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!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

The Abandoned Settlement of Jerusalem in Vermont

When visiting Maple Hill in Marshfield, Vermont, my mother remembers her mother pointing down one of the dirt roads and saying that's where "old Jerusalem" was located.  What was "old Jerusalem", and why did it interest my grandmother?  Was it just the thought of abandoned farmhouses that intrigued her or did it have some significance in her family history?

While searching through old Vermont newspapers, I found an article entitled "Abandoned" Farms in Marshfield in the Argus And Patriot, November 27, 1899.  It told how a hill in Marshfield was struck by lightening many years ago, and the timber was burned off about half of the hill.  After the fire, it was called "The Lord's Hill".  Beginning around 1821 or 1822, some families came from New Hampshire and began settling a little south and east of the hill.  This settlement was called Jerusalem.  There were a list of settlers in the article, but two names grabbed my attention: John and Robert Spencer.

Robert Spencer, my fourth great grandfather, was born May 29, 1775, in Keene, New Hampshire to Robert and Hannah Spencer.  He had a brother named John who appears in Harris Gore, Vermont, in the 1850 Census.  Harris Gore was an area that was annexed to Plainfield in 1855.  So it seems that Robert and John Spencer came from New Hampshire to the settlement that was known as Jerusalem!  

Robert had two children by his first wife Hannah: Bishop and Hannah, my third great grandmother.  (Too many Hannah's!)  A story I have not yet been able to verify says that Robert's wife Hannah died while giving birth her daughter Hannah, and that the two children were adopted by their uncle John and his wife Persis.  Robert married a second time and had at least 4 children by his second wife Eunice.  Bishop and Hannah would have been about 20 and 17 when the brothers Robert and John Spencer settled in Jerusalem.  I have little other information about Robert except that he died in Marshfield in September 1, 1825.  So Robert actually died within a few years of settling in Jerusalem.

North Star, Sep 27, 1825

The settlement in Jerusalem did not last long.  After a few years, the rocky soil was not producing enough crops, and before 1850, less than 30 years after families began arriving, every family had left.  Over seventy years later when my grandmother was born on nearby Maple Hill, probably there was nothing left of Jerusalem except cellar holes lost in the woods.

Today if you drive down the dirt road (Laird Pond Road) that my grandmother pointed out, you will come to place where the road divides.  There the sign points out an even narrower dirt road: Jerusalem Road, dead end.  The road passes through shaded woods emerging from time to time in sunny meadows where butterflies are plentiful.  There are stone walls, lots of wildflowers and some beautiful pink roses - are they wild, too, or did someone plant them in front of their farmhouse long ago?  It's fun to imagine anyhow.  

You will only pass a couple houses, and if you meet a pickup truck coming the other way, one of you will have to backup until you reach a spot where you can pull over.  If you open your window and ask the driver of the pickup how much further the road goes, he will tell you that you had better turn around now while you can because further on it gets pretty bad and you might not be able to.  At least, that is my experience including the pickup truck jokester!

But think about what it must have been like in the early 1800's for the settlers in Jerusalem.  First, no road.  Then a path where the families walked, or drove a horse and wagon to town for supplies, muddy in the spring and snow-covered in the winter.  Probably there were many times the road was not passable.  


Saturday, July 30, 2016

Jewett Williams, Civil War Veteran

This morning there was an article in the Portland Press Herald about a Civil War veteran named Jewett Williams who died in Oregon in 1922, and is being returned to Maine starting this week for burial with full military honors in Togus National Cemetery on Sept 17.  The name meant nothing to me until I read that he was born in Hodgdon, Maine.  My fourth great grandparents were William and Mary Ann Williams who came from New Brunswick, Canada and settled in Hodgdon, Maine.  Was Jewett Williams related?

Looking in my family tree database, I found a Jewett Williams, a grandson to William and Mary Ann Williams, and first cousin to my great great grandmother Bertha Howard Glidden.  But I knew next to nothing about him.  All I had entered was that Jared and Rosaline Williams had a child about 1843 whose name might be Jewett or Jannett.

Now I was reading the story of his life in the newspaper.  Jewett Williams served as a private in the 20th Maine Volunteer Regiment during the last six months of the Civil War.  This regiment was at Little Round Top during the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863.  

