Thursday, July 15, 2021

INTERESTING PROGRAM SCHEDULED FOR THE JULY 24TH MEETING

 Don’t miss the next meeting of the Parsonsfield-Porter Historical Society to be held at Porter Town Hall.

Meeting at 2:00 p.m. – program to follow at about 2:30 p.m.


Former French teacher and local author, Janet Carper will talk about her recent book:


“THE WEIDNERS IN WARTIME:

 Letters of Daily Survival and Heroism Under Nazi Rule”



This is the compelling true story of a close-knit family, told through the numerous letters they wrote to each other under harrowing conditions. Devout Seventh Day Adventists originally from the Netherlands, they were scattered through Europe as the Nazis invaded and cut off normal avenues of correspondence, commerce, and travel.


They wrote hundreds of letters (mostly in French) to each other, filled with details of conditions they faced, worries about family members and friends they had not heard from for a while, searches for much needed food and clothing and seeking trusted friends and acquaintances who might be traveling and could carry letters for them.  Some of their news was in code to avoid the suspicions of Nazi censors.  Through it all they struggled to assess their best options as they faced unprecedented challenges and danger of arrest.


By the end of the war, family members were involved in the resistance movement and found ways to shepherd those in danger of Nazi arrest to safe havens – putting their own lives in jeopardy.  Jean Henry Weidner is now known as the hero of the Dutch Resistance.  After the war he moved to the U.S. and created a foundation to preserve this amazing collection of all he family letters he saved.  What better way to share this incredible story than through the publication of a book?


Although many of us know Janet Carper as the French teacher at Sacopee Valley High School for many years, Janet was selected to translate and prepare the letters for publication.  She was chosen not because of her teaching career, but for her superb knowledge of the French language, French culture and her interest in history.  Janet has done a marvelous job of selecting, translating, and annotating the letters so that the book becomes cohesive whole.  Greatly adding to the story are the additional explanatory materials included.  A must read!

This promises to be a fascinating talk as Janet will describe her role in bringing the book into being. Signed copies of the book will be available for purchase.


Don't for get the yard sale this Saturday at History House from 9 - 1 pm!




Wednesday, June 30, 2021

It's Back!

 AFTER NEARY TWO YEARS, IT IS TIME FOR OUR ANNUAL

YARD SALE  AT HISTORY HOUSE !

Hopefully you have been gathering items all this time to donate to the sale. Gently used items that you no longer need but think others may find a use for would be appreciated.  (Please no clothes or computers.)  They can be left on the porch at History House anytime through Friday, July 16th.  Someone will be checking every day and move what is there inside.  If you need someone to pick up your items call 625-7019 or 625-8712 and leave a message.  We also look forward to you coming to buy items, too.           

The Parsonsfield-Porter Historical Society will hold their annual

YARD AND BAKED GOOD SALE 

SAT. JULY 17th, 9am – 1pm

at History House, 92 Main Street, Porter (Kezar Falls Village).

Rain or Shine.

Something for everyone.  Come find your treasure!

FMI  625-7019



Monday, June 14, 2021

Parsonsfield-Porter Historical Society continues with it’s 2021 schedule...

                                       A Meeting and Program will be held

June 26, 2021

at

History House,

92 Maine Street 

Kezar Falls Village


The meeting will start at 2:00 pm, with a program to follow at about 2:30 pm.


Lyn Sudlow will present:


“The Lincoln Connection:

How Amos Tuck of Parsonsfield shaped the politics of the Civil War.”



Honorable Amos Tuck, M.C.

Come learn about this Parsonsfield native we seldom hear about.


As not everyone has been vaccinated, please wear a mask.


Monday, May 31, 2021

History House is Open!

 The Parsonsfield-Porter Historical Society is ready to start a full season of scheduled meetings and events once again with:


OPEN HOUSE 


Saturday, June 5, 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.


and a New Exhibit


1820 – MAINE STATEHOOD

A Local View


This exhibit commemorates Maine’s Bicentennial 

and takes a look at Parsonsfield and Porter 

and what life was like here 200 years ago.



Come tour the house and view all the exhibits

at

 History House

92 Main Street

Kezar Falls Village (Rt. 160)


As not everyone is vaccinated,

please wear a mask.


Friday, May 14, 2021

THE OLD PARSONSFIELD TOWN HOUSE

The Old Parsonsfield Town House is located on the east side of Merrill Hill Road just before it intersects with Middle Road.  It was built in 1832 across from what was then the Congregational Church.  The Church had built a new building closer to the road and they would no longer agree to share the building for town meetings as they had been doing since 1790.   

The 1832 Town House was built by town resident William E. Moulton Jr. – a south-facing Greek Revival structure.  A unique feature of the building is a slanted floor with fixed bench seats which gave everyone a good view of the podium.  It was the town’s first civic building.

The Town House as it looked in 1938.

Parsonsfield’s municipal offices relocated at Kezar Falls Village in 1988, but all residents south of North Road continued to vote at this location until 2012.   In 2012 the Town Offices were moved to the former Fred Morrill School building on North Road and the Old Town House ceased to be used for any Town purposes.


This picture, taken in 2005, looks much the same today but with a small flower garden on the side.  

In 2001 a group of interested citizens called “ROOT” (Restore Our Old Town House), worked to restore the building to its original design and placed it on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.  They were also instrumental in having Historic Preservationist Steven Mallory come out and do a comprehensive assessment of the building. This group has since disbanded and many of the issues identified as a problem at that time have not been addressed.

