, Calais folks always were kind people. Makes me think how much I miss being here. Oh, if we could only stay longer but, of course, we can’t. So, Solomon and I will bid you all farewell and go back to getting ready for out meal, although with that party I heard they were having later on I think perhaps we should just skip eating now and save our appetites. Why don’t I make us a cup of coffee and a biscuit for now, and then we’ll be good and hungry for the party. No sense spoiling our appetites now.
Solomon: Good idea, Jane. Well, thank you all for coming by and we hope you’ll visit again if we ever have the chance to be here again. We hope so. But, in the meantime, we’ll say good-bye.
Jane: Yes, and thank you all for coming. We hope you enjoy talking to Mrs. Mason down the road there. We met her earlier. We never met here before but Solomon remembers her father, the lawyer, and her grandfather, Noah Smith, and I remember when she was born, if you can believe that. It was just about a year before John’s boy, Wallace was born. Just before the Civil War, if I remember correctly. Well, so long, and thanks again for the visit.
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen and welcome. My name is Asher Bassford and I’m really happy to see all of you tonight. It’s wonderful for me to be here with you. Like most of the people you’ll meet this evening it’s been a long time since I’ve been up and about and able to stretch my legs. When I was alive and living in Calais, I was always moving about all over town looking at building lots, supervising construction or examining plans and designs for new buildings. I led a busy life, to be sure. You see, I was an architect builder and I designed and built many houses, churches and stores in both Calais and St. Stephen. Well, let me tell you my story. I wasn’t born here in Calais. I was born in Mount Vernon, Maine in 1805 and I came here to Calais in 1829 when I was 24 years old. My older brother, David, had moved his young family to Calais a few years earlier. We’d been working together in Farmington so I decided to join him and I began right away working as a carpenter. Calais was the perfect place to be back then. I soon discovered that I’d set my fortunes on a town that was experiencing an unprecedented population growth in eastern Maine, and with it came a building boom. Why, during the 1820s Calais quadrupled in size, if you can believe it. It went from being an insignificant little village, the eleventh largest place in Washington County, to being the second largest town. Only Eastport was bigger at that time and we overtook that during the 1830s. There was just no stopping the growth around here. People were building everywhere. There was plenty of lumber, there were sawmills up in Milltown, and there were people with the money to build. Moving to Calais was the most fortuitous decision of my lifetime. Calais just continued to expand right up to the 1850s and even then it sustained its growth until after the Civil War.
Now, the first thing I did when I got to town was purchase a building to use as my shop. I had put what was then a pretty substantial amount of money aside, about a $1,000, and I used it to buy my shop and get my business started. Everyone called it the “yellow store”. I had a few setbacks in the beginning, as may happen to any young man, but I persisted, nonetheless, and eventually I flourished in my business. I never designed a building that I didn’t build myself and there was only one house, the one I built for Mr. Alexander Gilmore on Hinckley Hill, which I built but didn’t design. That was the only one. Mr. Gilmore’s house was designed by an architect from St. John named Matthew Stead. It’s the big gingerbread house you might know better as the Jewett House. And, I never built for speculation, like many builders in town at that time did. I worked strictly on commissioned work and it made me very successful.
Well, I’ve always thought I was in the right place at the right time when I came to work in Calais but, like I said, I had a little trouble in the beginning. My brother David and I both had some difficulty with creditors. However, unlike David, I stuck with it. Sadly, he gave up and left town too soon. Around the same time, which was probably about 1831 or so, if my memory serves me correctly, I also lost my wife, Mehittable. She’s buried right here with me. She died, leaving me with our baby daughter. For a time, things looked pretty grim but by 1834 I’d remarried. Then the depression hit in 1836 and I lost our house. That was a tough blow, I must say. However, the lumber based economy in Calais was really strong and it recovered quickly, giving the town its decade of greatest expansion in the 1840s. After that, I never looked back. I built my wife Lucy and me a new house on Germain Street in what was then a newly-plotted subdivision. That was around 1846. From then on I was really well established as a carpenter-builder and I eventually was one of the wealthiest and most successful in town. I was even unique among my fellow tradesman for having two apprentices. That was a real sign of success at that time. I trained my three sons as well. The oldest, Lowell, never really took to the business and he went out to Chicago, but the other two, Edward and Asher, Jr., did very well following in my footsteps. Edward worked briefly in Calais and then in Portland, but he really became known as an outstanding architect after he moved out to Minnesota to work in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Asher, Jr. joined him there, as well, and was equally successful but not before he continued in my business here in Calais during the 1870s. It was Asher Jr. who built the two grammar schools for me – one near the academy and a matching building up in Milltown on School Street. He helped me with a number of buildings, actually.
Now, I eventually sold the “yellow store” I had bought when I first came to town and I built a small shop on the corner of Washington Street and Germain Street just across from my house where I could keep an eye on it. There were three other carpenters who lived in the houses next to my shop and I sometimes employed them in my building projects. It took a number of men to complete my designs. Since you’re here, I thought you might be interested in seeing some of my buildings. This first one is the house I built for Alexander Gilmore. I told you about it earlier. I’m sure you all recognize it since it’s still up on Hinckley Hill. Mr. Gilmore had lots of money and nothing would do but that he would have a well known architect design his house, so he hired Matthew Stead from New Brunswick to draw up the plans and, since he couldn’t come here to build the house himself, Mr. Gilmore hired me to build it. It’s really one of the grandest houses ever built on the St. Croix. This wooden Gothic style was really popular across America in the 1850s and it was used on several houses in Calais. This house had all this fancy millwork on the eaves, and these pinnacles on each of the gables. It was really spectacular. I can tell you people took notice when it was being built. I don’t know if you know this already but this was the only house I know of in Calais that was built with the kitchen and the servants’ quarters below stairs, like an English manor house. It was very grand. I learned a lot from executing Mr. Stead’s plans, even though I didn’t design it myself.
Here’s another of my buildings and this one I did design. In fact, as I mentioned already, Mr. Gilmore’s house is the only building I put up that I didn’t design as well. Other than that one, if Asher Bassford built it, Asher Bassford designed it. Well, anyway, this is my crowning jewel, the Calais Academy building. I have heard that it burned many years ago. I’m really sorry to hear that because in many ways it really was my greatest achievement. I was commissioned by the newly chartered City of Calais to build its new high school in 1851 and they wanted something classical in design. I used a decorative scheme that was similar to one I’d used on two houses I built in St. Stephen. One was for Mr. Henry Eaton in Milltown, and the other was built down on Water Street for Nathaniel Lindsay. If you notice, I used a matched board exterior on the entire building. I was able to do this on several of my buildings because of innovations in woodworking machinery that had taken place around that time. A rotary planer had been developed for planing and grooving boards and two of the mills in Calais had one, as well as two more in St. Stephen. You can see in this picture, also, that I used inset columns at the main entrance and this anthemion extending two full stories before the door. I did the same thing on the two houses I built in St. Stephen, but I only extended it for one story. This design made a grander entrance to the building and gave it a greater sense of height. Here’s a picture of the Eaton House so you can see the difference. If you look closely, you can see the same matched board exterior I used on the Academy building and a similar entrance, with the anthemion and the inset columns.
I also built a very grand house for the Honorable Frederick Augustus Pike. He’s buried right over there with the tall black marble obelisk. He was the brother of James Shepherd Pike and was, himself, elected to Congress several times. His house was on Main Street across from Barker Street and it was one of my most unusual designs for the period and for this region of Maine. There wasn’t anything like it this side of Bangor, if I do say so myself. It was T shaped and had brackets under the eaves. Brackets became very popular but they weren’t being used around here when I built his house. Sadly, it’s another one of my buildings that is no longer standing.
Oh, you know, I built so many other buildings. I built the Baptist Church on Main Street, down near the bottom of Monroe Street. The Baptists sold it to the Methodists when they moved up to Church Street in the 1850s and the Methodists tore it down in the 1950s, as I understand. Then I built the Holmstead for Dr. Holmes. I’m happy to see it’s still there. It was a very nice house. There were others but I think I’ve talked long enough for one visit. I’m sure you are all ready to move on by now. As you can see by the flag, I was also a fireman. In fact, I served as the Chief Engineer for the Fire Department for several years and my son, Asher Jr., built the brick fire station that’s still there today. I was also a member of the Masonic Lodge and I was proud to know that I was buried with full Masonic honors. In my obituary they said two things that I thought made a very nice commentary about who I was. They said I was a genial, generous, kind hearted man and that my death would be deeply felt by my large number of friends. Well, I always liked people and I did have a lot of friends. They also said, and perhaps this pleased me even more, that for a long time I was the foremost architect and builder of the St. Croix and that some of the best residences of Calais and St. Stephen were designed and created by me. I like knowing that the citizens of the St. Croix Valley felt that way about my work. You know, years before, in 1850, they’d written a piece about me in the Advertiser. Let me read it to you:
Our friend A. B. Bassford, Esq., has just “turned off” another ofhis splendid houses, and we learn that his services have been engaged by Mr. H. F. Eaton for the erection of a beautifully modeledmansion at Milltown, St. Stephen. He seems to be in the way of supplying the Dons with elegant residences and at the same time adding very greatly to the beauty of our favorite street. (That was Main Street, of course.) The “downtown” aristocracy are already largely indebted to him for the exercise of his skill and taste in the matter of architecture, and we hope he may live long enough to fill up a number more of the open spaces on that street with buildings as valuable and beautiful as those already erected. An “A. B. Bassford Job” has long been a synonym, among us, for architectural elegance and durability, and we are glad to perceive the value of his services appreciated by those who have the means of employing them. The workmanship upon Dr. Holmes’ house is worth looking at by anyonewho has a mechanical eye, and the better taste the critic is possessedof, the greater the probability that he will pronounce it, as we learn the insurance agent classed Mr. Porter’s new ship the other day, “a better”.
It was certainly nice to know I was appreciated and I’m only sorry so many of my buildings have not survived, but I am grateful for the few that remain to continue to grace this fair city. Well, I do apologize for I have rambled on a bit longer, I’m afraid, and I promised to let you go. Anyhow, I have to get ready for the party tonight. It will be wonderful to have time to visit with the others who are here tonight, just as it has been wonderful to visit with you. Thank you all for coming and good night.
Good evening everyone, and welcome to the Calais Cemetery. This is a big night for those of us who are here to visit with you. It’s not very often we get the opportunity to be “above ground” and as I understand it, there’s a big party afterwards that I, for one, am really looking forward to attending. It’s been a very long time since I’ve had an opportunity for social engagement of any kind. However, before I go any further I have a confession to make, but first let me introduce myself. My name is George A. Boardman and, although I lived and worked all my life here in Calais, I have to confess that I’m not buried here in the Calais Cemetery so, don’t tell anyone, but I really shouldn’t be here tonight. I’m really somewhat of a gate crasher at this event, I guess. You see my wife Mary was from St. Stephen and as a result she wanted to be buried over in the St. Stephen cemetery, so we were and that’s where we both are. But since I lived down on Lafayette Street most of my life and since I was a Calais businessman for decades, it only seemed sensible to me that I should be included in this opportunity to come up and visit with all of you. You know, you might not realize it, but word of these gatherings even get across the border to those of us in the St. Stephen Cemetery so when I heard about all the fun that was going on over here these past few years I decided that this year I was joining in and coming over, too, even if I had to swim across the St. Croix River. Luckily, I didn’t have to do that, thought. We spirits have a way of getting around a little easier than that. You’ll find out one day, just wait and see.
Well, to let you know a bit about myself, I was born in Newburyport, Massachusetts in 1818. I wasn’t born here in Calais. When I was about ten years old my family moved up here to Calais and I’ve been here ever since. After I grew up and got married I lived in St. Stephen for a time. Eventually, however, we moved back over to Calais and this is where I lived and was a successful businessman. Began my business as a very young man and by the time I was twenty-one I was in business with Mr. William Todd. By the time I retired in 1871 I owned the largest lumber business on the St. Croix, which just goes to show what ingenuity, perseverance and hard work with a little bit of old-fashioned “horse sense” can do for a feller. Why, I even traveled to many far away places in my day. I even went to London. Now, I was certainly a very successful businessman and I made a lot of money. Later on, they might have said my success was like an Horatio Alger story, but of course, in my day those books hadn’t even been writer yet. I say this because despite my great success I never even had much of an education. I quit school when I was 13. My sons were educated, though. I saw to that. My son, Fred, studied law in Calais with Mr. Harvey after he graduated from Bowdoin but then, a couple of years later, like kids will do, he set off for Minneapolis where he went in partnership with a Mr. Ferguson. He did that for a couple of years, then he went into partnership with his brother-in-law, a Congressman Boutelle. I guess that’s how Fred got interested in politic. He served in the Minnesota legislature for a few years back in the 1880s. He did really well for himself, if I do say so myself. He even built big mansion out there. Hired an important architect, named Stebbbins, to design it. His mother and I were really proud of him. But then, we were proud of all our children. The boys all went off to live somewhere else. Bill went out to Minneapolis with Fred, and Albert went to Los Angeles to live. Of our four children, only our daughter remained in Calais. We missed the boys and were always glad whenever they came home for a visit. But then I’m sure those of you with grown children understand all about such things. That’s just how it is with families. But as long as they’re all happy and healthy that all that matters.
Now, the thing I really want you to know about me really isn’t anything to do with my lumber business or with my family, for that matter. My business was just the way I made my money, which is important, of course, and I did very well for myself, don’t get me wrong. However, my real passion in life was ornithology. I devoted every minute I could spare to studying birds and writing articles and books and that’s the work of which I’m the most proud. I was a noted naturalist for over 50 years and, in my time, I was considered to be a leading authority on ornithology. In fact, I was considered one of the first naturalists in what was then just the beginning of the field of ornithology. I was really on the ground floor, so to speak. As such, I had the opportunity to meet with many naturalist of the time, including Joel Asaph Allen, Thomas Mayo Brewer, H.E. Dresser, Addison Emery Verrell, William Wood, and many others. Of, that was all a very long time ago now and I expect none of you have even heard of these gentlemen. However, I can assure you they were all well known and respected in their day. I became a particular friend of Spencer Baird at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington and we corresponded extensively throughout our lives. I was a life member of the Natural History Societies of both Boston and London and right up until about two weeks before my death in 1901 I was still writing regular articles for “Forest and Stream” magazine, as well as for several other magazines and newspapers. After retiring, I traveled a great deal and this allowed me to put together what was considered the finest and most extensive collection of mounted birds in New England or, as was frequently stated, if not on the entire continent of North America. During that time I spent my winters in Florida collecting specimens. Of course, today people would condemn the practice of killing and mounting birds for scientific purposes but at that time it was an accepted practice and my large collection allowed other ornithologist to study each of my specimens very closely. It helped them learn a great deal about the birds of North America.
My collection still exists, I believe. In the end it was divided and some of it went on display at the Smithsonian and I gave the remainder of my collection to the New Brunswick Museum in St. John, where it can still be seen today. You know, I wanted to give my collection to the City of Calais and have it displayed here. I believed it would bring people, including important ornithologists, to our city, but after much debate the city fathers refused to accept my proposal. I was very disappointed. I had even constructed separate building from my house on Lafayette Street to display this important collection that I’d taken a lifetime to gather. I had glass cases constructed on two floors of what we referred as “the birdhouse” and I had my specimen installed there, ready to become a small museum. However, in the end, the city would not accept it so, with a somewhat heavy heart, I presented part of it to the Smithsonian through my friend Spencer Baird, and the rest was presented to New Brunswick where it was readily and happily accepted. I guess it’s the old story of the poet receiving no recognition in his own land.
I’m at least happy to say that my papers are all preserved at the Smithsonian Institute and that copies of my memoir, “The Naturalist of the St. Croix”, are at Harvard University, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, the Portland Public Library, Bowdoin College. My contributions to ornithological literature, mainly “The Catalogue of the Birds Found in the Vicinity of Calais” and “About the Islands at the Mouth of the Bay of Fundy, both of which was published in Maine and appeared in the proceedings of the Boston Society of Natural History in 1862 are also preserved at the Smithsonian. So, I guess it’s important for me to remember that my work was recognized by scientists and scholars nationally, although it would have been nice if my fellow citizens of Calais had also seen its importance.
Well, I can see it’s time for you to move on and I’ve come to the end of my story. I’ll try to find a way to let you know just how good the party is tonight after you leave. As I said, I’m looking forward to it. Perhaps I’ll see some of my old friends. In the meantime, thank you for coming this evening and thank you for listening. Good night to each of you.
Good evening, everyone. It’s so lovely to see that so many people have come to visit me today. My name is Carolyn Washburn, though everyone in my family and, indeed, throughout the city has always called me Carrie. I was born here in Calais on October 29, 1861. Of course, back then I was born at home in our house on Hinckley Hill. There was no hospital in Calais in those days but my mother told me that Dr. Holmes did come to the house. My father had built our house, as well as some others in the city, back in the early 1850’s before I was born. I have always loved our house and devoted my life to it, really. Perhaps you know my house. It’s one of the lovely gingerbread houses on the left hand side of the road if you’re going downriver. It’s the last of the three gingerbreads that stand in a row on Hinckley Hill. My uncle, George Washburn, built the gingerbread house next door to ours and he lived there until he moved to Houlton where he later died and is buried. I missed him and my cousins very much when they left. Our house and his look very much alike. My father and my grandfather also planted many of the beautiful trees up on Hinckley Hill. In fact, when my family went to live on Hinckley Hill there were only three or four other houses up there. There were just a couple of old capes and then there was the house where the Burns family lived across from us and everything else was pretty much undeveloped at that time. Of course, there was the old Keene homestead but that was a bit further down river on the right hand side of the road. And there was Mr. Emerson’s house but now, my heavens, there are houses everywhere in that neighborhood. All the lots are filled.
Now, perhaps you don’t know it, but my sister, Kate, and I were twins and we were always very close. We both went to school in Calais and graduated from the Academy. In fact, Kate was a teacher in Calais for many years and I must say she was so very popular with all her young scholars and their parents. They really loved her and she loved teaching. I, on the other hand, was not interested in becoming a teacher. I was more interested in books and publishing and story writing. In fact, I was a newspaper reporter before the turn of the century and was even an editor for a time. I always thought that was quite an accomplishment for a woman in the 1890’s. I’m very proud of it. I have always loved journalism. But then, later on when my brother Frank died and there was no one to run his insurance business, I ran that for many years and very successfully, too, I might add. Yes, I think I had quite an interesting life.
However, I guess the thing I love most has always been people and my many friends. I’m known for being a bit witty and for talking quite a lot but I don’t know if that’s really an accurate assessment of my true nature. Perhaps it is. I do like to talk and I’ve always loved literature and all the wonderful quotes there are in Shakespeare and Dickens and all the other fine authors, both British and American. I’ve always been an avid letter writer, too. I’m especially interested in corresponding with people from Calais who have gone off to live interesting lives in other places. I love hearing about all the things they’ve accomplished and I love telling them about what’s going on back home. I guess I just like people – and not just people my own age but people of all ages, young and old. I have just as many very young friends as I have older ones.
Well, I guess I’ve talked long enough. It’s so good to see you all and I want to thank each of you for stopping by to visit with me tonight. It’s not often I get to see people these days and I really have enjoyed it. Good night everyone and do come again. I’ve enjoyed talking to you so much.
Come in, come in. Don’t be shy. I’m pleased to see so many people. I just won’t allow any latecomers, that’s all. I cannot abide those who are not punctual. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a poetry reading and I’m very pleased to be able to conduct one again this evening. It’s one of my most favorite things to do. I am Professor Charles Townsend Copeland from Harvard, of course. I was born here in Calais on April 27, 1860 and I was raised by my parents Henry and Sarah in our house on Main Street, just across from what later became Memorial Park. Of course, when I was a child, the park wasn’t there. Back then it was the lovely brick home of Deacon Samuel Kelley, who left the property to the City when he died and they created the park from it. I loved growing up in Calais. The waterfront was a fascinating place, though my mother didn’t allow me to go there on my own, and there was so much commerce in the city and so many interesting people. When I grew up I went off to Cambridge and attended Harvard and later became a professor of English there. But, I always returned to Calais during part of my summer break and I always kept up correspondence with friends here. I loved walking uptown during my visits to Calais, speaking to everyone and going in all the shops. And, of course, when I died at the age of 92 I was returned here to this sight. Pleasant isn’t it? It’s so pastoral and shady. It reminds me of poetry, in fact.
After graduation from Harvard I began my career as a teacher in a boys’ school in New Jersey where I remained for just one year before returned to Harvard and entering the Law School there. I then became a drama critic and book reviewer for the Boston Advertiser and the Boston Post. I did this for nine years, after which I returned to Harvard again to become an instructor in the English Department. I later became an assistant professor and then a full professor and I was awarded the very prestigious Boylston Chair as Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory. I guess my two most popular courses were an advanced writing course and another entitled, “Johnson and his Circle”. I wrote books, of course, compiled two anthologies, and even was captured on film in a short moving picture in which I was filmed reading aloud. I had many interesting students, including T. S. Eliot among others.