After the war, Jewett Williams moved west.  More details of his life can be read in the newspaper articles, but sadly in April 1922 at age 78, he was admitted to Oregon State Hospital for the Insane with senile dementia.  He died a couple months later, was cremated and his ashes put on a shelf with other unclaimed cremated remains at the hospital.  There they lay forgotten for close to a century.  

Newspaper articles:

Monday, July 4, 2016

The Johnson and Coolbroth Families and the Great Fire of 1866

One hundred and fifty years ago on July 4, 1866, Portland, Maine, had a busy day planned with the biggest fireworks display ever to occur in the evening.  But around 5 p.m., two boys were playing with firecrackers in a boatyard on Commercial Street.  One of them tossed a firecracker into a pile of wood shavings, and it ignited a fire.  It had been a dry spring, and the fire soon raged out of control.  By the next morning, when the fire finally died out, one third of the city had been destroyed.  Ten thousand people were homeless, and over 1500 buildings were gone.  Losses were estimated at $10 million or what would be over $240 million today.

How did the fire affect my ancestors living in Portland at that time?

Background on Coolbroth and Johnson Families

Sometime before 1850, two separate families moved to Portland.  Probably the first to move there was the family of Lemuel and Betsey Merrill Coolbroth, my third great grandparents.  Lemuel and Betsey were married in Saco in 1834 when they were about 21 and 19.  A son Elbridge was born in Portland in 1839 so I assume they had moved to Portland sometime prior to that.  Lemuel worked for the Portland, Saco & Portsmouth Railroad helping to construct the railroad before it began operation in 1842.  They had at least 10 children.  A son named Edwin, my second great grandfather, was born in Portland in 1850.

The Coolbroth household in 1860, six years before the fire, consisted of Lemuel age 47, Betsey 45, Elbridge 20, Martha 15, Frances 12, Edwin 10, Charles 7, Alice 4, and Annie 8 months.  Six years later on the day of the fire, most likely all of these children were still in the household as Martha and Frances were not yet married on July 4, 1866.  Edwin would now have been 16 years old.  Perhaps Elbridge was no longer at home as at some point before 1870, he moved to Pennsylvania.  There were two older children George and Mary who were both married by 1866 and living in homes nearby, and another daughter Hannah had died in 1857 of  "consumption".

In 1858, the family lived on Beach Street near the waterfront.  The house no longer exists, and it looks like it may have been in an area which later was demolished for a ramp to the Million Dollar Bridge.  Ironically, I found one record of their home on Beach Street in the city's financial report in an Appendix entitled, "Fires and Alarms Since March 11, 1858" with cause being "incendiary", and damage worth $160.  They were still living at 6 Beach Street in 1871 after the great fire according to the Portland City Directory.

The second family to move to Portland was Daniel Fiske and Mary Nason Johnson, also third great grandparents, with their two young sons Newell and Charles.  Daniel grew up in Limington, and Mary was from Hollis.  They had married in 1841 when Daniel was about 26 and Mary probably a few months older.  Daniel was a carpenter, so perhaps he moved his family to Portland hoping to expand his carpentry business.  Their third and last son Daniel, my second great grandfather, was born in Portland in 1848.

The Johnson household in 1860 consisted of Daniel age 45, Mary 45, Newell 17, and Daniel 12.  Charles died in 1858 at about age 13 of "dropsy on the brain."  Newell married Mary Dyer in 1865, and they were living with Mary's parents in 1870.  So likely the Johnson house hold consisted only of Daniel, Mary and their 18 year old son Daniel Junior by 1866.  They lived on 73 Brackett Street in the western area of Portland a few blocks north of the Coolbroth home.

The Celebration

The 4th was going to be a very busy day.  Extra trains were scheduled to bring visitors from towns around Maine to Portland in the morning.  Perhaps Lemuel Coolbroth had extra duties to perform for the Portland, Saco, & Portsmouth Railroad that day.  The events were detailed in the newspaper.

