5 January 2006
Last week, I included an excerpt from a booklet that was published to advertise Bennett’s Tavern in Gilead. Another page included a write up about the owner, John W. Bennett. It stated that he was “Gilead’s Born Leader.” The article is quite long so the following is a few paragraphs taken from the beginning about his mills that he owned, and next week will be the rest of the article that tells about his other business interests in Gilead. "Mr. John W. Bennett, the head, center and end of business in Gilead, is this season putting in, directly and indirectly, some 4000 cords of white birch for manufacturing spool strips and dowels. Mr. Bennett owns and operates a large mill at Gilead. This mill is what was formerly the mill of the American Bobbin, Spool and Shuttle Company. Mr. Bennett losing his mill by fire some five years ago, leased this mill for some time and purchased it two years ago, since which time he has repaired and equipped it into first class condition.""Besides this mill, Mr. Bennett operates a small mill on Wight’s brook, in Gilead. This mill is located near the timber tracts that supply it with its material. Mr. Bennett manages and controls the output of a mill in Shelburne, NH, a few miles from Gilead. This mill is operated by Hubbard Bros., but Mr. Bennett buys its supply and virtually runs the business. This mill manufactures some 1200 cords of birch during the season. Besides his extensive birch business, Mr. Bennett manufactures a number of hundred cords of hard wood into staves." "Mr. Bennett keeps a number of teams employed throughout the season in the woods and about his mills. He has in his stables at Gilead some thirty horses, which he uses in connection with his business. He employs a large number of men during the entire year." "During the twenty-six years, which Mr. Bennett has operated at Gilead he has manufactured from four hundred to forty-four hundred cords of birch, each year, from which fact may be estimated to a certain degree the vast area of growth that then existed. Much of this land is owned by Mr. Bennett but a great deal is the property of farmers who find this timber a ready producer of cash."

12 January 2006
Last week I began the article on John W. Bennett, “Gilead’s Born Leader,” with information on the mills that he owned and operated. The following is taken from the article and tells about his other interests in Gilead.“Mr. Bennett not only conducts this large lumbering and mill business but he also runs a well equipped general store at Gilead and occupies the position of postmaster with the office in his store. He owns a number of farms in the vicinity of Gilead and cuts some 150 tons of hay most of which is consumed by his numerous teams. On Peabody Island, in the Androscoggin River above Gilead, he cuts some seventy tons of hay which is stored in a barn on the island until the river freezes over when it is hauled down the river to Gilead. Mr. Bennett keeps a large herd of swine, having now about forty in the cellars of his stables." "He runs a hotel, well known as 'Bennett’s Tavern,' which is well equipped with modern conveniences, and is highly commended by the traveling public. The prime object of this hotel, however, is for a summer resort, and it has been equipped with that end in view. The location and surrounding scenery, with the many places of interest nearby, and the proximity to the White Mountains, make this place a most desirable sojourn for those seeking rest and quiet. Numberless streams well stocked with trout find their way though the adjacent valleys and offer pleasant inducements to the lover of fishing.""The property of Mr. Bennett makes up quite a part of Gilead village. Two years ago he purchased entire a small village in Shelburne, which had been a mill settlement clustering around ‘Jewett’s mill,’ so called. This settlement consisted of some twelve or fifteen buildings and Mr. Bennett performed the seemingly impossible feat of moving them all down the river upon the ice to Gilead where they were placed in the positions desired by Mr. Bennett, repaired, remodeled and added to until all were in excellent condition and the village nearly doubled in size by this sudden influx of ready-made buildings. One of these buildings was a barn 40 by 75 feet in size. This building was cut into sections before it was moved and now stands in all its glory in its new home. The ‘Tavern’ that now is, was formerly ‘Jewett’s boarding house’ in Shelburne, and the fine store now occupied by Mr. Bennett was only a short time ago serving the same purpose in a smaller degree in the up river settlement. The store has been completely remodeled and a large addition built thereto since it has changed its location." "Mr. Bennett puts in a large supply of ice, filling two ice houses for his own use in his hotel, store and home. He supplies the hotel and trade with fresh meat, nearly all of his own killing."The Bennett’s Tavern was located in the center of town. At this point, Richard and Sue Saunders own the property.

19 January 2006
In a previous column, I used excerpts from The Smile of Providence regarding the Wild River bridges. The following is what was written about the Androscoggin River bridges: “However, crossing the other river in town, the Androscoggin River, was still a large problem. Apparently, judging by the photos, and verbal and written comments, there were quite a few small rowboats belonging to individual farmers. John Wight mentions crossing from their farm on the North Rd. This was done ‘in a large flat bottomed boat that could be rowed and poled.’ There was a 1803 poem about the tragic drowning of most of a young family and friend while returning home in their rowboat.”The book goes on to mention several other means of crossing the river: “the road to the old ford about midway between the Peabody Tavern and the cemetery, . . . George Wheeler, a longtime resident, recalled hearing about a cable car where one person at a time could pull themselves across the river [where iron bridge is now], . . . Upstream near the Shelburne line, a ferry with a road from Route 2 to the river [near present Dan Barnes residence] and on the other side a road from the river to the North Rd.”“There is a story about Deacon Burbank from the North Road, who was crossing the river in a ferryboat, when the rope broke and he and the ferryman started drifting downstream. The ferryman asked the Deacon to stop praying and start paddling.”“Being able to cross on the ice in the winter must have really emphasized the inconvenience, which had to be endured for the rest of the year. Shortly after the Civil War, Gilead decided it wanted to be one town, not two communities on separate sides of the river. In 1872, the two halves of Gilead were joined with the building of a suspension bridge over the Androscoggin River.”The book describes the bridge: “type of construction was selected because . . . easy and inexpensive to build, slightly downstream of present steel bridge . . . tower on each shore, abutments can still be seen, two pair of heavy cables anchored into the ground, wooden roadway was suspended from large cables, a lot of comments about clattering and swaying. These concerns got worse as the suspension bridge aged. Finally, cattle breaking through the floor of the bridge proved it was time to replace the suspension bridge. The replacement, built in 1923, was a steel truss, single span, and one lane wide.”“Once the town was joined together and to other towns on the Wild and Androscoggin Rivers, the population increased, schools and churches were built, intervale farms were built, logging grew rapidly, the railroad came, and life became more complicated.”