That brings me to one of my most popular occupations, reading aloud. I love reading Dickens, Shakespeare, poetry, everything! I conducted regular readings for the public and even had an annual Christmas reading on the radio beginning in 1927 in Cambridge. I have to admit that I never thought the radio program would be successful and I fought doing it right up to that first Christmas broadcast. However, for once I was wrong and it was very successful and continued every Christmas for a number of years.
I was very well known at Harvard and, in fact, my suite of rooms in Hollis Hall was legendary. It was at Hollis 15 and I must admit it was the most famous address at Harvard. It was even known as Copey’s Castle. The students all called me Copey as a kind of nickname. They were lovely rooms with wide windows that looked out over the Charles River and walls of books, of course. I never took to the modern inventions so my rooms were never electrified with those ghastly harsh lightbulbs. I kept my coal fire and my two oil lamps right to the very end. I even kept a tub under my bed and brought it out for bathing by the fire in my room. I never saw any need for these so-called modern conveniences. I kept the sponge for my bath on a string which I hung from my window to dry. Of course, I ought to have known the Harvard Lampoon when grab hold of this. They included an exceedingly disrespectful poem about it that went like this:
See the funny porous thing Hanging by a bit of string Ever there from fall to spring Decorating Hollis Hall. Copey, Copey, don’t you remember Where you left it last December Or have you become a member Of the never wash at all?
But, of course, it was all in good fun and I took it like a gentleman, knowing its’ authors meant no harm, really. Of course, if any of them had been in my classes I might have failed them!
Now, one of my most popular and enjoyable activities were the poetry readings in my rooms. These were attended by students and faculty alike once each week. However, I had definite rules about attending. I needn’t remind people they were not welcome after eleven. I would simply tell them, “Nobody comes much after ten and nobody stays much after eleven”.
In my classes I also held very definite rules. I simply did not tolerate coughing or disturbances of any kind. I gave my students a few minutes at the very beginning to get all their coughing and sneezing and any other noises or disturbances over with. I did not tolerate lateness either and once, when a young man named Munn not only came late but stumbled through the door disrupting my theatrics and elocutions I asked the young man his name. “Munn”, he replied and I retorted with “Sic transit Gloria Mundi – Leave this course and never return.” If people cannot arrive on time they needn’t bother to show up late!”
Well, speaking of “late” I think it’s time I was ending this particular visit. I appreciate your coming but now it’s time for you to leave. Enjoy the remainder of your tour and do come back again sometime. Thank you and good night.
Oh, good evening, everyone. It’s so lovely to see you all. You know, I have always loved people and when I was alive and living here in Calais, I was especially known for my hospitality. I always loved being thought of in that way. There was nothing I enjoyed more than entertaining and I had grand parties in my house on Hinckley Hill. But, I’m afraid that I’m getting a bit ahead of myself. Why, I haven’t even told you who I am. I guess my excitement about being here this evening and this opportunity to talk with people again has made me forget my manners. Please allow me to introduce myself. I am Elizabeth Newton. I was born right here in Calais on August 16th, 1839. If you came to the cemetery tour last year then you must have met my mother, Mary Sawyer Lee. She’s buried over there, behind me, but on the other side of the cemetery. Poor Mother, she died so young, leaving all us children, there were seven of us, with Father. I was born in the house where we lived on Calais Avenue. Grandfather Sawyer, my mother’s father, had built the house for Mother along with the house next door which he built for my mother’s sister, my aunt Almeida, and her husband Manly Townsend. After mother died Aunt Almeida and Uncle Manly sold it and moved out to a farm in Alexander. Even as a child I could never understand how they could sell that beautiful house. My mother loved her house so much I just know she never could have parted with it. I understand it’s something called a Bed and Breakfast now. I’m not exactly sure what that is, there was nothing called a Bed and Breakfast in my time, but I expect it must be something like an inn or some other type of hostelry. You know, I always suspected I got my own love for my home from Mother, since I, too, dearly loved my house. As I told you, it was up on Hinckley Hill which, by the time I was being married to Mr. Charles Newton, was considered one of the nicest residential areas of the city. I was a teacher for a short time but stopped, of course, when I was married.
I was married in 1863, during the great war of rebellion. I believe you refer to it as the Civil War. It was a terrible time in the history of our nation and although it was not considered proper to have a wedding that could be thought of as lavish during such a dire time, our wedding was quite lovely just the same. My husband, Charles, was a very successful businessman. He had founded the Red Beach Plaster Company and was, in fact, its president as well as being president of the Maine Red Granite Company, which was also in Red Beach. Charles, you know, had come to Calais from Massachusetts where he was born and educated. He would always say that he came from old Colonial stock and he was very proud of that fact. I believe that the city’s most prominent men recognized his ability right away, for soon after arriving in Calais he became a business associate of no less than Mr. Frederick Augustus Pike, who as you may know, was the brother of James Shepherd Pike. Both of these gentlemen were on the national stage, so to speak. Mr. James Shepherd Pike was Mr. Lincoln’s ambassador to the Netherlands during the Civil War and Frederick Pike was a member of Congress, as well as being the Speaker of the House in the Maine legislature for several terms. My husband, Charles, was considered to be a man who worked hard, was at his post at all times, doing his duty whatever might be in store for him or whenever the call might come, never complaining even though he might be suffering, and always willing to do his best. That’s what they said when he died and I was very proud of him.
After we’d been married for a few years, he built our beautiful new house, the one I mentioned to you, up on Hinckley Hill. It was very lovely. It had a bow front, the only one like it in the city. It looked like houses in Boston or Portland, though it was made of wood rather than brick, of course. We painted it a soft yellow and I’m told it’s still there, just as Mother’s house is still standing. I’m very glad about that. Even though we eventually had another house in Red Beach, as well, which we lived in during the summer, the house in Calais really was my favorite and it was the one I always called “home”. I never sold it, even when I eventually went to live with my daughter several years after Charles died. I thought I was fine living on my own but you know how children worry about us as we get older so I went to live with Mary in Boston. I hated being away from home but it was nice to have someone to talk to again. Anyhow, when I left Calais, I just closed up the house and went away. I refused to sell the house. I always planned to return. It was a very sad time for me when Charles died. That was in 1897 when he was 67 years old. I lived on for another 25 years as a widow.
It was not until after Charles died that our daughter, Helen, was married. It was difficult to have such a happy occasion without him but it was a lovely wedding nonetheless. It was held right in the house on Hinckley Hill. It was such a lovely big house that it was very well suited to such an occasion. Helen looked so beautiful. She wore a gown of brocaded satin with a lace overdress, just gorgeous, and with a long lace veil. And she carried my favorite flowers, white sweet peas. I can remember it all as if it were yesterday, though it’s actually more than 100 years ago. How quickly time goes by! I don’t suppose in this “modern age” anyone has found a way to slow it down? (Pause) No, I thought not. Well, anyhow, Helen’s husband was a very nice man named William Parker who was a lecturer at Columbia University in New York City so, of course, that’s where she went to live – so far away it seemed. My other daughter, Mary, named after Mother, never married but earned her living teaching near Boston, and my son, George, was in Philadelphia.
You know, when my husband Charles died, I was so pleased by the description of him in the newspaper. They called him “the noblest work of God, an honest man.” Isn’t that a lovely thing to have said about you when you’re gone? Well, although I know it’s not usually possible to know what is said about us after we are gone, I have seen the obituary that appeared when I died in 1922. I was living with my daughter Mary, but I was brought back home to be buried here with Charles. In the Advertiser it said I was a woman of intellectual keenness, of high standards, and of great strength of character. And they described my house as one of refinement and culture where old and young were always welcomed and made happy and that my deepest happiness and interest centered in my house, which was true, although some of the other things seemed a bit exaggerated. However, what I liked best was when it said one of my marked characteristics was my thoughtfulness toward those in need and my kindness and generosity in the line of benevolence. I thought about Charles being described as an honest man and it made me feel that together we were honest, kind, and benevolent and it seemed that, perhaps, we had lives that were, after all, well lived. Well, I really must leave you. I’m afraid I’ve talked too long but it’s only because I am so very glad to be with people again. There are so many others who want to talk to you tonight that I mustn’t be selfish and so, I will say good evening to each of you and I do hope you will all come again sometime. Thank you for your visit. Good night.
Good evening. It’s lovely to see how many Calais citizens have come out this evening to pay a call on those of us who were able to come here tonight. It’s a real pleasure for us to have this opportunity to visit with you. My name is Emma Louise Boardman. I was born right here in Calais on January 19, 1885. Although, of course, I don’t remember quite that far back but Papa always said it was a very cold winter night and he was afraid poor Dr. Swan was not going to make it in time over the snowy roads – but he did, as I’ve been told. He must have, because here I am. Now, before I tell you a little more about myself, I have a question for you. I don’t get the opportunity to ask questions very often as I’m sure you can well imagine, so I just can’t pass up this opportunity. Is there anyone here who is an artist? Would you raise you hard if you are, just so I can see how many there might be among you? (If the answer is yes, carry on a short conversation, asking what they paint, what medium they use, etc. If the answer is no, show a little disappointment and say that you are sorry, you’d hoped to meet a fellow artist after being away so long.) Well, I was an artist and I always loved to talk to other artists and discuss painting and drawing. My parents, Howard Boardman and Annie Wells Boardman, always recognized my talent and encouraged me to work to develop my artistic ability. Even as a child I loved to draw and paint. I went to the Sandbank School first; then later, of course, I graduated from Calais Academy. One of my closest friends was Miss Josephine Moore. She just lived around the corner in her grandfather’s house on Main Street. Poor Josephine, her mother died when she was young but her Aunt Nellie lived with them and was always very good to her and to her brother and sister. Josephine’s grandfather was Dr. Holmes, as you probably already know. Even when I was quite young, she was always interested in my drawing. She’d have me illustrate the invitations to her parties or stories she was writing. She always said it made them look more festive and more “professional”.
Well, anyway, when I finished high school at Calais Academy I went to live in Boston where I studied at the Boston School of Art. It was a very interesting time in my life. I studied painting and designing which resulted in my working for several years as a designer for the magazine “Modern Priscilla” which was a leading women’s magazine of the day. I often did drawings of women for the magazine. I have one here to show you. It’s a woman’s profile which I did in pen and ink in 1913. You can see the date on the sketch. It was during the early years of the twentieth century that I worked for “Modern Priscilla”, around the time of the First World War, I believe. Later, I returned home to my house on Lafayette Street, down near the park, where I’d grown up, but I continued my life as an artist. Art was always a very important part of my life. In fact, after my parents died, I closed up the house here in Calais and went to live in Winchester, Massachusetts for a number of years. I did this specifically because it provided me with the opportunity to study art with a very talented teacher, a Miss Lobinger. During that time I joined Miss Lobinger’s Classes in Art. That was about 1945. It was just after the Second World War and I remained in Winchester for four years. My studies with Miss Lobinger allowed me to do some of my finest work in my paintings of flowers and landscapes. In fact, I brought a couple of my floral paintings with me. I did them in watercolor but I’m afraid they’ve faded somewhat over the years. They were much brighter when I first did them, but still I wanted you to see the quality of my work nonetheless.
I also did work designing postage stamps, for which I received much favorable comment, if I do say so myself. This led to another side of my career, in which I designed Christmas cards, as well as other greeting cards, generally. In fact, I did very well with the sale of my greeting cards. I always felt fortunate to have had several exhibits of my work in Boston, most notably at the very fashionable floral parlors of Penn the Florist. I brought a couple of my greeting cards with me to show you this evening. This one is a birthday card I sent to Tom Horton. He was Dr. Swan’s grandson. And here’s another that was sent for Valentine’s Day. I just thought you might enjoy seeing them. I always enjoyed making them.
Well, all good things must come to an end for each of us and I finally came to the realization that my health was failing quickly. I hated to do it, but I knew I was very ill and that I couldn’t go on much longer, so not long before I died, which was on Armistice Day on November 11, 1956, I gave all my art equipment to a local young woman whom I recognized as being a very talented artist. I taught her as much as I could in the short time I knew I had left. There was so much more I could have taught here if there had only been more time, but there wasn’t. It was very difficult to give up my work, the work of a lifetime, really. It was also difficult to give up my work at the Congregational Church where I had gone all my life. Why, I’d been active at the church since my childhood, particularly in the Women’s Association and the Eaton Memorial Class, of which I was vice-president right up to the time of my death. I was also sorry to leave so soon before Christmas. I know this probably sounds silly, but you see, the year before I had invited everyone I could think of who had no place to spend Christmas, including my two closest friends, Mrs. Lowe and Miss Josephine Moore. Why, we three had been friends our whole lives and all three of us died the same year. I had hoped to be able to again invite people who would be alone for Christmas to my home but it just wasn’t to be.
In the end, the people at the Advertiser were very kind to me, indeed. In my obituary they said I possessed an unusually kindly, charitable and thoughtful disposition and that when I was faced with health prospects that would have driven many a human insane I had faced long suffering and certain death with smiles and kind words, making light of increasing pain. Well, some of that’s true, to be sure, but no one ever really knows how another faces adversity. I will tell you it wasn’t always easy at the last. I guess all I can say is that I tried to be a decent person to those around me and to try not to make those who were with me feel uncomfortable because of my illness. I just did the best I could at the time. Well, it’s getting late, isn’t it? It’s time for me to end our nice conversation. It’s been such a great pleasure for me to have you come to call this evening. I would leave you with but one parting thought. I would ask you to seek out the thing about which you are truly passionate, as I was about my art, and pursue it with your whole heart. Time passes so quickly and life can end so unexpectedly that it is usually best not to leave things until it’s too late. Now, you remember that. And please, feel free to examine any of my artwork more closely or to ask me questions if you wish. Thank you so much for coming and good night until we meet again.
Good evening. My name is Ephraim Church Gates and I was born in 1817 in Hubbardston, Massachusetts. Although I died in New York City, where I had been living for the past few years prior, I came from good New England stock and spent most of my life right here in Calais. To me, Calais is always “home”. My maternal grandfather, Asa Church, was a soldier in the Revolution. My father, Salmon Gates, was one of the earliest settlers here in the St. Croix Valley, coming here in 1807 before the town was even incorporated. He soon became one of the most prominent citizens of the new town of Calais, engaging heavily in the lumber business and doing so very successfully. Still, my mother and the rest of our family did not come here to live until my father felt it was sufficiently developed and civilized. I came here as a boy of six, attended public school, and then went to East Machias to attend Washington Academy. There I was a classmate of Frederick Augustus Pike who served in Congress during the late Civil War. I was also a classmate of his brother, James, who went on to manage the New York Tribune with Horace Greeley and Charles A. Dana. However, I soon decided that school was not for me. I was a “doer” so I returned home to work in my father’s business. I married the most beautiful young New England girl I had ever seen and I was blessed with her faithful companionship until she passed away just one year before I did. Since I didn’t have any money of my own at the time, I moved into a house owned by my father but he cautioned me that I should be allowed to live in it only “as long as I behaved myself”. After awhile, I began to feel this just wasn’t good enough for me. I needed to do something on my own. So I went to my father and told him I was thinking of trying something for myself. He said, “I think it’s about time” and in less than a month I was working on my own in the woods. I did this for a few years when the opportunity came my way to purchase a saw mill on time. Well, I knew a good thing when I saw it so I bought it. Now, at the time most everyone said I was a fool and I’d never be able pay for it. But there were a few people, my dear wife among them, who said I would make a go of it and I would be able to pay it off – and I did!
When I was about 30, I guess, I went into partnership with my brother-in-law, Giles Wentworth and this partnership continued very successfully until Giles moved to Rhode Island in 1882. I bought him out and continued working the business for eight more years. At that time, about 1890, I sold everything to Henry Eaton and moved to New York where my daughter was living. However, I continued to return home to Calais to spend my summers. You know, you can take the boy out of Calais, but you can’t take Calais out of the boy.
Now also, about the time the Civil War ended I had bought all the real estate and stock of a company located on the east side of the Harlem River at 138th Street and Railroad Avenue. This proved also to be very successful. I worked in this company with my son, Church and two of my sons-in-law, Henry Barnard and Bradley Eaton. They are also buried here with me. All in all, I think I proved myself to be quite self reliant and a successful businessman. But I think the thing that pleases me the most is the fact that I know I was always considered by my business associates to be an honest man. They knew my word was reliable and what more can a man hope to achieve. In an article written at the time of my retirement from business in Calais it was said in the Calais Times, “Mr. Gates was the moving and controlling spirit in the large and extensive operations carried on during the half century of his active life here. The success achieved was due to intelligent and skillful organization of the business and the energetic spirit he infused into it.” I was pleased with this statement.
I am happy that I was able to spend my final summer on earth here in Calais as I had always done. I arrived in May as usual and though I must admit that I wasn’t feeling as strong and well as I always had throughout the rest of my life, I was still able to get around out of doors and visit with old friends. I returned to New York in September but began to grow steadily worse until on October 25th of that year, 1897, I died peacefully in the home of my daughter at No. 20 130th Street. I’m grateful I was returned her for burial.
So that’s pretty much my story so now I’ll have a little rest. Thanks for coming and goodnight to you all.
Good evening and God bless you all. I’m Father Owen Conlon and I was priest-in-charge of the Church of the Immaculate Conception here in Calais from 1873 until I died here in 1888. Of course, once I contracted Bright’s Disease of the kidneys and I began not to feel so well, Bishop Healey insisted I have an assistant, so he sent along Father Nelligan to help me. Now, I didn’t really need him but he was a nice young man and I let him do a few things just to keep himself busy. Actually, he was quite a help since the parish was growing a great deal at that time. I had recently founded the Convent of the Immaculate Conception and built the wonderful new school and convent on land we’d purchased on the corner of Washington Street and Calais Avenue. I got a very good architect from Lewiston from the Bishop, a Mr. G. M. Coombs, to draw up the plans and they really were grand. The new building had two stories for the children to use as a school, and there was a nice residence for the sisters to live in above that so, since they lived in the same building, we always called it the Convent School. There was even an elegant bell tower at the very top. It was all made from stone and brick, I insisted on that, so it would be sturdy and built to last. It was lovely to have a convent of sisters and a school. Yes, the parish was really growing back then. I even purchased another lot of land on the opposite corner of the Avenue. I bought it from Mr. Skiffington Murchie. On that lot I planned to build a beautiful new church in the same style as the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland, only of wood, and without any supports on the interior. No columns at all. It was to be the only one of its kind north of Boston. I imagined the steeple would be seen all over the city, as well as in St. Stephen, like the one on the Congregational Church. After all, we Catholics have to make our presence known just as much as the Protestants. Oh, the plans were grand. And, I planned to build a new rectory, as well. At that time, as you may know, the church was over on Union Street. It was a lovely church even though it had been converted from the old city rooms but it just wasn’t big enough and, also, the center of the city was moving and with the new convent and school over on Washington Street I knew it would be so much better to have the church near by, just across the street. I hoped I would live long enough to see it all completed and to be able to move from the old rectory on High Street to the new one on Calais Avenue but, of course, the Lord had other plans for me. I died before the new church could even be started or the plans even completed. It was still just a dream in my head. Nonetheless, I was here during a very exciting time in the city and I’m proud to have founded the convent and built the school in order to begin a parochial school education for the children of the parish. There was so much going on and so much new building taking place, all over the city.
You know, as much as I loved this city and the excitement of all the new building that was going on, from time to time I would think about old Ireland where I was born. I came to this country with my parents when I was but six year old. We went to New York where we lived in the town of Greenbush. Then, when I was grown and knew I was being called to the priesthood, I went to study at St. Charles College in Baltimore, then on to the seminary in Troy, New York. Once all my studies were completed I was ordained in Portland by Bishop Macon on June 27, 1869. By that time the Civil War was over, thank God. Those were dark days for this country but we survived and, I think, became even stronger because of it. After my ordination I was a priest in Biddeford, Rockland, and Bangor, before coming Machias. Then, with the death of Father Durnin I was made priest-in-charge here in Calais. But of all the places I was assigned, it was here that I loved the best and had the greatest success, building the new school, founding the convent, and planning for a great new church for the community of faithful Catholics in this city. If only I had been able to work a bit longer. I trust, though, that the work I began continues and that the church in Calais is alive and thriving.
When I died I was buried on Union Street, you know, but when the new church was finally built my remains were brought here, and it’s a lovely setting and a beautiful stone, don’t you think. I am grateful to each of you for your visit this evening. Please come and say a prayer at my grave whenever you are in this cemetery. Good night and may God bless you all.
