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Higgins Inventory of Household Goods

Transcribed by Ro Stewart.

Know all men by these presents that I, S. H. Higgins of Orrington Penobscot Co. Maine in consideration of one hundred dollars paid me by Evelyn Higgins of said Orrington, hereby sell and convey to said Evelyn Higgins the following household goods now in my house at said Orrington viz:

One black haircloth parlor set consisting of one sofa, 4 chairs, two easy chairs,  one cloth covered; one centre table, one organ, one pine chamber set, one lounge, one ash writing desk with drawers, one extension table six chairs, two featherbeds, two mattresses, two rag carpets and one manila carpet.  Also all the dishes and all other furniture in said house belonging to me. And I hereby put the said Evelyn Higgins in possession and ownership of said property by delivering her this indenture.

Dated at Orrington Maine this 26th day of August, 1886.

Signed: S. H. Higgins

Witness:  J. W. D.

26 Aug 1886 Inventory of household goods from Higgins to Higgins, cr

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Orringtons Illustrated Monthly News, 1910

Provided by Sharon (Bennett) Caron. Transcribed by Anne B. Allen, June 2015.

This letter is believed to have been written by Delia Cottle Smith, Sharon Caron’s grandmother. Delia was Beulah Hardison Smith’s mother-in-law. She was the mother of Vernon Vanbuskirk Smith and his sister Adria, the letter’s other author.

Orringtons Illustrated Monthly News

March 9th, 1910

My dear Boy.  I entended to write to you Sunday but was called out at 3 in the morning –   Ferd came after me and about 4 a dear little [baby] was born – a little girl and looks like Ethel – she is so pleased with it – there nurse was sick and couldnt come so I stayed until today Monday p.m. until they got someone & I got $2.00 for it.  Yesterday was a lovely day – as I went out at the back door there set three [boys] by the side of the house – Arthur K Harold E and Donald B – Adria said Don came in here to see you and was surprised to find you away – he wanted your address but papa couldn’t find it so he said he would write to Whitman – you better send him your address – this has been a terrible day, been raining [pitchforks] all day and the snow is nearly all gone and the ice is not safe now – big holes and I guess it will go out early this spring.

Nattie K is going out of the hen business.  I guess he can make more money at his trade  – he has sold all of his [hens] – it is no use for anyone to try to keep hens if they have a trade – I wish we had his nice hen house down here.  Edd Crowell is still killing [pigs] – he killed 4 last week.  I dident sleep much last night – the baby was fussy until 2:30 this morning so I slept from that untill 6 oclock and I am so sleepy I will have to go to [bed] now and finish this tomorrow.

Tu morning – I will try and finish the news today to send out tonight – you know the old chairs I was going to have you remodel for me – well I got papa at it – he sawed them in two and made me the cutest little [table] like this one – only I put little pieces of dishes on the top into the putty and you cant think how pretty it looks – he done a good job – I have got to guild the edges today and varnish it and it will be done and ready to put my [plant] on.  I do hope you wont get a cold this spring working out in all kinds of weather – there are lots of people around here that have been sick with colds but so far we have all escaped them.  Vida Grenon was real sick Saturday with tonsilitis – the minister and wife went down to Bucksport – he came home and she stayed down over Sunday and she and Vida came up on the 9 train yesterday in all that rain.  I hope she didn’t take more cold but Mrs. Grenon said they couldn’t stay there.

Well we hear the RFD [mail wagon] is coming back to the corner.  They say he can’t go anywhere down there – only to card clubs – he cant get to the theaters so easy down there as he can up here – they are going to move into Grace Reeds house – well now I must go to cooking and your sister has got the dishes washed and wants to write a while so I will give this up to her.