26 January 2006
Recently the IRS notified us, that in order to comply with their regulations and be recognized as tax exempt, we need to add two paragraphs to our constitution. They basically agree to comply with IRS regulations for non-profits, and not attempt to affect elections or political campaigns. Our by-laws require that any member be allowed to vote on such an amendment, so any interested members are invited to a meeting, the purpose of which is to vote on these amendments, to be held at Lin Chapman’s house on Saturday, February 11th at 4:00 PM. If anyone has any questions they can call Bill Tout at 836-2900 or contact Lin at 836-2987. Another bit of history on Gilead: Emeline V. Heath was born in Gilead and grew up on “Butternut Farm,” her parents’ home (now owned by Fernand and Beverley Corriveau on the North Road). She became a teacher and moved away to teach in various parts of Maine and worked many years in Boston, MA, but she loved Gilead and returned here when she retired. She liked to write about her life growing up in Gilead and did a great article for the Bethel Historical Society in 1981 that was published in their newsletter, The Bethel Courier. The following is an excerpt from some of the other articles she was working on.“Winters always seemed longer than summers. One of my favorite winter activities was going into the woods with my father and the team. Until about 1919, the team was a pair of oxen. We used the conventional yoke with bows and never the head yoke favored by some. To be used on the highway, the oxen had to be shod as often as necessary to keep their shoes sharp. They were likely to cut their feet by over reaching in deep snow and we used to lace ‘boots’ on their ankles to prevent ‘interfering’ or cutting the inside of one foot when the shoe on the opposite foot passed by.”“My father usually had a couple of men working in the woods and living in a log camp about a mile from the house. I always enjoyed calling on the cook whether it was mealtime or not. I learned a lot about animal tracks, birds, trees, farm and town boundaries, etc., on these little trips.""The trees being cut varied from year to year. About 1921, the price of white pine fell so low we never cut any more of that. At one time, they used to peel the bark off poplar and pile it up to be hauled out when snow came. One year my father had many cords piled along the bank of the Androscoggin when a freshet occurred and carried off about every stick. Fortunately, it was captured in Rumford booms and little was lost."“Going home at night, we could ride on the sled part of the time. The oxen were well trained. On steep downhill portions, a bridle chain would be looped around one of the runners of the rear sled to hold it back. Then it would be left beside the road to be dragged back up on the next trip.”

2 February 2006
It won’t be long before the GHS will start having meetings again and more plans for the June annual event will get underway. Stay tuned to this column for more information. Until then, the following is another excerpt from the writings of Emeline V. Heath. She had many fond memories of her younger days growing up in Gilead. "The sugar season would find my father tapping trees and setting a few hundred buckets. Some years were better than others. There would still be deep snow on some of the roads over which the sap was hauled to the sugar house. When it was running well, the fires were kept going day and night. We used two large steel pans on brick arches with cold sap running into one and being transferred to the other as fast as the second one boiled down. I always enjoyed seeing the pans manipulated. They were very large and had handles on the sides. They had to be off the fire the minute they were empty, or rather the fire had to be drawn before the pan became empty. The final boiling was done on the kitchen stove in a pan the size of the stovetop and watched closely. A thermometer determined when the consistency reached 'eleven pounds per gallon,' and when it was packaged, it was set on a scale and 'topped off' at that weight. My mother had much trouble attaching labels. Nothing would stick on tin cans. She solved it by putting a band of wrapping paper all the way around the can and sticking the label to that. I think the most we ever got per gallon was $3.00. My father made wooden crates the right size for the number of gallons being shipped and it was sent by railway express. In later years the maple trees deteriorated and it did not pay to tap. Some years the season would be very short. I don’t remember the last year. Maybe in the 30’s." "We used the syrup and sugar very freely ourselves. Syrup boiled down very thick and cooled on a pan of snow, or stirred vigorously until it crystallized into soft sugar, was out of the world. The process was known as 'sugaring off' and public parties were held at various places for that purpose in spring."

9 February 2006
Recently, a man from Mexico, Maine, by the name of Gary Coffin stopped by to inquire about the history books that were published by the Gilead Bicentennial Committee and are now being sold by the GHS. He is a descendant of Frank Coffin, who owned Coffin’s Store in Gilead. He gave us a brief history of his family, and will share information that he has about his grandfather, Frank B. Coffin. Just a bit of Gilead history from The Smile of Providence: A History of Gilead, Maine:"The early general store was an important institution in Gilead. It was a meeting place to socialize, conduct business, and catch up on the news and political happenings. Also, the store was a place to barter farm produce for those items that could not be grown on the farm. If money was needed, the general store owner acted as banker and would loan money against very strong collateral, like a woodlot.""It appears the Gilead mill owners ran general stores and boarding houses, as well as mills. Looking at the mill owner’s daily store journals, it appears the mill employees were allowed to charge items until payday. Usually, the post office was in one of the general stores of the correct political party. With the appearance of the automobile, most of the general stores in Gilead had gas pumps out front. When the telephone came along, it was at the general store. The first and only one for a while was at Coffin’s General Store, next to Town Hall."