     The following is a recapitulation of the events of tomorrow.  The Fantastics will be out in great strength and will commence their march between 8 and 9 o'clock in the morning, moving through the principal streets.
     During the forenoon there will be an old fashioned military training.  This will be a sight well worth seeing.
     At 12 o'clock the grand ballon ascension will be made by Messrs Starkweather & Sever, from the Deering pasture.  A grand opportunity will be afforded the tens of thousands to witness the process of inflating the balloon, and of seeing the ascension.
     In the afternoon there will be a game of base ball, between the Lowell nine of Boston and the Eon club of this city.
     A grand trotting match for match for a purse of $250 offered by the proprietor of Forest City Trotting Park,  will come off a 3 o'clock in the afternoon.
     The display of fireworks to come off in the evening will be the most brilliant ever exhibited in this State.  It will take place in Deering pasture, which is the best place in the city for such a purpose, as the rising grounds afford every one an opportunity to witness the display, and be without the reach of danger.
     The great Caravan and Menagerie will give three exhibitions affording people from the country an opportunity to see the wonderful hippopotamus, elephants and other animals, and to witness some of the best equestrian exercise.
                                                                                   - Daily Eastern Argus, July 3, 1866

As the afternoon came to a close, the excitement to see the grandest display of fireworks ever in the state must have been growing.  But about 5 p.m., a man ran along Commercial Street shouting, "Fire".  Word was passed along until it reached those near a church on Park Street, and the bells were rung to alert the firemen. At first, people were not worried as the city's new horse-drawn steam engines hurried to the fire.  There had already been two fires put out that day.  But a strong southwesterly wind had been growing during the afternoon, and it fanned the flames so they quickly spread to a nearby building, and then to more buildings.  The firefighters were soon overwhelmed.  There was great confusion as people hurried here and there trying to find missing family members or to save what they could from houses before the fire reached them.  Chickens, pigs and other livestock ran squawking and squealing through the streets.  

By 10 p.m., the fire had spread to the area near Middle and Market Streets.  The sun had set, but the city was lit by the orange glow of fire that could be as seen 135 miles away in Jonesport, ME.  It made a great roaring noise that could be heard all over the city.  In addition, there was the frequent crash of collapsing buildings.     

The Coolbroth and Johnson homes were about one third of a mile to south and west of Commercial Street where the fire started.  Although the wind was moving the fire to the northeast away from their homes, there was the possibility that the wind could change direction.  I can imagine the terror the two families must have felt.  Did they sleep that night?  I imagine not.  The men and teenage boys were probably out to see what was happening and how they could help fight the fire.  Betsey Coolbroth had young children, Alice age 10 and Annie age 6 so likely they stayed in their home.  How anxious she must have felt as she comforted them and waited for the news her husband Lemuel and son Edwin would bring.        

Over fifteen hours after it started, the fire finally began dying out in the early hours of July 5th on Munjoy Hill.  (Zoom out or pull down on the map down to see the marker.)  Sometime that day, a group of men dumped the fireworks that were to have been the grand 4th of July display into the Fore River.  No one would wish to see those fireworks now.  They were worrying about what they would eat and where they would live.

The walls of the City Hall built only a few years before 1866 (the current City Hall is on the same site).

Food being distributed. This is now Monument Square, the Portland Public Library to the left. Harper's Weekly, July 28, 1866
Tents from the Civil War were donated.  Harper's Weekly, July 28, 1866
More photos before and after the fire

The next few years as the city was rebuilt must have been busy ones for Daniel Johnson and his son Daniel as carpenters.  According to Early Families of Limington, Maine, Daniel Johnson was a "well-known" carpenter.  In 1873, his business was flourishing for he was hiring six carpenters.  I wish I knew more about what homes he built.  Did he build any before 1866 that were destroyed in the fire?  What did he build after the fire?

Portland Daily Press, July 16, 1873

Lemuel Coolbroth would have been busy working for the railroad, too.  Donations of food, clothing, building materials and other supplies would soon have been arriving, many of them sent by train.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Third Great Grandfather Henry Shorey in the Civil War Part 1: Enlisting

On October 4, 1861, a young man named Henry P. Shorey, a shoemaker by trade, enlisted in the 10th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment at Portland, Maine.  He joined Company I under Captain Ferbish, 2d Co. Portland Rifle Guards for a term of two years.  Henry was 25 years old, and would be leaving behind his wife, Harriet age 23 and four small children: Lilla 6, Huldah 5, Albert 3, and Viola 21 months.

