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.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Caroline Grimm Discusses New Book

Yesterday, local author Caroline Grimm talked about her newest book Cabin in Glory, the story of Enoch Perley and his family, some of the founders of the town of Bridgton. The presentation took place on the porch of the historic Narramisic Farm during one of the thunderstorms that rolled through the area yesterday. Twenty-five of us (mostly Bridgton citizens and all of us over 60 years of age) listened as Caroline related what she discovered as she researched her historical novel. She told us how she incorporated what she found as she developed her characters and wrote the plot. Although it is fiction, the book is a significant contribution to the historical record. During the question and answer time, several folks related their own recollections about the town history and its sites and their relationship to the people and events in Caroline’s book. Gatherings such as these help to uncover even more hidden history, and help to preserve the community identity. The next step is to write down those recollections so that historical remembrances can be passed on to future generations: RECOVER and UNCOVER community history for future generations to DISCOVER.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Sebago Lakes Region and the Underground Railroad Connection

A map of the Underground Railroad system in Wilbur Seibert’s book The Underground Railroad from Slavery to Freedom published in 1898 shows fugitive slave escape routes to Canada on both sides of Sebago Lake.  Chapter 15 in Hidden History of the Sebago Lakes Region explains how the fugitives got there and why the region’s citizens were so active in the Underground Railroad movement.

I will be discussing the connection at the North Gorham Public Library from 7 to 8 this Thursday, July 30.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Little Sebago Lake Once a Center of Industry

Little Sebago Lake was once connected to Sebago Lake, according to an article in the Portland Press Herald  written in 2010. Little Sebago used to be a center of industry as it flowed through to big Sebago. Now, however, it flows through two smaller bodies of water, Mill Pond and Collins Pond. The change was initiated by an event in 1814 known as “the great freshet.”  This event caused the water in Little Sebago to rise and the dam to give way, causing flooding and taking out mills and bridges all the way to the Presumpscot River, according to the article written by Don Perkins. Today, Little Sebago Lake’s 24 miles of shoreline is privately owned.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Another update to the story of the stranger's grave in Gray

The story of the stranger buried in the Gray village cemetery has once again captured the attention of the news media. According to a July 10 story on WMTW News 8, someone removed the Confederate flag that usually decorates the grave of an unknown Confederate soldier buried there when his body was mistakenly sent to Maine in 1862. The Confederate flag, a controversial symbol of late, was replaced by two American flags. The Confederate flag was found blowing across the cemetery.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Longfellow was frequent visitor to Sebago Lakes Region

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was a famous poet and a frequent visitor to the Sebago Lakes Region. He was born in Portland in 1807, and grew up in the Wadsworh-Longfellow house that is maintained today as a museum by the Maine Historical Society. Longfellow’s grandfather Peleg Wadsworth, who built the house, was an important Revolutionary War figure who participated in the disastrous 1779 Penobscot battle with Paul Revere. Revere was arrested for insubordination for his behavior in that battle. Surely, Longfellow would have heard about Paul Revere from his grandfather. However, the poet chose to commemorate Revere’s famous 1775 ride to warn the Americans of the British invasion in his poem “Paul Revere’s Ride.” Although the poem is filled with historical inaccuracies, most critics view it as a call to action for the nation that was on the verge of a civil war. The poem was published in January of 1861. This summer the Maine Historical Society is offering tours of the Wadsworth-Longfellow House that feature some of the Revolutionary War artifacts connected with Peleg Wadsworth, who served under George Washington.
Postcard image of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow(inset) and the Wadsworth-Longfellow House in Portland, Maine (Wikipedia Commons).

Monday, June 29, 2015

How Inkhorn Brook got its name

Inkhorn Brook was named when surveyor Rowland Houghton of Massachusetts came to lay out and measure what is now the town of Windham. Among his tools was an inkhorn, a section of animal horn hollowed out to hold the powder that made ink when mixed with water. When Houghton came to a brook overflowing with spring runoff, he struggled to cross the brook and dropped his inkhorn. Thus the brook is forever remembered as Inkhorn Brook and the town seal of Windham features the image of an inkhorn laying beside a brook. Here is a picture of the town seal, which does not appear in my book.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Even More Hidden History Uncovered!

In Hidden History of the Sebago Lakes Region , Chapter 24, I relate the story of the widow who places a curse on Enoch Perley, known in the Lakes Region in the late 18th century as “The Old Squire.” Recently, I finished reading Caroline Grimm’s Cabin in Glory, a novel based on the early days of Bridgton, Maine (Voices of Pondicherry, vol. 3, 2015). The novel tells the story of Enoch Perley, who built a cabin in what is now Bridgton, and then brought his wife and her black female slave Cloe to live with him in the Maine wilderness. In the novel, the cabin that Perley built becomes the metaphor for fortitude and survival.  It is no coincidence that the sturdy cabin built in 1776 still exists and is located near Highland Lake.  Grimm’s novel includes a photograph of the 18-foot square cabin, courtesy of the Bridgton Historical Society.  What I didn’t know:  another house built by Enoch Perley also still stands today. According to Grimm, “You can see it when you visit Enoch’s farm, now the apple orchard owned by the Gyger family.”

Monday, June 15, 2015

World famous painter of horses!

