Friday, August 18, 2017

Bear Attack

Benjamin Foster, my 4th great grand uncle, was born in Bridgton, Maine, in 1775.  His parents, Asahel and Joanna Foster, ancestors of my grandfather Daniel Johnson, had moved to the area three years earlier, and were the first married couple in Bridgton according to a sign at their grave site.

When Benjamin was about 19 years old, he unexpectedly came upon a mother bear and her cubs as he was walking through the woods.  The mother bear snarled at him, and he climbed the nearest tree, and hollered for help.  The mother bear became enraged, and climbed the tree several times attacking him, and injuring his feet.  Finally, they both fell, forty eight feet it is said, and Benjamin escaped in spite of his injuries.  He was very lucky to survive.

Here is the newspaper account, with all the graphic details, from the Eastern Herald, August, 30, 1794:

On Monday the 18th inst about the middle of the day, Benjamin Foster, a young man about 19 years old, was travelling though a piece of woods in Bridgton, when on a sudden he was alarmed by the growling, or rather snarling of a bear, upon which he discovered her, and two or three cubs.  The old one making towards him in the road, growling, he immediately took to the nearest tree, which happened to be a small hemlock about 8 or 9 inches through at the butt, and about 20 feet to the first limbs.  He ascended the tree with as much speed as possible.  As soon as he reached the lowest limbs, he called for help to a man who lived about a quarter of a mile from him, upon which the bear retreating from the tree, set up a hideous yell.  She then returned to the tree with great fury and climbed up nearly to the first limbs, but losing her hold, fell to the ground.  Enraged at this, she made up the tree a second time, about 30 feet, till she came to the young man, and taking off one of his shoes, fell again.  She immediately recovered, and with greater rage than ever, ascended the tree till she came to the young man and took off his other shoe.  He endeavored to make up the tree as fast as possible, calling for help, with the voracious animal at his heels, one of which she several times seized; but he forced it out of he jaws by leaping up the tree.  At length she took such violent hold of him that he fell to the roots of the tree, and the bear immediately after him on the other side.  The young man, notwithstanding one of his heels and feet were torn and mangled, and his ankle wounded, happily made his escape. 
The height from which he fell, has since been found to be forty eight feet.

Third Great Grandparents Emery and Ellen Glidden Part 1: Emery's Childhood

On April 9, 1833, in a farmhouse in Whitefield, Maine, my 3rd great grandfather Emery A. Glidden was born to Isaac and Hannah (Turner) Glidden. Isaac had purchased the farm from his father Charles in March of 1830, a couple of months before he married Hannah Turner on May 8, 1830. The deed says, “Charles Glidden of Whitefield, Me. for love and natural affection sells Isaac Glidden of Whitefield, 78 acres partly in Whitefield and partly in Alna.” The farmhouse was one and a half stories, and there were two barns and other outbuildings. About 1832, Isaac and Hannah had a daughter whom they named Clara, so she was about a year old when Emery was born.

The villages closest to the Glidden farm were King's Mills to the north in Whitefield, Puddle Dock to the south in Alna, and Head Tide, shortened from the original "Head of the Tide" so called because it was the furthest inland from the ocean that the tide came up the Sheepscot River. Further to the south was the village of Sheepscot, part of it in Alna, and part of it across the Sheepscot River in Newcastle. In the maps below, the red is Whitecastle and the green Alna. The Isaac Glidden farm was located right near the border of the towns and is marked "I. Glidden". 

Map of Whitefield, Alna and Newcastle in 1857

Emery's ancestors had played a part in settling these villages several generations earlier. His 2nd great grandfather Charles Glidden first came in 1752 and lived in a farm at the head of the Damariscotta River, later moving to live along the Sheepscot River and become one of the first proprietors of Ballstown which is now divided into the towns of Whitefield and Jefferson. His 2nd great grandfather Israel Averell was one of the first settlers in Pownalborough (now Alna, Newcastle and Wiscasset). Israel's brother Job operated a ferry across the Sheepscot River near where the bridge now crosses the river in the village of Sheepscot. He charged each person four "coppers" to cross the river on his ferry. Another 2nd great grandfather John Plummer settled in the area which became the village of Head Tide. His sons John and David Plummer purchased several hundred acres of land along the river, and built the first sawmill in the area. In the late 1700’s the Methodist preacher, Jesse Lee was traveling through Maine preaching in various communities. The History of Methodism in Maine gives details of Lee’s travels in December 1794 and says, “Mr. Lee went on to John Plummer's in New Milford [original name for Alna] and was kindly entertained. The day following he preached at Mr. Plummer's; some wept freely.” This John Plummer could have been either Emery's 2nd great grandfather or his great granduncle who was also named John. Very interesting in light of the fact that later in his life, Emery became a Methodist minister. Below is the John Plummer house in Alna. Again not sure which John Plummer built it, but perhaps this is where Jesse Lee was "kindly entertained".

