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).