Good evening. It’s very nice to see so many people tonight, but I expect everyone is telling you the same thing. It’s just that all of us spend so much time out here alone. It’s not very often those of us who make their home out here get the opportunity to have such a fine group of visitors. Thank you all for coming to talk with me tonight. I greatly appreciate having you down here in my little corner of the cemetery. My name is Gertrude McKellar and I lived in Calais for most of my life. Perhaps some of you who are a bit older now might even remember me when you were growing up. I remember when I was an old lady living on North Street, and the children from that side of town would walk as far as my house on their way to school. Luther Barnes, the police chief, would get them safely across the street and on their way to the Grade School on Academy Street. I could sit in my window and watch them every day. I understand that my house was torn down in order to build something called a Dunkin’ Donuts shop. Of course, I’ve never heard of such a thing but I expect its some kind of restaurant where you get donuts, that’s what it sounds like anyway. In my day, you know, donuts were made at home or, perhaps, you might get one downtown at the St. Croix Hotel or the Gem Restaurant, or perhaps even at Jane Todd’s Ice Cream Parlor, but even those were made fresh by the ladies right here in town and delivered to the restaurants. I have a feeling it may be difficult to get a good old-fashioned homemade donut these days. And you know, I feel rather badly that my dear little house was taken down. I liked that house and I lived in it for so many years – such a long time! I guess that’s what is called “progress”. But enough about donuts and my house, allow me to tell you about myself and about my life here in Calais.
I was born back in 1873. My father was Dr. William McKellar and he was quite a prominent physician. Back then there were still diseases like diphtheria, smallpox, and typhoid fever in Calais but he did a great deal to help eliminate these dreadful illnesses. He even served on the state board of health at one time. When I was growing up, my father went out West to practice medicine for a while so I left Calais with my family and went to live in the West for seven years. In fact, I attended high school and college in the West. I didn’t graduate from Calais Academy like other young people who lived here at that time but it was an exciting time for me and I always considered it one of the highlights of my life. I graduated from Atchison Latin School in Atchison, Kansas. Then I went on to the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque where I also graduated. Living in the West for those years was a real adventure for me. The memories have stayed with me all these years. In 1894 I even went on an archeological dig along with my mother and my sister. In all, there were 17 of us in the party and we had to ride in a horse drawn wagon over very rough trails to reach our destination – the site of the dig. Why, I remember being sore for weeks after that trip! We traveled to the Aztec ruins on the border of New Mexico and Arizona and we excavated there for four months. It was fascinating. Oh, my, the wonders we saw on that trip and the treasures we found! We uncovered many ancient artifacts, most of which were placed in a museum in Arizona where they can still be seen today, if any of you are fortunate enough to take a trip out there some day. Of course, I eventually returned home. As wonderful as it was to see these places that were so very different from Maine and New England and to have such wonderful adventures, all good things must come to an end.
Once we returned to Calais I decided I wanted to teach. Perhaps seeing such fantastic sights in the West made me want to help others learn new things, I don’t know, but I enrolled in Eastern Maine Normal School down at Castine. I know they don’t have normal schools any more but in those days, there were normal schools in every state. They were specifically founded to prepare people to become teachers. They later were renamed Teachers’ Colleges but I believe the one in Castine closed altogether. At the time I went there it was a very good school and I enjoyed my time there very much. Castine is a very beautiful town, you know. Well, teaching was quite different back then. As soon as a young woman married she was terminated. Married ladies were not allowed to be teachers and, of course, the pay was very meager. But it was a wonderful job for me and I loved it. I even went on to Simmons College in Boston after I finished at the Normal School. I graduated from Simmons in 1908 from a special Home Economics course which was a very new and innovative idea at that time. So you see, I had a very broad and extensive education, especially for the early part of the 1900s when most young women didn’t even go to college. Nonetheless, once I’d finished at Simmons, father and mother decided I’d spent quite enough time “preparing” to work and they thought it was time for me to put what I’d learned into “practice” and begin to earn a living. And I guess they were right! So, when an opportunity presented itself for me to become the assistant principal in the ninth grade at the Church Street School in Calais, I accepted it. That was the school that was built by Mr. Asher Bassford. It burned in the 1940s and they replaced it with the new Grade School built of brick so it wouldn’t be likely to burn again. Mr. Bassford, who designed the Church Street School, built many buildings in town, including another school exactly the same as the Church Street School up in Milltown. He also built a handsome house for Dr. Holmes down on Main Street. It was called the Holmestead. Perhaps you know it.
You know, back in 1908, in fact, until about 1917 if I remember correctly, there were nine grades before high school instead of only eight. Children completed grade nine, then went on to four years at Calais Academy, so there was an extra year of school back then. Around 1917, as I said, the school board decided to experiment and they allowed some of the students who were finishing grade eight to skip grade nine and go straight to high school to see how it would work. It was a success so a permanent change was made and ninth grade was dropped. As time went by people began calling the high school grades, 9, 10, 11, and 12, so it became easy to forget that this change had been made. Well, back to my story. I served as assistant principal for ninth grade for less than a year when I was made principal of the whole school. I continued working as principal for several years and then I took over the new Home Economics program when it was established. I had taken that special course at Simmons, if you remember, so I decided I’d like to teach in this new program. However, in 1926 I took a year’s leave of absence and then I never went back to teaching again. That was the end of my career in education.
You may not know this but back in 1910 I founded the very first Parent Teacher’s Association, the PTA, in the State of Maine, right here in Calais. The first PTA president was Mrs. William Murchie from this city and the PTA here in Calais was responsible for raising money to help establish the new courses in Home Economics for girls and Manual Training for boys. That was around 1911, I believe. You know, up until then there was little opportunity for young people to learn practical things to help them get a job or to improve the girls’ housekeeping skills. The courses at Calais Academy were more classical, designed to prepare young people for college. Of course, not everyone would have the opportunity to go to college. Only a few students went on to college back then so these other opportunities to learn something practical were, indeed, very important, and I have always felt proud to have been involved in getting these course started here in Calais and in being the first Home Economics teacher at Calais Academy. Well, because of my efforts with the PTA back in 1910 I was honored at the 50th Anniversary Program of the PTA for the State of Maine in Augusta in 1960. It was a great honor for me and I was very proud to attend and to be recognized for this work. It was one of the great accomplishments of my life.
You know, I was always a champion of young people and I always tried to help them and to provide them with new opportunities that would promote their healthy development. I organized the first Campfire Girls Troop in Eastern Maine and went on to work with that organization for many years. I also did a great deal of work with the Christian Endeavor Society at the Congregational Church, where I also taught classes of teenage boys to help them complete high school. I never married or had children of my own but I always considered my many students and all the young people I worked with over the years as part of my family. And then, when I was in my 50s I think, I adopted a young boy from Calais and brought him up as my own. So, I may not have had a traditional family but I certainly had a wonderful family just the same.
Another of my favorite endeavors was my work with the Woman’s City Club and the Benevolent Society. I was a charter member of the Woman’s City Club and in 1924 we sponsored the very first community Christmas tree ever put up in Calais. I also served as the president of the club, as the chairman of the Department of Philanthropy and Public Health, and I was made chairman of the Parks and Cemetery Commission and served from 1936 to 1948. So, you see, I kept very busy during my life.
I was very fortunate in my lifetime to do many things and have many experiences. Why, I even attended three World’s Fairs. I was at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition at St. Louis in 1904, I was at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1911 and I attended the New York World’s Fair in 1939. I loved traveling and seeing new things! They were all wonderful but seeing the St. Louis fair lit up by electricity for the first time was astonishing! In my lifetime I traveled to forty-five states. Yes, I guess you could say that I had a life that was blessed in many ways. I had a good education, especially during a time when most women didn’t have the opportunity to go to college. I had opportunities to travel and explore. And, I had the chance to help others in so many ways. It was a good life and I was very lucky. I hope you are all just as fortunate. Now, I must get ready for our gathering later this evening and you must move on to your next stop. So, good night, my friends, and I thank you so much for stopping by this evening. It has been such a great pleasure to see you.
Hello, everyone. I’m really glad to be here tonight. It’s been an awfully long time since I’ve been able to visit with anyone. But you know, and please forgive me for saying this, I know it’s not polite, but I can’t help noticing your clothing. You all seem to be dressed very strangely to me. I’ve never seen anyone dressed like you before. Why, when I was alive the gentlemen in town always wore a suit with a collar and a tie. You had to put the collar on separately, as I remember, and it was very stiff and kind of uncomfortable. It kind of hurt your neck, especially when it was hot. And the ladies, of course, always wore dresses. In fact, I’ve never seen a lady or a girl in anything but a dress, even if they were working around the house. And dresses always went all the way down to the ground! I remember my mother down on her hands and knees scrubbing the floor but she wore a dress just the same. I apologize for saying these things. I know it’s impolite to mention what anyone is wearing, but it’s just that your clothes look so unusual to me that I was really surprised when I saw you. My mother would be very displeased with my manners. She would say that just because I noticed these things it didn’t make it okay to say anything about them. She would say I should have just kept quiet and that I have been very rude. But you all look like such nice, friendly people that I didn’t think you’d mind. And besides, I like your clothes. They look so much more comfortable than what we used to wear.
Gosh, I haven’t even introduced myself. I guess I had better tell you who I am. My name is Guy McCracken and when I was alive I lived right here in Calais. I was only 15 when I was killed and I loved being a boy. We had so much fun doing all the things boys liked to do back then. In the summer we swam in the river. Sometimes we even jumped off the bridge down at Ferry Point but that was dangerous and lots of our mothers didn’t want us to do that. Sometimes boys drowned! But we liked jumping into the river when the tide was high just the same. I played baseball with my friends and in the winter we skated and went sledding when we weren’t in school. One of my favorite things was going in the woods to look for animals and birds and just to explore.
One time I even got lost in the woods. That caused a lot of excitement! My father was really mad with me for causing so much trouble. Why, Mr. Henry Eaton even shut down the mills and sent out a searching party to look for me. I hadn’t meant to cause any trouble. I hadn’t meant to get lost. I was just out roaming around in the woods and exploring, you know, when suddenly I realized that I didn’t know where I was anymore. I was kind of scared, really, but I didn’t want to admit it. I pretended I wasn’t scared but I sure was glad when I heard the men’s voices who were trying to find me. I hollered back to them, “over here”, just as loud as I could! Pa was with them and he was some mad but I know he was happy they found me because he hugged me real hard, even when he was scolding me for getting lost. Anyways, I never went into the woods alone again unless it was just up to Magguerowock or some other place real familiar. Why, the time I got lost I was all the way to Vose’s Lake when they found me. Can you imagine that! I couldn’t believe I’d gone so far! When we got back home even Mr. Eaton gave me a talking to. He asked me did I realize all the trouble I’d caused and all the money it had cost him shutting down the mills. Pa said I’d never get a job working for Mr. Henry Eaton after pulling that foolish stunt and causing so much trouble for everyone, but I did.
A couple of years later I went to see Mr. Eaton and explained that I was old enough to earn money and that I wanted a job. I promised not to cause him any more trouble. I wonder what he thought after the accident. He probably wished he’d never hired me to work for him. That spring, 1905, I’d started working up in Milltown at the mills. The foreman I worked for was a man named Justin Bridgham and I was working in one of the mills that was making wooden shingles; you know, the kind they put on roofs or use for siding on barns. Well, it was my job to haul a cart full of wood shavings from the mill up to a gravel pit that was owned by John Wood. We went to work early in the morning every day and we worked late, too. We worked about 12 hours every day. It was hard work. There wasn’t much time left for fun but we managed okay. Well, anyway, the day of my accident I left the mill about 6 o’clock in the morning with my cart full of wood shavings. You’d think wood shavings wouldn’t weigh much but they did. Those carts were real heavy when they were filled. I’d been playing baseball the night before; you know, after work and before it got dark. Then I was reading a good book, Horatio Alger, I love those stories, until my mother came into my room and told me to blow out the kerosene lamp and get to bed. She said it was late and that I’d be no good for nothing the next day if I didn’t get to sleep. Perhaps she was right. Maybe I was too tired, I don’t know. All I know is the path to the gravel pit was awful rough that day and I had to push and pull real hard to get over the rocks that had been washed down the path from the hard rain we’d had. Then, all I can remember is the wheel got caught in a rut and before I knew what was happening that heavy cart lurched toward me and it fell right on top of me and I was pinned underneath. That’s all there was to it. It all happened so fast I’m not really sure just what did happen. But when I didn’t come back Mr. Bridgham came looking to see what was holding me up and he found me pinned under the cart, dead. The funny thing was I was almost there. I was almost to the pit. Just a couple more minutes and I would have been there and the cart would have been empty. I just keep thinking what Mr. Eaton must have thought, hiring that boy that got lost in the woods and made him have to shut down his mills, then coming to work for him and causing another commotion for his mills. You know, it’s funny, things like this happen so fast you don’t have time to think about it and suddenly it’s over.
I was a really good student in school and I was just going to start at Calais Academy that fall. I was a scholar really, that’s what my teachers said, and there was so much I hoped to do but it just wasn’t meant to be, I guess. That’s what my mother would have said. I know how sad she and my father must have been after my accident. My mother would have cried a lot, I know. It all seems so sad, having that accident end my life so fast and when I was so young. I hardly got started living! And I had so many friends and I was interested in so many things. I just know I would have had a great life. Well, that’s my story. You’ve been very kind to stay and listen. I’ve really enjoyed talking to you and I’ve enjoyed seeing your clothes. They sure are different from anything I ever saw before. Well, good night everyone. Come again to see me if you’re ever out here in the cemetery again. Thanks for coming to visit me. I really appreciate it. Good night!
Good evening and welcome to my chambers! It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to say that to anyone so I just couldn’t resist. I hope you’re all well and if you have any legal issues you need to discuss with me just stay behind and make an appointment to come to talk with me. I would be happy to help. I was a lawyer, and a very good one if I do say so myself, but let me tell you a little bit about who I am, or perhaps I should say, who I was.
My name is Helen Hanson and I was born right here in Calais on June 28, 1894. My father was Justice George M. Hanson and he was, at one time, the Deputy Collector of Customs as well, but that was back about the time I was born, if I’m remembering correctly. I was educated in Calais schools, where I had very good teachers, who expected me to do my best and work hard, which I did. I graduated from Calais Academy in the class of 1911. In fact, I have a picture here of my graduating class. I’ll leave you to decide which one I am. I have changed quite a bit since then. One of my classmates was Ruth Ross, who was my neighbor on Calais Avenue, and another was Laura Hodgkins, who married Percy Jackman and was a teacher in Calais for many years. Perhaps some of you remember her when you went to high school. Anyway, I was taught very well in Calais and after graduation, which was always held in the Congregational Church back then, I went on to Colby College in Waterville. When I finished my degree I started out as a teacher. I got a job in Eastport teaching at Shead High School. But teaching just wasn’t what I wanted to do. It was what many unmarried women did in those days but I wanted to be a lawyer. So after only one year at Shead I talked with my father and he supported me so I went off again to college. This time I went to the University of Maine to study law, and then to Boston University where I graduated from the Law School there.
Now, in those days, you must remember, it was very different for women than it is now. Becoming a female lawyer was not an easy task. There were many obstacles but I was just as determined to be a lawyer as some people were that I should not be one and in the end I arose the victor and I have always been proud of that accomplishment. I was admitted to the Maine Bar in the early 1920s and returned home to Calais where I opened my own law offices. I was the first female lawyer in Washington County and one of the first in the state, and I daresay probably one of the first in the country.
Eventually, however, I left Calais and went on to hold a number of positions and be involved in many different organizations. I was employed at the office of the Franklin County Hospital in Farmington and for several years I was associated with the State Civil Defense Organization. Until my health began to fail I was the Director of Statistics of the Maine Department of Civil Defense and Public Safety. Actually, I did many things during my career. In 1933 I was the first woman in Maine named to a major state office when Governor Brann appointed me to the Industrial Accident Commission. When Governor Brann posted my nomination I was very pleased when he said, and I quote, “there are thousands of women employed in Maine industrial plants, and in recognition of this fact, I am nominating Miss Hanson.”
I was especially pleased about this appointment for two reasons. The first was because it made sense. There were all those women working in mills and factories across the state so why shouldn’t they be represented by another woman and I was proud to be the woman to do just that. The second reason this appointment particularly pleased me was because I had been nominated to become Judge of Probate back in ’28 and even though I always felt that the mere fact I was nominated was a victory for women, I also felt it was just that fact, that I was a woman, that I didn’t get the position. So it was kind of a double edge sword, so to speak, and I was glad when I finally did get an important position in the state. I felt it was not just something that was important to me, but rather it was something that was important to all women. We’ve come a long way since then, I know. I wish I could spend just one day back here to see firsthand just exactly what has happened. But then, I know myself too well, I would never be satisfied with just one day – that would never be enough. Once I got here I know I’d want to stay longer, so it’s probably better the way it is.
During the 35 years or so that I was working in Maine I was very involved in the Democratic Party and, in fact, I served on several Democratic committees. I was also active in social service work, particularly in Portland, and I was fairly prominently identified with Red Cross activities in Maine and in the World Court program. That was one of my special interests. I was also the first vice president of the Maine Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs and I made public appearances everywhere on behalf of this organization, so I was familiar to thousands of women across the state. This was one of the reasons I believe that women were pleased when I was appointed to the Industrial Accident Commission by Governor Brann. I think they were happy to know they were being represented by one of their own sex on a commission that touched so closely their own daily workaday lives. All in all, I think Governor Brann made a good decision, if I do say so myself.
In Augusta, I was also prominent in community and civic affairs and here in Calais I belonged to the Second Baptist Church. I’m proud to have been a charter member of the Woman’s City Club here in town, as well, and I hope it’s still an active force here in Calais. We worked hard to get it started and to provide interesting programs and to support worthwhile projects. For a time I was even the chairman of the Eastern Washington County Chapter of the American Red Cross. As you can see, I liked to be involved in things I felt were important to people and that would help people and make important advancements. I liked to stay busy and focused and I was fortunate to have the opportunity, through my education and my various positions throughout the state, to do these things.
In the end, when I became ill, I was especially grateful for my many friends. I always enjoyed life and I always enjoyed people, and they seemed to like me too. Perhaps if I had realized my illness was so serious and that I would not recover, I would have come home but I didn’t think it was as bad as it was. I really thought I would get better. I guess I always had a way of looking at everything on the bright side – you know, the glass was always half full to me. Why, despite my pain in the end, I could forget all about it whenever friends came to visit. I was just so pleased to see them. Finally, my illness got the better of me, one of the few things that ever did. I died at the Augusta General Hospital on April 15, 1956 and was brought back home to Calais. And here I’ve been ever since. There’s not much chance to talk to people out here so I’m especially glad you came by this evening. Thank you so much. And don’t forget, if you have any legal issues you need to resolve, I can be available. Good-bye for now.
Hello, everyone! How very nice to see you all here tonight. When I was told about this evening I never imagined so many people would come to visit me. This is wonderful! Such a big group! Well, my name is Jemima Noble. Perhaps many of you have heard of me or of my husband, John Noble. He’s pretty well known around these parts since he and I were among the earliest settlers to this area, even though we weren’t born here. John was born on August 6th, 1762 down in Delaware, which was the very first of the thirteen colonies to be admitted into the new union of states. He was always particularly proud of that fact. I was born in New York so you’re probably wondering how we ever met and how we ever got way up here on the St. Croix River, so far from where we were born. Well, it’s like this and it’s an interesting story, too, if I do say so myself. My husband, John Noble, was only a boy, really, when he enlisted as a gunner in Captain Peter Jaquett’s battery attached to Colonel Hall’s regiment in the Delaware Line. This was in 1778 when John was only 16 years old. Actually, being so young, it turned out he served as a drummer boy. Actually, he only fought in one battle and that was the battle of Camden down in South Carolina, near Charleston, in August 1780. By that time, he was about 18 years old. During that battle poor John was captured by the British and taken prisoner. The British were holding New York City at that time, near the end of the revolution, and they sent John up there and put him in a prison. And that’s where I met him. I’d been put in the same prison after being captured by the British up in Saratoga for aiding the enemy. Why, all I was doing was carrying water to the poor, wounded soldiers lying on the battlefield in the heat of battle. The poor devils were moaning and crying out for water and for help so I brought water to anyone who needed it, American or British. I felt sorry for them all, poor wretches. But, it was just my misfortune that I was caught by the British and shipped off to a New York prison – the same prison where they sent poor John. Of course, later on, I considered it lucky that I’d gotten caught because otherwise I would never have met John. Well, it didn’t take long after we met to know we belonged together so, on October 17, 1783, we were married in New York City.
