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.

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.