One of the chapters in Hidden History of the Sebago Lakes Region relates the story of Nicholas Winfield Scott Leighton (1847-1898), a Gray native, who became a world famous painter of horses. Leighton especially liked to paint trotting horses. Leighton had a studio in Boston that became a meeting place for leading horsemen of the day, according to the website of the Lost Trotting Parks Heritage Center.  Leighton died in Massachusetts, but he was interred in the Methodist Cemetery in Cumberland, Maine, near his hometown of Gray. Ironically, his grave is located only a couple of miles away from the Cumberland Fairgrounds where trotting horses are trained. (Painting by Scott Leighton)

Monday, June 8, 2015

More hidden history uncovered!

In a bizarre plot twist to last week’s blog post, an article in the June 3 edition of the Bangor Daily News reported that Lt. Colley may not be buried in the Gray Cemetery beneath the ornate headstone that bears his name. Documentation shows that Lt. Charles H. Colley, Co. B, 10th Maine Infantry, died on Sept. 20, 1862, and was buried in Grave 325 in the Arlington Virginia National Cemetery. But did his relatives believe that he was buried in Gray? According to the article, “The whereabouts of Charles Colley remains an enduring mystery.”

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

A Stranger's Grave

One of the stories that was not related in Hidden History of the Sebago Lakes Region is the strange story of a grave in the Gray Cemetery. The simple headstone is engraved with “Stranger” and is often decorated with a Confederate flag. Here is what happened. During the American Civil War, Lt. Charles H. Colley of Gray was killed at the Battle of Cedar Mt. and his body was presumably shipped home for burial. However, when the casket was opened, the family discovered the body of an unknown Confederate soldier. That body was buried in the Gray Cemetery and the good citizens of that community arranged for the headstone to be placed there. Lt. Colley’s body did eventually arrive in Gray and is buried not far from the Stranger’s grave. This video from the Squid Diggers commemorates the strange story in song.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Literary inspiration from the Sebago Lakes Region

Frye's Leap, Sebago Lake

(Vintage postcard in author's collection.)

Chapter 2 of Hidden History of the Sebago Lakes Region relates the tale of Frye's Leap (also known as the Images) on Sebago Lake. Although the Frye's Leap legend may be familiar to local residents, campers and summer visitors, most folks don't know that Frye may have been the inspiration for James Fenimore Cooper's The Last of the Mohicans, a popular novel published in 1824 about the infamous attack on Fort William Henry (1757).

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Ghosts of St. Joseph's College

I uncovered much more history than could be included in Hidden History of the Sebago Lakes Region. Here is a story that does not appear in the book:

St. Joseph’s College of Maine on Whites Bridge Road in Standish is the only college in the country to have “the monks” as its athletic nickname. One wouldn’t think that the monk would be an appropriate mascot for a competitive college athlete. However, the monk logo is pretty creepy, its blue bearded grim face peering menacingly out from under a brown hood. There are other creepy things on this lovely campus as well.
The college was founded in 1912 by the Sisters of Mercy, Roman Catholic nuns with a history of work in education. According to the college’s website, Saint Joseph's College of Maine is a liberal arts college for men and women of all faiths, located on 430 acres on the shore of Sebago on what was once a large estate owned by the Verrill family of Portland. When the young son of the landowner died, he was buried in the nearby chapel before the college itself was erected. His body eventually had to be moved, but the boy apparently stayed in the chapel where visitors reportedly can sometimes hear him laughing and playing.
Others have sighted another child, a small girl, near the pond. She reportedly drowned while playing near her little playhouse that her father had built for her near the pond.

The spirit of a nun has been sighted in Xavier Hall, which was once the Verrill family home. This grand building was built in 1925, in part from native fieldstone, and the back windows overlook Sebago Lake with a direct view of Mt. Washington, sixty miles away in New Hampshire.  Beautiful  Xavier Hall was once a residence hall for senior women and is now used as an administrative office building. When I visited in August, the gardens on the well tended grounds were in full bloom.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Death of Chief Polan

Chief Polin (also Polan) of the Sokosis (also Sokokis) tribe was killed in the Sebago Lakes Region. Read about the curious discovery of what may have been his remains in Chapter 4 of Hidden History of the Sebago Lakes Region by Marilyn Weymouth Seguin.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

One week till publication!

Marilyn Weymouth Seguin was born and educated in Maine and has spent parts of the last twenty-seven summers vacationing at camps in the Sebago Lakes Region. She recently retired from full-time teaching in the Writing Program in the English Department at Kent State University, so now she and her husband can spend even more time at their camp on Little Sebago Lake. Marilyn is the author of seventeen books and a member of the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Publication Date April 20, 2015!

For Immediate Release

Media inquiries contact: Lindsay Lee
843.853.2070 x 209

Dig a Little Deeper into the Sebago Lakes Region’s Past.
Quirky characters and surprising events have shaped a robust community history throughout the Sebago Lakes region. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s lost boyhood diary offers a glimpse into his early writing days on the shore of Sebago Lake. Henry Clay Barnabee, once called the funniest man of his time, brought his crew here for relaxing lakeside summers to rest up their vocal cords around the turn of the century. Discover the story behind a stolen Chinese statue that might just be responsible for a string of curses in Naples and misfortune on the shores of Long Lake. Marilyn Weymouth Seguin explores the unusual, the mysterious and the sometimes weird layers of regional history that have remained hidden—until now. The History Press, based in Charleston, SC, brings a new way of thinking to history publishing—preserving and enriching community by empowering history enthusiasts to write local stories for local audiences. Since 2004, we have published nearly three thousand of the highest quality local and regional history titles from coast to coast. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Hidden History of the Sebago Lakes Region
by Marilyn Weymouth Seguin
Hidden History Series
Price: $19.99
128 pages/ softcover
ISBN: 978.1.62619.857.9
PUB DATE 4.20.15
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