After the war was over there was lots of land being given away by the new government in recognition for services rendered during the war. Both John and I received a land grant. Mine was way out in what became Minnesota and neither one of us wanted to go that far out into the wilderness but we kept the land just the same and later on one of our children moved out there. Now, John’s land was up here and that’s how we got to Calais. Of course, it wasn’t called Calais then, not until 1809. They called it Schoodic when we first got here and there weren’t many people living around here – Daniel Hill and Joseph Whitney and a handful of others. Now John’s land grant was actually for the land that started where the salt water ended at the cove near Ferry Point and it went up to Salmon Falls in Milltown. It was a good piece of land but John got the opportunity to trade it for another piece of land further down river, just west of Devil’s Head; so eventually he swapped it and we moved down there. We built a house and farmed the land and our descendants lived there for nearly 200 years but I don’t think there are any of them left living on our land now, though I know I still have some descendants living here in the St. Croix Valley. Well, our trip from New York to Calais was quite an adventure in itself. The most important thing we owned was a highboy chest of draws and we were determined it was coming with us. So, we brought it from New York with the rest of our belongings when we set out on a schooner. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a very smooth journey. By the time we reached Cape Cod smallpox broke out all over the ship. It was a terrible disease and many of the crew and passengers died right there in Chatham were we landed and they were buried in the graveyard there. But somehow John and I survived and we put our baggage, along with that highboy, onto another ship which eventually brought us to Eastport. Only this time we came down with scurvy but we manage to survive that, too. I guess John and I were pretty strong, just the same. Now, my John always liked to tell the tale that we sailed from Eastport across the bay to Nova Scotia but I’m here to tell you that that’s not what happened. He just liked the sound of that story better so he kept telling it to anyone who’d listen. What really happened wasn’t nearly as romantic sounding. What really happened was that we built a big raft that we tied together with yellow birch roots, loaded on our goods including that highboy chest, and started up river to our land. We prayed a lot that we’d make it and after a while we arrived at the first set of falls at the head of the tidewater up by Ferry Point. This was when we first arrived, remember, and we hadn’t swapped land parcels yet. So we climbed ashore up a steep bank and built a log shack. Later on, as I told you, we traded this land and sailed back downriver to Devil’s Head were we settled and stayed. We built a log cabin there first. It was set back from the river to be out of sight of Indians. Later on, after we’d been there longer, we built a better house up the hill where we lived for the rest of our lives. John was a good man, hardworking and honest, and we had a good life together. I used to say about John, “only a soldier but his heart was gold, his family loved him and so do we all.” So, that’s my story folks. It’s good to have this chance to talk about all this again after so many years. I thank you all for listening and I wish you all a good night and a good life. I hope your life is as happy as I mine was. Good night, everyone.
Good evening my friends. How nice to see you all here this fine night. My name is John Greg Beckett, and if you know anyone named Beckett in Calais today, they are directly descended from me, for I was the first person of that name to come to the St. Croix Valley. I came here from Scotland, you know, where I was born in Kilmarnock on May 29, 1828. You probably notice that I don’t have a Scottish accent. That’s disappeared with time, I’m afraid, but at one time it was quite distinctive.
My father, Hugh Beckett, was a confectioner, which is where I got the inclination for the family trade that was carried on for so many years here in Calais, and my mother, Helen, died just a few days after I was born, so I have no recollection of her whatsoever. I was raised by my step-mother, Janet. When I was 12 my family moved to Liverpool and that’s where I learned the confectionary trade.
But by the time I was 18, in 1846, I decided I wanted to strike out on my own. I decided to go to America but I got here by way of a somewhat less than direct route, going first to Turkey and Odessa before landing in Boston. I worked for a couple of years in Boston in a sugar house, then I headed up to Eastport, oh, about 1850, as I recall. Eastport was a busy port in those days and I opened a bakery there but after the first year I decided I preferred the border town here in Calais. So I came up river and opened a confectionary and bakery at the corner of Salem Street and Main Street, right across from where my family later had the business that some of you might remember.
Being a young feller I was looking to marry and start a family so I met a young woman from Grand Manan named Mary Newton and we were married. By 1857 we had two children, Margaret Helen and Frank, and things were going pretty well with the business. I was selling pies and cakes and pastries, as well as making root beer, hop beer, ginger beer and cold soda. I even began selling ice cream.
However, my life soon changed rapidly. I suppose I should tell you right from the start that I had a reputation for being a hard drinking, brawling rogue who was a bit irresponsible when it came to family matters and a bit unscrupulous at times when it came to business matters. I don’t know that that’s all really true but it might help you to know that’s what some people thought as you listen to my story. Well, anyway, my young son died in November of 1858. It was a terrible loss and I abandoned the business, left my young family on Grand Manan and shipped out of St. John on the Cargo ship “Adept” bound for Glasgow. I’m afraid this became a pattern of my life, disappearing for long periods, going off to Glasgow, going on somewhat questionable adventures, leaving my wife and family in someone else’s care or to carry on with the business in my absence.
On all my adventures I had an eye out to make money. Some of my ventures were a little less than honest, I must admit. At one time I knew Canada was looking for settlers to come to New Brunswick so I devised a plan to entice some of my fellow Scots to emigrate. I didn’t really know a lot about New Brunswick, no more than I’d read in some agricultural reports during my sea voyage to Glasgow. But New Brunswick was willing to pay people by the head if they could recruit settlers so I made up some posters, set myself up as a kind of authority on New Brunswick even though I’d never lived there, and even gave lectures to entice settlers. Why, I made New Brunswick sound like a paradise. Who could resist moving there, I thought. I did manage to bring my brother back to Saint John, but even he eventually moved to Eastport and set up his family there. I stayed in St. John for about a year after my return from this trip and brought my family up there to live as well. My daughter Maude was born there on March 19, 1860, and as an adult she was known here in Calais, where she taught school in a small school up on the corner of High Street and Monroe Street and she also operated a fine goods store for many years just up the street from Beckett and Co.
Well, by 1861 I had returned to Calais and reestablished my business making and selling all kind of confectionary, pastry, ice cream, drinks. My son Frank was born right in the store on August 6, 1862, just days before the Second Battle of Bull Run, and three years later his brother John Greg Beckett, Jr. was born. From the time the boys were little they were working in the store anytime they weren’t in school. Why, by the time Frank was 17 he was a professional candy maker and bottler – took to the business like a fish takes to water. But I didn’t pay either of the boys. They worked for nothing, getting room and board at home for their labors. A man needs to learn about the value of money and I set out to teach them.
Then there was the Fenian uprising back in 1866. Fenian invasion fever was at a high pitch along the border. Our neighbors across the river began to prepare for an onslaught of Irish revolutionaries who intended to establish an Irish Republic in New Brunswick. Well, this all looked like a grand business opportunity to me so I purchased a large number of Springfield rifles – surplus from the recent war of rebellion at the time. I got them at a low, low price, which would help with the profits. I planned to make a great deal. The price was probably so good because the rifles were defective, but a dollar’s a dollar. Well, the Canadians were in a panic, and not having many firearms, they were more than willing to buy almost anything anyone could supply so I was happy to oblige. Now, some people believed I set all the campfires along the river to make it look like there were lots of them Fenians ready to invade so I could “encourage” the Canadians to buy more rifles by making it appear there were military encampments everywhere. Now, I’m not saying I did and I’m not saying I didn’t but I did sell a lot of those rifles and those fires sure did stir people up across the border. Why, they were running through the streets afraid those wild Irishman were coming any minute.
Now business was somewhat unstable in those days. It didn’t always do well and I had a lot of setbacks. The building on the corner of Salem Street burned in 1871 and when I built a new store I found I couldn’t pay the mortgage and ended up losing the property. We even carried out bottling business from the basement of our house on Lowell Street. It wasn’t until 1877 that we finally settled in the building next to the bank on Main Street where I am told the business remained for nearly 100 years.
It was also during the 1870s that I set up a law practice in Calais after going off to Harvard to study law. Now some people have questioned whether I really was enrolled at Harvard and whether my law practice was a hoax but I’m here to tell you I did attend Harvard College. I know I was in front of a judge on numerous occasions, mostly for business dealing or drinking too much, but I studied law as well.
About the same time I was also involved in the Great Boston Fire of 1872. I even brought home a nice silver pitcher, this one right here in fact, which reads, “Presented to J. G. Beckett of Calais, Me. by Boston Friends. Admirers of pluck and sharers in the benefits of the lightning express ox and horse teams during the Epizootic epidemic. Boston October 29, 1872.”
Another time my brother Alexander and I went on another little adventure. We cleaned out the till of our businesses and vanished for a whole year. No one in the family had any idea where we’d gone or when we were coming back. However, when we did return we had a whole ship full of furniture, though we did acquire it under questionable circumstances. Nonetheless, we sold it and made a little money.
Well, I don’t suppose any of these things helped the business very much and by the 1880s things were in pretty bad shape – myself included. Too much alcohol was taking its toll on my health by then, I’m afraid. In fact, my two older boys had me declared incompetent and took over the business. Can you believe the ingratitude of those children. Well, I wasn’t about to let them just get away with that so I took them to court and after a lengthy battle I won. Then I sold the business to the boys. I have to admit they made a success of it. They did much better than I ever did. I guess they attended to business more but I don’t think they had as “interesting” a life as I did, though, if you know what I mean. Anyway, I didn’t live more than a couple of years after that and on June 6, 1889 I took my last breath. But, I understand my family goes on right here in Calais, even after all these years. I just wonder if any of them are still making confectionaries. What I wouldn’t give for some of my own candy right now – and then maybe just a little shot of whiskey to wash it down. Life is good and I enjoyed it, believe me. Thanks for coming and I hope to see you all again sometime. Good night, all.
Hello, everyone. My name is John J. Hayes but everyone calls me Johnny. I’m very happy to see you all here tonight. I had been hoping I’d be able to come to visit you and guess what, my wish came true! It’s been almost 100 years since I was last able to look around Calais. I took a look before you came and it sure has changed a lot. I was looking for the trolley cars but they’re gone. That’s too bad. I used to love to ride up to Milltown, then over to Canada, and then back to Calais for a nickel. Of course, I didn’t have a nickel very often. That was a lot of money. But it was really a fun thing to do when I had one. I noticed there aren’t any ships in the river, either, or any trains. Gosh, all the things I liked the best are gone. Yup, it sure has changed around here while I’ve been gone. I guess I’d better not stay away so long the next time. You now, I didn’t even recognize most of the things I did see!
Well, let me tell you my story since you were all kind enough to come to see me. I expect you’ve probably all heard about the Spanish Flu epidemic that came around the time of the First World War. Sometimes it’s called the influenza pandemic of 1918-1919. Pandemic sure is a big word but it just means that a lot of people were sick around the same time. It killed an awful lot of people, I’m afraid – more than all the people who died in the Great War, and that was a lot. Somewhere between 20 and 40 MILLION people died and I was one of them, I’m afraid. You know, more people died in the flu epidemic in just one year than in all four years of the Bubonic Plague back in the 1300s and people always think that was the worst epidemic ever, but it wasn’t. You know, people died all over the world, not just in America. It was even right here in Calais, Maine. Maybe you didn’t know that.
Well, that year I was just six years old. I had only started going to school at the beginning of September. I was only in first grade. I remember that most of my friends in the neighborhood were going to go to the Grammar School on Academy Street when school started and I wanted to go with them. But we were Catholic and all the Catholic kids in town went to the Convent School across the Avenue from the Church of the Immaculate Conception where we went to Mass every Sunday. Actually, though, once I started school at the Convent, I really liked it and I was glad I didn’t go to the Grammar School. The Sisters of Mercy were very nice and they were good teachers, too. We learned a lot of things and I bet we learned things that the kids at the Grammar School didn’t learn. I learned to read and write that year. That was really exciting. I had always wanted to know how to read, especially. I didn’t like to write so much though. It hurt my hand and it was hard to make all the letters right. And we used to go over to the church sometimes during school, especially on holy days. The church was really beautiful and it was always so quiet there. There were gold stars on the ceiling and pretty blue and rose colors way up high about the altar. And the altar was beautiful, too. It was made of shiny white marble that gleamed in the candlelight. And there were beautiful stained glass windows. The thing I liked the best was the statue of the Blessed Mother. She was on one side of the altar and Saint Joseph was on the other. It was so pretty. You know, when I was looking around town a while ago I noticed that the church is gone and so is the Convent School. I couldn’t believe it. I don’t know what happened to them but I couldn’t find either one of them. That’s too bad. I would like to have seen them again.
You know, being only six years old, I didn’t really think very much about the flu epidemic. I mean, I never thought I would get sick. I guess I remember hearing the grown-ups talk about it but I didn’t really pay much attention to what they were saying. I remember hearing how sick some people somewhere were, and how, if you didn’t get better fast, you could die, maybe in just one day, but people being sick far away really didn’t mean much to me. I wasn’t scared about it. I really didn’t think about it at all. It was just something that was far away to me. Why, the girls at my school even had a rhyme about it that they used to say when they were jumping rope. I can still remember it but it seemed like it was just for fun. I can say it for you. It went like this:
I had a little bird, It’s name was Enza. I opened the window, And in-flu-Enza.
It was like a little song. It was fun to sing and the girls all said it at recess while they jumped in and out of their jump ropes. Nobody thought about getting sick. Sometimes, the big boys would jump into the middle of the rope just to mess things up. The girls would yell and scream and the boys would run away. Then one of the nuns would speak to the boys and make them stop. It was all just for fun. Nobody thought about getting sick.
You know, they said that the influenza virus was spread by people who were traveling, especially on trade routes and shipping lines. Calais was a busy place back then. The ships went up and down the river all the time on the tide and the trains went in and out of the railroad station on Hog Alley every day. I loved to go down to the docks to watch the ships come in and the trains, too. They were both right there together by the river. I went there every chance I could get. It was fun to watch the big steam engines and to watch the ships sail in and the sailors unloading their cargos. I wish I could go there right now, that’s how much fun it was. Well, they say the first place in New England to get the flu virus was Boston. It came in through the busy harbor there, especially with all the supplies going over to Europe for the war. Calais had a busy harbor, too, and ships from Boston came in every day so maybe that’s how it came here in the first place. I know the first people in Calais who died from the flu were a luggage man at the train station and a barber, and the men who got off the trains and the ships often went to get a haircut as soon as they came to town, especially if they’d been traveling a long time. I guess it really doesn’t matter how it got here. It only matters that it got here and that I caught it. I remember that I was fine one minute and then the next minute I felt really sick! It all came so fast. It’s kind of odd when you think about it because they said it was mostly people between 20 and 40 who got it. They said that little kids and old people almost never caught the flu during the epidemic. I guess I just wasn’t very lucky because I was only six years old! In fact, it was only three weeks until my birthday. I was going to be seven years old and I was really looking forward to it. My mother always made me a big chocolate cake and we didn’t have chocolate cake very often. I didn’t want to say anything to my parents but I was really hoping I might get some marbles and a baseball glove. Anyway, it doesn’t matter now because I never had my birthday that year. The flu came before my birthday. It was March when I got sick and the funny thing is it was almost over all around the country by then. In fact, it was all over by that summer. Then it just disappeared as fast as it had come. If I’d only made it a little longer without catching it, I’d have been okay. Did you know that even President Wilson got the flu, but he didn’t die.
Anyway, once I got sick, I got really sick and pretty soon I couldn’t breathe. It hurt awful every time I took a breath. I guess it was some kind of pneumonia. I only remember how sick I felt and how much everything hurt, and then, all of a sudden, it was over. I sort of remember the priest being there and saying something in Latin like at church, but that’s not very clear. I do know, though, that my mom and dad were really sad. My two sisters, Cecelia and Margaret, had died a couple of years earlier so now there was only my sister Florence left. I had been the baby of the family and the only boy. It must have been really bad for them to have me die, too. It makes me feel sad just to think about it.
Well, that’s how it was. I never even had a chance to read many books and I had been looking forward to learning to read so much. I was going to be an altar boy in the church, too, and I wanted to do that a lot. And I was waiting for spring to play baseball and marbles. It’s okay now, though. After so much time everything is really okay, honest. I’m happy and it was all so long ago it’s almost like a dream. Anyhow, it’s been so nice to be here with you, even for this short time. When everyone is gone, Miss Boardman and Miss Burns told me we would have a party and get a chance to visit with everyone. They’ve been very nice to me. They said we might even get to visit with people who didn’t get to come up to talk with you tonight, so I’m really hoping that my mom and dad will be there. I haven’t seen them for so long. I wish you all a long life and I hope you are all happy and that you won’t ever get the influenza like I did. Thank you for coming to see me and thank you for listening to my story. It was so nice to have this time to spend with you. Maybe I’ll see you again sometime. Good night.
Hello, everyone! My name is Lewis Haycock and I was just sixteen years old when I died. If I’d lived another month I would have had my seventeenth birthday. Believe me, I never thought I’d end up in this place. I had all my plans made to do other things and I was so excited about every new adventure I would have. I had even been accepted to attend Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire so that I would be better prepared for my college courses when the time came. This is not to say that Calais Academy wasn’t a really good school with very good teachers, it was, but my mother wanted me to have every advantage and thought I would be more ready for college if I did my final year of high school at Phillips Academy. I was a good student and always did very well and had lots of friends here in Calais but, still, I was looking forward to going to Phillips Exeter so much. I had hoped to be able to play football in addition to my studies but then during the summer before my last year of high school, just when I was beginning to prepare to go to Phillips Academy, I suddenly became very sick. At first the doctor wasn’t sure what was wrong with me. I’d been working in Woodland every day for the Washington County Railroad and what with the trip up and back and having to get up so early every morning, he thought I might be just tired. But it didn’t take too long before he was sure it was more than that. After only a day or two he was sure I had typhoid fever. Actually, I only lived for two weeks from the time I first got sick. Everything changes so fast!
I expect nowadays, you folks don’t hear much about typhoid fever. Hardly anyone ever gets it now, I understand. But back when I was alive, lots of people got it, especially from contaminated water or food. I’m not sure how I got it but I was really sick, I know that. I had a very bad fever and red spots on my stomach and chest and I had terrible pains in my stomach, too. Right up to the last day, though, the doctor was sure I’d pull through, people did, but then it got worse and I became delirious and my fever got even higher, and since there weren’t any medicines to kill the bacteria back then, I died on the 13th of September, 1909 - died right in my own bed in our house on High Street. I know it must have been awfully hard on Ma and my sister, Grace. Pa had died just a few years before and without me they’d be all alone. I feel awfully badly that I had to leave them. I don’t mean to sound selfish but I feel awfully badly that I never got to do all the things I planned to do. I wanted to go to Phillips Exeter Academy and maybe even get to Boston and then go to college. I wanted to do these things so much. It makes me think of my uncle, Joel, who’s buried here beside me. I used to come out here with my mother and father, and then with just my mother, to visit this grave. Uncle Joel was my father’s brother. He was young when he died, too. He was only 27 when he was shot and killed at Fredericksburg during the Civil War. Of course, I never knew him but I know he was a hero. They even named the GAR Legion after him – the Joel P. Haycock post. I always wanted to be brave like he must have been but I didn’t want to die so young like he did. I wish I just could have lived a little longer. I had so many friends and enjoyed doing things so much. I guess that old saying is true – we should live each day to the fullest. I hope all of you have a really good life and that you live to be really old, like I never did. It’s been very nice talking with all of you. I thank you for coming and I say “good night”.
I expect nowadays, you folks don’t hear much about typhoid fever. Hardly anyone ever gets it now, I understand. But back when I was alive, lots of people got it, especially from contaminated water or food. I’m not sure how I got it but I was really sick, I know that. I had a very bad fever and red spots on my stomach and chest and I had terrible pains in my stomach, too. Right up to the last day, though, the doctor was sure I’d pull through, people did, but then it got worse and I became delirious and my fever got even higher, and since there weren’t any medicines to kill the bacteria back then, I died on the 13th of September, 1909 - died right in my own bed in our house on High Street. I know it must have been awfully hard on Ma and my sister, Grace. Pa had died just a few years before and without me they’d be all alone. I feel awfully badly that I had to leave them. I don’t mean to sound selfish but I feel awfully badly that I never got to do all the things I planned to do. I wanted to go to Phillips Exeter Academy and maybe even get to Boston and then go to college. I wanted to do these things so much. It makes me think of my uncle, Joel, who’s buried here beside me. I used to come out here with my mother and father, and then with just my mother, to visit this grave. Uncle Joel was my father’s brother. He was young when he died, too. He was only 27 when he was shot and killed at Fredericksburg during the Civil War. Of course, I never knew him but I know he was a hero. They even named the GAR Legion after him – the Joel P. Haycock post. I always wanted to be brave like he must have been but I didn’t want to die so young like he did. I wish I just could have lived a little longer. I had so many friends and enjoyed doing things so much. I guess that old saying is true – we should live each day to the fullest. I hope all of you have a really good life and that you live to be really old, like I never did. It’s been very nice talking with all of you. I thank you for coming and I say “good night”.