Isent this kind of letter writing fun, the next news will be that Mr. Scogden has bought a 2 years old [horse] – he had him harnessed up and he went good – he is dark red with a white strip in his face.  I had my birthday party and I had a pair of [gloves] for a present – they are tan kid – it is a lovely day today and Ethel Bowden is down here to spend the day, papa is out in the barn making a thill for his gigger – when mama went to Bangor to get my gloves she got papa a [fiddle] record, a medley – it is real pretty – I have had such a nice time to practice on the organ – I expect to be a lovely player by the time you get back – I have read that book The True Hero, do you play on your [harmonica] any.

Well Adria has stoped writing and is playing with Ethel – she has been sick just as you were when Adria was born – she is better now.

Delmont has found a chum – he is with Paul Blare the most of the time – he has never been here but once since you went away.  I don’t miss your presents as I did but I miss you in the pantry – the cake hangs on so long and the baked beans we have hard work to get them eaten and I don’t bake so many either – had Tomy brought Nichols [wagon] when you went away – he says he likes it and I heard today that he was going to move to So Orrington – that is the place for him as he goes down there every morning.

The ice is so poor – lots of holes in it today.

Every one that asks for you says I am so glad for him – not one has said they were sorry you had gone so you see how glad everyone is to have you gone – oh some did say they would miss you.

It is a lovely day so I guess we will go to the Grange tonight all right – have not been since you went away – have you been to see [                ] and [                    ] yet – you can take this illustrated news to him as it will only be published once a month, hopeing to hear from you soon – ever the same with love, Mother & Adria.

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Part 5 of 5: Henry Buxton says…BROOKS FAMILY OF ORRINGTON NOTABLE CLAN

Transcribed by Anne (Bowden) Allen from Henry Buxton’s column for the Bangor Daily News.

Feb. 22, 1937

FIRST OHIO STEAMBOAT MAN

“In 1816, John Brooks constructed the first steamboat ever built in Cincinnati–the first to operate on the Ohio river.  He became a wealthy man and invested most of his money in Cincinnati real estate.  Later Nicholas Longworth, grandfather of the late Congressman Nicholas Longworth, who married Alice Roosevelt, laid claim to this real estate.  There followed a series of law suits which extended over a period of years.  Finally Longworth won and John Brooks became a ruined man.  He died in 1822.

“James Brooks, a son of John Brooks, a native of Orrington, migrated to New Albany in Indiana, established a grocery store, and later was the organizer and president of the first railroad from the Ohio river to the Great Lakes.  This transportation line was known as the New Albany and Salem railroad, and to accomplish its construction it was necessary to build a road 228 miles long through a country which had not yet entirely emerged from the conditions of pioneer life.  But this indomitable man succeeded beyond the wildest expectations of his more sanguine backers.

“When the Civil War broke out, James Brooks was appointed by Secretary of War Stanton, as quartermaster general of the western federal army and the gunboats on the Mississippi river.  He purchased the old Mississippi river flat floats and supervised their conversion into the Yankee gunboats which were a big factor in demolishing the Confederate forts on the Mississippi.  Under the direction of James Brooks supplies were accumulated at Louisville for the use of General Sherman in his historic march to the sea.  At one time during the war, James Brooks loaned the Federal government $240,000 from his private fortune.  He was later reimbursed.”

In tomorrow’s column Mr. Brooks will tell the story of the ancient pottery in the Bangor district.  This is a story which should appeal to many of the old timers who can remember when tinware was practically non-existent and the utensils such as milk pans, jugs and pitchers were made from Penobscot river clay.

 

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Part 4 of 5: Henry Buxton says…BROOKS FAMILY OF ORRINGTON NOTABLE CLAN

Transcribed by Anne (Bowden) Allen from Henry Buxton’s column for the Bangor Daily News.

Feb. 22, 1937 

VERSATILE CRAFTSMAN OF ORRINGTON

“George Brooks’ gift as a craftsman revealed itself almost immediately after settling in Orrington.  He built himself a blacksmith shop and did all kinds of blacksmithing for his neighbors.  I have some of his tools made from iron imported from England.  he also tanned leather for the other settlers, and set up a Dutch windmill.  In company with a neighbor, Simeon Fowler, he made a kiln or two of bricks every year.  He manufactured his own charcoal, and made all of his own nails.  He built the first grist mill in Orrington.