When Emery was born, it was just 50 years since the Unites States had won its independence from Great Britain. At least three of his four great grandfathers had served in the Revolutionary war. Maine had just become a state 13 years previously as part of the controversial Missouri Compromise to keep the number of slave and free states evenly balanced. The year before Emery's birth, Andrew Jackson, serving as the seventh president of the United States, had vetoed a bill to recharter the Second Bank of the United States amidst much party contention. Locally, the papers were bristling with charges of gerrymandering as Newcastle and Alna had only one state representative while the population of Newcastle was large enough to have its own representative.  
The pulpit in the Alna Meetinghouse

The first church in the area was the Alna meetinghouse built in 1789. It was Congregational (Puritan) as were most churches in the early years of New England, and likely Emery's ancestors attended this church. The name of Averill is seen often in the church records. Then in the early 1800’s the Second Great Awakening resulted in the growth of Baptist and Methodist churches throughout the United States, and in 1828, five years before Emery was born, the King’s Mills Baptist Church was organized in Whitefield.  Sometime later when Emery was a young man, his uncle Charles P. Glidden became the third pastor of this church. In 1832, the Methodists organized a circuit which included Alna. In 1838, when Emery was 5 years old, two additional churches were built in Alna: a Congregational church in Head Tide, and a Baptist church in Puddle Dock called the Newcastle-Alna Baptist Church.  Since Emery’s uncle pastored the King’s Mills Baptist church, and Emery was later married by the minister of the Baptist church in Puddle Dock, it is very possible that Emery's family attended these two churches while he was growing up.  

Newcastle-Alna Baptist Church

In 1842 and 1844, two more children, Isaac and Nancy, were born to Isaac and Hannah. It appears that sometime between 1840 and 1850, when Emery was between the ages of 7 and 17, his father bought a farmhouse in the Puddle Dock area of Alna, and the family moved there to live although Isaac still owned the house in Whitefield. There was a one room schoolhouse in Puddle Dock that Emery would have attended. In fact, a one room schoolhouse was still in use in the same location until the 1960's although it was rebuilt some years after Emery went there.

Puddle Dock schoolhouse

In addition to attending school, Emery was also began working with his father as a carpenter building ships in his teen years. There were at least two ship yards in Puddle Dock so likely Emery and his father worked at one of them.  Many, many small craft of less than 200 tons were built in Alna in the 1800's, but several larger ships were also built ranging from the 318.6 ton bark Eureka in 1849 to the 1194.4 ton ship King Philip in 1856. The King Philip was wrecked off the coast of California near San Francisco, and the remains can still be seen in the sand. Click her for more about the King Philip and photo of the wreck.

In November of 1850, when Emery was 17 years old, his mother Hannah died at age 43. She and Isaac had been married for a little over 20 years, and their children ranged in age from 18 years to 6 years. A little over a year later, on Jan 1, 1852, Isaac married Harriet Palmer.

US Census, Alna, 1850

Emery's sister Nancy appears in the 1850 Census, age 6 and attending school, but I have found no further record of her. Perhaps she died young. Looking at the obituaries in the newspaper from the time period, so many of the deaths are children. The first known doctor in Alna began his practice in 1836, three years after Emery was born, and likely it was even longer before Whitefield had a doctor. The nearest doctor lived in Wiscasset only 8 miles away, but it would have taken close to an hour to get to Wiscasset on horseback to let the doctor know he was needed. Even after there was a doctor in town, there was often very little they could do.

From The Age, June 5, 1833

Today, Alna is a very small, quiet town that does not appear to have changed much since the 1830's. There are many old houses, churches and schoolhouses still in existence and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Other than the telephone poles and paved roads (although there are plenty of dirt roads still!), the area seems largely untouched. On the other hand, when Emery was born, the now wooded hills of would have been cleared for farmland. The little villages located along the Sheepscot River which winds its way through the area would have had many mills including saw mills where logs were cut for the nearby ship yards where many craft were built. Head Tide alone had six water wheels on the river. There were one or two ship yards in each of the villages of Head Tide, Puddle Dock and Sheepscot. The villages must have bustled with activity. Now there is not a mill or a ship yard left, all having rotted away or burned many years ago.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Patriot vs. Loyalist

On the morning of September 23, 1780, three American militiamen stopped a man near Tarrytown, New York. Upon searching him, they found documents hidden in his stockings. He tried to bribe them, but they refused the bribe and took him to the American army headquarters. The man turned out to be Major John Andre, head of the British Secret Service, returning from visiting Benedict Arnold at West Point, where they had been plotting the surrender of West Point to the British.