I died right here in Calais on the evening of December 5th, 1843, but I didn’t begin my life here. I was born down in Connecticut, near New London, back in 1749. I came from a family that probably would be most correctly termed the genteel society of that period. I wasn’t from one of the Puritan families that settled most of New England. In fact, my parents came from England with a group of similar, more aristocratic families. They even brought their blood horses and hounds with them, along with other animals and their avocations and amusements were really those of other English country gentlemen of the time. So, as you can see, I was brought up well and I was provided with the best education which the times afforded. When I first came to Calais, almost no one could even read or write and I missed the availability of books, but I got along just the same.
Back in Connecticut when I was growing up, our house was very large and very grand for the time. It was one of the few old mansions in our town which escaped the general conflagration when Benedict Arnold burned New London. It was very solidly built and it was designed with a view for protection from the Indians as much as for convenience and elegance. When I died in 1843 it was still standing, I know, but I don’t know if it’s still there today or not. A lot has changed since 1843 – my, my, I guess it must have.
Well, at the time I got married, let’s see, that was about 1770 I think, my husband and I got a house in New London and settled where we’d always lived. My husband was a man from among the same level of society in which I’d been raised so we just began the same sort of life we were both used to living. Shortly after we were married, however, just about the time the Revolution began, I guess, my husband and I left New London and went up to Nova Scotia. It was fairly common back then for people to go over to Nova Scotia across the water. But when we were returning to Connecticut we had a really close call. We were chased by the enemy and we had to take shelter in the port of Wiscasset. We never did get back to Connecticut. We ended up staying right there until my husband died. That was about the time of the beginning of the War of 1812 and that’s when circumstances brought me here to Calais where I lived the last 30 years of my life. I was a widow, you know, and as such I needed some help and protection and since some of my family had come to Calais I came here, too, so I wouldn’t be alone in Wiscasset. Eventually, as I got older, I lived with my grandson, William Pike. In fact, one of my fondest memories is listening to my grandson read to me from the bible in the evening.
I was always a God fearing woman and I believed strongly in the promises of the bible and I took refuge in the hopes and consolations which Christianity imparts to its followers. In fact, I was one of the nine charter members of the First Congregational Church in Calais. Our first minister was the Rev. Hills who had come up from the church in Middleton, Connecticut and though he only stayed a couple of years he helped to get the church started. We worked hard and built a nice new church building right at the top of the hill on Calais Avenue. The Avenue was the only divided street in Calais and it was just being laid out so we bought the lot right in the middle of the two sides for our new church. The Unitarians built a big new church at the bottom of the Avenue, oh about 1835, I think. I forget the exact dates of things these days. Then the carpenter, Abner Sawyer, built a couple of grand new houses in the Greek style for his two daughters. In fact, I think you’re going to meet one of his daughters here tonight, if you haven’t already. Then, about the same time they put up a big new hotel just up from the Unitarian Church. It was all made of brick. They say it was the only brick hotel this side of Bangor but I’ve never been to Bangor so I can’t really say for sure. I just remember that the whole street just seemed to appear almost all at once. Calais sure was growing in those days and bustling with businesses and lumber and shipbuilding. When I arrived here it was a real backwoods little wilderness town. Why, I wondered just where I’d come to for awhile, but in the 30 years I lived here it grew into a real town. It was a pretty place with several nice churches and some fine homes, with more building going on everywhere you looked.
Oh, I don’t want to forget to tell you about my sister. I expect you’ve heard of Mr. Nathan Hale. Poor Nathan was a boy we knew in Connecticut. He graduated from Yale just before the Revolution began and when the war broke out he became a captain and went off to New York with William Heath’s brigade. He was always a daring lad and they say he volunteered to spy on the British but I’ve always suspected he was following direct orders from General Washington himself, but then I don’t know that for sure. Well, anyway, my sister was betrothed to marry Nathan Hale and when he was hung she never got over the shock, poor thing. When they told us his last words were “I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country” I don’t know if it was a help or if it just made her feel worse. Either way, she withdrew from life and never married. She spent the rest of her life as a Moravian sister, poor dear. Then, of course, about the same time my husband and I went up to Nova Scotia and never did get back to Connecticut so I never saw her again. It’s funny how life takes us on different paths and separates us from those we love. But that’s how it is and you just have to bear up and take what comes. Life’s not easy.
Well, I want you to know I liked living here in Calais. I was a fortunate woman in many ways. I was always strong and healthy, I never got sick much, and my mind was always sharp, right up to the end. I was always interested in everything around me and I always kept myself busy and active. I would have been happy to live forever if I could have but, of course, that just can’t be as much as we might wish it – not for any of us. So before I leave you, let me give you a little bit of advice. Just take it from an old lady who lived a long time and saw a lot of things in her lifetime. You just remember that life goes by too quickly, even if you live to be nearly 100, so use every day wisely, as if it were your last. Remember, live a good life, be kind to others and try to enjoy everyone you meet, and most of all, don’t waste your time – make good use of it every day. Well, I’m getting a bit tired now so I’ll bid you goodnight. I thank you all for coming and I hope you enjoy all your visits here this evening. We sure are enjoying having you. Good night.
It is with the greatest pleasure that I receive you this evening. You are most welcome and I am grateful for your company. Please allow me to introduce myself to you. My name is Mary Hayden Green Pike. I was born in Eastport on November 30, 1824 but my parents, Elijah Dix Green and Hannah Claflin Hayden, removed to Calais very soon after my birth so I really was raised here. We were staunch members of the First Baptist Church in Calais but later, and as a young woman, I had a very profound religious experience that changed me and as a result of this I became one of the founders of the new Second Baptist Church here in Calais to which I belonged for all of my life.
My life was a very full and rewarding life, with many advantages and though I always called Calais home I spent much of my life in other places. Once I was married to my husband, Frederick Augustus Pike, in 1848, I really began my travels and my life in other great American cities. During our life together we travelled extensively throughout the United States and in Europe. My husband, as you may know, was in politics and served for eight years in the Congress of the United States, indeed he was in Congress all during the late war with the South. He was also elected to the Maine Legislature and served as the Speaker of the House there. Along with his brother, James Shepherd Pike, we worked with so many notable citizens of this country, including Horace Greeley, President Lincoln, and so many others. As you may also know, it was my husband’s brother, James, who left his house and $5,000, a very generous amount, for the founding of the Calais Free Library. When the will was read my husband and his friend, Freeman Hale Todd, thought more about James’s desire to have his house used as the library and they decided it was more appropriate for a more substantial edifice to be erected. So, they also contributed money to be used along with that left by James in order to build the grand new building that now stands in this city. Later in my own life, after my husband died, I went to live with my daughter in New Jersey. There I lived a very philanthropic life and was devoted to the Baptist Church there, as well. I was always interested in every good work and in the advancement of Christianity and the work of our Master. I travelled between New Jersey and my sister’s home in Baltimore during those years. In Baltimore, I became very interested in China and worked at the Chinese Sunday School in that city. I even educated a young Calais man who served as a missionary and then returned to Calais to continue this work. It was very gratifying to me to have contributed in this way. Of course, I always maintained my own home on Main Street in Calais, even when I was living in New Jersey and Baltimore. I died in Baltimore but was returned here to be buried with my husband.
When I was first married, my husband and I had the occasion to travel to the south. I must say I was shocked and appalled at what I witnessed there. Slavery is indeed an evil institution and I vowed, once having observed it firsthand, to commit all my resources to the abolitionist movement. I had always been a writer and so I worked more fully to this end and in 1852 I published my first novel, Ida May. I must say I was surprised at its almost immediate and widespread success. It truly was nearly as popular and well selling as Mrs. Stowe’s book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. I followed my first book with others, such as Casie and Agnes, and I published many articles in our magazines. My works were widely read and appreciated I’m pleased to say. It has been said that Ida May was, indeed, a catalyst for the Civil War. This is both gratifying and remorseful to me, for though the wider misery of slavery was eliminated by this war, as you can see I lost my dear brother, Thomas, at Cedar Mountain in Virginia. He was only 20 years old and my parents’ only son. He had such a life of promise ahead of him. This is why we erected this broken column, to signify the life broken and not fulfilled. Of course, like most of our soldiers he’s not actually buried here in this plot. He remains where he fell fighting on August 7, 1862. The war was so tragic for so many, many families. It shall be a wound long healing, I’m afraid.
When I died I was pleased by the great tribute that was given to me in the Calais Advertiser. It was said: “A great and good woman has passed from among us, leaving to relatives a lasting memory of a wide love; to friends, the effects of a strong and enduring friendship; to the world the incomparable results of a large philanthropy; and to the church influence that will live throughout the endless ages.” It is kind of them to be so solicitous.
I see that the evening is drawing in upon us and so I bid you goodnight so that you may get to your homes before it becomes too late. Thank you most sincerely for calling on me this evening. I hope you will visit again. Good night.
Good Evening! How pleased I am to see all of you and to welcome you to visit with me. It’s been such a long time since I’ve had the opportunity to engage in conversation with my fellow citizens of Calais that I’m truly delighted to be able to have this time to speak with you. Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Mary Sawyer Lee and when I was alive I lived here in Calais at number 9 Calais Avenue. Unfortunately, I was not granted a really long life. I was only 35 years old when I died during the early autumn of 1849. However, during my rather short time here on Earth, I was very happy and very fortunate, I think. I had a devoted husband, Mr. Joseph Lee, whom I loved dearly. He was a very prosperous and successful banker who came to Calais from Bucksport in 1833. Business enterprises were bustling here in the 1830s and there was money to be made in shipping and in lumbering. He was the president of the Calais National Bank and the founder of the Joseph A. Lee Insurance Agency. He also served as the first treasurer of the Calais Savings Bank and, all in all, he was considered to be a very prominent citizen of Calais. We had seven children – Phoebe, named after my mother, Elizabeth who grew up to marry Mr. Charles Newton who had a beautiful big house with a bow front on Hinkley Hill and owned the plaster factory in Red Beach, Mary Ellen, Joseph, William, Almeida, who was named for my sister who lived next door to me at number 7 Calais Avenue, and baby Clara, who was only about a year old when I passed away. I left all these dear children and Phoebe, the oldest, was only eleven when I was called to that place from which no traveller returns – at least usually! Since I’ve been granted this opportunity to be here with you tonight I guess it’s not always true. It must be that I am continuing to be quite fortunate, even now.
Actually, my sister Almeida and I were both quite fortunate. We had good husbands, both of whom were prosperous and well thought of, and we lived side-by-side very happily for several years. Our father was a man named Abner Sawyer and when Almeida and I were married he built each of us a beautiful new home in the Greek Revival style that was very popular at the time. Father was a very good carpenter and was able to design his own houses and Calais Avenue was just being laid out with new buildings on a divided avenue that was all very handsome. At the time, people all over the country were building in this new Greek style, using columns and triangular shapes to resemble the temples of ancient Rome and Greece. Some of these buildings, like my sister’s house, even had tall columns in the temple style that went right up to the roof and looked like the Acropolis or some other famous ancient ruin. At the time, they were using this style of architecture everywhere in America for schools and churches, court houses and homes – why any building could be designed in this style, big or small. We first saw a building like this when Mr. Brewer built his home down in Robbinston using this style and once father had seen Mr. Brewer’s new house he was enthralled with it. Nothing would do but he would build houses like this for us. In fact, there were a number of these houses built in Calais around this time. Mr. Swan had built one on Grosvenor Street with pillars that were only one story high which I particularly liked and which father used as a pattern for my house. Colonel Greene and Mr. King had also built similar houses on Main Street, so ours would make two more in town. My sister, Almeida, however, preferred the grander, taller columns so her house was built in that fashion – very grand and beautiful – while mine was a little simpler on the outside. On the inside, however, they were almost identical. Almeida’s house always made us think of a southern plantation. We used to sit on her front porch in the afternoon and look down the Avenue at the ships coming and going on the river. There was a lot of traffic on the river in those days. Calais was a busy place and our front porches were perfect for drinking tea and watching the activity on the waterfront.
My sister Almeida had married a man named Manly Townsend. He was a lawyer in town and very well-to-do. In a way, it’s rather strange how we both loved our houses so much, because neither one of us got to live in them for too long. I died young, of course, and was forced to leave the house I loved so much, and Almeida’s husband tired of being a lawyer after they’d lived in their house for only five or six years. He just didn’t like practicing law. He decided he wanted to become a farmer and he had made quite a lot of money so they sold that beautiful house with the columns that Father had built and they bought a big farm in Alexander where they lived until Manly died only two months after I died. They’re both buried out there in the cemetery in Alexander and I understand their house was still standing at the top of the hill just off the Airline Road until it burned about 30 year ago.
I expect Father was heartbroken when I died. I was his youngest child and I believe his favorite. I know he was very upset when Manly and Almeida sold their house to Mr. George Dyer. Father was so proud of building both our houses that I know it was hard for him to have someone else living in the house he had built especially for her, but he knew her husband wanted to move and there was nothing that could be done about it. That’s just the way it was and, after all, their new house was very big and quite nice. It just wasn’t that beautiful Greek style house she loved so much. At least, when Father died in 1852 my husband Joseph was still living in our house and continued to do so for a long time, I believe. I often think about those two houses and wonder just what ever became of them. I hope they’ve been as fortunate as Almeida and I were to have had them in the beginning.
In the end, I became very sick. No one was really sure just what was the matter with me but it was an illness of the severest nature and one which I had to endure for several months. After a time, I could not even get out of bed and I simply languished until the end came. I think I knew I was dying but there just wasn’t anything I could do to save myself. Dr. Holmes came frequently to treat me but finally he told my husband there was nothing he could do – that I would not live and, indeed, I did not. There was nothing to be done for either of us but to bear this reality with fortitude and resignation. When the end came I said my good-byes to my dear husband, Joseph, and to my darling children and to my father and sister, and I prayed that the sod would rest lightly on me, and I guess it has. However, seeing you all here tonight makes me wonder what my life might have been if I had lived longer - if I could have seen my children grown and married and if I had lived to grow old with Joseph in the house I loved so much. Well, enough about me. I know you have others to meet this fine evening who also have stories to tell you, so I will say goodnight and wish you all well.
Good evening. I’m afraid you’ve caught me just finishing a cup of tea. I do apologize for not have been expecting you or I should have had tea prepared for all of you, but I’m afraid that Cook has gone and I have no way of accommodating so many of you. But, please, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Minerva King Horton Swan. I was born, and lived all my life, here in Calais. When I was born here in 1842 Calais was a very different place than it was when I left this world in 1933 at the age of 90. My, but I saw so many changes during my lifetime – the invention of telegraphs, telephones, electricity, automobiles, even airplanes! So many changes took place. Well, let me tell you my story. I was born Minerva King. My father was Gilman D. King who was a prosperous and successful merchant here in Calais. He operated the firm of G. D. King and Sons, which continued being operated by my brother Williard after Father’s death. We lived in a lovely house on Main Street which, I understand, is still standing, though somewhat altered. It’s been divided into apartment, I believe. Father would not be pleased about that, I dare say. He was very proud of that house. I think I have a picture of it. I brought several things with me tonight so let me see if I can find the picture of our house on Main Street. Oh, here it is. You can see what a nice house it was. I also have a picture of me and Mother taken when I was a child. And here’s another of myself taken around the time of my 19th birthday in 1861, just after the start of the Great War of Rebellion. I certainly looked young back then. You know, so many of our Calais boys fought in the war and many of them were killed. Mrs. Holmes’s brother, the Honorable Mr. Hannibal Hamlin, was vice president of these United States during most of the rebellion and since he sometimes visited her and Dr. Holmes at their house on Main Street, we here in Calais felt we had someone helping us more personally in Washington. But, still, the effects of the war were devastating to us all. We all knew someone in the army and most of us knew someone who had been killed in battle. Why, even poor Mrs. Holmes lost her son, Frank, at Fredericksburg. It was very sad.
Well, time went on, as it always does, and in time I married. My first husband was Thomas Horton. He is buried here with me in the King family lot along with Father and Mother and some of the others in the family. Though I must say I’m quite surprised to see the condition of our lot. That lovely granite surround father had installed is literally collapsing, as you can see. It’s very sad. And you know, there was an ironwork bench with grapes and leaves, very Victorian, which used to sit right here near my headstone. Unfortunately, I’m afraid someone has removed it. Well, my first husband, Mr. Horton, was a wonderful man and we were very happy. We had one son, Ralph, and we all lived happily in a little house right next to the Universalist Church, Union Church it was called, right at the bottom of the Avenue. I’ve heard that our little house is being used as a food pantry now, to help people in need. I’m glad of that. We can all be in need at one time or another and it’s good to know there are those who will come to our rescue. My husband was in business, like my father, and he did very well but, sadly, he became ill and died while we were still quite young. It was very unexpected and quite a shock to us all. I remained a widow for a number of years, then, on September 8th, 1890, I was remarried to Dr. Charles E. Swan. Charles was a very prominent physician and citizen of this city. He’d begun practice with Dr. Holmes and worked down at the Holmes Cottage before going into practice for himself. He’d been present at the first administration of anesthesia in Boston and was among the first to use it to perform an operation here in the city. He was highly respected. So, I left my modest home beside Union Church and went to live in Charles’s large family house, known as Swan Farm, on Grosvenor Street. Later, after Charles died, the city renamed the street Swan Street in his honor. It was a very nice tribute to him, don’t you think? The house had been built around 1833 by Charles’s father, Eugene Swan. When we were married I brought a number of things with me from my home, especially some items that were especially precious to me, such as my father’s secretary desk, made by Mr. John Warren Moore in St. Stephen, and the table and chair you see here. Of course, we received a great many wedding gifts from people all over the city. My very dear friend, Harriet Todd, gave us a mounted deer’s head. I am sure that a deer’s head may seem like a strange thing to give someone as a wedding gift but Harriet and I had a great deal of fun with it. I can assure you! She even sent a poem she wrote along with it which I’ve always kept. Let me share it with you now, just for fun. She wrote,
Minerva, my dear, From all that I hear, My heart is filled with amazing good cheer. You know what I said, Unless you were wed, I’d have to pay forfeit by losing my head Now my head as you see, Is dear unto me, And without it a very poor creature I’d be So with thanks not a few, I send unto you, Another “deer head” and I trust it will do So you ne’er may forget, My rashly made bet, And that I am ever your fond “Herriet”
We’d had a little bet about getting remarried and this was her response to that. Of course, I had to reply to her “gift” and poem. So this is what I wrote back to her.
My dear Harriet, You know that your bet, Has weighed on my spirits, And caused me to fret For to see your dear head, Hanging high in mid-air, Would for sure kill me dead, Or bring me despair So away to the altar, I hie me at last, That this critical danger, May be overpast And I bless the dear fate, That so softens your heart, That your deer head is given me, E’er I depart It ne’er shall be threatened, With hanging again, Without your deserts, become known among men But enshrined in the heart, Of a Swan it shall rest, From the clamoring throng, which didn’t know best Now my dear Harri-et, Though your deer head’s so dear, Your own head is dearer, Than any deer’s yet And may you be rewarded, For what you have done, For I find that “two heads are, Far better than one”!
Oh, we had such fun with these poems. Just leave it to Harriet to be so clever. We were such great friends, always, and she was such fun! I miss her even now. Well, life with Charles was very remarkable, I must say. The house was a wonderful setting for so many happy social occasions. We were often reported in the Advertiser or in the Times, both being successful newspapers at the time. They wrote so charmingly back then. Please let me share one small clipping with you. I’ve kept so many of them from that happy time in my life. “Our people are still talking of the brilliant society event which occurred last Thursday evening. ‘One who was there’ writes the Times: A charming reception was that given by Dr. and Mrs. Swan to their large circle of friends on Thursday evening last. It is many years since the home, where once such gracious hospitality was dispensed, has been thrown open to the public, but now the old traditions were fulfilled, and young and old were welcomed with the heartiness which gave no doubt of its genuineness. The colored lanterns between and among the trees, about the portico and bordering the balustrade, gave welcome before the house was reached, and once within the doors a merry party of friends and strangers held tryst from eight until twelve. The grounds seemed fairyland, and the broad verandas and walks gave ample space for promenade and quiet talk, and the little bridge under the deep shadows of the willows, perhaps for whispered secrets it will never divulge, while the dining room, with its delicate and artistic arrangements, ministered alike to taste and appetite. The young people seemed never so pretty and attractive, and the older ones more entertaining, and universal verdict is: “A perfect success!”
This, of course, was not long after the doctor and I were married and it was, in fact, the first big occasion that we hosted together. Dr. Swan had been a widower for many, many years, and so there had been no entertaining for some time. But, we had so many parties like this one. Yes, it was a lovely time in my life.