“He was a strong, capable character all around, according to the records that have come down to me, and there was much grief at his death in Orrington, December 15, 1807.  Before he died, he built a comfortable farmhouse for his family.  After his death his widow was married for the third time to Deacon Mark Hatch of Castine.  She was famed over the countryside for her grace and beauty.  She died March 2, 1817, at the age of 68 years.

“After my great grandfather’s death, my grandfather, James Brooks, took over the farm and carried it on.  On the place he built a substantial brick house in which I was born.

“John Brooks, a shipwright, who was my grandfather’s brother, and my great uncle, married Sallie Dean, and in 1814 heard the magic call of the west.  He built an immigrant wagon and transported himself and family from Orrington to Cincinnati, where he built the noted brig Cincinnati in 1815.  This ship was loaded with ears of Ohio corn and cleared for Boston via New Orleans.  John Brooks arranged that some of this corn be sent to his old neighbors in Orrington.”

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Part 3 of 5: Henry Buxton says…BROOKS FAMILY OF ORRINGTON NOTABLE CLAN

Transcribed by Anne (Bowden) Allen from Henry Buxton’s column for the Bangor Daily News.

Feb. 22, 1937 

HEARTH BRICKS FROM GREAT GRANDMOTHER’S HOME

Mr. Brooks drew contentedly on a well-seasoned corncob pipe as we chatted beside a blazing hearth in the spacious living room of his comfortable Brewer home.  Pointing to the hearth bricks, he told me that he dug them out of the cellar hole of his great grandmother’s home at Castine.  British officers were quartered in this ancient house during the War of 1812, and one of them, an artist, was so intrigued by the beauty of Mr. Brooks’ great grandmother that he spent weeks painting her portrait.  This portrait is still in the possession of the Brooks family.

“I dug those bricks out of the old cellar hole in Castine,” he said, “because I thought that it would be pleasant over the years to toast my feet over my great grandmother’s hearth bricks.”

This genial and cultured potter, brickmaker and anthropologist is one of the most entertaining raconteurs I have heard in many a long day, and to listen to him was akin to perusing the pages of a fascinating book.  He spun me a tale of Brookses past and present that not only was livened by the tang of adventure and the sparkle of wit, but contained here and there a touch of pathos.

“My great grandfather, George Brooks”, he said, “was born in Bradford, England, and at the age of 17 left for Newfoundland to engage in the fishing trade.  The following summer he entered the whaling business with a certain Captain Doan of Cape Cod, and there on Cape Cod in 1775 he met Mrs. Mary Atwood Thompson, the charming widowed sister of Captain Doan.  They were married after an ardent and romantic courtship, and the following year migrated with a party of Cape Coders to Orrington.

“My great grandfather took up a wooded grant of 200 acres, built a log house, and cleared 50 acres.  His cabin was located near the dwelling of James Gorton, a squatter, and later he purchased this squatter’s rights.”

 

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Part 2 of 5: Henry Buxton says…BROOKS FAMILY OF ORRINGTON NOTABLE CLAN

Transcribed by Anne (Bowden) Allen from Henry Buxton’s column for the Bangor Daily News.

Feb. 22, 1937 

CANNON BALL THAT MISSED GRANDFATHER

        I was awed when he exhibited a cannon ball fired from the gun deck of the British sloop-of-war Sylph as the English ship was sailing by the town of Orrington in the War of 1812.  Mr. Brooks’ grandfather, James Brooks, was perched on a fence near his home when the ball passed so close to his head that he was literally blown off the fence to the ground, but escaped injury.

        Mr. Brooks’ justifiable pride in the achievements of his ancestors caused him to visit Bradford, England, where perusal of the ancient records in the vicar’s house revealed that his forebears had resided there since the sixteenth century, and many of them were artisans of distinction.