16 February 2006
The main reason of the meeting of the GHS on Saturday, February 11th, was to add two articles to the Constitution to comply with IRS regulations in order for the GHS to be tax exempt. There were 10 members present at the meeting and 5 who could not attend, but wanted it to be known that they would support adding the necessary articles. If the GHS wanted to be tax exempt, there was no choice in the matter anyway. Those present at the meeting were Hugh and Lin Chapman, George and Danna Nickerson, Randy Bennett, Bill Tout, Norman Buttrick, Catherine McGuire, Celia Ficken and Heide Munro. Those unable to attend were Steve McLain, Beverley Corriveau, Howard and "Stevie" Reiche, and Gale Tout. After the members got the articles taken care of, the annual event set for June 24th was discussed. Heide had a list of ideas that were copied and given out to those present. Other interested members can let me know if they would like a copy of the list. The list should be looked over prior to the March 25th meeting, so we will go over it, add to it and make final decisions for the event.This week’s little bit of area history comes from The Wild River Wilderness by D. B. Wight.The Town of Gilead and Hastings were connected in many ways: “In the year 1885 Leon Leonwood Bean, at the age of thirteen and carrying a borrowed gun, went on his first hunting trip with his cousin, Louvie Swett of South Paris. They took a train to Gilead and then walked up Wild River to Major Hastings’ farm. They stayed there over night and the next morning Leon went out and shot his first deer. He returned year after year, and when the Wild River Lumber Co. abandoned one of its logging camps about four miles up river from Hastings, Leon took over the office for a hunting camp, which he named Dew Drop Inn. Around 1911, he decided that the rubber shoes he was wearing were uncomfortable. This led him to develop the now famous Maine hunting shoe and the establishment of the firm of L. L. Bean, Inc. of Freeport, Maine, which specializes in supplying hunting, fishing and camping equipment to sportsmen and campers all over the world. Although Mr. Bean owned several camps, Dew Drop Inn was the most popular. He was a firm believer in conservation of all fish and game and strict enforcement of all game laws. He felt that by going into the wilderness hunting or fishing, one would forget the mean and petty things of life."

23 February 2006
Hugh and I went to Heritage Day at the Bethel Historical Society this past weekend. We had to go to the Moses Mason House to sample their delicious Indian Pudding. Dr. Stanley Howe, Allan Marcotte, Amy Davis and Annie Hastings were greeting the visitors. I hadn’t seen Annie for a while so we had a chance to have a short visit. A visit to the BHS has to include the Shop in the O’Neil Robinson House. They have several new books since I was last there. I picked up a book on Oxford County. There was also a group of ladies demonstrating crafts. We also got to visit with Danna Nickerson, who was on duty at the Shop with Jean Owen. Danna’s husband, George, had found the missing part for the stereoscope recently acquired by the GHS. Randall Bennett was there, so we got to discuss some Gilead ancestors.Judy Daniels Bishop sent a note to let me know that she and husband, Bob, did not make the recent meeting because of the weather, and to go on record that they were in favor of the articles. She also noted that Bob had sent the address for the Bethel Historical Society website to a friend of hers in Florida and they were enjoying reading about the GHS.This week's little bit of Gilead history was taken from the Lewiston Evening Journal in 1904, that covered the Gilead Centennial. The excerpt comes from the speech made by R. D. Hastings who was master of ceremonies and acted as the marshal of the day. There is a lot of interesting information in this paper and there will be more on the BHS website, so keep checking."Gilead since her incorporation has had born to her many worthy sons and daughters, many of whom have joined the silent majority, some of whom are still in active life, and your committee had hoped up to the eleventh hour that many more were to be with us today, conspicuous among whom is His Honor, Judge Henry Peabody of Portland, one of the judges of the supreme court of the State of Maine, who at the last moment was obliged to decline your committee’s invitation to address you today."

2 March 2006
The next meeting of the GHS will be on March 25th at the Town Hall at 1:00 pm. There will be a discussion of the annual event to be held on June 24th. Members should come with ideas to present and a willingness to participate in the event to make it a great day for everyone.This week’s little bit of Gilead history comes from The Smile of Providence: A History of Gilead, Maine by Howard Reiche, Jr. and Hugh G. Chapman. There is a copy of a poster in the Town Hall and in the book that advertises an event on August 28, 1884 for "General Skating": "After the Gilead Town Hall was built in 1883, it was used for many social functions. In 1884, it was rented to George Robertson and advertised as the Gilead Skating Rink. On opening night, the Bethel band was present ‘and no pains will be spared to make the evening enjoyable.’ There must have been other rinks around because skate rental was 15 cents. However, if you brought your own roller skates, admission was 10 cents." "Apparently, there were weekly dances in Gilead. This is based on the special train, which ran from Hastings to Gilead to carry parties to the dances."

9 March 2006
Another reminder goes out to the members of the meeting to be held on March 25th at the Town Hall at 1:00 pm. This will include a planning session for the upcoming annual event to be held on June 24th. The Spring newsletter should also be completed about that time. There is still space to include a couple of small articles if any of the members would still like to contribute. This week's little bit of Gilead history is again taken from the writing of Emeline V. Heath, who grew up in Gilead. I remember as a child that the hill Emeline speaks of was a great place to slide, but there was a little more traffic, but not anywhere near as much as there is today. “When I first began attending school, during WWI, the school year was shorter and scheduled so that the worst of the winter weather would be vacation time. After the community Christmas tree at the town hall, there was no more school until the last of March. The children in the village enjoyed sliding on the hill between the railroad track and the ‘wire’ bridge, skating on the frog pond which extended nearly the entire length of the big field between the village and the river [Androscoggin], skiing wherever they chose to build a makeshift ski jump, and sundry winter activities. There was no auto traffic and very little log-hauling to interfere with sliding. When the road was icy, the sleds would travel a good distance and with luck, hitch on behind a horse sled for the return trip. Nothing today is quite like standing on the runner of a horse sled, holding [on] to a stake on the side of the load, and gliding over a well-trodden road to the tune of a pair of bells and the squeak of the snow. Some of the drivers were not pleased and others enjoyed the company of the kids. My father hauled wood with a pair of oxen until about 1920. When they were headed towards home, it was usually possible to ride on the sled and control them by voice. Oxen did not wear bells. They did have shoes and sometimes in deep snow they would cut their legs so they wore leather guards, laced on the feet just above the hoofs.”