Today there is concern that this historic building has been unmaintained for 8 – 10 years and that it continues to deteriorate.

The Parsonsfield-Porter Historical Society holds an open house here annually the second Saturday in August hosted by Lyn Sudlow.  Anyone interested in the preservation of the Old Parsonsfield Town House and its history can tour the building. Watch for the ad in Your Weekly Shopping Guide at the end of July. 


Friday, April 30, 2021

A FORGOTTEN TRADITION MAY BASKET DAY

May 1st – “May Day” - has traditionally been a time to celebrate a time of renewal, rebirth, a fresh beginning.  It was originally a Pagan holiday to celebrate spring at its peak and the coming of summer and there was a whole day of festivities that included making of May Baskets, dancing around a May Pole and crowning of the “Queen of the May”.  It was particularly popular in the US in the 19th and 20th centuries.  Now, it is considered quaint and barely remembered by most people.  However, May 1st is still celebrated in many countries around the world with their own customs and reasons to celebrate.


Making of May Baskets was one of the most popular traditions, and children of the 1940’s probably still remember making them.  The custom was to make a small basket from various materials, paper plates, small cardboard containers, or creating a cone from construction paper, attaching a handle of some sort, decorating it with paper doilies, colored paper, paint, ribbons, etc. and filling it with small flowers, ferns, and sometimes candy.  It was then hung anonymously on the recipient’s door knob with a knock on the door and a yell, “May basket”.   The person would then run away.  If the recipient caught the giver, he or she was entitled to a kiss.

Although May Baskets are not a common custom anymore, you can find all kinds of directions, patterns, and materials for making them on the internet.  Does this peak your interest?  Maybe you can restart the tradition in your family. Here are some suggestions for making a simple May Basket. Just follow this link. If you want to learn more about Maypoles, here's a link. In the Celtic countries like Ireland and Scotland, May 1st is Beltane and denotes the first day of summer.


HAPPY SPRING EVERYONE.


Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Joseph Denis, The Coin Man

 JOSEPH L. DENIS (1882 – 1959)


The spotlight today is on a man known to his friends and acquaintances in the Kezar Falls area in the 1940’s and 1950’s as “Joe, the Coin Man”.  Joe lived in the sparsely settled hills of Parsonsfield in a little house by the side of the road.  He was an authority on and a collector/seller of coins.


The following brief biography was written by Joe, himself, for the Parsonsfield-Porter Historical Society. He obviously had a sense of humor and didn’t take himself too seriously.  Yet the last paragraph shows that he was very serious about how he lived his life.  From the bits and pieces we have been able to put together about him, he must have been an interesting man.



When, Where and Why I Was Born

By Joseph L. Denis - 1956


I was born in Three Rivers, Canada on the 17th of September 1882.  I note that a great many prominent men were born on the same date.  My birth may not interest you, but to me it was the greatest beginning I ever had; without it no such person as I would have lived.

I had no control of the place of my birth, if so and it was to be done over, I would be born in Texas.  My mother said I was so ugly that she did not take me out in public for six months and if I had not been the first born she would have thrown me away.  But for 74 years I have so improved in looks that now I am really a handsome man and the mirror is the most interesting piece of furniture on the place.

I think I was born that I might live to serve humanity and God by being considerate of others, wearing a smile of sunshine and happiness, chasing the blues from those I meet, making cheerful the downcast and dying in peace with man and God.


The following article from the Portland Press Herald tells us


Joe Denis Has Lots of Money, But He’s Not a Wealthy Man.

Telegram and Sunday Press Herald – Portland, Maine – December 28, 1952


Seventy year old Joe L. Denis of North Parsonsfield walked a long, long road to reach his coin-lined camp alongside Route 160.  It was a walk that started in jobless depression days and took him by foot from Boston over most of northern New England.  Twice he started from Boston to Waterville, looking for work.  He hiked from the Hub to Brattleboro, VT, and another jaunt after jobs took him to the Dead River country and into New Vineyard.  He farmed at New Vineyard for a while.  Then worked his way to Parsonsfield where he was employed on the Leavitt Plantation for several years.

He now ekes out a lonely bachelor’s life on a $42 monthly old age grant.  His wasn’t always a bachelor’s life, though.  His first wife died long ago.  He has been separated from his second for many years.

Although Joe has a wealth of coins in his valuable collections he looks on himself as a poor man.  The coins, to him, are like, say, a piece of furniture to someone else.  They’re just property.  Not that he wouldn’t be above selling a few for a good offer.  He turns over an infrequent dollar doing just that.  But the occasional visit of another collector to his isolated place couldn’t be called a thriving trade by any man’s estimate.

He limits his collection to U.S. coins, from cents to silver dollars.  His oldest dates from 1793.  None of them are exceptionally valuable.  His best half dollar might be worth $20 to a hungry collector.

Denis is organizer and perennial president of the Kezar Falls Stamp and Coin Club.  He and a generous dozen fellow collectors have kept the club going for about five years.

Denis says the little wood chopping he does these cool days and his coin collecting are the best ways he knows for a lonely oldster like himself to retain a lively interest in life.

Oh, yes; and a little hiking too.  He still takes an occasional walk downtown to Kezar Falls.  Distance: six miles each way.  But not much for a man used to such a stroll.

And Joe Denis sure ought to be that man.


Joe Denis died March 20, 1959 and is buried at the Kezar Falls Burial Grounds.