        It is a poetic coincidence that this Brewer potter and brickmaker married Edith White, granddaughter of Joseph White, proprietor of the noted Baptist Mills Pottery, Bristol, England, and a contemporary of Josiah Wedgwood, maker of the famous Wedgwood ware. Mr. Brooks is the proud possessor of several pieces of this ancient ware, including a snuff box, two cream pitchers and a sugar bowl. Mrs. Brooks died recently.

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Part 1 of 5: Henry Buxton says…BROOKS FAMILY OF ORRINGTON NOTABLE CLAN

Transcribed by Anne (Bowden) Allen from Henry Buxton’s column for the Bangor Daily News.

Feb. 22, 1937 

Henry Buxton says…BROOKS FAMILY OF ORRINGTON NOTABLE CLAN

George Brooks Built First Grist Mill in the Town

SON HELPED MAKE HISTORY IN WEST

H.N. Brooks of Brewer Upholds Tradition of Craftsmanship

A strong, dominating strain of expert craftsmanship and artisanry which prevailed among forebears in Bradford, England, centuries ago, and persisted down through the generations until it found expression in America in the genius of shipbuilding, railroad construction and pottery making, are conspicuous in the background of the Brooks family of Orrington.

Seldom may one family boast of such varied and distinctive achievement as this family whose ancestors were among the first settlers of that beautiful Maine village on the west bank of the Penobscot river a few miles south of Bangor.

One of these Orrington Brookses built himself a covered wagon from Penobscot spruce, journeyed westward with his family, settled in Cincinnati and built the first brig and the first steamboat to run on the Ohio River.

Still another of these gifted Orrington Brookses constructed the first railroad to connect the Ohio river with the Great Lakes, during the Civil War served as quartermaster general of the western Union army under Secretary of War Stanton, and at Louisville, Ky., accumulated millions of dollars worth of supplies which enabled General Sherman to make his epochal march from Atlanta to the sea and break the backbone of the rebellion.

And not less distinctive than these Brookses who helped to make history for the United States is Harrison Nash Brooks of the Brooks brickyard, Brewer, who inherits in a large measure the artistry and craftsmanship which has run like a golden thread for centuries in the Brooks family fabric.
Mr. Brooks is a potter of exceptional genius as well as an expert manufacturer of brick, and his excavations in clay deposits in the Penobscot River region have furnished valuable contributions to the anthropological and historical lore of the Maine district.  His house in Brewer is a veritable museum of relics, which have to do not only with the early history of his family in Maine, but with the stirring events of the Revolution and War of 1812.

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Snow’s Corner, District No I: A Poem by Sid Whelden

This Poem Courtesy of the Heirs of Elaine Gray.
Donated to the Orrington Historical Society April 19, 2000.

Snow’s Corner, District No I

A one room school, with it’s two by four yard,
To play much ball in it, really was hard.
We mostly played “Scrub” Hardly room for that?
More suited it was for just Three Old Cat.

Equipment? Town furnished School House that’s all.
To play “Haley Baley Over” with pudding bag ball
No grass grew where we played “Tag” round the school.
Sharp corners, heels flying, the steps the “Gool.”

In Winter

The overflowed brook, gave us our skating,
The swing of our arms, gave us our rating:
In Spelling Matches, with Pierces Crossing,
Miss Read, or, Miss Dodge, doing the “Bossing.”

After the Spelling, The playing of games,
Now so silly? Like this. Some of the names?
Post Office, Green Carpet, and, Needles Eye,
If you didn’t get “picked” you wanted to die.

The Teachers? We had were mostly females,
In memory of them our mind never fails;
Jesse R. Nellie A. Josephine King,
Also Alice Dodge, Who taught us to sing?

Poor Dodge, acted a bit shy with us boys,
None of us added a bit to her joys.
She told me, President, I could be,
So smart? Some Hooey. Now, Look at me?