16 March 2006
Just another reminder of the meeting on March 25th at 1:00 pm at the Town Hall. This week’s bit of history comes from an article written by Daisy Peabody and called “Mountain Days.” It was published in the Bethel Historical Society’s newsletter, The Courier. This is just an excerpt from the article, so to get the rest of the story [see the link at the top of this page]. “Late August days, calm, blue skies overhung with a haze, mildly hinting fall. Still, idle days among the hills, and a party of vacation friends, meeting in this gem of Maine towns, friends of fleeting days—we can scarce say weeks, set about to storm Mt. Washington. By twos and threes we planned the trip. We carried it out, and through the weeks that have since followed, whenever from the busy present I catch a backward glance, it and the pleasant and trifling incidents connected with it, stand clear-cut, a bright summer picture.Like the family of that other little maiden, ours was seven. Mrs. Trowbridge, by right of her quiet dignity and her years, was, from the first, our acknowledged head. Mr. Walter Trowbridge, Mr. Mark Pierce, Mrs. Lovie Burnham, Miss Emma Burnham, Miss May Peabody, and Miss Daisy Peabody—these were the seven. Yes, the weather was warm and most deliciously indolent. Wednesday, the day before, was a melting day. In the morning we searched out the coolest places, and tried in vain to keep cool. Late that afternoon, Emma and her sister drove into the yard on the way to Gorham, for it had been decided that they go up the night before, and the rest of us following in the morning. We wished them the best of luck, and remarking for the hundredth time on the prospect of the weather, said good-bye and saw them go, and we, the remaining five, were to start from Gilead at 5:30 Thursday morning. Trowbridge and his friend went to Bethel, got a double carriage, and somewhere found "Old George."

23 March 2006
There will be a meeting of the GHS on March 25th at 1:00 pm at the Town Hall. Members need to come prepared to discuss the event in June. The Spring newsletter is done and those present at the meeting will have a chance to review it before printing. Again this week's bit of history comes from the writings of Emeline V. Heath, who was a long time resident of Gilead:“My Aunt Alma, who lived with us, sometimes told me about the past. I believe the suspension bridge had not been built when they came, and that was why there was a church on each side of the Androscoggin. She told me how they wore their everyday shoes most of the way to church and then changed to their best shoes before they arrived. A shoemaker drove around the towns taking orders and measurements for shoes, which he then made and delivered. There was a time also when many ladies sewed and made button holes in men’s suits, which also were brought and collected again by a messenger.”

30 March 2006
The GHS met on March 25th to work on plans for the “Friends and Family Day” to be held on June 24th. As time goes on, there will be more information released, so keep watch in this column, the Bethel Historical Society website, and the Bethel Citizen. Some of the current plans are to have a “Kids at Heart” parade, ice cream sundaes, pies and other baked goodies, historical displays in the hall, music under the tent, flea market items, raffles, kids games and assorted vendors. The GHS is looking for anyone who is interested in participating by setting up as a vendor, playing music, baking, donating items for raffles and just plain helping out to plan the event and working that day. The Gilead Fire Dept. is planning on working their magic with a grill and serving up their great food. In the afternoon there will be a historical talk on Gilead and surrounding areas.There were 15 members present at the meeting: Hugh and Lin Chapman, Howard and Stevie Reiche, Randy Bennett, Steve McLain, Celia Ficken, Heide Munro, Beverley Corriveau, Grace Douglass, Bob and Judy Bishop, Perry and Happy Chapman, and Tammy MacDormand.On March 22, Heide Munro and Judy James visited Nancy Lee Snow in Falmouth, Maine. Nancy is the daughter of W. R. Brown and the historian for the Brown Family of Berlin, NH. They looked at old photos of the Gordon family in Georgia. O. B. Brown was married to Caroline Gordon, daughter of Civil War General John B. Gordon. Nancy Lee's grandmother was a sister to Caroline. The Moffat House in Berlin, NH, is compiling information about the Brown family and appreciates any information someone might have. This week’s bit of history comes from me! I guess you couldn’t call it history, but history in the making. The GHS is trying to make history for the Town of Gilead by holding events that someone can look at many years down the road and know what was happening in town in 2006. This is why we plan on working very hard to hold this and other events throughout the year. We can make it possible with the help and support of the citizens of Gilead.

6 April 2006
The members of the GHS are busily working on their assignments for the "Friends and Family Day" to be held on June 24th. There are lots of things to be accomplished before then. They still need volunteers to help before and on the day of the event. They are also looking for vendors to set up, so if anyone is interested, the Society can be contacted at 207-836-2987, at, or by writing to the Gilead Historical Society, 14 Depot Street, Gilead, ME 04217.

13 April 2006
The newsletter is finally done and ready to be mailed out to the members. The feature article is “Gilead Dams and Mills” in the 1800’s. There were several in Gilead and a lot of them relied on the small brooks to bring the logs down off the mountains. A quote from the article goes as follows: “Almost all of the brooks, on both sides of the Androscoggin, had dams and holding ponds. Many of these brooks were small enough to jump across. This was overcome by allowing the pond to fill at night, and then using the water to power a mill during the daytime. Some of these brooks like Lary and Wight’s Brooks had a series of dams and holding ponds which could be released one after another, so as to create a large head of water for log driving.”

20 April 2006
Hugh and I went to Shelburne, NH, recently and visited with Roma Hayes and her husband, Roland. Roma is the granddaughter of Prescott Bennett, who lived in Gilead in the early 1920s on a farm that was located just around the curve on Route 2 heading toward Bethel. She had a few pictures of the buildings. Leon Cranmer, Maine Historic Preservation Commission, is gathering information for another Archaeological Survey and wanted some more pictures and background on the lot.I would also like to remind people to check out the Bethel Historical Society’s website. Besides the Gilead information that Randy Bennett has been putting on there, check out the link titled “The Bethel Journals.” There is lots of great information about the area that has been compiled by Donald Bennett. This weeks bit of history comes from those journals:“March. T. G. Lary and the Richardson boys have nearly one million of spruce on the river. Wild River Lumber Co. is sending away large amounts of long lumber. Saw them loading six cars at the depot in one day. At the town meeting last Saturday it was voted to build a lock-up in the rear of the town hall. J.W. Bennett has returned from his trip west. Skillings mill is shut down for a few days. Walter Davis is running a bolter at J. W. Bennett’s mill.”

