Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Parsonsfield-Porter Historical Society

Meeting and free program – Public Invited.

 To introduce our new exhibit scheduled to open in June,

we are presenting the film


Another day, another era.”

To be followed by

oral history stories from some of the men and women whose lives

depended on the logging business in the years past.

Saturday, May 19, 2018
Meeting – 2 p.m.      Program – 2:30 p.m.

At History House
92 Main Street
Kezar Falls Village (Rt. 160)
FMI – 625-7019

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Logging in the Sacopee Valley

Logging has long been a major industry in the Sacopee Valley and surrounding towns.  In the early days timber was most often cut in the winter.  If not hauled to local or portable saw mills near by, the logs were transported by horses or trucks to landings along the Ossipee and Saco river banks to wait for spring and high river waters.  In about April after the river ice was gone men called “river drivers” rolled them into the river and floated them down stream all the way to the mills of J. G. Deering & Son and Diamond Match Company on the Saco River in Biddeford.  
River Driving - 1918

River driving was an annual occurrence on the Great Ossipee River from the 1820’s right into the middle of the 1960’s.  Here men are knee-deep in the frigid water of the Ossipee River in an effort to keep the logs moving over the dam at Kezar Falls.  Many logs were destined for mills along the Saco River.  The Kezar Falls covered bridge is in the background and Garner Island is on the right.

Sunday, April 15, 2018


Just a reminder that the first meeting of the Parsonsfield-Porter Historical Society will be Saturday, April 28 and will take place at 2 pm at History House.  It is important that members attend as a quorum is needed to elect officers for 2018. 

We will also discuss 2018 activities and the new exhibit theme “Logging in the Sacopee Valley”.  Come hear a local logging story or two and taste some samples of typical logging camp food.

Hope to see you there.

Wilbur Lewis hauling logs with his horses about 1947.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

An Easter Greeting from PPHS!

Wishing everyone a Happy Easter and a much anticipated spring!

(Remember: our first meeting will be later this month!)

Friday, March 16, 2018

1875 – 1885
During the 1800’s there were 57 young men from Parsonsfield who chose to enter the medical profession.  Most moved on to establish practices in other towns and even other states, but that is an amazing number for arural town to boast about.   In addition to college and medical schoolsit was customary at that time to study under the tutelage of a respected physician before starting their own practice.  Two doctors are credited with teaching the majority of them.
Dr. James Bradbury, the second physician to locate in Parsonsfield, was born in York, Maine April 27, 1772.  He obtained a good education and studied medicine in his home town. He settled in Parsonsfield in 1798, and soon acquired an extensive practice in which he continued more than 40 years.  During that period he trained 14 physicians.  In 1843 he moved to Windham to be near his only daughter and died there in Feb. 7, 1844.  One of his students was Dr. Moses Sweat who taught 19 new young doctors during his career of 50 years
Dr. Moses Sweat was born March 18, 1788 in Parsonsfield.  He was determined at a young age to study medicine. According to the History of Parsonsfield, he had all the qualities of mind and traits of character desired of a physician including the requisites: “the eagle’s eye, the lion’s heart and woman’s hand”. He soon won and retained the richly deserved name and fame of being one of the best surgeons in the State.  He became a member of the Massachusetts Medical Society and received a diploma there in 1817, also one from Bowdoin in 1823 and one from Castleton, VT in 1840.

To perform surgical operations at that time period when anesthesia was unknown required fortitude which never failed him.  In fractures and dislocations he was most adept.  In capital operations he had no superior.  He rode long distances and his life was one of incessant toil.

He also served his town and state – in both branches of the Legislature, and was a member of the board of trustees of the Maine Insane Hospital.  He united with Rev. John Buzzell and Robert Blazo to help establish Parsonsfield Seminary and was ever a true friend and benefactor.

He married Miss Eliza Wedgewood of Parsonsfield in 1811 and they had seven children. Two daughters and a son died very young leaving four sons to live to manhood.  Sons, John B. Sweat, Moses E. Sweat and William W. Sweat studied under their father and became physicians.  Lorenzo D.M. Sweat became a lawyer.

Tragically, his son John B. Sweat died of typhoid fever Nov. 11, 1856 after practicing with his father for six years and was a crushing blow from which Moses never recovered.  His wife died in 1860.  Due to these terrible losses and advancing age, Dr. Sweat suffered a paralyzing stroke causing him to cease practice.  He died in 1865 at age 77.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Spring is Coming, It's Maple Syrup Time!

A first sign of spring in New England is the sap running in the sugar maples signaling the beginning of maple syrup production.  This occurs about mid-February through mid-March when the day time temperatures are above freezing and the night temperatures go below freezing.

It is generally believed that the indigenous people of north eastern America were the first people to produce maple syrup long before any Europeans came to this country.  They made a slash in the bark of the sugar maple trees and gathered the dripping sap in birch bark buckets placed on the ground below it. They then boiled the sweet liquid over a fire until it thickened into syrup.

That is still basically how it is done today.  Except now the sap is gathered in buckets, or more often, through plastic tubing that runs from tree to tree which is collected in a large container near the sugar house/shack.  The long process of boiling the sap to make the syrup is done in large pans over a wood fire in the sugar shack.  

There are sugar shacks all over New England. Many exist right here in our local area, both large and small producers, who make wonderful syrup and other maple sugar products.  Pictures below are of the Stacey Farms in Kezar Falls.  The Stacey’s have been making maple syrup products for five generations.  

The 4th Sunday in March the Maine Maple Producers Association sponsor “Maple Sugar Sunday” and all the producers invite the public to their shacks to sample the products and to buy syrup to take home.  Watch for notices of this year’s “Maple Sugar Sunday” to appear soon.

George Stacey boiling sap for the 2018 production of syrup.

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.