The three militiamen were John Paulding, Isaac Van Wart, and David Williams. If they had not captured Andre that morning and the British had gained control of West Point and the Hudson River, the Revolutionary war could have turned out very differently.

The surnames of two of the militiamen interested me: Van Wart and Williams.  These surnames appear in my family tree, but in both cases, my ancestors with these surnames were loyalists.

I haven’t been able to connect my Williams line with David Williams yet, but my fifth great grandfather Jacob Van Wart was a second cousin to Isaac Van Wart.  Initially Jacob was an officer in the American army, but after about a year, he joined the British army.  In the claim that Jacob made to the British government after the war, he said that “before he came in he had harbored Torys [loyalists] and the rebels distressed him for it.”

For me, this story brought to life how families were divided by the war!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Wednesday's Child: Only Daughter of David Lowell

The following article caught my attention while I was searching for news about Alna, Maine, where an ancestor I was researching was born in the 1830's.

From the Eastern Argus, Tuesday, May 17, 1836:
Distressing.  The only daughter of Mr. David Lowell of Alna - a child about 12 years of age - was accidentally drowned in a pond near her father's house, on Sunday last.  She was seated on a small raft with her brother, which began to float from the shore, when they became frightened and the boy jumped off and succeeded in reaching the shore. The little girl also jumped off but not before she floated out to deep water, and was lost.  Her body had not been found on Tuesday.

I wondered if I could discover the girl's first name, or any other information related to her death.  When searching for "David Lowell", I found the following in the section labeled "DIED" in the Portland Advertiser, Tuesday, March 15 1836:
In Alna, Mrs. Pamelia, wife of Mr. David Lowell, aged 41.
So most likely the only daughter of David Lowell had lost her mother only two months prior to her own death.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Charles Pine: Adventure and Tragedy

In 1702, seven men settled in the area of Scarborough, Maine.  They came from the Massachusetts colony, in a sloop said to be owned by a young man named Charles Pine.  Charles was known as reckless and daring, and was a skilled hunter.

It required some daring to come and settle in Scarborough at that time, for it had been settled many years before, only to be abandoned in 1690 during King William's War.  The town of Falmouth (now Portland) was attacked and destroyed by the French and Indians, and the settlers in Scarborough and other surrounding areas fled.  The whole area had lain deserted for the next twelve years.

Even now as Charles Pine and others came to resettle the area, Queen Anne's War was beginning, and hostilities with the Indians continued.  The settlers lived in garrison houses for protection, and about a year after they arrived, the small group was beseiged by a large group of Indians.  From what I can understand from "The Settlement of Scarborough: Charles Pine, Hunter and Indian Fighter" by Augustus Moulton, the Indians got into an area protected from the gunfire of the settlers, and were digging to undermine the garrison when a violent rainstorm caused the Indians to abandon their effort.

There are other stories about Charles and his encounters with the Indians.  How much truth there is in the legends it is impossible to tell, but one story says he went alone one evening with two muskets to a deserted house about three miles from the garrison.  It was known that the Indians often met here, and when they arrived that night, Charles fired at them killing two.  The rest did not wait to find out what was happening, but quickly disappeared into the darkness.

Charles Pine became known as a hero for his part in settling Scarborough, ME, and the area where he originally settled became known as Pine Point.  It was not named for the many pine trees in this area as I had always assumed.

Charles Pine married a young woman named Grace, and they had 5 children, Charles Jr., George, Isaac, Mary and Grace.  Charles Jr. seems to have disappeared, or gone away and his family never heard from him again.  In his father's will, it says "I give unto my son Charles Pine, (if living) the sum of five shillings."  Again a legend grew out of this occurrence.  The story is that Charles Sr. came from a wealthy family in England, and that sums of money were sent to him each year, and that this explains why he became so prosperous.  It is also said that Charles Jr. went to England to accept the large inheritance that his father had rejected, but never returned.  

The lives of three of the other five children also came to early or tragic ends.  George died only a couple years after he married, and Isaac drowned when still a youth.  The daughter Mary came to a very tragic end.  She married William Deering in 1732.  In 1749, just a couple months after the birth of their last child, she was murdered by her husband who struck her on the head with an ax.  William was sentenced to be hanged, but escaped from the gaol in York and was not recaptured.  It is said that Charles Pine refused to help in bringing William to justice, saying, "It will not bring Mary back again, and will break up the family of children."