27 April 2006
Plans are moving ahead for the "Friends and Family Day" on June 24th. A few of the members who are in charge of certain parts of the event have reported with their progress. It will be interesting to see just what a small group of people can achieve. We are still looking for people to help out on the day of the event and to help us with last minute details in the days preceding June 24th. This weeks little bit of history comes from The Androscoggin River Valley by D. B. Wight: “John T. Peabody persuaded his brother, Caleb, who had learned the tanner trade and for a number of years had operated a tannery in Gilead, to move this business to Gorham. On May 10, 1842, he moved his family consisting of his wife and two boys, Isaac A., four years of age, and John T., one year old. John T. was named for his uncle, John T. Peabody. They took up residence in the first house north of Moose Brook, afterwards occupied by Timothy Hurley. The tannery was set up on the south side of Moose Brook where the Upper Village playground is now. In those days tanning was done with oak bark. Large wooden tanks were sunk in the ground to be used as vats. The hides were soaked in lime water to loosen the hair which was scraped off with hand scrapers. The hides were then packed into the vats in layers with finely crushed hemlock bark between each layer, and then filled with water. The hides were left in this solution for six months or more. There was a good demand for leather, and it increased with the population of the country.”

4 May 2006
We are working on the Friends and Family Day event scheduled for June 24th. We are hoping to have some music for the day and have a couple of people who are planning to come and set up. We are still looking for groups to set up in the hall with display material and vendors who might be interested in selling their wares that day. The GHS can be reached by calling 836-2987 or email with a subject line of GHS.This week’s bit of history again comes from more of the writings of Emeline V. Heath, who was a long time resident of Gilead: “There were six schools in Gilead to which the pupils walked. They had no grades and no required course of study. In summer, attendance was chiefly girls and little boys, for the big boys were needed on the farm. Those who wanted more education and had the means often attended Gould’s Academy, either boarding in private homes or renting rooms and ‘boarding themselves’ with the help of food from home. My Aunt Ida attended Gould’s Academy and taught school a little before her marriage, and my father and some other young men from Gilead attended one or more winters about which I always like to hear stories.”

11 May 2006
Howard Reiche and Hugh Chapman's next project is a booklet on Hastings. There were so many ways that Gilead and Hastings were connected. The booklet will be ready to be sold at the Friends and Family Day on June 24th. It will consist of a brief outline on Hastings and several pictures. Please remember that the GHS is always looking for information or pictures on Gilead and Hastings. Don Katlin stopped by to discuss music for the June event. If he is available that day, he will certainly plan on being there to entertain. There are a couple of other groups who are planning on coming also. More on that at a later date. This week's bit of history is a few facts gathered from different sources on Hastings: In the late 1800’s, the Wild River Lumber Company was formed. The year they put in the railroad, the workers were trying to get it done before winter set in. That Fall the first engine arrived and began running from Gilead to Hastings. There were several buildings on site: store, boarding house, large barn and office for the mill, just to name a few. The post office and blacksmith shop were added later. What happens with the railroad is interesting when you hear stories of the constant difficulties that they had to face to keep it going and see the pictures of the wrecks. This is why the GHS decided to publish a book on Hastings and include some of these stories and pictures.

18 May 2006
Plans are progressing for the Friends and Family Day on June 24th. Howard and Hugh are down to the last few things to do before they complete the booklet on Hastings. There is a meeting this Saturday, May 20th, at 1:00 PM at the Town Hall. This will be a planning meeting for the June event. All members should plan to attend and help finalize last minute details. We still need more vendors to set up, participants for the parade and people to help on June 24th. Call Lin (836-2987) or Bev (836-2032) or email the GHS at for more information. This week's bit of history again comes from the writings of Emeline V. Heath: “The post office was about a mile from the farm, and neighbors often brought mail to each other when they went there. Those who subscribed to weekly newspapers often received them when the neighbor had finished reading it. The R.F.D. did not come until many years later. The telegraph was connected with the railroad, but the telephone finally arrived. A line ran up the North Road as far as the home of A. J. Blake. My father and two neighbors owned their own line with switch to main line at the store and post office in the village.”

25 May 2006
There was a meeting of the GHS on Saturday, May 20th, at the Town Hall. There were 12 members present for the planning meeting focusing on Friends and Family Day. There was a lot accomplished during the couple of hours that we met. Posters will be made up and distributed around the area. The date is Saturday, June 24th, and the location is the Gilead Town Hall. There is going to be a “Kids at Heart” parade at 11:00 AM. “Kids” of all ages are welcome to join in. BoBo, the clown, will be there to be in the parade and entertain the kids. The parade will be on Depot Street. Participants should check in at the Town Hall by 10:30 AM for more details. There will be a tent set up on the Chapman’s lawn for everyone to gather under and visit or listen to music throughout the day. The GHS will be selling baked goods and ice cream sundaes in the Hall after the parade. The GHS is looking for donated baked items and anyone interested in helping out should contact Bev (836-2032) or Lin (836-2987). They will also be doing a 50/50 raffle and tickets are available now and right through to June 24th. The drawing will be in the afternoon on June 24th. At 2:00 PM, Howard Reiche and Hugh Chapman will do a ‘Historical Talk’ on Gilead and Hastings. The new publication “Hastings” by Howard and Hugh will be available for sale. A couple of events that are planned are the Gold Coin Search in the sawdust pile and a Skillet Tossing contest. There will be a little bit for everyone, so keep June 24th open and come to Gilead and help the GHS succeed at their first “Friends and Family Day,” and make it an annual event. Charles McSweeney, owner of Evans Notch Lodge, will be open that weekend and is willing to offer special rates for anyone wanting to come and celebrate with the GHS. Bob and Judy Bishop have already signed up, so call 836-2300 to reserve a spot.This week's bit of history comes from the first publication of the GHS, The Smile of Providence, by Howard Reiche and Hugh Chapman: “Right from the start, hiking and mountain climbing was a major attraction in the Gilead area. In most of the old photos of hikers and climbers, the standard clothing seems to be long skirts and wide brimmed hats for the ladies, with the men decked out in coats, ties, picnic baskets and walking staffs. Many of the original logging roads soon became hiking trails and were extended to the mountaintops. These climbing and hiking trails were increased greatly when the neighboring 33,000-acre Hastings village site, about three times the size of Gilead, was sold to the White Mountain National Forest. Now, hiking and camping are major recreational activities of the whole Gilead and Hastings area.