Male teachers/ The Phillips Boys, Mose, Chas. and Will,
Benton Lenthist, Red Head, Nickname B.L.
He almost pulled off Fred Bennet’s ear, ‘Cause?
He thought Fred to blame, – Maybe he was.

Of all the pupils who went to District One,
We’ll name a few, now, just for fun.
The Bakers and Smiths, from Baker Hill,
The Hilliers, Four, The oldest called Bill.

There was James, Frank, Winnie, or, Dunny,
From a family large. It wasn’t funny.
With Muriel, Arnold,and Steven that’s all,
Of school age, at that time, last name Hall.

Just two Rideouts, A girl and a boy,
The girl Evelyn, and the boy of course Roy.
The Wheldens, Christine, and a string bean kid,
Sidney, by name, mostly shortened to Sid.

The older boys, who in winter time went,
Polly P. Fred B. Hersey S. Galen Kent.
More girls, Daisy O. Ethel H. Hasel S.
Oh, Herbert Snow. Went west! That’s all I guess.

But , Yes, Left out of this tale is the name,
Bertha Freeman, Of Cats Cradle fame.
Teacher, Caught us playing, stood us out in the floor.
Made us play “Cats Cradle,” More and yet more.

The studies we had? I have left them out
All books, We went through and through, just about.
“How far did you go? Then it would appear
You should start again – Just about here.”

They got Algebra for us older guys
Just some more figgerin’ in disguise?
And, though we didn’t attend High School,
Our after life, proved us not a fool.

So, This ends the Saga of District One
No, Let’s say, That’s how it all begun;
There a few of us left, But, Are we old?
By the train of our thoughts, can our age be told.

Sure Sign, ie, Reminising?

Sid Wheldin X His Mark

A Note from Sidney Whelden, found at the bottom of the original typewritten poem: 

Dear School Supervisor –

This was written after my return from a visit to Maine and of course particularly to Orrington (last year 1959). I borrowed my step daughter’s typewriter and by dint of “pick and poke” hope I have made it readable.

Was pleased to see you again! Hope it will be possible to see you next summer.

Sincerely

Sidney

A Note from Orrington Historical Society Member Bruce B.:

Sidney Byron Whelden (b. Winterport 12 Jun 1885; d. Abington, Massachusetts 13 Aug 1975) was the son of Ezra Rodden Whelden (b. Frankfort 12 Jun 1847; d. prob Orrington 04 Nov 1914) and Emma (nee Eaton) Whelden (b. c. 1854 in ?; d. bef. 1892, poss. in Brewer [NFI]). He m. a “Jennie” (b. New York c. 1884) bef. 1920, and she either died or they divorced in the 1940s, as Sid remarried in 1950 in Massachusetts, aged 65.

In stanza 10 of the poem, the Christine mentioned is Sid’s older sister, Christine May Whelden (b. Winterport 18 Nov 1880; d. Jun 1954, m. Charles Wallace Puffer [b. Brewer 04 Feb 1878; d. 1953] on 28 Dec 1904).

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The Bowden Farm

by Bruce Bowden

Article republished from http://www.curranhomestead.org/page30.php with permission of author Bruce Bowden and the Curran Homestead.
Photos courtesy of Barry Bowden.

Located on King’s Mountain in Orrington, just a short distance from The Curran Homestead, this farm was originally the homestead of an early Orrington settler, Ephraim Goodale.  Born in Worcester County, Massachusetts in 1772, Ephraim was part of the large migration of early Americans leaving increasingly congested areas such as Boston and Cape Cod to seek their fortunes in the vast expanses of untamed wilderness in the District of Maine.  (After the Revolutionary War, Maine remained a territory governed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts until achieving statehood in 1820.) He built a homestead at the intersection of the King’s Mountain Road (now called Center Drive) and the busy thoroughfare leading to Swett’s Pond (later known as the Goodale Road); the area came to be known as Goodale’s Corner, and, unlikely as it may seem today due to its rural location, in the nineteenth century it was a hub of activity and commerce, boasting a school, a small store, a brickyard, a harness-maker/cobbler, and a small inn which also housed a post office. Ephraim’s youngest son, Ephraim Jr., married Lucinda Martin (a great-granddaughter of Jonathan Buck, founder of the neighboring town of Bucksport) in 1831, and made this area his home until his death in 1887.