You know, not too long after we were married we had a terrible fright and might very easily have lost our beautiful house. One dark winter’s night in January during a fierce blizzard the house caught fire. I still don’t know how we managed to divert total disaster but we did. I guess luck was with us. The fire began in the attic and before it was subdued by the fireman the roof of both the main house and the ell was completed burned off! Of course, the house was flooded with water and some of the furniture was ruined, but luckily we managed to salvage most of it. The house had recently been electrified and the fire was believed to have been caused by defective wiring. I don’t know if it’s worth it to have these modern things installed if they’re going to present such a danger. The damage was in excess of $4,000 which was a great deal of money back then. However, we repaired everything and redecorated the parlor so in the end all was well. But we always considered ourselves very fortunate not to have lost the entire house and we remained eternally grateful to the gallant efforts of the firemen protecting our city. However, apart from this one averted disaster my life at Swan Farm with Charles was wonderful.
In 1899 my son, Ralph, was married to Nellie Murchie from St. Stephen and he built a beautiful new house in the latest Queen Anne style, right across the street from our house on Grosvenor Street. This began a whole new wonderful phase of my life because I began having grandchildren. The first to arrive was a boy, Tom, named for his grandfather, my first husband. Tom was followed by four girls – Eleanor, Alice, Harriet, and Marion. Of course, some of the joy of our growing family was saddened when Charles died in 1909, leaving me alone once again. But, of course, Ralph and his family were just across the street. Everything went well until sometime during the First World War when Ralph invested nearly all of our money in a Silver Fox Farm on South Street. The foxes died and the investment was a total disaster. We lost everything! Ralph even lost his beautiful house and had to move across the street with me. But, life went on just the same and we kept our chin high and remained gracious. Eventually, Ralph was appointed postmaster, which was very helpful to our financial situation, but when Mr. Roosevelt became president Ralph, being a republican, lost this position.
I continued to be involved in my social functions and obligations and I played that wonderful organ at the Congregational Church every Sunday. I played at church and for graduations right up until the time of my passing. And that’s the story of my life. On quiet nights I can still hear the sound of carriage wheels and horses’ hooves going down Main Street in front of my father’s house and I can remember clearly all the people I knew back then. I may not have had an exciting life but it was a good life and it spanned almost a century. So much living and so many changes, all in one life. Well, I’m beginning to tire. I’m not used to so much conversation and so much excitement. So, I’ll take my leave and bid you goodnight. Do come again.
Hello, everyone. (curtsy to the crowd) I am very pleased to meet all of you. My name is really Ellen Holmes, but everyone calls me “Nellie”. It’s my nickname. Mother says Ellen is a very pretty name and I should be very well pleased with it and I know she’s right but I do like Nellie better. It sounds more friendly, I think, so that’s what everyone calls me – even Mother. You know, I’ve been waiting for you so I could tell you something exciting that’s happened, and a little scary. When Agnes and I were coming up to be here tonight, the very strangest thing happened. I began to get an unusual feeling that is very hard to describe and suddenly I sort of divided from myself – I split into two people if you can believe that – and the spirit of my childhood separated from the rest of me. I know you probably think I’m rather crazy but that really is what happened. Honest! I know you’ve already met the rest of me – the adult part. She’s down there. She knows all about my adult life. However, I’m just the spirit of my youth, and now that I’ve gotten used to it I must say it’s quite lovely. I feel so young and innocent again. You know, I’ve been told that people nowadays think of me as a child, anyway, because they found my diary which I wrote when I was, oh, about ten or twelve, I guess, so perhaps that’s how this happened. Either way, I’m happy to be here and very happy to be a child again. I’m also glad to have this special place all to myself so “they” (nod to the others at the Holmes lot) can’t hear what I’m saying. It’s more private up here, I think.
Well, anyway, I’m happy for this chance to visit with you. First of all, I want you to know what a wonderful childhood I had. It really was a most happy time in my life. I’m sure you know that my father was Dr. Job Holmes. Perhaps you’ve heard of him. He was a doctor in Calais for many years. He always seemed so old to me but, of course, he wasn’t really. I guess children always think their parents seem old. He was a good Father and he was always kind to me and to my brothers and sisters. There were six of us, you know, three boys and three girls, although Cyrus died when he was only a baby. We lived down on Main Street in our new house, which Father called the Holmestead, after our name, Holmes. I was talking to Mr. Bassford a little while ago. He’s the man who built our house and he’s here tonight, too. He told me our new house is still standing on Main Street and I’m so glad.
You know, we didn’t always live in the Holmestead. We used to live in the little cottage next door. In fact, Mr. Bassford built our new house on part of the property that went with the cottage. We were all born in the little cottage and I liked living there very much but the new house is so much bigger and nicer. I really love it! No one has to share a room. We all have a room all to ourselves. The house is so big that we have lots of rooms, actually. There’s a beautiful big hallway and a staircase that goes all the way to the third floor. I like to stand at the bottom and look up to the top of the house. And the parlor is quite grand, really. It’s very big, with a fireplace and big windows with shutters that close of the inside. We even have a piano. Mother plays and I’m learning, though I don’t play very well just yet, I’m afraid. Father bought all new furniture when we moved into the new house. He bought much of it from Mr. John Warren Moore in St. Stephen. He made us a lovely new parlor set and many other things as well. Everything in the new house is so much grander than what we had when we lived in the cottage. But Father says we will not sell the cottage. We shall keep it and at least for awhile he will continue to have his office there. May I tell you a secret? I’m glad Agnes is down there and can’t hear me. I believe Agnes is smitten with Mr. Moore’s son, Edward. She says she isn’t but think she is. Frank and I teased her about it and she got quite upset with us. Mother told us to stop and to leave her alone.
I have another secret to tell, as well. Would you like to know what it is? Well, I shouldn’t say, really, because it isn’t kind to the others, but of all my brothers and sisters, though I love them all, Frank is my very favorite. Mother says one ought not to have favorites, and it’s not that I don’t love Anna and Agnes but I do so love Frank. Maybe it’s because we are more close in age and because we play together so nicely, I don’t know. Other girls my age say they don’t even like their brothers because they are mean to them but Frank is never mean. He really is my favorite. Please don’t say anything to anyone. I would not want to hurt the feelings of my sisters. They are very dear to me, just the same.
I have such nice memories of my childhood in Calais. I loved going to school. I went to the Sandbank School, which was not far behind our house. I could just walk with Frank up behind the barn and get there very quickly. From the school we could see the back of our house and barn and the cottage, too. We could also see the back of our church. We were Unitarians and we went to Union Church. It was only at the end of our block and it was very pretty with a lovely steeple and nice big windows. We went on Sundays and sometimes to prayer meeting on Wednesdays after supper. At the Sandbank School, my teacher was Mr. Dyer. I remember his very well. Sometimes he was quite stern. One time I remember he was real cross and he said that those of us in the first class in grammar would have to write a composition and hand it in the following Monday and that he was going to read it before the class and criticize it and have us all point out all the mistakes we see – in other words, make fun of it, it seemed to me. I remember it as if it were yesterday. I thought I could not write a composition that could bear to be cut up so. I wished that either he or I would be so sick that I should not have to go to school. I also remember the day Mr. Bassford’s new Calais Academy building was dedicated. Mr. Dyer let out school at ten o’clock in the morning and he took some of the scholars with him to see the dedication. That was December 1st in 1851, I think. The new building was very beautiful and I was proud that our new house had also been built by Mr. Bassford though when I told Mother she said, “Pride goeth before a fall” so I didn’t say it again.
There are so many things I remember about those days. I had such good friends. There was Laura Bassford and Alice Pike, Ellen Flint and Hattie Barnard. Of course, Frank’s best friend was Frank Barnard. I also remember very well the election of 1852. Mr. Franklin Pierce from New Hampshire was the winner. He was the one we wanted but we did not hear the results for so long that we feared he might have lost. But he didn’t. I remember going to Mrs. McCann’s for milk with Frank after our old cow went off to be killed, and then, when Mrs. McCann told us she only had enough milk for her own family, going to Mrs. Barnard’s instead. Frank would sometimes haul me on the sled or in the wagon, even though he was three years younger. It was all such fun. Christmas was especially lovely, as I expect it still is for you, too. We went to visit our friends and neighbors and Mother always helped to trim the church. One Christmas I remember getting such lovely presents. That year I got a thimble and a game of conversation cards, a silver pencil and a little velvet doll. Frank got wooden soldiers that year. I can still feel the warmth of the candles glowing on the tree, though we never lit them for more than a few minutes and we all had to stay very still because they could catch fire, you know.
I also remember the time Frank and I drove in the sleigh with Mr. Lathrop all the way out to Alexander to visit with Mrs. Townsend and her boys. Mrs. Townsend used to live on Calais Avenue in the big house with pillars before they moved to Alexander. Frank was wild with joy to play with the Townsend boys again. We had such a grand time – although it was a long ride and I remember how cold Frank and I were on the way home. We got way down under the buffalo robe to keep warm. We took heated bricks with us but they had cooled off.
And I remember the time our friend, Miss Tash, was coming to visit but a man where she was boarding was taken with the smallpox and she thought it was not safe to come to our house. Father said he agreed and that he did not want any of us exposed to such a deadly disease. I guess I had better stop remembering as I have so many memories I know I could go on for some time.
I do want to tell you though that my favorite things were books and the barrels of apples that came up from Mother’s family in South Paris, sledding in the winter, sailing boats on the pond behind Mrs. Flints, and, oh, so many other things. I could not name them all. Sometimes Frank and I would build a workshop in the cellar and have such fun playing there. Well, I expect it really is time for me to leave you. I think I notice Agnes “giving me the eye”. She does that when she wants me to do something so I expect you thinks I should stop talking. I always did talk a lot. Perhaps that’s why I started writing my diary. I don’t know. Anyhow, thank you so much for coming to see me. It has been a very great pleasure. I do hope you will come again sometime. Good night.
Good evening fellow citizens of Calais. How pleasant to see you all this evening. I have always been happy to welcome my townsmen at any time and these days my opportunities to converse are limited as you might guess in my current situation. So welcome all. Allow me to introduce myself to those of you who many not recognize me. I am the Honorable Noah Smith, Jr., Esq. I came to Calais in the 1830s, just about 1832 as I remember, from Wakefield, Massachusetts, where I was born in 1800. My father, Noah Smith, Sr., was descended from a family that had come to this country early in its history and I am fortunate that one of his principal beliefs was the value of early education and that he took especial care that I and the rest of his children should enjoy all the opportunities for acquiring knowledge within his ability to do so. He himself was a captain of the cavalry, a selectman, a justice of the peace, and a representative so I expect I was following somewhat in his footsteps when I began my own career in law and also in assuring that my own children received as good an education as it was possible for me to provide for them.
Coming to Calais with my wife, Hannah, who lies here beside me in death as she did in life, we settled in an old cape with a center chimney on Main Street, near Union Mills. I understand it was taken down to make room for commercial expansion in that part of the city. I don’t know just what Marden’s is but I understand my house stood just about where one enters that establishment when coming from Main Street. These things are difficult for me to imagine but perhaps it makes sense to you. Being raised a good Baptist I quickly became involved in the Baptist Church here in Calais and was, in fact, a deacon of that denomination. We had very nice wooden church just below where the Episcopalians build their new church in the early 1850s when Reverend Durrell was here. He was a very nice man, Reverend Durrell, despite the fact that he was an Episcopalian.
As for my career here in Calais, I practiced law in a small office on my property for a number of years, but it was not until mid-life that I entered the political phase of my life. This was not until after my wife died in 1849. My children were grown by then and with Hannah gone I began reaching out for more work to fill my life and my time. Once again I was following in the footsteps of my father, at least to some degree. I entered politics here in my adopted state of Maine around 1850, as I remember. I was elected to the Maine House of Representatives for five consecutive years, from 1850 until 1854, when I was also elected to be the Speaker of the House. I served with another Calais politician, Fred Pike, who also served as Speaker of the House before he went to Washington to serve in Congress. Well, that same year, 1854, I came as close to being Governor of Maine as I would ever be. I was a member of the Whig party and a man named Isaac Reed from Waldoboro and I were both nominated as our party’s candidate for Governor. It was a great disappointment to me when Isaac received the nomination and ran against Anson Morrill. However, Mr. Morrill won anyway so perhaps I would never have received the office even if I had been chosen as the Whig candidate. I was elected a member of the Governor’s Council the following year, though, and then I was elected Secretary of State for Maine in 1858, 1859, and 1860. Things were developing rapidly at this time regarding the issue of slavery and the eventual outbreak of the Civil War. I was a strong anti-slavery man and by this time I suppose I was moving toward Republicanism along with the new president, Mr. Lincoln.
It was at this time that my work brought me to Washington. I’m sure you know Mr. Hannibal Hamlin and his sister and her husband who live here in Calais. Well, being a friend of Dr. and Mrs. Holmes I had the opportunity to become known to Mr. Hamlin. Being vice president of the United States at the time, he kindly wrote me a letter of introduction to Mr. Lincoln and I became the Secretary of the United States Senate throughout the Civil War and continued in this capacity until my death in 1868. Those were interesting times, I can tell you. The existence of the nation was at stake. The questions that were raised and the debates that took place were very important to the outcome of the war and to Mr. Lincoln’s commitment to the preservation of these United States and the abolition of slavery. Just before poor Mr. Lincoln’s assassination I had the privilege of presenting a petition to him for the pardon of a local boy who had been convicted of treason. The letter I received granting this boy a pardon and signed by President Lincoln was one of the last official acts performed by the President before his untimely death. I enjoyed my work in the Senate immensely and was glad to be able to continue, even after Mr. Lincoln’s martyrdom and the end of the War of Rebellion. However, it is my understanding that some controversy erupted after my death when Mr. Ware from Massachusetts was appointed to replace me. There had been a guarantee given that when my position was vacated it should be given to one of the newly freed slaves and when this did not happen there was great difficulty in Washington for a time. I hope this situation has been improved since then and that greater equality exists in the nation today.
Much of my family is buried here with me. There’s my son, Seth W. Smith, also a lawyer here in Calais, and my daughter, Charlotte Tweed, my granddaughter, Charlotte Mason, and even a great-grandson I see over there, Whitney Mason. I don’t know if any of my family continues here in Calais today, but I don’t think so. I had another son as well as Seth. My son Robert was born here and married a young woman from Calais, Helen Dyer. They were married here at the Baptist Church in 1852 but decided to go on to Philadelphia to live, where they had a daughter, my granddaughter, of whom you may have heard. Her name at birth, of course, was Kate Smith, but she married and become, in particular, an author of children’s books. Her married name was Kate Douglas Wiggin. You might know one of her most popular books, “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.” I have one of her other books here as well. She wrote a great many. This one is called “A Byrd’s Christmas Carol.” It’s one of my particular favorites. Kate was also known for starting the very first free kindergarten in America out in San Francisco. Her great-grandfather, my father, would have been very proud of her for that. He believed strongly in early education as I told you earlier.
Well, I believe it is best for me to say my farewell for one evening. I’ve spoken quite long enough for this visit. But do return. It has been very pleasant. Perhaps on our next encounter you can tell me what’s been going in my absence. I expect it will be quite a revelation. Until then, good night.
Hi, everyone! My name is Oliver Davis and I lived up in Milltown on Boardman Street. I died on July 13, 1921. Actually, that was a very sad day around here because there were three of us boys who drowned in the river on that same day. One was a boy named James Eagan who lived over in Milltown, New Brunswick. He was swimming at Indian Point on the Calais side of the river, near the cove above the Ferry Point Bridge. Back then, all the boys went swimming in the river. We did it all the time. Lots of boys even used to jump off the bridge when the tide was high. I never did, though. It was a little scary jumping off the bridge. It was higher up than it looked when you were just walking or riding across it. But the older boys all did it, and some of smaller boys, too. Well, that day it was especially hot so I’m not surprised Jimmy Eagan was swimming near the cove. All our parents knew we went swimming and they always warned us to be very careful and to watch the tide because in some parts of the river the current was really strong, especially when the tide was going out. That’s what happened to Jim Eagan, I’m afraid. The tide started to go out and the current must have been stronger than he realized. He was just swept right downstream before anyone could do anything to help him. They said he was seen raising his hands above his head as he went right down over the falls below and that was the last that was seen of him. They searched the river on the shore and in the water with boats but they couldn’t find him, I guess. I don’t know if they ever found him. I only knew him a little. He was about twelve and a really likeable feller. It’s really sad. I never thought it could be so dangerous swimming in the river. It was always so much fun.
Well, on that very same day that Jim Eagan drowned, July 13, 1921, I was playing with my friend, Harold Moffett. He lived over on North Street, not too far from where I lived and we knew each other from school, too. Sometimes we played together, especially in the summer when school was out. I loved the summer! Well, this day we weren’t going swimming, even though it was hot. We were walking along the river up by Stillson Street and there were lots of water lilies blooming in the middle of the river at that time of year. They were real pretty so we decided to go out to get some to give to our mothers. The water was too deep to wade out and they were too far away for use to swim to them. Besides, we thought it would be too hard to swim out and pick them, then carry them back to shore at the same time. So, we came up with a real good idea. Why heck, we were always coming up with good ideas, Harold and me. We decided to make a raft just like Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. So we tied some branches together with some twine we had in our pockets and some vines we found and climbed aboard. We were out in the middle picking water lilies when the raft started to come apart. I guess we hadn’t made it as strong as we thought. Anyhow, all of a sudden, the whole thing just came apart and we fell into the water. At first we laughed but then we began to feel scared. We were a long way out and it was hard to swim with all our clothes on, and besides, we weren’t used to swimming long ways. Usually, we just swam close to shore. We never went out in the middle of the river. We began yelling and waving our arms for help and splashing around and grabbing for each other but then we went under – and that was the end. We both drowned. The men found us but it was too late, of course.
That was a long time ago, now. Gosh, it was more than 90 years ago. Why, I’d be 100 years old if I was still alive! Boy, that’s seems really funny. It’s hard to imagine. Even my grandfather wasn’t that old! I suppose boys still like to swim in the river. It’s the kind of thing that boys like to do. But I hope they’re more careful than we were. Well, that’s my story. I was a happy boy and I sure liked to have fun but it would have been nice to have been able to grow up and become a man and have a longer life. If I could do it again I wouldn’t go near that river! Well, I thank you for coming to see me. I liked your visit. It’s been really nice. I hope you come again sometime. Good night.
Welcome and good evening. How nice to see you all. Let’s begin with a prayer. “I was glad when they said unto me, we will go into the house of the Lord”. I am the Reverend George Wells Durrell and I recall how very often I have said those words as we began a service of Morning Prayer at St. Anne’s Church in Calais and then at Grace Church in Bath, and later at St. Thomas’s in Somerville when I went to Massachusetts. But actually, I had a life before the ministry. I was born in 1818 in Kennebuckport, Maine. I came from a fairly prosperous family and my father sent me to Bowdoin College, where I graduated and then served for four years as principal of Limerick Academy. It was work I enjoyed but somehow I knew I had a calling to the priesthood so I returned to my studies and graduated from the Theological Seminary of Virginia, then came back to Maine to be ordained here by Bishop Burgess.
In fact, it was Bishop Burgess who sent me here to Calais. At that time the only English church was Christ Church in British Canada across the river but there were a number of people in Calais who were expressly interested in building a church in Calais. When I first arrived, we held weekly services in Horton’s Hall on Main Street. The first service was held on November 24, 1850 and on the following Sunday, December 1, 1850 we established the Sunday School. The bishop was interested in establishing a parish here, however, and so with much work and much good fortune, we founded the Parish of St. Anne here in Calais on September 16, 1852 and I was installed as the first rector on November 20, 1852. It was, and I believe remains, the eastern most parish in the United States. The cornerstone for the new church building was laid on June 10, 1853 and the church was dedicated on May 11, 1854. I still marvel at my good fortune in being able to get the very renowned architect, James Renwick, to contribute the plans for St. Anne’s Church. He had already designed many notable buildings, particularly in New York, as well as the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. Of course, later he also designed St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, so you can see how very fortunate we were to have him design our church here in Calais. I understand it is still standing and looking just as beautiful as it did when I knew it. I am very happy to know that.
I remained at St. Anne’s Church for eleven years but in 1865 I was sent by the bishop to become the rector of Grace Church in Bath. I only remained there for a year before going to Somerville, Massachusetts to St. Thomas’s Church where I continued until my death in 1895. During my entire priesthood I was only absent from church on one Sunday. We did not take vacations in those days. I worked seven days a week for my entire ministry.