1 June 2006
Cynthia Handlen, the chairperson of the Beautification Committee, was busy last week. She gathered a crew and planted flowers in the barrels in front of the Town Hall. Cynthia enlisted the help of Hugh Chapman, and Bill and Gale Tout. They also planted some perennials around the trees by Route 2. Plans are coming along nicely for the Friends and Family Day on June 24th. There are a few vendors who have asked to set up and there is always room for more. The Hastings book will be ready in plenty of time for the event. We are taking orders from interested people at this point. Call Lin at 836-2987 or Bev at 836-2032. This weeks bit of history again comes from the writings of Emeline V. Heath as she tells about life on the farm in Gilead where she grew up: “All the children had tasks to do before they could spend their time playing. The girls had knitting to do. A given number of times across or around the article was called a ‘stint’ and to keep track of their progress, they went up that many steps of the stair and came down one each time, until they reached the floor. When they were older, they learned to spin and I was once privileged to see the whole process of converting ‘rolls’ into knitting yarn by spinning on the large spinning wheel. Our family did not have a loom, so I think my aunt did not learn to weave, but there were remnants of woven rag carpets around the house as long ago as I remember. I think they had been woven by someone else, perhaps a relative, or sent away to be done, as wool was sent to a mill to be made into rolls or yarn when that service was available.”

8 June 2006
We have had a few inquiries about the new booklet that the GHS is publishing. Hastings will be out in a week or so and will be available for purchase by calling 836-2987 or emailing All three publications produced by the Society will be available at the Friends and Family Day on June 24th at the Town Hall. Things are coming together quite well for the event. There will be a last minute planning meeting on June 17th at the Town Hall at 1:00 pm. This week's bit of history again comes from the writings of Emeline Heath: “Although they no longer leached ashes for lye to make soap, I watched my aunt make soap from ‘Babbitt’s Lye’ and grease which she had collected from table scraps and waste fat from the beef and pork at butchering time. This fat had to be melted down and refined to make it suitable. This was done in advance and saved up until the right amount was ready. The proper proportions of melted fat and the canned lye were stirred in a wooden tub and poured into a wooden box lined with heavy brown paper. When hardened to the right consistency, it was cut with a kitchen knife and when dry enough to handle, it was broken apart and piled loosely to allow it to dry thoroughly. When made with the lye from ashes, I believe the result was a jelly-like ‘soft soap’ which my mother said was rather unkind to one's skin. The time came when we made no more of the homemade soap at all.”

15 June 2006
We have been busy getting ready for the June 24th Friends and Family Day. Cynthia Handlen had a nice picture and article in the Lewiston Sun-Journal last week about the event. Just as a reminder: there will be a final planning meeting on June 17th at 1:00 pm at the Town Hall. The GHS hopes to make this a fun day for the people of Gilead and our neighboring towns and all their friends and family from away. There is still plenty of room to set up to display materials from your group or as a vendor. We hope that kids of all ages will plan on participating in the “Kids at Heart” parade to be held on Depot Street. Decorate your bike or 4-wheeler or just plan on walking in the parade. No vehicles larger that a 4-wheeler please. Remember, this is a historical event, so dress up as a logger, a farmer, a homemaker of the early days or your favorite old-time character. Everyone is welcome to participate as long as you are a kid at heart! The booklet on Hastings has arrived and is ready for sale. We have had several inquiries about it and the cost is $9.00 for members and $10.00 for nonmembers. If we have to mail the book, there is a postage and handling fee of $2.00 for one book and $1.00 for each additional book. The GHS can be reached by calling Lin at 836-2987 or Bev at 836-2032. Email address is weeks bit of history comes from the newest publication of the GHS, Hastings, by Howard Reiche and Hugh Chapman: “Why would the Gilead Historical Society be more interested in writing about the history of Hastings than that of the other adjoining towns? Primarily, because these two towns were joined at the hip from the beginning of the demand for logs and timber in the 1830s. Gilead’s population was at its peak and fairly stable from 1830 (377) to 1900 (340). This period coincides with the zenith of the lumbering and forest product industries of the Wild River valley and the village of Hastings.” A few interesting dates from the timeline in the book: 1804 - Commonwealth of Massachusetts chartered Gilead, with twenty families 1870 - Hastings family began acquiring land in Batchelder's Grant 1882 - Oxford County built a road from Gilead to the "opening" 1890 - Census shows 26 residents in Batchelder’s Grant 1933 - Two CCC camps built: one at Cold River valley, the other on the site of Hastings village 1936 - Dedication of the completed Evan’s Notch Road from Gilead to the Cold River valley A lot happened in between 1804 and 1936, and the booklet tells a lot of the story with a few pages of text and several pictures. Call or email and reserve a copy. All publications will be available at the event on June 24th.

22 June 2006
Donnie Katlin did a great job creating the sign for the Friends and Family Day. We placed it beside Route 2 near the garden by the trees. It shows up quite nicely. The final planning meeting for the GHS Friends and Family Day was held on June 17th. There were 8 members present: Hugh and Lin Chapman, Beverley Corriveau, Sidney Murphy, Norm Buttrick, Celia Ficken, Steve McLain and Cynthia Handlen. Jill Bujnowski, a new resident on Mt. Tumbledown Road, also attended the meeting and offered her assistance in getting things ready for the event.There will be a group meeting on Wednesday, June 21st, at 1:00 pm to clean up the hall and do some last minute setting up. On Friday, June 23rd, anyone who is available in the afternoon can gather and do last minute things. Anyone who would like to donate pies or other baked goods, should contact Bev at 836-2032. Entertainment for the children includes: BoBo “The Clown,” games, and “The Money Pit” (gold coins in sawdust). Adults and children can participate in the Skillet Throwing Contest that will be run from 9:30 am to 10:30 am. The parade will be at 11:00 am, so plan to gather at 10:30 am. There will be ice cream and baked goods for sale at the Town Hall. There will be a 50/50 Raffle and a Silent Auction going on all day. The Gilead Fire Dept. will be set up at the Fire Station with their delicious hamburgs, hot dogs and fries that they are famous for. Lots of things to do, so join the GHS at the Town Hall on June 24th for Friends and Family Day.

