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.