As much as I loved my time in Calais and as much as I reveled in the building of beautiful little St. Anne’s Church, my years here were also tinged with great sadness. The nation was engaged in the great Civil War during this time and, personally, my wife and I suffered the greatest loss of any parent, the death of our two young boys, Joseph and George, who died while we were here in Calais. They are buried here with us. It is primarily for this reason that we made certain our bodies were removed to this lot upon our deaths. We wanted to be reunited with our dear young sons, here in this cemetery.
And so, let us pray:
“Almighty God, who has given us grace at this time with one accord to make our common supplications unto thee; and dost promise that when two or three are gathered together in thy Name thou wilt grant their requests; Fulfill now, O Lord, the desires and petitions of thy servants, as may be most expedient for them; granting us in this world knowledge of thy truth, and in the world to come life everlasting.”
Amen and good night.
Hello. It’s very nice to see everyone tonight. I haven’t had anyone to talk to for a very long time. I didn’t realize just how long it has been until right now when Oliver over there told me it’s the year 2012. I couldn’t believe it! That means it’s been 72 years since I died. I’m sure everything has changed a lot since then. Your clothes look very different to me and I saw some people driving in and their cars looked so strange and they come in so many different colors now. Most people had black cars when I was alive and living here in Calais. Oh, please forgive me, where are my manners? My mother would be very upset with me for talking so much and not even introducing myself properly. My name is Rowena Cornish and I’m very pleased to meet each of you. I lived in Calais during the 1930s. My father was the Reverend Thomas Cornish and he was the minister of the First Congregational Church here in town. The First Congregational Church was on Calais Avenue and it had the tallest steeple in Calais. You could see it from almost everywhere in town. I just heard tonight that there was a very bad fire and that my father’s beautiful church burned right down. That makes me feel very sad. I loved that church. On Sundays I used to look up at the ceiling and it was so high it would make me think of heaven. I hope you have a nice church to take its place.
Both my parents were born in England, you know. They didn’t come from Maine. My father was born in London, where the King lives, and my mother was born in Coventry, I think. When they came to America they went to Patten first, up near Mt. Katahdin, and my father was the minister of the church there. Then they moved to Calais and I was born over in St. Stephen. You know, I died so very suddenly. It was kind of strange. It all happened so fast. Why, I was only sick for two days! I just got sick, then I went into a coma. I really don’t remember very much about it but I know that I never thought I was going to die. I just thought I didn’t feel very well. I remember Dr. Bunker coming to our house. He was always our doctor and he was really nice. I liked it when he came to see me. We lived in the Congregational parsonage, of course, over on Lafayette Street. All I can really remember is just going to sleep. It didn’t hurt really. And then it was all over. My mother and father were so sad. You know I was their only child and before I died I remember hearing my mother say she just didn’t know what she would do if anything happened to me, especially after losing my two little brothers. I was sort of asleep and I didn’t understand what she meant but I knew I had had two baby brothers who had been born before I was born so I guess she was thinking about them, too. My baby brother Bernard Thomas only lived two days and my brother Enid just lived one day. Of course, I don’t remember them but they’re buried here with me. I only know about them because my mother told me. When I died I was only 9 years, ten months, and 8 days old. It was in January, 1940, and I remember that I had been looking forward to having my 10th birthday. I really wanted a new sled so I could go sledding over on Sandbank Hill. All the kids went there and I was old enough to go over there by myself so I was really hoping to be able to go sledding every day during our school vacation. My birthday was on February 27th. That comes after our school vacation but my father had said that this year I might get a special present before my birthday, which is what made me think that just maybe it would be the sled I wanted. My father always said I was “perfect” and I guess he spoiled me a little. I knew I wasn’t perfect but I always liked it when my father told me I was. I know he must have missed me terribly. Oh gosh, I’ve talked too long. My mother always said I should only say “hello” and “good-bye” and politely answer any questions that adults might ask me, but that I mustn’t talk too much. Children are to be seen and not heard, you know. Well, it’s been so nice to see everyone. Thank you so much for coming to see me. I hope you’ll come again. It gets lonely here, though I do feel better now that I’ve met Oliver over there. I didn’t know him before tonight so, you see, your visit has really helped me. I hope you enjoy meeting everyone else that’s here tonight. Good-bye.
Good evening, everyone. Let me introduce myself. I’m Samuel Rideout, part of a large family of Rideouts in Maine and, in particular, right here in the St. Croix Valley. Many of the Rideout clan were born right here in Calais but my brother, Norman Dunning Rideout, and I were born in Scarsborough, near Portland. My brother Norman went out to California where he made quite a name for himself. He started out in the gold rush but ended up in the banking business. He made a lot of money, much more than I ever made. In fact, he started the first bank chain in California and his bank eventually became the Bank of America. He was also very involved in politics. He was the mayor of Marysville where he lived, he was a county supervisor, and he was a city councilman. He was even a delegate to the National Republican Convention three times. In 1878 he helped to nominate Rutherford B. Hayes, in 1892 he helped to nominate Benjamin Harrison for president, and again in 1900 he helped to nominate William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt who, of course, became president when William McKinley was assassinated. Well, Norman and I were very different, as brothers often are, and so when he got bitten by the spirit of adventure and took off for the gold fields, I traveled east from Portland and came to Calais where I had relatives in the lumber and shipbuilding business. I didn’t have any high aspirations. I just wanted a regular life with a family. So, I found work in the mills and on road construction and settled down. I got married and in time I was blessed with two fine sons. The older boy we named for my brother Norman in California, only we called him by his middle name, Dunning, so as not to confuse him with his uncle. He was a good boy, very eager to succeed and filled with adventure. He was a lot like his uncle so I guess he was well named. When he was old enough it wasn’t a surprise when he left Calais and headed out to California to work in one of his uncle’s banks. And it was a good thing he did, I guess, because around 1889, without any real warning, I became sick and died rather suddenly, leaving my wife and our other son, young Henry, on their own with not much to support them. Poor little Henry was only twelve years old at the time but, luckily, Dunning was able to send money home from California to help support them. They really had to rely on that money to get by, I’m sorry to say. I wish now I’d been more successful and left them better off than I did, but then, you just never know what will happen in life so I guess it’s better to be as prepared as you can be. But, of course, we don’t always think about those things when we’re busy living every day, now do we.
Well, my younger son, Henry Milner Rideout, was born and raised right here in Calais and he was always a Calais boy at heart. He was really a special child in many ways. He was very bright and he was a good reader. He loved books and was always a good student in school. Once he got to Calais Academy he did especially well in his studies and he caught the particular attention of his English teacher, Laura Burns. She got it into her head that my Henry must go to Harvard, no less. Well, this was next to impossible. There was no money for any education, let alone a fancy Harvard education, and poor Dunning was doing the best he could to send money back home to support his mother and Henry. He certainly couldn’t afford to send Henry to Harvard! It was just out of the question. He’d married a local Calais girl, Marion Curran, before he left and they had a young family of their own. It was a hardship, I’m sure, for him to be sending money home regular to support his mother and brother. But Laura Burns wasn’t giving up on the idea. She was a very special lady. She did a lot of good for people in Calais and a lot of it no one ever knew about. Now, she was a cousin of Charles Townsend Copeland who was a rather distinguished Harvard professor of English and a local Calais boy, as well. His mother lived down on Main Street. Together, he and Laura Burns were like a dog with a bone when it came to sending Henry to Harvard! They were determined to find a way to get my Henry to Harvard where he could get a “decent” education as they put it. So, they convinced a group of Calais citizens to put up the money that was needed to send Henry to Harvard. It wasn’t charity, mind you, Henry wouldn’t accept charity; it was a loan, to be paid back after he finished his education. But it allowed Henry to go to college. He entered Harvard in 1895. He was the first member of the family to attend any college, no less the most important college in the country.
You know, Henry always had a talent for writing and at Harvard this talent really came to the fore. Why, he even became the Editor-in-Chief of the Harvard Monthly. This was quite an accomplishment for a young feller from Calais with no money! When he graduated in 1899 he was given a position as an instructor in the Harvard English Department. Of course, Charles Copeland helped with this, as well. But, even though he had a promising academic career, it wasn’t really what he wanted to do, so once he’d paid off that loan to the Calais people who had helped him, he left teaching. He’d been writing stories and The Atlantic Monthly published a couple of them so this was just the encouragement he needed to pursue a writing career. That’s what he really wanted to do, you see. He was still a young man and he hadn’t married yet so he decided to set off for the Far East. He thought this would help him gather background material for his writing. He was able to get a contract with the American Woolen Company, reporting on jute mills in the Philippines, Indonesia, and India and he kept very careful notes and wrote long letters back home. Do you know, just before you came, I was visiting with Minnie Swan. She and Dr. Swan were always good to Henry and he considered her a kind of relative. He always called her Aunt Minnie. Perhaps you’ve met her already tonight. If not, you’ll see you soon, I’m sure. She’s a very nice lady. You’ll like her. Well, she just happened to have a couple of my Henry’s novels with her and inside one of them we found two letters Henry had written to her during his trip to the Far East. Minnie said she’d forgotten all about them but she let me take them so let me read just a bit of one of them to you. You’ll see what a good writer he was.
(I’ll add an excerpt from one of the letters. I’m afraid I have left them in my kitchen. When I come home I will bring them down to you, make copies, and we can add the excerpt. I figured this would not be difficult for you to do. I wouldn’t do this to everyone but I know you can adjust quickly!)
I was so happy to see those books and find those letters. I’d never seen any of Henry’s writing before this.
Well, Henry settled in California where his brother was doing very well managing banks for my bother Norman. He married a California girl, another writer so I guess it must have been a good match, and they had children of their own. He went on to become a very successful writer. He published 16 novels, as well as short stories and even textbooks, which he wrote with Charles Copeland. This book, The Siamese Cat, is one of his novels, and this one, The Man Eater, is another. He was quite a famous author in his day and I’m really proud of him. But, you know, he was always a Calais boy at heart, never forgot his roots right here, and even wrote the ode for the celebration for the three hundredth anniversary of St. Croix Island in 1904. I sure wish I could have been there to see that and hear my boy’s poem for the occasion. Sadly, poor Henry died young, like me. He was just 50 years old when he caught pneumonia and died. He was sailing back from Europe with his family. They were out in the middle of the ocean at the time so he was buried at sea. Otherwise, I know he would have been brought home to Calais like his brother Dunning. He and his wife are buried right up at the top of the cemetery, straight up from here. It would have been nice to have them both here near me. We might have all been able to get together again later tonight at the party we always have after you folks leave. Anyhow, my own life was kind of ordinary, I guess you could say, though I was happy, that’s for sure; but my sons had successful lives and they did extraordinary things, and I’m proud of them. I thank you all for coming and listening to my story. Good night and I hope you’ll stop by again sometime. Good night.
Welcome. My name is Samuel Tuttle and I am buried here with my wife, Betsy. I was a soldier of the Revolution and served my country during its fight for freedom from Great Britian. I was born in Chelsea, Massachusetts on November 2, 1753, and I came to this northeastern part of Massachusetts, or so it was called then, about 1772 to build a new life for myself.
I was only 19 then and ready for any adventure that would come my way, so when word reached us here that the Revolution had broken out I traveled back south as quickly as I could. I went straight to Lynn, where I enlisted in the newly forming Continental Army. My father, John Tuttle, also served throughout the Revolution as a soldier, fighting in Colonel Putnam’s regiment. I was in Colonel Putnam’s regiment, as well, at first, enlisting with Captain Ezra Newhall in the year 1776. I served as a private in that regiment until I moved on to become a sergeant in the artillery in the company commanded by Winthrop Gray in Colonel Crafts’ Regiment. Now, I was supposed to stay with Colonel Putnam for a couple more months, but I wanted to be a sergeant with Colonel Craft so I found a substitute to replace me so I could move on to something more interesting. That was allowed during them times. As long as someone completed your agreed upon time it didn’t much matter who it was. So I stayed on with Colonel Crafts’ Regiment until such time as I received a lieutenant’s commission at Boston. I still have my enlistment paper to prove it, signed by John Hancock himself.
During this time I belonged to Joseph Williams’ Company in Colonel John Greaton’s Regiment. Why, I moved around from regiment to regiment back then more than almost anyone I knew. This was in January, 1777, I think, but when Colonel Greaton’s regiment moved to the Northwoods I was ordered to remain behind in Boston in command of the recruiting office. I wasn’t too happy about that. I wanted to go with the rest of the men in my regiment but there weren’t too much I could do about it except to just stay put until I was ordered to join my regiment, which I was eventually. It was a happy day for me when the order finally did come and I headed out for the Northwoods.
I traveled through the frontier up to Fort #4 on the Connecticut River, then took the Crown Point Road and headed west for New York. I joined the American Army on the North River just above Saratoga. I took part in the battle of Bemis Heights, and then after we’d taken care of Burgoyne we quartered in Albany to wait till spring when the regiment was ordered to West Point. And that’s where I was ordered to remain when part of my regiment marched on to White Plains. I received a general order at that time to serve as an assistant engineer in the building of forts along the Western front. I did this until I was ordered back to Massachusetts, where I remained for the rest of my service time.
Anyhow, that was all a long time ago now. It’s a wonder I can remember it at all after more than two hundred years! When the end of the war came and we’d won and this new country was being established, I decided my work there was over and I headed back to Northern Massachusetts. That was about 1783, I suppose. I liked it up north and by that time I’d married my wife, Betsy, so we came up here to Eastport where we lived most of our lives. Down on Moose Island there was always plenty of work. Eastport was the second busiest port on the East Coast back then and ships were coming and going all the time. There was lots of work in the customs, and lots of graft and corruption, too, I might add. When the War of 1812 broke out and we were at war with Britain again, Eastport was captured by the British. It was quite a prize, you know, since it was such an important port back then. Those were tough times, living under occupation by the British. And there was fighting, too, and some good men were killed. One of them was a Calais feller, Richard Sanborn. He’d fought in the Revolution as well. Why, he’s got a gravestone right over there someplace but I know he’s not buried over there. They buried him down to Eastport but his family put up a marker here to remember him. It made them feel better, I expect, having a place where they could go to remember him since they weren’t sure just where he was buried in Eastport. You know, they always told the story that there were some British soldiers from the War of 1812 that had been killed downriver and were buried down by the old Bog Brook church, I ain’t never seen their graves to prove it. Anyhow, eventually the war ended but when it did them folks doing the negotiating forgot all about the fact that Eastport was still occupied by the British. They were just about ready to sign the treaty when they found out. Why, we almost ended up being British citizens again. Luckily, someone remembered before the treaty was official. It was a great day, I can tell you, when all that was over. There was a big ball held in one of the houses down to Eastport and lots of celebrating. Poor William Pike from up here in Calais even drowned trying to get to the celebrations. That was a sad thing.
Well, by about 1832 Congress passed a law granting a pension to anyone who could prove they were a soldier in the Revolution. They gave you a certain amount for every month you served in the army and more depending on your rank. So I figured I was as deserving as anyone else so I set out to get my papers in order and get myself one of those pensions. It took some doing because I had to find that paper signed by John Hancock and write a letter explaining all the Regiments I’d served in and so forth, but finally I was given a pension and on March 4th, 1834, I received $779.15 in back pension money; then after that, I got $311.66 per annum. That was a good amount back then, though I don’t expect it seems like much to you folks now. Well, here I am in the Calais Cemetery after hardly ever living here. Betsy and I only came up here to live for the last few years of our lives, living sometimes over in St. Stephen and sometimes here in Calais, but I am one of the four Revolutionary veterans buried in the Calais Cemetery. I know all the others. There’s John Noble over there, (point towards the Main Avenue), John Bohannon, and Richard Sanborn, who I told you about a minute ago. Since we’ve been talking about the Revolution, did you know there’s the great-great-granddaughter of one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence buried right here as well? Yes, sir, there is. But maybe she’s someone you can meet another time. For now, I think I should be getting ready for the little get-together we’re having out here after you leave and you should be getting on to your next stop. I thank you for coming and I wish you good night.
Good evening. Let me introduce myself. My name is Stephen Brewer. I came to Calais in the early days of the town and, in fact, could well be considered one of its founders. I was here for the first town meeting, held on July 31st, 1809. In fact, I was elected moderator of that meeting, as well as being elected as the town’s first treasurer and as one of the hog reeves. I’m sure being a hog reeve sounds rather strange to you folks but back in those days it was an important position. Our livestock was important to our survival in this wilderness so if any of our animals got loose it was the job of the hog reeve to catch them and see they were returned to their rightful owners before they were lost or killed.
When I came here to Schoodic, as it was known before the name was changed to Calais after the town was incorporated by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, there were only a few people here. I knew all the earliest settlers – men like Daniel Hill, Shubael Downes, Joe Whitney, Francis Pettigrove, Jurius Keene, and all the others. It was a wild, backwoods place in those days but it grew fast. The abundance of virgin forests meant a seemingly endless supply of lumber so mills soon were established. Easy access to the sea meant easy transport of the lumber and very soon shipbuilding became prominent, as well. More and more houses and other buildings began to be built and the town fairly quickly began to become more substantial and bustling.
I was known about town for being the first to do many things during those early times. I built the first frame house in town along what later became Main Street. I brought the first horse to town and the first carriage, and shipped out the first load of lumber aboard the first ship that was built here by Jurius Keene. I was the first Justice of the Peace and the first postmaster in Calais. I also was responsible for providing the first church in town since there was no proper house of worship in those early days. I was actually quite fortunate and enjoyed a rather prominent position in town. I always believed that was because I had the advantage of being better educated than most people that had come here to build a new life. I was one of only a few people in town who could read and write. And I was fortunate to have come from a family of means in Boston so I had money available to me. When the town was incorporated the warrant issued by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts was served on me personally by Oliver Shead, the Justice of the Peace in Eastport. This is because I was able to use my influence in Boston to precipitate the issuing of this warrant. My mother’s family, the Alderwalls, even have a street in Brookline named for them. It is true that who you know can be very useful. My brother was General John Brewer. He settled on land he received in a grant from General Washington further down the river at Robbinston and built a rather grand house there which has been called the Mansion House. My brother John married the daughter of Nehemiah Marks who settled over on the British side of the river. Unfortunately, I died fairly early, in 1817, so I was only here for about 15 years, but they were exciting and prosperous years and I witnessed great changes in this area during that time. When I died this cemetery hadn’t even been established so I was actually buried in the cemetery at Sandbank Hill. When this cemetery was established in 1836 the graves in the Sandbank Cemetery were removed and brought here. My grave is one of the oldest in the cemetery, therefore. There are only a few that are older. One of them is the Arnold boy who died in 1816 and is buried just beyond here further down this lane. I wish I had lived longer and seen more, but I was fortunate to see all that I did and I feel fortunate to have this opportunity to visit with all of you this evening. Adhering to my tendency to be first at things, perhaps I’m the first to return for this little post burial visit. Well, good night to you all and thank you for giving me this chance to speak with you.
It’s lovely that you were all able to come this evening. My name is Vesta Hamlin Holmes. I’m the wife of Dr. Job Holmes, who was one of the most prominent doctors and citizens in this community, if I do say so myself. As proud as I am of being his wife and the mother of our children, I’m also very proud of my own family. In fact, I am a direct descendant of one of the passengers on the Mayflower, John Howland. He was my great-great-great grandfather. So I am really a daughter of the pilgrims. And, as you probably know, my brother, Hannibal Hamlin, served as vice-president with President Abraham Lincoln during most of the Civil War. Of course, Mr. Johnson became vice-president for Mr. Lincoln’s second term, which had really only begun when poor Mr. Lincoln was shot. I often think that if Hannibal had remained vice-president he would have been the President of the United States. Just imagine. Well, of course, this was all a very sad chapter in our nation’s history and caused so much suffering and pain for so many families. My own dear son, Frank, was killed at the battle of Fredericksburg. Of course, he’s buried there where he fell defending his country but we erected this stone in his memory here in the family plot. The loss of a child is something from which a mother never recovers, no matter how long she lives or how old she becomes.
Well, on a happier note, my life here in Calais was a pleasant one. We were very fortunate. When Job first began practicing he practiced with my brother, Dr. Cyrus Hamlin, who is also buried here with us. Later, he had the distinct honor of working with Dr. Swan, who was another very prominent citizen of this city. When my brother Cyrus decided to move away from Calais, we purchased his house from him. It was a dear little cottage down on the Main Street of the city, just down the street from what was then the newly built Union Church, which we attended. All my family were Unitarians. The church was a very grand edifice, with a magnificent tower and when one sailed into our small harbor it was such a lovely and prominent sight. Well, we lived very happily in our cottage for a number of years but then, Dr. Holmes was doing so well and we had managed to save a considerable amount of money so we decided to build a new, larger, and I must say more elegant, house next door to our little cottage, on part of our lot. We had it designed by the city’s most distinguished architect and builder, Mr. Asher Bassford. He did a wonderful job and we lived in that grand house for the rest of our lives. We had it beautifully furnished with all new furniture, some of which was made by Mr. John Warren Moore in St. Stephen, and some of which we bought from other places. We were very, very happy in our house, which we called the Holmestead. It was rather a play on words, don’t you see. We entertained a great deal. My brother Hannibal visited quite often, as well as others with whom we were familiar. Since the cottage was so close we decided to keep it and for many years we rented it after we moved into the new house. Unfortunately, my dear husband, Dr. Holmes, died suddenly in 1864, before the end of the Civil War. It was a truly great loss, especially coming so soon on the heals of losing our son, Frank. Then, later, poor Ellen, our daughter, lost her husband, Mr. Cony. He was lost at sea. And then, just one year before my own death, our poor daughter Agnes died at the age of 47, leaving her husband Edward Moore and their three children. I guess no family is without its sorrows but I truly believe that my grief at the loss of both Frank and Agnes may have hastened my own passing.