The next owner of the farm, Charles H. Chapman, had been a teacher at the nearby Goodale’s Corner School, and, having purchased the home with his wife Laura from Walter Goodale, resided there until his death in 1931.

Donald F. Bowden purchased this farm in 1932 from Charles Chapman’s daughter, Onata Deane.  Abutting the dairy farm of the man who would soon be his father-in-law, Orrington selectman Raymond L. Perkins, Sr., the farm had fallen into disrepair as Mr. Chapman’s health declined.  While courting Mr. Perkins’ eldest daughter, Thelma, Donald undertook major repairs to the farmhouse and its outbuildings, raising them up with jacks and cribbing, leveling them, hewing new sills and beams, and generally “setting things right.” Donald and Thelma were married in 1934 and began a half-century-long career in farming, which included a dairy herd, wood products, an apple orchard, raising vegetable crops and rearing six sons.

The farm Donald purchased was not overly large, even by modern standards; at the time of sale, it totaled just over six acres. With the gift of ten acres from his father-in-law’s adjoining farm and gradual purchases of abutting and nearby woodlands, the farm eventually comprised several hundred acres, though most of it was not contiguous.

Typical of most farmers in rural Maine, Donald supported his growing family by a variety of means; in addition to the dairy and orchards mentioned above, the farm income was supplemented by the sale of birch logs used for veneer and for plugs to be inserted into the ends of rolls of paper manufactured in nearby Brewer; by the cultivation of vegetable crops for the canning plant in Ellsworth; by the occasional sale of under-performing dairy cattle for beef; by wages Donald earned as the foreman on State road-building projects; and by numerous other industrious means of “getting by.”

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The farm of Donald F. and Thelma (née Perkins) Bowden at Goodale’s Corner in the 1940s. Originally built by early Orrington settler Ephraim Goodale in the early 1800s for his son Walter, the structure was destroyed by fire in 1958. The small clapboard building at far right is the country store owned and operated by Donald’s first cousin (twice removed) Walter H. Bowden.

On February 15, 1958, in the wee hours of a bitterly cold Maine winter’s night, the wood-fired furnace failed and the tinder-dry timbers of the old farmhouse erected nearly a century and a half before caught fire.  The family, clad only in their nightclothes, fled to a neighboring house to escape the subzero temperatures; Donald remained on the scene to await the fire department’s arrival and ensure that any potential passersby, seeing the house engulfed and unaware that all had escaped safely, would not attempt a rescue.  The entire house burned to ashes.  No one in the family was injured, but all of their personal possessions were consumed in the conflagration – with the exception of two leather coats and a chainsaw.  Fortunately, due to the fledgling Orrington Volunteer Fire Department’s diligent efforts, the flames were stopped at the wood shed, thus sparing the remainder of the farm buildings and the dairy herd.

With their home destroyed, the family relocated to the nearby home of Clifford and Beulah Bowden (who were Donald’s brother and Thelma’s sister), and the Bowden dairy cattle and other farm chores were tended from a slightly greater distance.  Over the course of the following spring and summer, the community rallied around the family, helping Donald saw lumber from timber harvested on his woodlots, pouring a new concrete foundation, and constructing the new farmhouse.  Assistance from neighbors, relatives and concerned community members made work progress quickly, and the Bowden family celebrated Christmas in their new home that same year.

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The Bowden farm in May of 1967. Donald and Thelma’s fourth son, Barry, who had graduated from the University of Maine at Orono that same month and was preparing to seek his destiny in the world, climbed to the top of a tall pine tree in the fencerow between the pasture and orchard, and took this photograph of his boyhood home in its last years as a dairy farm. At left is the barn and milk house; center, the garage, wood shed and farmhouse (which was rebuilt after fire destroyed the original in 1958); at right is the shingle mill.