The thousand causes for the war in which you and I were soldiers, need no mention here.  Few of us expected it, none desired it, and all were unprepared.  Day by day through the winter of 1860-61 we trusted that "something would turn up" to harmonize the North and South, and in this quiet trust we kept about our business till the startling news of Saturday, April 13th.  Every one remembers what a day of agony and gloom that was.  The Sabbath brought us news of the fall of Fort Sumter.
                                          - From The History of the First-Tenth-Twenty-ninth Maine Regiment

The Civil War began in April 1861 with the fall of Fort Sumter to the Confederates.  In July, the Confederates under Stonewall Jackson forced the Union army to retreat toward Washington, D.C., in the First Battle of Bull Run at Manassas, Virginia.  President Abraham Lincoln was calling for more recruits as the North's hopes of a quick victory faded.

These were the circumstances that led Henry Shorey to enlist the in 10th Maine, a volunteer regiment.  Just two days after he enlisted, on Sunday, October 6th, the 10th Maine was ordered to begin travelling to Baltimore.  The order came unexpectedly so I doubt any of his family could have been there to say goodbye.  His parents as well as his wife and children lived in Wells.  That doesn't seem far from Portland nowadays, but with a horse and wagon, it would have been a long ride.  Henry couldn't call them on a telephone to let them know he was leaving either.  Probably his family didn't even hear about it until they saw the news in a newspaper or received a letter!

When they left, the soldiers had not yet received any arms.  Neither had they received rubber blankets.  It was raining, and they were soon drenched as they stood waiting to board the train in Portland.  At Fall River, Massachusetts, they embarked on the steamer, State of Maine, for Long Island, New York.  During the two day voyage, they encountered very rough weather, and Howard Griffin of Company H was lost overboard and drowned.  According to The History of the First-Tenth-Twenty-ninth Maine Regiment, it was not known whether Howard Griffin fell or jumped.  Various newspapers give different accounts with some seeming to indicate he was ill and delirious, and it was an accident, while others say he was deranged and jumped.  In any case, the tragedy "cast a profound gloom" over the regiment.

A melancholy accident occurred while the regiment were on their way to New York in the steamboat, resulting in the death of H. S. Griffin, a private in Company H, Capt. Emerson.  It appears that Griffin was a little delirious the night before, and as the State of Maine was coming up the harbor yesterday the unfortunate man accidentally fell overboard.  Every exertion was made to rescue him from a watery grave without accomplishing the desired result.  Deceased was a native of New Gloucester, Me., and quite a young man.
                                                                                      - New York Herald, Oct 8, 1861

On Monday morning, while the steamer State of Maine was on her way from Fall River to New York, and when about fifty miles from thence, a member of the 10th Maine regiment, which was on board, jumped over the side and was drowned.  The body was not recovered, although Capt. Nye sprang in after him in order to rescue the unfortunate man.  His name was Howard S. Griffin, of Company H.  He was a resident of New Gloucester.  It is believed he was slightly deranged.
                                                                                       - Boston Traveler, Oct 9, 1861

 From New York, the regiment traveled to Philadelphia, and then on to Baltimore by train, arriving the evening of October 8.  It had taken them three days to travel from Portland to Baltimore, where they spent the night in the depot.  Some of the men went into the city and "came back to the depot very drunk and noisy, but most of the men behaved like gentlemen."  The next morning, they marched to Patterson Park in Baltimore where they would camp, and receive training while they awaited further orders.

While in Patterson Park, they were kept busy drilling every day.  They were also visited by the people of Baltimore, and the regiment's band, called the Chandler's band, provided music.  The Chandler's band, originally called the Portland Band, was started in 1833, is still in existence today and is believed to be the nation’s second oldest professional band.  History of Chandler's Band

Soon after the 10th Maine arrived in Baltimore, the weather turned colder, and the men had to deal with the problem of keeping warm at night in their tents.  They huddled together "spoon-fashion" in each tent.  This kept men in the middle quite warm, but the men on the ends had to wind their clothes and even the tent bag around themselves to keep warm.  In spite of these circumstances, there was very little sickness during the stay in Baltimore.

And so, Henry Shorey and the other men of the 10th Maine awaited the orders that would bring them more actively into the war.


1.  The History of the First-Tenth-Twenty-ninth Maine Regiment by Major John M. Gould