Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Bones and Stones--Bartlett Adams, Portland Stone Cutter

Portland researcher and lecturer Ron Romano has catalogued more than 1,700 gravestones in the region carved by stone cutter Bartlett Adams (1776-1828) in Portland. Last Saturday, Ron conducted a walking tour of the Gray Village Cemetery that contains some of these early Bartlett shop gravestones. Ron reminded us that when a gravestone competes with a tree, the tree is always the winner. Have you ever seen any gravestones embedded in trees? Romano will be speaking about Bartlett Adams at the Maine Historical Society on Oct. 1. For more information about this event and Eastern Cemetery tours, click here.

(Photos by the author)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Crescent Lake Was Once Called Rattlesnake Pond

In the summer of 1925, summer cottage owners on Rattlesnake Pond in Casco changed the name of that body of water to Crescent Lake because they thought it sounded better. Old maps of the region show the name as Rattlesnake Pond. The last recorded capture of a rattlesnake in the area was in 1870. Little Rattlesnake Pond is now known as Raymond Pond.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Eulogy for Mr. and Mrs. Tarbox, Frozen to Death in 1819

Chapter 21 of Hidden History of the Sebago Lakes Region relates the story of theTarbox couple who froze to death in a blizzard on Standish Neck. Their story was eulogized in a ballad by Thomas Shaw, published in 1819. Because of space limitations in the book, the entire ballad was not printed in the book. Here now is the entire ballad:
Mournful Song
On a man and wife, who both froze to death in one night, on Standish Cape, so called
Attend my soul and hear the sound,
That’s solemnly a passing round,
That strikes each heart and listening ear
To hear the solemn sound draw near.
Husbands and wives may now attend,
And let your hearts to heaven ascend,
While I unto you make known,
A solemn stroke as e’er was born.
Let children too draw round and hear
With trembling hearts and holy fear,
With all our neighbours all as one
And listen till my story’s done.
And thou great God pray lead my heart
And mind to act my solemn part,
In this affair before our eyes,
Which stricketh all hearts with surprise.
Good Lord confound every one
Who ever to these lines makes fun,
That they may hide their heads with shame,
Or brought to praise thy holy name.
And now the story I shall tell,
Who am informed of it full well,
And O my soul what can this mean
A real or a fancied dream.
O yes it is the truth I tell,
On Standish Cape these two did dwell,
Together liv’d as man and wife,
Until ended their day of life.
This man for food abroad did go
In a snow storm in a deep snow,
At his return his strength gave way,
Which brought him to his dying day.
Under his load he seemed to fall,
And then aloud for help did call,
His wife his dying sound did hear
Then for his help did soon repair.
She left her children then with speed
To help her husband then in need,
Through cold and wind in a deep snow,
God knows what she did undergo.
She met her husband in a fright
Through winds and snow on a cold night,
Whom she most lovingly did own
To save his life she lost her own.
She took her clothes from off her frame
And on her husband plac’d the same,
For help she cried aloud and strong
Was her last fierce and mournful song.
O there she tended on her man
When he could neither go nor stand,
And when lain out upon the snow,
God knows what she did undergo.
Dead or alive we cannot tell,
God only knows the scene full well,
And her great cries that God would Save
Her husband from the gapeing grave.
Trouble and grief, sorrow and woe,
This good woman did undergo,
There nursed her husband in the cold,
Which makes our chill’d blood run cold.
We cannot tell, nor can we show,
To others what we do not know,
But this we say a doleful night,
Upon this man and wife did light.
Without a covering or a hed
That woman then in doleful dread,
Tended her man in cold and snow,
God knows what they did undergo.
Tempestuous winds and storm of snow
About this man and wife did blow,
Disstress’d in body and in mind
This woman thought some help to find.
Her husband to God did convey,
So then for help she steer’d her way,
With solemn groans ascending high
While her poor children heard her cry.
Soon feeble woman took her flight
For help upon this doleful night,
For help she sought, for help she cried.
Where human help was then denied.
Towards her neighbors she did steer
Through snow and wind and doleful fear,
With solemn cries that God would save
Her, and mercy upon her have.
She went as long as she could stand,
Aiming for human help at hand,
With bitter groans and solemn cries
That did before the Lord arise.
And then she crept upon all four,
Until her clothes from her were tore,
The snow flying—sorrow and woe,
God only knew her trouble too.
Her solemn cries arose on high
Her children hearing of her cry,
Which did distress each thoughtful mind,
While they could not their parent find.
Their Father lying in the snow,
Their Mother for help tried to go,
Creeping and crying as she went
Until her life was almost spent.
She crept till to a bloody gore,
Her flesh was into pieces tore,
God only knew her heart-felt cries,
Which did unto the heavens arise.
Until at last gave up her race,
And her self too, to sovereign grace,
And with her doleful cries severe,
Which reached to her Saviours ear.
Her cries we say to heaven arose,
Then did her troubled heart compose,
What time it was we cannot tell,
She bid her troubles all farewell.
And these she died, her husband too,
Both of them perish’d in the snow,
And gone to rest we humble trust,
As all good people surely must.
Two days these children were alone,
Their absent parents to bemoan,
That God above did hear their cry,
When both these parents quick did die.
A neighbor then on the third day,
Towards these children took his way
To his surprise the woman found
A helpless corpse upon the ground.
Looking about he saw also,
Her husband dead upon the snow,
With a surprise on them did look,
Then to the children he partook.
The solemn tidings to them told,
While their great grief they could not hold,
Which was full sore to every one,
As if those youths were all undone.
To them it was a doleful day,
Both of their parents took away,
Which caused their tender hearts to bleed,
When they did want a friend indeed.
Thus they were left—their parents then
Were buried decently by men,
A solemn sound to fly abroad
All over ruled by a God.
God bless those children in distress,
That are Fatter and Motherless,
Till the affliction that they have,
Shall be a means their souls to save.
Grand parents of those little ones
God make them his daughters and son,
And may you live to bless God’s name
While in a sinful world of fame.
God bless the people all around
That heareth of this doleful sound,
Prepare us all by sea and land
To meet all troubles fresh at hand.
Thousands of people good Lord save,
Made of materials for the grave,
So thy great name shall have the praise,
Sounding by many means and ways.
Have mercy Lord on sinful man,
And kindly lengthen out his span,
Which shall glory and honor bring
To Christ the universal King.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Death of Molly Ockett