After their youngest son Keith graduated from the University of Maine and left the area, Donald and Thelma sold the last of the dairy herd; the labor-intensive nature of dairy farming was not well-suited to a one-man operation. Donald and Thelma’s grandson Bruce remembers a visit from his grandparents just after the last cow had been sold; as they were about to leave, Donald stated the he was going to do something that he had never done before: After more than a half-century working as a dairy farmer, he was going to buy milk in a store on the way home.

Even though their dairy herd had been sold into other pastures, this was not the end of agricultural activity at the Bowden farm. With the demands of dairy chores such as milking and haying now absent, Donald and Thelma focused their attention on their apple orchards. Donald had planted an orchard comprising over 150 trees in the early 1930s, and these trees bore fruit for the rest of his life. In addition to favorite apple varieties such as MacIntosh and Cortland, there were also pears, plums and apple cultivars which are no longer common: Yellow Gravenstein, Red Astrachan, Red Spy and Northern Spy. In the early 1980s Donald renovated a cider press given to him by his neighbor and brother-in-law, Raymond Perkins Jr., and folks who were fans of Donald’s apples now had another reason to anticipate cool fall weather: cool gallon jugs of sweet cider, freshly pressed from his apples.

The Bowden orchard, May 1967. After taking the previous photograph of the farm buildings from atop a tall pine, Barry turned 180° and captured this image of the trees in his father's apple orchard in full bloom. In the distance (though not discernable) is Brewer Lake.

The Bowden orchard, May 1967. After taking the previous photograph of the farm buildings from atop a tall pine, Barry turned 180° and captured this image of the trees in his father’s apple orchard in full bloom. In the distance (though not discernable) is Brewer Lake.

Donald passed away in late 1992 after several years of declining health, and Thelma continued to reside at the farm for another decade, when her own failing health necessitated a move to an assisted-living facility in nearby Bangor. The farm sat idle for the better part of a decade, with the exception of annual mowing of the pastures by Donald and Thelma’s eldest son Richard. Thelma passed away in 2008, aged 96.

A new chapter in the history of the Bowden Farm has just begun: Donald and Thelma’s youngest son Keith has moved into the home of his youth, and another generation of Bowdens is in residence on the farm Ephraim Goodale carved out of the wilderness so many years ago.

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Remarkable Record of Capt. Brown, Who Made 101 West India Voyages

This article was likely published around the year 1919. Although the author and newspaper are unknown at this time, it’s possible that it was published in the Bangor Commercial.

Remarkable Record of Capt. Brown, Who Made 101 West India Voyages

The death last week of Captain Joseph Atwood Brown of Orrington marks the passing of one of the last old time ship captains. He was born in North Orrington July 1, 1831, oldest of the five children of Cornelius and Eliza (Smith) Brown.

His father being a ship captain, he was early attracted to the sea and at the tender age of eleven went summers as cookee with his uncles Charles and Stillman Brown. At sixteen he began in earnest, making long voyages to foreign ports. He continued in this chosen calling for fifty-one years, making 101 round trips to the West Indies alone, besides visiting many European countries.

In 1854 he married Rebecca Bartlett, daughter of Samuel and Mary (Snow) Bartlett, who died nine years ago. He leaves two daughters, Mrs. Cara M. Conley of Brewer and Mrs. Leland B. Blake of South Orrington, and two grandchildren, Mrs. Charles Spinney of Brewer and Mrs. Fred Dionne of Dorchester, Mass.

In the early seventies he made a trading voyage up the west coast of Africa, sailing up and down that coast and trading at the different ports. He remained there eighteen months, the entire voyage taking about three years. While there he contracted the dread disease, yellow fever, the effects of which followed him through life.

