Wednesday, April 1, 2020

APRIL FOOLS DAY EVERYONE!


If we were told today that the last dollar of the United States National Debt was paid off and the surplus would be distributed to the states, we would be certain it was an April Fools Day joke.  However, in 1838 this did actually happen.

This is the story according to Thomas Moulton’s 1879 history of Porter.

 During the last term of President Jackson’s administration the last dollar of our national debt was paid and a surplus remained in the United States treasury. This surplus was distributed by congress among the different states in proportion to population. Maine distributed her share among the different towns in the state in the same manner. Porter received, April 19 and May 1, 1837, $2,174.00. At several town meetings after its reception, the surplus revenue was a theme of much discussion. Various propositions for disposing of it were submitted to our voters. Finally, April 2 1838, it was voted “to distribute the town’s proportion of the surplus revenue as soon as may be.” This vote was carried into effect, and each inhabitant received $2.07.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MAINE!


Although the citizens of Maine (at least the male citizens, as women could not vote) voted in July of 1819 to separate from Massachusetts (by a vote of 17,000 for independence, 7,000 against) it was far from a done deal.  There was a state constitution to write and submit to Congress for approval.  It was an enterprise fraught with difficulties.  The major stumbling block was that at that time there was an equal number of slave states and free states.  By admitting Maine as a free state it would tip the balance and southern states weren't going to allow that to happen.

"And so we had to achieve statehood by a vote of the Congress by March 4, 1820, or else we fell back into the legal possession of Massachusetts.  So, we're racing a clock and we're racing uphill against political prejudice that has frozen the United States in the position of the generation since the Revolution.  What happens in the House of Representatives is known as the infamous Missouri Compromise.  The speaker of the United States House, a slave owner, manages to engineer a compromise that lets Maine and Missouri territory into the union at the same moment.  And we accepted - with huge reservations - the deal."  - Herb Adams

That deal nearly tanked the push for Maine to become a state.  Five of the seven Maine congressmen voted against it as they did not want to see Maine taking part in the perpetuation of slavery but in the end the compromised passed and Maine became a state.  This did not stop Maine residents, however from continuing the battle against slavery though.

Brunswick, Maine resident, Harriet Beecher Stowe, penned her famous book, Uncle Tom's Cabin in 1851.  Many consider it the pivotal work in rallying people in the country to oppose slavery.  Portland, Maine was also a stop on the underground railroad which helped runaway slaves on their way to freedom in Canada.  Fourteen years later, the deal that gave Maine her statehood became a moot point when slavery was abolished by President Abraham Lincoln.  




Sunday, March 1, 2020

THE MAPLE CREST A long and varied history.

This sprawling three-story structure is located about two miles southwest of East Parsonsfield Village at a sharp bend in Maple Crest Road.  It was built as a summer hotel in 1887 and could accommodate about 35 people.  A. C. Varney was proprietor.  It later continued as a summer hotel under the name of Forest Lake House with Charles C. Varney as proprietor.  


In about 1912 the complex was purchased by Dr. Francis J. Welch, a young specialist in tuberculosis and respiratory diseases and operated as a private sanitarium called “Maple Crest Sanatorium”.  


The property consisted of the main house with spacious covered piazzas, annex and a cottage.  The buildings were steam heated and bathrooms and plumbing facilities assured proper sanitation.  They boasted of excellent natural spring water and fresh food from the region.  Each patient received careful individual attention and their treatment was governed according to their needs. A congenial atmosphere and an absence of institutionalism was noted.  There was a house doctor available, graduate nurses constantly in attendance and private nurses could be obtained if requested. 
Spacious covered sleeping porches permitted the
 patients to sleep out-of-doors while
remaining protected from the weather.

After World War I, Dr. Welch contracted with the Veterans Administration to treat veterans with lung diseases.  He resumed his private operation in the 1930’s under the name of “The Rest Land Sanitarium” and owned the property until the late 1950’s when he died.  

Subsequently this property was used as a sportsmen’s lodge - the “Randall Mountain Lodge - then about 1974 & 1975 was operated as a restaurant by Edward Stowe, a chef from Connecticut. 

In 1975 it was purchased by "Elan One Corp." as the organization's fifth treatment center for teenagers with various types of behavioral problems.  They accommodated 60-80 teenagers and a staff of 26.  It was not welcomed by the local residents but continued to operate here until mid-1981.  Elan drastically changed the fa├žade and added the box-like structure to the front.  It became dilapidated while it remained empty until about 2008.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Kezar Falls Mills


In the early days of our towns, there was a saw mill or grist mill on nearly every pond outlet or stream.  These small mills supported the early settlers as they developed the land and established villages and towns.  When the Kezar Falls Woolen Mill was established on the Ossipee River, Kezar Falls Village grew around it and nearly everyone knows how important it was to the surrounding area.  There was also a lumber mill on the Ossipee River that played a role in our community.