When Molly Ockett became ill at the end of her life, a contract was made between the town of Andover and resident Capt. Thomas Bragg for Molly’s end of life care. She asked to die in a camp of sweet smelling cedar, which Capt. Bragg built for her. There she died on August 2, 1816 and was buried in the Andover village cemetery. But that was not to be the end of Molly Ockett and her legend continued through family stories passed down through generations. On July 4, 1867, the Andover citizens celebrated her life by placing an engraved stone at Molly’s grave. The inscription reads:
Molly Ockett
Baptized Mary Agatha
Died in the Christian Faith
August 2, 1816
The Last of the Pequawkets

On the day I visited Molly Ockett’s grave, I found many tokens, flowers and other nature items, at the base of her stone, and the top was covered with coins left by visitors in remembrance, a testimony to the enduring legend that she is. (Photos by the author.)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Molly Ockett and Hannibal Hamlin

An excellent resource on Molly Ockett is the booklet “Molly Ockett” by Catherine S-C. Newell with illustrations by Sue Wight published by the Bethel Historical Society (1981). According to the author of this resource, Molly often traveled to Poland in the Sebago Lakes Region to visit her friends the Rickers, owners of the Poland Spring establishment. The Poland Spring mineral waters were world famous in the 19th and 20th centuries for healing powers. Molly Ockett, as a healer herself, may have regarded these waters as a powerful medicinal agent.
Legend has it that Molly Ockett was once welcomed into the Hamlin home on Paris Hill where she found young Hannibal Hamlin ill. She “prescribed” a diet of cows’ milk for the boy and the boy was cured. Hannibal Hamlin, of course served a term as Vice-President of the United States under President Abraham Lincoln. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Legend of Molly Ockett

Molly Ockett’s name appears on buildings and monuments throughout western Maine and New Hampshire. The Abenaki healer, who was born sometime between 1730 and 1744, was a well known woman to Native Americans and the early settlers of the region during her day. In addition to being a healer and herbalist, Molly was a skilled basket maker and craftswoman. Though several towns claim her as a one-time resident, the fact is that Molly was a nomad, which means she frequently through the Sebago Lakes Region during her travels.

The town of Bethel celebrates her life during an annual July festival known as “Molly Ockett Days.” A room is named for her at the O’Neill Robinson House, one of the “Museums of the Bethel Historical Society.” She is buried in the town of Andover, and a stone at her grave gives her death as 1816. Next week I will post an anecdote about Molly’s time in Poland, where she often visited with her friends the Rickers, of Poland Spring fame.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Shadow Knows

Are you old enough to remember the popular radio series The Shadow? The Shadow character was created by Walter Gibson, using the pen name of Maxwell Grant. Walter Gibson’s writing process involved first creating a written synopsis of the longer story, a kind of storyboard. One day when Gibson was in Maine, his cousin’s children were visiting his cabin on Little Sebago Lake in Gray, entertaining themselves by reading some of Gibson’s synopses. One of the children asked Gibson why he didn’t publish the synopses as well as the stories, and this suggestion gave Gibson an idea to ask his publisher if The Shadow might be published in comic book form, depicted with illustrations as well as words.  At first, Street & Smith rejected the idea, but when they saw the success of the Superman comics, they decided to launch The Shadow Comics in 1940. The series ran monthly until 1947.