Thursday, February 15, 2018

Ellen Libby Eastman (1891-1986)

As we enter the tax season we are featuring Ellen (Libby) Eastman who was from Kezar Falls and who was the first woman in Maine to become a Certified Public Accountant.
How can you not love this picture of
Ellen (Libby) Eastman as a young women
with her big smile -unusual in formal
photographs of the time when the subject
was expected to present a more
somber image.
Ellen Holden (Libby) Eastman was born in Porter, Maine October 30, 1891, the daughter of Walter and Arvilla (Walker) Libby.  She attended local schools, was an excellent student and excelled in mathematics.  She attended 1 ½ years at Bates College in Lewiston and taught school for 2 years.
Her next job was with the forward looking Sokokis Lumber Company at Kezar Falls founded by Merrill Lord, Harvey Granville and Frank Fenderson.  That became the most formative 5 years of her life.  Lord, Granville and Fenderson were men of prominence and accomplishment and became her mentors.  They quickly realized her potential for learning and gave her more managerial responsibilities in the office.  She also began reading for the law in the offices of Lord and Fenderson.

With the help of Harvey Granville, Ellen secured contract work with various area businesses for public accounting.  She studied for the CPA exam at night and in 1918 she was the first woman in Maine to become a Certified Public Accountant.  Next she became Town Auditor for Sanford - which at the time was one of Maine’s most important manufacturing cities.  Miss Libby went on to become the first woman to establish an accounting practice in New England focusing on state and federal income taxes.

In 1922 she married Harland Eastman of Springvale. 
Ellen (Libby) Eastman soon came to be recognized as an authority on income taxation and began to appear before the U.S. Treasury Department and the U.S. Board of Tax Appeals as an advocate for, or representative of, various concerns and individuals seeking tax reform and was elected representative of the American Society of Certified Public Accountants. 
She helped found the first state wide professional women’s organization – The Maine Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs in Portland, Maine in 1921.  By 1925 the Maine Federation became a member of the National Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs and hosted the National Federation’s convention.  She became president of the Maine Federation in 1927. 
About that same time Ellen became acquainted with Margaret Chase of Skowhegan (who later became U.S. Senator from Maine).  Together, working through the Federation, they actively lobbied the state legislature for laws relating to tax reform, the fair treatment of women in the workplace and improved educational opportunities for women seeking a place in the business world. 
Ellen (Libby) Eastman was named the “Pre-eminent Business Woman of Maine” in 1928 and was among the most popular and best loved women in the State of Maine and a role model par excellence for the state’s young women. 
In 1957 Ellen came to Porter to deliver the Historical Address for Porter’s Sesquicentennial.  She always remained in touch with her home town and was a member of the Parsonsfield-Porter Historical Society.  She passed away in 1986 and is buried at the Kezar Falls Burial Ground.

Thursday, February 1, 2018


This exceptional Victorian crazy quilt is one of several antique quilts in Parsonsfield-Porter Historical Society’s collection.  When accessioning of the History House collection was begun in 2000 no record was found of who created it or who it belonged to.  It wasn’t until about 2007 that we discovered a 1953 newspaper clipping in one of our scrapbooks that finally revealed that it belonged to the Society’s founder, Ina (Stanley) Emery, and that it was made by a relative, Miss Susan Chapman.  In that article Mrs. Emery stated that “the heirloom silk quilt was made about 1878 by Miss Susan Chapman of Kezar Falls.  Miss Chapman was famous for her needle work in those days and her craft served mostly for the smart set.  Without a doubt, she kept the pieces left from the many dresses she had made and from each made this beautiful quilt.”  It is embellished with a wide range beautiful embroidery stitching.

 A quilt appraiser describes the quilt as followings.

“This Victorian Crazy Quilt has some of the finest embellishment I have ever seen.  With single strand silk thread, the artist has created pictorial characters from the 18th century.  Each person is depicted in full attire complete with tools he or she may have used in life.  The creator of this quilt was not only a person who excelled with the art of the needle, but she was also a graphic artist and a master of color.  This exquisite quilt measures 71”x 84” and is comprised of silks and silk velvets from C. 1885.  The 2 5/8” silk grosgrain ribbon is used as the sashing and border of the quilt. The fabrics indicate that a family of affluence made the quilt. The backing is a quilted cotton fabric manufactured for use as a backing for crazy quilts.  The individual blocks measure approximately 11”x 11” and contain wonderful floral embellishments.  The sashing is covered with exquisite floral as well as pictorial embellishments.  Scattered through the quilt are Victorian symbols such as horseshoes and animals.  Acting as a juncture between each set of blocks is a square on point with the sides measuring 31/2 inches.  All these blocks are hand painted depicting flowers, fruit and birds.”  

Miss Susan Chapman was born in Porter, Maine December 9, 1835, the daughter of Abraham and Susan (Mason) Chapman, one of seven children.  She lived on a farm on Spec Pond Road that was later the home of Walter Carpenter.  Susan was a dressmaker.  She never married and died at the age of 84, December 9, 1919. 

Come by History House this summer and see this beautiful quilt.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Portraits of Two Benefactors of the Porter High School Found and Identified (Continued from 1/1/2018)

Elijah Fox (1834 – 1916)
The second portrait found was of Elijah Fox who left a $20,000 trust fund to help pay for the maintenance of Porter High School which was built in 1919.

Elijah Fox was born in Parsonsfield, Maine, December 22, 1834, son of Thomas and Elmira (Baker) Fox and lived and worked on the family farm until he was twenty-one.  His family believed strongly in education and he attended Limington Academy.  Like many Maine youths of that time, Elijah Fox had an ambition to find work in the vicinity of Boston, Massachusetts.  He finally found work at a store in Haverhill, Massachusetts and apprenticed  himself as a grocery clerk in order that he might learn the business thoroughly.  Later he and his brother opened their own store and successfully conducted one of the leading grocery establishments on Merrimack Street in Haverhill, for more than 30 years.  In 1886 he retired from the grocery trade, and engaged in the real estate business, mining interests and other business projects from which he amassed a large fortune.

He married Eliza Ann George on December 6, 1864 and they had one daughter, Florence Louise, who died in 1874 at age seven.   He resided all his adult life in Haverhill, Massachusetts and passed away at his home on White Street, Haverhill on March 18, 1916.  His wife continued to live at that address until her death in 1921.

Mr. Fox was very active in the Haverhill community and the Grace Episcopal Church and gave generously of his time and money and to whatever cause needing his assistance, he gave intelligent and loyal service.  His biographies spoke highly of him in every way for his unbending honesty, his faithful observance of all public and private duties, his devotion to home and church and his cheerfulness and optimism.

Although Elijah did not live in Kezar Falls as an adult, his interest in his home here remained strong all his life.  In 1880 he, along with George W. Towle and John Devereux were the investors who built the original woolen mill building and organized the Kezar Falls Woolen Manufacturing Company on the Ossipee River in Kezar Falls, Maine.  He contributed to other worthy causes here throughout his life including Parsonsfield Seminary.