I wish I could invite you all to tea at the Holmestead. It only seems proper after you were all so very kind to come to see me here. However, I’m afraid I cannot extend such an invitation this evening. Perhaps another time, though. I shall say good evening and retire for the night. Good bye.
Good afternoon, everyone, and welcome. My name is Ina Creamer and I’m very pleased to be here with you today and to have this opportunity for a visit. Perhaps there are even a few of you who might remember me. For many years I was the organist at St. Anne’s Church so if any of you were children back in the 1950s or 60’s you just might have heard me play there. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.
I guess I should tell you that I was born right here in Calais in 1884. My mother was a woman named Minnie McKay. I still miss her. And my father was Bill McKay. We lived on Baring Street in Milltown and my father worked in the mills like so many of the men did in those days. Like most people back then we had a piano in our parlor. That was how people listened to music in those days. There were no radios or record players. When a new song came out we just bought the sheet music and learned to play it on the piano. Many an evening I remember sitting around the piano with the family singing while someone played. Mother had an ear for music, and so did I, so I learned to play quickly. I became a really good piano player, if I do say so myself, and I loved it! Playing the piano was what I loved to do the most.
Well, like any young lady of the time, playing the piano wasn’t my only pastime and when I was about 20 I fell in love and got married. The following year John and I had our first child – a beautiful baby boy we named Verne. After that we had two daughters. My daughters grew up and were married and moved away, I’m sad to say. One went to live in New Hampshire and the other in Newfoundland so I didn’t get to see them too often – only once or twice each year. And our son, Verne, died at age 17. It was the saddest day of my life and I know John never got over the loss. Poor John died young himself, only 55 back in 1936 but we had a good life together and I’m grateful for that. We bought a house at number 10 Chandler Street. I understand it’s no longer there but it was a nice, old-fashioned house – tall and plain with a lovely staircase and a triangular window up in the attic. It was built sometime in the 1830s as I remember. We were very happy there and, of course, we had a piano in the parlor, even though by then there were radios and phonographs, which the children loved. Kids always love the newest gadgets. I liked them, too, actually. It was great to listen to whole bands and orchestras and people with nice voices singing in your own house. I must tell you I just loved that Mr. Bing Crosby, he was my favorite, but I was particularly partial to classical music, really, though I played everything and liked all kinds of music.
Well, now that you know a little about my family and my piano playing I believe this would be a good time to tell you about the Opera House. I played there for years. The Opera House was a beautiful place and it really was the center for music and entertainment here in Calais. It was a handsome building – very tall with beautiful tall arched windows upstairs in the theatre. There were businesses and even the post office and Western Union office on the ground floor. It had a mansard roof above the theater with dormers and a big square belvedere with windows that sat right up on top of the roof. You could see it everywhere it was so high. The Opera House stood right at the corner of Main and Church Street and when I left this life it was still there, though much altered. It was the home of J. D. Thomas Oil Company the last I knew but its beauty had faded, I’m afraid, just like the music and the theater productions that had taken place there. You see, there was a terrible fire at the Opera House on May 2, 1935. There had been a performance that evening and when people went down the stairs that night I don’t suppose they ever dreamed it would be the last time they would ever be there. The alarm rang about midnight, I think. I remember hearing it, though at first I didn’t think too much about it. The fire alarm often rang. We could look up the location of the fire in those days according to the number of blasts on the fire horn so when it kept ringing I went to check where it was and discovered it must be the Opera House. John and I drove down and what a fire it was. The building was ablaze! In the morning there was nothing left but a smoldering ruin. Everything was lost. The beautiful hand-painted theater curtain of Dochet’s Island, the huge painting of Lineus, the horse with the 14 foot tail and the mane that hung to the ground. It hung on the back stairs that went up to the gallery and down into the well of the main stairs and, by itself, was a sight to see. I think some people came to see that painting as much as they came to see the show. Of course, the organ was lost, and the piano and the back drops and the costumes – everything. It all went up into the night sky in smoke and flames. So sad and such a loss for everyone. But let me tell you what went on there. Why, it was grand, I can tell you. As I’ve said, I played there for years, so I saw it all.
Well, I guess I should go back to the beginning, at least the beginning of my memory of the Opera House. To begin with it was a theatre for live performances, there were no movies then, and I’m telling you the honest truth when I say that the very best actors and actresses of the day came to perform right here in Calais. It’s true. In the early days it was lit by gas lights but when electricity came to the area it was fitted out with electric lights. A person came out and rang a little bell, like a tea bell you might have at home, to let people know the curtain was about to go up and everyone settled back for what they knew would be a pleasurable evening. There were lots of musical productions, both professional and amateur. The Boston Opera Company brought performances here and even the great tenor, Enrico Caruso, came by steamer to perform at the Opera House. Uncle Tom’s Cabin was performed so many times I couldn’t count them and there were always lots of operettas like Gilbert and Sullivan. H. M. S. Pinafore was the favorite. There were vaudeville acts and minstrel shows. They were always popular and they usually started with a band marching down Church Street in red uniforms with a drum major throwing a big baton. It was a sight to see. They’d stop at the theater door and the drummer would beat the drum to let people know it was time for the show to begin. This is where the expression “drumming up business” came from. Did you know that? Well, it did. But it wasn’t only music that took place at the Opera House. There were lectures and even the great boxer, John L. Sullivan was there. He drove around in a horse and surrey all day letting people see him so they’d want to come to the fight that evening. And they did. He fought with Paddy Ryan. Those were the days, let me tell you. How I miss them.
Later, of course, when movies became popular, I played for the silent movies. You see, the movies were silent but the film machine wasn’t. It made so much noise that people soon figured out that if someone played music loud enough it would drown out the sound of the projector while providing a little drama to the movie scenes at the same time. Most of the music was some selection or other of classical music but you had to play fast and change from one piece of music to another in a hurry. Most of the movies came with a list of what to play and when to play it but you had to be good and you had to move fast. Between the movies there’d be other entertainment, like singers, and I’d play for them, too. Later, as I said earlier, I played at St. Anne’s Church but I still used lots of the classical selections for the preludes before church began. I’ve had people tell me that the first time they heard a certain piece of classical music was at church even though they had no idea what it was, so I guess I helped to teach a little music to people, too. Of course, I played at things like the St. Patrick’s Day Concerts the Catholics had every spring and I accompanied other events as well. I loved music and I loved playing and I played everywhere I could.
Well, it’s been lovely to talk with you this afternoon and to reminisce about the old Opera House and those heydays of Calais. Perhaps you learned something you didn’t know. I hope so. I’m sure others are waiting to tell you stories that are more interesting than mine so I’ll say good-bye. Besides, I have to brush up on my playing for tonight’s gathering; so if you drive by later and hear a little music coming from back here in the cemetery don’t think anything of it. I hope to see you again sometime. Good-bye.
Good afternoon, everyone. In case you may be wondering, my name is Laura Burns. Perhaps a few of you may have heard of me, especially if you attend St. Anne’s Church. I understand there’s a plaque there with my name on it. But probably most of you don’t have any idea who I am and there’s really no reason why you should after nearly 100 years. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long but it has. Well, I lived here in Calais all my life in the same house up on Hinckley Hill. I’ve heard my house belongs to some people named Ed and Susan Harvey, but that it may have been recently sold to some new people, so I hope they will enjoy living in it as much as I did for so many years.
Well, let me begin by telling you something about myself so we can get to know each other a bit better. My father and mother came to live in Calais, along with my aunt and uncle and my sister, before I was born. Papa graduated from Dartmouth College in New Hampshire and he was an attorney here in Calais for many years. Sadly, I never knew my mother. I was only two when she died in childbirth along with my sister, Grace. However, despite our great loss, Papa took good care of my sister, Kate, and me, and he was always a loving father. Kate grew up and married a man named Thomas Armstrong and they had one daughter, my niece Winifred, but I never married. We’re all buried together right here in our family lot.
During my lifetime I was a teacher and I always valued education. Papa always supported learning for everyone and he passed this belief on to me. He felt that through education anyone could improve himself, even if he had been born poor. He said that knowledge was the key that opened the door to success and I believe he was right. Believing this, he sent me to college, even though girls did not generally receive a higher education when I was young. When I completed my education I returned home to Calais and began my teaching career. At first I taught younger children, working at the school down the road from my home on the lower part of Main Street. Eventually, I went on to teach at Calais Academy, where I taught for many years. I can still remember a number of my pupils. One, in particular, was a young man named Henry Milner Rideout. He was a very promising student. He worked hard and had an excellent aptitude. But Henry’s father had died and his mother had no means to pay for an education. I knew Henry really was excellent material for Harvard University and my cousin, Charles Townsend Copeland, was a professor there. So, since he came home for the summer each year, I waited until his return so I could talked with him about it. Well, Charles spoke with Henry and decided he was, indeed, promising and that he could get him into Harvard if we could find a way to pay for his education. So, together we found benefactors for the boy among the more prominent citizens of Calais and Henry went to Harvard. He did very well for himself, too, becoming a Harvard professor for a time and eventually becoming a well-known author of the day. So you see, through Papa’s influence, I understood the importance of an education.
As much as I enjoyed teaching, I also enjoyed my church. I had gone to St. Anne’s Church all my life; in fact, I even remember Reverend Durrell, who built the church back in 1853. I was born in 1856 so he was our rector when I was a child. I always thought it would be nice to do something to help the church but I was never certain just what that would be. I also always wanted to help people, either at the church or in the city. I was fortunate enough to come from a family of some means but I knew there were others who were simply not as fortunate as I. I had seen poor people refused medical attention because they did not have the money to pay for it. In those days people sometimes died because they couldn’t afford a doctor. It was very tragic and quite unchristen, really. As I got older I felt even more deeply about all these things. They became passions of mine – this idea of the value of education and St. Anne’s Church and helping the poor. So, after much thought, I went to my lawyer and I drew up a will. I had some money and this seemed like the best way to use it. I would make some provision for these things after I was gone.
First, I thought about my teaching and the importance of education. I set up three scholarships – two at Dartmouth and one at Simmons College. I established a scholarship at Dartmouth College for a deserving graduate from Calais Academy, and a second scholarship at Dartmouth, though smaller, for a graduate from Eastport High School. Then I established a scholarship for a graduate of Calais Academy at Simmons College. In those days, Dartmouth was only for men and Simmons was only for women, so I was trying to help both sexes. My scholarship to Dartmouth for a Calais graduate has not been used very often, I’m sorry to say, so I understand it is now worth about $500,000 and no one is taking advantage of it! I wanted to help Calais students get an education to better their lives but this part of my legacy has not been very well utilized. If any of you know a promising young student from Calais who wants to attend Dartmouth College, please let them know about my scholarship. I’m not sure about the Eastport scholarship but I believe the one at Simmons has been used and there is no money available any longer. So, if that’s true, I am very happy about that
The second thing I wanted to do was provide something for St. Anne’s Church; so I established two funds, one to help the parish with repairs to the building, and another to pay for the cost of one child at the House of the Good Shepherd in Gardiner. This was an Episcopal Church orphanage and since there were Calais children living there already, I wanted to help support them. I set up this fund to pay for a child from St. Anne’s first, but if there wasn’t one, it could be used for any child from Calais.
Then, I established a fund at St. Anne’s Church to pay for medical expenses for needy Calais citizens. I established another fund to provide nursing services for the poor of St. Anne’s or for others in the city who needed help. I left my house to this fund so that it could be rented and the income added to the fund with the stipulation that the house could be sold and the money from the sale added to this fund, if desired. I tried to think of every detail. I’m happy to know that these funds are still providing help to the sick and needy. Of course, the type of help that’s provided has been adjusted over the years, but that is fine. My original intent to help people when they are sick is still being carried out and that’s what’s important.
You know, sometimes it’s strange how things happen. After making out my will and just a week before my death, I took a trip to Portland to visit friends and do some shopping. I had been looking forward to it for some time. Once I arrived I got settled and sent some postcards home to my friends letting them know I’d arrived safely and was having a good time. Then, all of a sudden, I began to feel unwell. At first I thought I would just wait until I got home and go to see Dr. Webber, but I felt so badly that I went to a doctor in Portland. I was rather surprised when he sent me straight to St. Barnabas Hospital where it was soon discovered that I was, indeed, very ill. It was a shock to me and in just a matter of days I was gone. Just like that. It all happened so suddenly. I know it must have been a terrible shock to everyone in Calais as well. It just wasn’t expected by anyone, least of all, me. However, I am glad to know that in my obituary it was said that I was greatly interested in the affairs of education because, of course, I was. It was also said that many young men and women owed their success in life to my teaching. Wasn’t that a lovely thing to say? Of course, I know their success was not due entirely to my teaching, but it was kind of them to say it just the same. I am grateful that my will provided so much good for others and that it is still continuing even today. How nice.
Oh, I do wish we had more time to spend together. It’s been so lovely to have this opportunity to visit with all of you, especially after being away for so long. But I’m afraid I must go. Thank you for coming to see me and allowing me to share this time with you. Good-bye.
Oh my, it is lovely to see all you fine folks on this beautiful summer afternoon. I’ve been waiting for you. Now, I realize that a couple of years ago my dear husband, Theophilus, was here to speak with you, but you know, I was listening, and wouldn’t you know it, just like a man, he forgot half of what I’d told him he should tell you. So, I decided that if you want to get a job done right, send a woman, and here I am.
Well, if you were here when Theo came up to speak with the visitors that year, you may recall that our family connection goes all the way up to our great-grandson, Thornton Wilder, the author. Yes, in case you’re wondering, I really am the great-grandmother of Thornton Wilder. I know Theo told you that. Of course, we never knew Thornton ourselves. He wasn’t born until after we’d departed this life. You know he was a twin, don’t you, and the other one was to be named Theophilus after his great-grandfather but, unfortunately, he was born dead, poor little thing. And poor Thornton was so tiny and frail they carried him around on a pillow for several months. Nonetheless, he grew up to become quite a famous writer. My land, he wrote several novels, don’t you know – The Bridge of San Luis Rey, The Cabala, Heaven’s My Destination, Theophilus North. Of course, there were others, too, but that’s enough for right now. Why, he even won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1928 for The Bridge of San Luis Rey and he won a Pulitzer Prize again for his play, Our Town, and then again in 1943 for his play, The Skin of our Teeth. So, all in all, he won the Pulitzer Prize three times! In fact, Thornton was the first author ever to win a Pulitzer Prize both for fiction and for drama and as a proud great-grandmother I must say that I believe that is quite an accomplishment. Why, his play, The Matchmaker, was even made into the Broadway musical, Hello Dolly. And he wrote screenplays for movies as well. Now, I must admit that I don’t really know what a screenplay is or a movie either, for that matter. But I know he did it and I think that’s pretty special.
Now, of course, you must forgive an old lady for bragging about her children like that. I know I shouldn’t do it. It’s very unbecoming of a Christian. I’m a strong Baptist, went to the Baptist Church up in Milltown, and I know the preacher wouldn’t want to hear me up here bragging to you so it’s best I stop. Besides, I didn’t come here today to tell you about Thornton, not really. I came to straighten out a few things and tell you some of the things Theo forgot to tell you. First, the Wilder family goes back a long way in New England. That’s something you should know and Theo didn’t tell the folks before. The family goes all the way back to 1636 when the first of the family arrived at Hingham, Massachusetts from the Thames Valley. My own family, the Lincolns, was also from Hingham and goes back just about as far. They were all strong Baptists – plain, stern, godly folk, they were, and so were we. Nothing fancy about us. In time, Theo’s family migrated up here to this part of Maine and here we are. Well, as you might know already, my husband was a grocer up in Milltown. He had a little store and sold groceries, mostly to the mill workers who lived up in that part of town. We lived in Milltown and Theo had his store along the front street with the other stores in that part of town and on occasion when it was busy I’d work in the store, too. It was a good life and it was nice to see people every day. I liked working in the store.
Both Theo and I were born back in the 1790’s, over in Pembroke. That’s something else you should know. Our son, Amos Lincoln Parker – he’d be Thornton’s grandfather – was born in Pembroke, too, but we moved up here to Calais when he was just a boy. Of course, in time, he grew up and married a nice girl from a well-to-do family over in St. Stephen. Her name was Charlotte Porter. Her family was in the lumbering business. They even owned a shipyard. Her father, James Porter, started his business here in Calais but after he married he went over to St. Stephen to live. The Porters were people of importance, with money, and I have to tell you that my Baptist upbringing made me a little uneasy about a girl from a rich family marrying my boy, Amos, but it turned out okay. She was a good girl and she made Amos a good wife. Their son, Amos Parker Wilder, was Thornton’s father and he was born right here in Calais in 1862. Well, our boy, Amos, was a hard worker and he saved his money and put himself through college and became a dentist. He practiced right here in Calais for a time, but eventually he and Charlotte took our little grandson and went off to be a dentist in Augusta where he also bought an oilcloth factory that turned out to make him a lot of money. He even had a patent for Drum-Made Floor Oil Cloths and was the sole manufacturer for it. But I always regretted not being able to have more influence over my son and what he did with his money. But that’s what happens when our kids move away from us.
Well now, let me get back to my son’s wife Charlotte. Her grandfather – now remember, this would be Thornton’s great-great-grandfather – was also a well-known fellow around this area by the name of Capt. Nehemiah Marks. You may recall, he was one of the founders of St. Stephen after the American Revolution. But you might not know something else about him that perhaps you should know. Now, of course we know he was a loyalist, and that’s bad enough. In fact, that’s how he came to help settle St. Stephen; but did you know that during the Revolution he was a British spy! Yes sir, he was a British spy. Now, I don’t mind telling you folks that when I learned that, I was more than a little upset. Just imagine knowing that your grandchildren and great-grandchildren forever after would be descended not just from plain godly New Englanders like us, but from someone who spied on our patriots and gave information to the British to help THEM win the war. Luckily, it didn’t help them win, but just the same, it’s something to bear, let me tell you. Well, here’s the story. Capt. Marks was living in Derby, Connecticut when the Revolution started. His father was a prominent merchant in Derby and was from a Jewish family that converted to Christianity. Well, almost as soon as the Revolution began, Nehemiah left Derby and went to New York to act as a dispatch agent for the British. From Long Island he made regular secret crossings to Stamford and other Connecticut towns, partly to carry secret messages and partly to spy. Of course, he had to avoid going to Derby because he’d be recognized there. In fact, people there knew nothing about him except that he’d left town. And, no one discovered this until the 1950’s – almost two hundred years later! Can you imagine that? Well, of course, having left home to work for the enemy, he never could go back to Derby. After all, Tories weren’t too welcome, especially after the Revolution; so off he went to New Brunswick. And to think his granddaughter, Charlotte, married our son, Amos. It just goes to show that you can’t imagine what can happen, even in your own family. Your own grandchildren descended from a British spy! No wonder Theo didn’t tell you that! He always was a bit ashamed of it but I thought you might as well know the truth, so there it is.
Well, I expect my time with you is drawing to a close. Now let me think, was there anything else I wanted to tell you? If there is, I can’t seem to think of it right this minute. You know, the older I get the more forgetful I seem to become. But I do want to tell you that today reminds me of something my great-grandson, Thornton, once said: “It’s when you’re safe at home that you wish you were having an adventure. When you’re having an adventure you wish you were safe at home.” Well, I’m having an adventure today, that’s certain, and I’ve been looking forward to it for some time. But now that I am, I’d like to be back down there with Theo, safe at home so to speak. So, even though it’s been a wonderful adventure I’ll return where I belong shortly. Of course, there’s always a get-together after everyone leaves so if I can coax Theo to come up and join me, I’ll go. He had a good time when he was here before, so perhaps he’ll be willing to join me for the festivities. I’ll check with him and see. In the meantime, have a wonderful afternoon, enjoy the rest of your visit and I’ll look forward to seeing you again sometime if I’m lucky enough to get another opportunity to visit. Good-bye, everyone.