Two other times he was stricken with this disease. Once in Pensacola, Fla., where the Masons saved his life by taking him into their private hospital and nursing him until he was able to join his ship. The third time was in Havana, Cuba. His vessel was due to sail and the American consul said he must leave her and go to a hospital, but he pleaded so hard that they put on board an old negress, who had relatives in New York and who understood handling the fever, and he sailed. The negress tended him so well that when the ship reached New York he was able to be on deck.

For many years he commanded the schooner Fred Smith, sailing for the old firm of Smith Brothers of New York. On many of these voyages he carried his family, visiting many South American and West Indian ports and remaining away from home months at a time.

Later, leaving the Fred Smith, he turned his attention to barging, at the time when that business was in its height. Among others, he commanded the barge Roman, remodeled from the old steamship of that name. On a voyage in her, heavily laden with 1,700 tons of coal, and having with him as mate his son-in-law, the late Capt. Samuel M. Conley, he was shipwrecked off the coast of Virginia. Thinking the barge was riding heavily, Mr. Conley lowered a lantern into the forward hold, when the rush of water swept it out of his hands. Hurriedly reporting the condition and signaling to the tug boat, he rushed to the captain’s cabin, seized a dunnage bag and filled it with what he could find, ordered the life boat to be lowered and then went to report to the captain, whom he found calmly steering.

“Come, captain,” said he, “the boat is ready.”

“My place is here; I shall not desert my ship,” was the reply.

Mr. Conley did not stop to bandy words. He called the men and they bore him kicking and struggling to the boat, where he collapsed in the stern. As they pushed off from the sinking ship it was discovered that a great hole had been made in the boat while lowering her. A sailor thrust his oil jacket into the aperature, Mr. Conley took charge; the sailors rowed with almost superhuman strength, and the boat made its way over the waves mountain high to the tug, Storm King, which, a few days later, landed them safely in New York. A humorous incident of the affair was that, although the dunnage bag contained quite a number of boots, no two were mates, and when the captain reported at the office in New York he had only the water-soaked garments in which he stood. All his nautical instruments, marine glasses, charts, etc., were lost, as well as his clothes.

In 1892, being a yellow fever immune, Capt. Brown was sent to Santos, Brazil, to recover the bark Archer, whose crew all had died with the fever. Orders were to take her to Turk’s Island, load with salt and proceed to New York. The bark had lain so long in that terrible heat of Brazil that her calking was poor, but, in spite of this, picking up a scrub crew in the fever-stricken port of Santos he set out to follow directions. All went well till the salt was loaded and they were started homeward, when the vessel began to leak like a sieve. The crew became mutinous; they said they would leave her, would not pump, etc., and when told by Capt. Brown that they must, said they would soon dispose of that little man and desert the doomed ship while land was near.

In the midst of this confusion, Capt. Brown appeared on deck, a small but formidable, figure, with a revolver in each hand.

“The first man who refuses to pump, dies,” he calmly announced. One look decided them. They turned to the pumps.

Before reaching New York, however, they were overtaken by a severe gale, dismasted, and finally driven into Bermuda, where the vessel was sold. This was Capt. Brown’s last voyage.

Later, he entered the employ of the late J. Weston Hopkins, working in the Hampden Creamery, when it was located in Hampden, following it to Bangor when it was moved and remained here till 1899, when he sustained a severe injury, being thrown violently from a high cream cart onto a concrete floor, breaking his collar bone and injuring his head.

After recovering somewhat from this injury, he moved onto his little farm in Orrington, making his home there till the death of his wife in 1913. During the last six years he has lived in the home of his daughter, Mrs. Leland Blake, gradually failing until the end found him in fancy once again the commander on the quarter deck, giving his orders, guiding, directing, until his Ship of Life floated out of the troubled waters and found anchor in the peaceful Haven of Rest.

Twilight and evening bell,

And one clear call for me,

And may there be no sadness of farewell,

When I put out to sea.

For if from out that bourne of time and place

The tide shall bear me far;

I hope to meet my pilot face to face,

When I shall cross the Bar.

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