From a letter to the sheriff at York which shows William Deering was held at the old Gaol in York, ME, which is still standing today:
We command you therefore that on Thursday the third Day of
August next, between the Hours of one and five of the Clock in
the afternoon, you cause the said William Dearing to be carried
from our Goal in York aforesd (where he is now under your
custody) to the usual place of Execution in our said County, and
there be hanged up by the Neck until his body be
Boston the seventh Day of July in the twenty third year...1749
Boston Independent Advertiser, July 17, 1749

The gaol at York, ME.  The original structure was smaller, the stone part.  The wooden part was added later.

Charles Pine's fifth child, a daughter Grace named after her mother, is my 7th great grandmother.  She married John Runnels (or Reynolds, the name is spelled many different ways in different records).  They had eight children, including a daughter Hannah who married Daniel Merrill.  The Merrill line comes down to my 3rd great grandmother Betsey Merrill who married Lemuel Coolbroth.

Charles died in 1753, and is buried alone near Broadturn Road where it crosses the Nonesuch River.  There were two marker rocks but no inscriptions.  I wonder if the grave is still there, marked in any way, or if development has overtaken the spot.  Something I will have to look for soon.  His wife Grace was the first burial in the Dunstan Cemetery.

Monday, January 2, 2017

A Chocolate Factory

I love chocolate, so I was interested to discover recently that a fifth great grand uncle named Gideon Foster was a chocolate manufacturer.

Gideon lived from 1748 to 1845 in Danvers, Massachusetts.  He actually had grist and bark mills as well as a chocolate mill.  He was a skilled mechanic, and planned and built all the machinery used in his mills.  He began manufacturing chocolate about 1780, and, therefore, was a competitor of Baker's Chocolate which was founded the same year.

The chocolate that he manufactured was not like the creamy, smooth chocolate bars we eat today.  It would have been much grittier.  At that time, people would have melted it, and made hot chocolate to drink - a much thicker drink tasting more intensely of chocolate than the hot chocolate we make from chocolate powder today.  Sounds good to me!  You can actually watch how chocolate was manufactured at that time (and sample it) at Captain Jackson's Historic Chocolate Shop in Boston.

In 1806, Gideon Foster sold some chocolate to Luke Baldwin & Company in Boston that was found to be weighed incorrectly, the result of "the loss of a wire from a Scale Beam."

Boston Commercial Gazette, March 24, 1806

In March of 1822, a fire broke out late at night that destroyed some of Gideon Foster's mills.  This was not the first time fire had destroyed his mills.  Some sources says it was the second time, some say it was the third.  In any case, he was now about 72 years old, had lost a large quantity of chocolate as well as $6000 worth of property and equipment.  He was not insured, and decided not to rebuild again.  Some of his grist and bark mills were still in operation, and were advertised for sale about a year and a half later in November of 1823.  

Salem Gazette, March 24, 1822

A sad end for the chocolate factory!

Gideon Foster, chocolate manufacturer in green, brother to Acel Foster with line to my grandfather

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Did I Find the Horse Thief In My Family Tree?

My grandmother used to kid to me to be careful about searching for my ancestors because I might find a horse thief somewhere on the family tree.

Recently I found this paragraph in the Portland Advertiser, May 7, 1825.

Glidden!  Had I run across the dreaded horse thief in my family tree?  I continued searching and found a few articles with more details.  A man calling himself James Fitch was arrested in Palmyra, ME, for passing counterfeit quarters.  It was then discovered that the horse he was riding was stolen from Mr. Longfellow of Wiscasset.  He also said he had been hired on a pirate ship, not knowing what it was until it was out to sea.  After his trial, he made his escape by knocking over the constable.  He was described as wearing "black fulled cloth pantaloons and coat, black handerchief, white stockings and calf-skin shoes".

So was this man's name Glidden or was it really Fitch as he claimed?  All I could glean from the articles was that it was thought his real name might be Glidden because of some papers he had.  Then I found an article in the Thomaston Register, May 26, 1825, which describes the trial of a James Fitch from the town of Washington. ME, for breaking into a store, and for stealing the horse of Mr. Longfellow of Dresden (a town next to Wiscasset as originally reported).  At his trial, he feigned insanity, and evidence was produced that he had done so before afterwards boasting about the success of his scheme.  There is no more mention that his real name is Glidden in this article, and in the 1830 Census, a James Fitch is included in a long list of other men in Thomaston, ME, the location of the state prison from 1824 to 2002.  So it appears his name really was James Fitch, and I won't be adding him into my family tree.  

Can't say I'm disappointed!