29 June 2006
The Friends and Family Day held on Saturday, June 24th, was a success. The beginning of the day was a little discouraging, but by mid-morning it turned out to be a beautiful day. According to the guest book, there were at least 125 people present throughout the day, and not everyone signed in. People started gathering around 9:00 am to check things out.The Skillet Throwing Contest was held from 9:30 am to 10:30 am. At first, everyone was a little shy about taking a turn, but Gray Bujnowski, a new Gilead resident, along with his wife, Jill, stepped forward to give it a try. The word spread and the guys at the GFD left the grill long enough to come and give it a try. It was a good thing they did because all three ribbons went to them: 1st Place-Randy Grondin (72’), 2nd Place-Fabian Corriveau (67.5’) and 3rd Place-Jamie McLean (65’). The women’s division had a good showing with 1st Place going to Belinda Glover (48’), 2nd Place to Jill Bujnowski and 3rd Place to Carole Cox. The children’s throw was next and 1st Place went to Dakota Jacques (28’), 2nd Place to Fabian Corriveau, Jr. (23.5’) and 3rd Place to Calvin Glover (23’). Bobo, the Clown, arrived before the parade, gave out balloons and marched in the parade with the children. Smokey, The Bear, came for the parade and walked with his friend and USFS co-worker, Jay Milot and Jay’s son, Asa. The parade was just a walking parade on Depot Street, but there were several children who participated. There were 1st, 2nd and 3rd Place Ribbons given out. The winners were: 1st Place-Kaiya Corriveau, 2nd Place-Sam Corriveau and 3rd Place-Ajay Landry. Thanks to our judges: Norm Buttrick, Sidney Murphy and Jill Bujnowski.The Gilead Fire Dept. was set up at the Station and serving their delicious hamburgs, hot dogs and famous fries. They worked very hard serving lunch and deserve a big Thank You. They also had Safe Kids there at the station, inspecting car seats for young children. Sue Saunders of the GFD has access to four booster car seats for children 40-80 lbs and one seat for a special needs child. Call Sue at 836-2494 if you need help getting a seat and are unable to purchase one. After the parade, Bobo put on a show for the children. They kept him so busy making animals and flowers out of balloons that he barely had time for lunch. Someone who had him come to their daughter’s birthday party recommended him to us. A lot of people asked how to get in touch with him. He can be reached at 603-752-2032 or “Yet to be Named Banjo Club” set up under the tent and played for the adults while the children were entertained by Bobo. The children were dancing to their music while they were waiting their turn. They played old time favorites, which everyone could enjoy. At 2:00 pm, Howard Reiche and Hugh Chapman gave a brief talk on the area. They talked about Hastings and the connection with Gilead. After they finished, Joe Taylor took a group of interested people up to Hastings so see where the town was. Thanks to Joe, and maybe we can get him to do it again when the black flies are on vacation!The Town Hall was busy throughout the day with people stopping by for pie, ice cream and to purchase books and raffle tickets. The new book, Hastings, is available by calling 836-2987. Robert Stewart, who is married to Joanne Peabody Stewart, won the 50/50 raffle. She is a descendant of the Peabodys, who owned much of what is now Gilead when the town was granted and laid out, hence the name “Peabody’s Patent.”The GHS would like to thank all those who made this possible: the hardworking members of the GHS and the GFD, “Bobo, The Clown,” the “Yet to be Named Banjo Club,” “Smokey, The Bear,” the two vendors who came (Gorham Historical Society, Albert and Nancy Holden), Fred Corriveau, and all the people who came to check things out and support our efforts.

6 July 2006
Now that the Friends and Family Day has come and gone, we can relax a little and take our time to get ready for the next event in Gilead, which will be the Annual Meeting and Potluck Supper on September 23rd at the Town Hall. When I was reading through the names in the guest book for the Friends and Family Day, I noticed a Bill and Sheila Brown from Gilead / Westbrook. Following is an email I received from Bill this past week:Billy Brown, born in Bethel in 1934 where the Bensons now live on the North Road, played host to 35 members of his family and their spouses on Saturday and Sunday June 24th and 25th at the family camp in Gilead. Luck would have it the weather turned to sunshine Saturday afternoon into Sunday. Bill and wife Sheila went up on Friday to prepare for the outing and be able to spend some fun time at the Family Day in Gilead. Sheila said, "it was a lot of fun and the hot dogs and cookies were delicious." The reunion was in the works for several months with the help of Bill’s sister in law, Connie, and sister, Barbara. Everyone chipped in with the food and extras for the picnic. Doug Brown, son of Connie, came all the way from North Carolina. Bill said, "On Saturday night 12 of us sat around the campfire and told stories about the fun we all had in past years. The rest of the clan came on Sunday and everyone had a great time especially the children. Many at the party went to Sunday River and Whites Brook to cool off. Bill said, "We are blessed to be able to enjoy this wonderful area. We love the beauty and the people."It was nice to see that the Brown’s took full advantage of the idea of what "Friends and Family Day" was all about.The Bethel Historical Society will have an exhibit opening July 25th about Senator William S. Cohen, entitled “Cohen, Congress, and Controversy: Rediscovering Civics in the Archives,” which is sponsored by the University of Maine’s Fogler Library in Orono and co-hosted by the Bethel and Gilead Historical Societies. The exhibit opening will be from 6:00 to 7:15 PM at the Robinson House and will be followed by a lecture by Christian P. Potholm, DeAlva Stanwood Alexander Professor of Government at Bowdoin College, at 7:30 PM at the Mason House Exhibit Hall. The exhibit showing will follow the route of Cohen’s campaign walk in 1972 from the New Hampshire border in Gilead to Fort Kent.

13 July 2006
There are still copies available of the new book, Hastings, so if anyone is interested call 836-2987. Check out the Bethel Historical Society’s website for more information on the Cohen Exhibit that will open on July 25th. Any members of the GHS who would like to join in should give Lin a call to find out more details.

20 July 2006
Things are pretty quiet at the GHS right now. We have had a few inquiries about the new book, Hastings. We will be co-hosting the Cohen Exhibit with the Bethel Historical Society on July 25th. I am still hoping to hear from some members who would like to participate in the event. The next event will be a Pot Luck Supper at 5:00 PM on September 23rd at the Town Hall and the Annual Meeting will follow that at 6:30 PM.

