Sunday, July 31, 2016

Secrets of the Vault Revealed!

Parsonsfield’s first meeting house was built in 1790 by Thomas Parsons. It served as both the center for town business and as the place of worship for the Congregationalists.  By the 1830’s government and religion were separated and a separate Town House was built just across the road.  In 1832 local craftsman William E. Moulton built the unique building that stood as the town’s center of the community from the time of its construction until 1985 –the last year town meetings were held there. During the early 20h century, the town clerk’s home often became the site of day-to-day business and small meetings.  Many of the records used on a regular basis were kept at the clerk’s home. Townspeople continued to use the building for voting for another 20 years, but it now stands basically unused.

            In 1981, or thereabouts, the town officials went through the rest of the records stored at the Town House (many in the fire-proof vault) and removed any records they thought they should keep. But they also left many.  The vault was filled with old tax maps and “Valuation” Books and other documents dating back to the early 1800’s.  Boxes of other documents and records were left in the office on the 2nd floor – some of those dating back even further.  They were left to the ravages of extreme heat and cold, moisture and marauding squirrels, porcupines, and other wild beasts.

         With the blessing of the current Parsonsfield Selectmen, we have removed any salvageable records to a dryer, safer environment where we can assess what is there and make plans for preservation and proper storage.  In the process, we have come across some really interesting documents that give us a glimpse back into the lives of those who came before us. We will be sharing some of those with those who attend our open house on August 20.

            Please join us as we open the Parsonsfield Old Town House once more so you can have a peek back into the history of what was once the center of town.

Saturday, August 20 from 1pm to 3pm.

Located near the corner of

 Merrill Hill Road and Middle Road.

            The Union Church (1905) sits near the site of the original Congregational Church built in 1790 and is just across the street and is on the site of the 2nd Congregational Church built in 1830.  It will also be open to the public for a peek inside.

            While you are there you may also want to visit the adjacent Town House Cemetery where many of our earliest settlers are buried -- including the first minister Benjamin Rolfe and Rufus McIntire, a noted lawyer, politician and surveyor whose capture by the British in 1812 almost set off another war, and Tristram Redman, who was also captured (by the French) in 1799 and was able to retake his ship and turn the “pirates” over to the British authorities.  You can take a self-guided tour to meet some of these folks and read their stories. Wear sturdy shoes.

--Lyn Sudlow
President, PPHS

Friday, July 15, 2016

Saturday at the Theater...

Meeting and Program for July 23, 2016:

For the July meeting we will gather at the Kezar Falls Movie theater with our host Silas Hagerty. Every year Silas treats us to a look at the latest renovations of the old theater. In addition,the program will be:

“Stars &Stripes: Getting to know the U.S. Flag.”  It will be presented by historian Steve Bunker.

You can also see the old flag Silas found at the theater during his renovations. 

Saturday, July 23, 2016
Meeting - 1 p.m.    
Program 1:30 p.m.
at the Kezar Falls Movie Theater  
 21 Main Street
Kezar Falls Village (Rt. 160)

ps.  The garden tour was a huge success with over 100 people touring the seven gardens.  Thankfully, the weather co-operated nicely and a good time was had by all.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Wedding Bells

June was once thought to be the traditional wedding month and wedding gowns seemed to be thought of as white.  This picture taken about 1942 at the Riverside United Methodist Church in Kezar Falls shows that, in fact, wedding gowns varied greatly and surely not all of these weddings were in June.  Although there were 28 gowns modeled, only 26 are shown in this picture.  Do you recognize anyone?

1st Row: Flora Ridlon Carpenter, Barbara Mason McGowen, Helen Stearns Merrifield, Helen Anderson, Ruth Mason, Helen Churchill Black, Marguerite Bradeen Wright, Gloria Stanley Davis, Mildred Pillsbury Banks, Natalie Caston Doe. 2nd Row: Leatrice Maloon, Olga Fox Wadsworth, Esther Ridlon, Lorraine Stocks Coolbroth, Elizabeth Syphers Palmer, Avis Caston, Marge Marston Churchill, Gertrude Cross, Idolyn Hussey Dunning, Frances Shorthill Stanley, Vera Jane Champion, Virginia Holmes, Leah Merrifield, Edythe Ridlon Day, Eula Tarbox Stanley, Elizabeth Batchelder.  (Christine Elliott and Dorothy Leavitt Davis  are missing.)

Wedding Gown Parade
Newspaper Article Circa 1942
The Wedding Gown Parade which was given in the auditorium of the Methodist Church at Kezar Falls on Tuesday evening was a most enjoyable occasion.  There were 28 wedding gowns modeled.  The oldest was 102 years old, loaned by Mrs. Sadie Sawyer of Porter Village and modeled by Gloria Stanley. [3rd from right, front row.]  Those modeling their own gowns were Gertrude Cross, Mildred Banks, Avis Caston, Ruth Mason, Marguerite Churchill, Elizabeth Batchelder, Christine Elliott, Elizabeth Syphers Palmer, Frances Stanley, and Dorothy Leavitt Davis.  Others who modeled were: Mrs. Flora Carpenter, Mrs. Marguerite Wright, Mrs. Helen Anderson, Mrs. Eula Stanley, Miss Virginia Holmes, Miss Natalie Caston, Miss Leatrice Meloon, Miss Esther Ridlon, Miss Edythe Ridlon, Mrs. Helen Merrifield, Miss Leah Merrifield, Miss Barbara Mason, Miss Olga Fox, Miss Vera Jane Champion, Miss Lorraine Stocks, Miss Idolyn Hussey and Mrs. Helen Black.

The following musical program was a part of the evening’s entertainment with Miss Margaret Chellis presiding at the organ and Mrs. Florence Norton at the piano.  Wedding hymn: solo, “O Promise Me”, Mrs. Flora Carpenter; duet, “The Sweetest Story Ever Told”, Mrs. Ina Emery and Orion Stanley; solo, “Because”, Miss Vera Jane Champion; trio, “At Dawning”, Miss Margaret Strout, Mrs. Ina Emery and Miss Margaret Chellis; solo, “I Love You Truly”, Gordon West; chorus, “Moonlight and Roses”. 

Mrs. Evelyn Flood was the commentator.  The Daisy Class sponsored the affair with Mrs. Ina Emery, chairman, assisted by Mrs. Myrtie Stanley, Mrs. Evelyn Watkins, Mrs. Florence Norton, Miss Margaret Strout and Mrs. Alice G. Merrifield.