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.