SOKOKIS LUMBER COMPANY - later OXFORD BOX COMPANY (The Box Shop)

KEZAR FALLS, MAINE 

The Sokokis Lumber Company was founded in 1908 by Harvey Granville, Frank Fenderson and J. Merrill Lord.  It was located on the Parsonsfield side of the Ossipee River just outside of the village of Kezar Falls.  This was a small mill for the times when Maine was coming to be dominated by large timber companies, but one that was ready to compete with these giants.  It ran for many years and employed many local residents.  It became idle in 1935 and was taken over by the bank.
Chaffee Brothers purchased the mill in 1939.  At that time the saw mill was running and had on hand 600,000 feet of good box lumber. Chaffee Brothers Company owned a large box factory located in Oxford, Massachusetts and were looking to expand.  They made the needed repairs and put it in operation under supervision of Earnest Edwards who had worked as Assistant Manager at the Massachusetts mill.  They renamed the mill – Oxford Box Company.  
At the same time they purchased a small lumber mill on Summer Street on the Porter side of Kezar Falls Village that had been founded by Alton Goodwin and whose residence was next door to the mill.  Presumably this was then considered an extension of the Oxford Lumber Company.  In late 1945 they also purchased the Fryeburg Box Company in Fryeburg, Maine

 During their period of ownership there were a number of events that created a great demand for lumber mills and wood products: 1938 hurricane, World War II, the building boom after the war, 1947 fires, etc. and Chaffee Brothers filled that need for wooden boxes for ammunition and other war orders, caskets, cedar chests, toy boxes for children, lap desks, boxes for shipping fish, at least one children’s wooden game and anything that was needed to build a house.

 In 1954 Chaffee Brothers sold their interest in the Kezar Falls mills and sold the Fryeburg Box Shop in1955. 

No documentation has yet been found of continued operation of the Kezar Falls mills but it appears that each were used/ran sporadically – the mill on the Ossipee River until the late 1980’s or early 1990’s.    This mill eventually became the property of the Town of Parsonsfield and burned July 10, 1999.  When the Summer Street property was sold, the house lot was split off from the mill lot.  The house was sold about 1955/56.  The mill building was used as a hardware store for a time but was not operating in 1972 when it was purchased and converted into a summer residence.

 

Saturday, February 1, 2020

A BIT OF KEZAR FALLS VILLAGE HISTORY


Ruth (Allard) Paul generously sent these snapshots of a restaurant that was once located in Kezar Falls Village – first on Bridge Street, Porter and later on Federal Road, Parsonsfield. 

This was the Ideal Restaurant in 1936 in the little building to the left of the former Kezar Falls Market (aka. Goodwin’s Market). 
          The #21 Bridge Street location was a very old building and on the 1880 map is identified as Jordan Stacy’s house.  At one time it was a store run by the Johnsons. In 1936 it was the Ideal Restaurant run by Ruth (Sayles) Doherty. It later became the residence of Fred and Elsie Allard and later Oscar and Jean Thompkins.  In 2006 it was owned by Bette and Robert Williams and has since been sold again.


By 1938 Ruth Doherty had moved the restaurant to the building on Federal Road between the Kezar Falls Hardware Store and Arthur Allard’s Garage (later to become the Village Variety Store).  Ruth married Arthur Allard in 1941.

 
Ruth Sayles Doherty Allard 
1942


   The building was probably built in the early 1900’s and after the restaurant became the office of the Cornish - Kezar Falls Light and Power Company. It eventually became an apartment building. The building was taken down when the Village Variety Store was rebuilt and expanded in 2016.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

A NEW WEBSITE IS NOW AVAILABLE TO AID IN YOUR RESEARCH OF PORTER CEMETERIES


        
Jess Davis is a teacher living in Brownfield, Maine and has been restoring cemeteries and grave stones for over 15 years.  Her interest in restoring grave stones led her to locate and research all the cemeteries in Brownfield and Eaton, NH and she just finished doing the same for the cemeteries in Porter. 

          Jess has recently established a website brownfieldcemeteries.com that is a valuable aid in locating and identifying cemeteries of both Brownfield and Porter.

Working with the book “Cemeteries of the Town of Porter, Maine” compiled by Janice Trueworthy and published by the Parsonsfield-Porter Historical Society in 2006, she visited all the known cemetery sites and found a few additional sites not in the book.  On this website she has provided a table organized alphabetically, with precise directions to the location of each and assigned GPS coordinates so they can be more easily located.  She has also done some research and made corrections and additions to the information known when the book was compiled. 

           Using this site in addition to the Porter cemeteries book will give you a great deal of information as you search for anyone buried in the Town of Porter.  Corrections to the “Cemeteries of the Town of Porter, Maine” will be printed and made available to anyone who wants them and will be included when a copy is purchased.

          The Kezar Falls Burial Ground (AKA Riverside Cemetery-Kezar Falls) information is not included in the “Cemeteries of the Town of Porter, Maine” as it is very well documented in the “Kezar Falls Burying Ground” book compiled by Maureen and Robert Calnan in 1997.  However, we will ask that a reference to the location of this cemetery be added to this online information.

          Copies of “Cemeteries of the Town of Porter, Maine” may be purchased at Porter Town Hall and from the Parsonsfield-Porter Historical Society for $15.00 plus tax and shipping.  See the Books of Parsonsfield & Porter History tab above. Copies of the “Kezar Falls Burying Ground” may be purchased from Robert Calnan – 207 935-4473.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Get ready to celebrate Maine’s Bicentennial



WINTER IN KEZAR FALLS

        In the 1930’s and 1940’s it was quite common for Porter High School to hold a winter carnival.  Sometimes it was sponsored by the Kiwanis or other local clubs.  It was held in locations in or near the village like the hill near Bernard Carpenter’s home on Spectacle Pond.  The following are a few pictures from 1940.  Most are not identified.  Do you recognize anyone?  Please let us know.
The only one identified in this photograph is Natalie Doe, 3rd from the left.

This group is unidentified except for Merle Day, fourth from the left in the back row.

Cora West, ??? , Charlie West and Carolyn West snowshoeing

A Very Happy New Year to One and All
and...
...let the celebration begin!