27 July 2006
Other than our trip to Lovell to check things out at their event for future reference, things are quiet. Next week there will be news of the Cohen exhibit hosted with Bethel Historical Society.

3 August 2006
The Bethel Historical Society and the GHS co-hosted the William Cohen Exhibit. On July 25th, a few members from the GHS went to the State Line and met up with Stanley Howe, Bethel Historical Society, and Christian Potholm, Professor of Government at Bowdoin College. There was a picture and write-up in the Bethel Citizen last week. Those present from the GHS were Beverley Corriveau, Robert and Judy Bishop, and Hugh and Lin Chapman. After the pictures were taken, the group headed to Bethel for a BBQ at Stan Howe’s before going to the exhibit opening at the Robinson House at 6:00 PM. At 7:30 PM, Christian Potholm, who was a political advisor to Cohen, gave a lecture at the Mason House.

10 August 2006
This past week the GHS received some boxes of artifacts from the Maine Historic Preservation Commission. These artifacts were excavated at various sites along Route 2 in Gilead by the MHPC between 2002 and 2005. Norm Buttrick, Historical Archaeologist for the GHS, delivered them. Many thanks to Norm.

31 August 2006
The next event for the GHS is a Pot Luck Supper to be held on Saturday, September 23rd at the Town Hall at 5:00 PM. The supper is open to anyone who would like to attend. Just bring a food item to share. The Annual Meeting will follow the supper at 6:30pm. There are still copies available of the Hastings book that the society published in June.

7 September 2006
This is just another reminder that the Annual Meeting of the GHS will be held after the Potluck Supper on September 23rd at the Town Hall. The supper will be at 5:00 PM and the meeting will follow around 6:30 PM. The supper is open to the public, so bring a food item to share and come to the hall and visit with your neighbors.

21 September 2006
This is the last chance for a reminder of the Pot Luck Supper and Annual Meeting on September 23rd at the Town Hall. The supper is at 5:00 pm and is open to the public, so gather your friends, bring a hot dish, salad or dessert to share and come and have a good time. Norm Buttrick, GHS Historical Archaeologist, will do a presentation between the supper and the GHS Annual Meeting.

28 September 2006
The Gilead Town Hall was busy this past weekend with the GHS Annual Meeting and Potluck Supper. It was great to see so many people come out for the evening. One of the reasons for the supper is to try to get as many community members together as possible. There were twenty-five adults and 10 children who attended. Several people stayed for the presentation by Norm Buttrick, GHS Historical Archaeologist. Norm showed slides from some of the digs that he has done with his students, and it is quite fascinating how they dig the hole and sift through the dirt to find artifacts. One slide showed a student who had dug down and found a brick sidewalk that had been buried though the years. Norm also showed some of the artifacts that the GHS received from the Maine Historic Preservation Commission that were gathered from the Prescott Bennett site in Gilead. Thanks to Norm for a great job. The Annual Meeting was held after the presentation and there were 14 members present. We briefly discussed what had happened so far this year: the artifacts received, the Cohen Exhibit (with Bethel Historical Society), and Friends and Family Day. The last thing will be to put together the fall newsletter that will be a recap of the year. It was decided that we would try to do the Friends and Family Day again on June 23, 2007, and the Annul Meeting and Potluck Supper will be on September 22, 2007. The next meeting of the GHS will be on March 24, 2007 and will be a lecture (yet to be determined) and a planning meeting for the June event. A lot of great ideas were passed around for lectures and improvements on the June event. The committee recommended the same slate of officers for another year.

12 October 2006
The discussion of the subdivision on Peaked Hill renewed interest in the site of the old gristmill located on Bog Brook. Norm Buttrick, GHS Historical Archaeologist, and Catherine McGuire were at their house on the Bog Road this past weekend. They got together with Hugh Chapman and decided to walk in and take a look at the foundations that are left at the site. There are very few of these places left, so it is good to know where they are located for future reference.

26 October 2006
Work has begun on the Fall newsletter for the GHS. All members will be receiving their copy in the mail in late November. The website for the Bethel Historical Society has some very interesting information on it. Check it out and see what is new. The following is an excerpt from the Bethel Journals that are compiled by Donald Bennett. “September 1891 – Gilead: William Chapman has harvested about fifteen acres of grain with a self-binding reaper. He will run the ensilage cutter this year by steam power and will begin cutting his 18 acres of corn this week. Northwest Bethel: The fields of corn at the Homestead have mammoth stalks.”The Gorham Historical Society will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Grand Trunk Station. The Station is the site of their Historical Society. They have set a date of August 11, 2007, for the celebration and have printed a calendar that is for sale by contacting them. Mary Jane Ames (representing the Gorham Historical Society) attended the Friends and Family Day that we had in June and her email is

2 November 2006
The GHS received a couple of items for the growing historical acquisitions. A friend of the GHS donated them and his generosity is very much appreciated. One of the items is a diploma that was issued to a student who attended Hastings school in 1901, and the other is a jackknife that came from Hastings, also.

16 November 2006
The newsletter is nearing completion. There has been so much to do with the election that this editor is running a little behind on the duties for the GHS. The next project is to get a group together soon and decorate the Town Hall for Christmas.

23 November 2006
The newsletter is almost done and will be mailed out soon. There is a lot of information to get into this one, so we have increased the number of pages. The letters that the GHS received from Cindy Bennett, who is a direct descendant of the Gilead Peabodys, are quite interesting to read, but there are thirteen of them. The fall newsletter will have excerpts from some of the letters and the rest will appear in future issues. A very generous friend has donated an item to the GHS. It is a pipe auger that was used to drill holes in logs so they could be pieced together to create a pipe to carry water. Thank you Mr. Laban.

7 December 2006
The newsletter will include a notice that dues are payable on the first of the year. There are still copies of the three publications and the DVD available for purchase. Contact Lin at 836-2987 if you are interested.14 December 2006The newsletter finally went out in the mail this week. Hopefully, the members will enjoy. Dues for the GHS are due in January and forms are included in the newsletter. Anyone interested in joining the GHS can contact us by calling 836-2987 or email
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