A Brief History of Freeport, Maine
A Brief History of Freeport, Maine
Freeport’s early history is similar to other towns in our region. Freeport, Maine is in the ancestral land of the Abenaki Nation, part of the old Wabanaki Confederacy. The land’s natural resources and unique coastal geography made the area desirable—and a source of continued conflict as European colonization of the area began to take hold in the 1600s.
Colonist’s efforts to permanently settle in this area were continuously disrupted by clashes and a ninety-year period of successive Anglo-Wabanaki wars. Periods of peace or new treaties did little to ease the situation, as fundamental differences continued to intensify due to contrasting understandings of land rights and trade, as well as the decimation of indigenous populations from settler-introduced diseases. It wasn’t until after the end of the French and Indian War in 1763 that English settlers from Massachusetts began moving into the area and establishing the town that we know now as Freeport.
Freeport was originally part of North Yarmouth, Massachusetts Bay Colony (Maine became a state in 1820). This North Yarmouth proprietary, which we now call ancient North Yarmouth in order to distinguish it from the present-day town of North Yarmouth, encompassed a large geographic area and was chartered in 1681. Because of the long distances to the only meeting house or church, remote settlements eventually petitioned to be set off and incorporated into independent towns, which Freeport was granted in 1789.
Small Villages, Big Impact
What began as disperse settlements turned into villages. Without reliable travel roads, initial settlements clung to the transportation highways of the day—waterways. Freeport’s coastal geography along this stretch of upper Casco Bay, with its deeply indented peninsulas that form the Harraseeket River, enabled settlement to form the maritime villages of Mast Landing, Porter’s Landing, and South Freeport. Today, these villages are part of the National Register’s Harraseeket Historic District.
Each played a unique role in establishing Freeport’s reputation for shipbuilding. At the head of the Harraseeket River, Mast Landing shipped timbers from nearby forests. The largest village, South Freeport, was able to sustain the most shipyards and workforce. Porter’s Landing not only had shipyards (the famous privateer the Dash was built here in 1812) but was also the town’s port, allowing regional goods to enter the global economy.
The inland village of Freeport Corner, now the heart of the village and the most visited part of Freeport, began as a crossroads in the town as early as 1770. The village continued to grow, especially after the Maine Central Railroad came through in 1849, and became a shoemaking center. Its manufacturing fate was set when industrialist E.B. Mallet, Jr. invested heavily in the town. His contributions were wide-ranging and paved the way for the subsequent manufacturing boom and consumer economy.
Postcard of Freeport Square showing Nordica Theater & LL Bean and automobiles.
Improvements in transportation and a growing tourism industry spurred additional growth and commercial development to the town. Thanks to L.L. Bean, people often think of Freeport when they think of Maine. Bean first occupied the upper floors of the Warren Block, the site of the present retail store, before 1920. Bean was canny enough to build off of the town’s shoemaking infrastructure while understanding the importance of the automobile to the area and business possibilities of selling by catalogue.
With our Main Street designated as part of Route One in the 1920s, Freeport became an iconic destination for those visiting or traveling through Maine.
Postcard of the Four Season Inn Trav-o-tel & Restaurant
Just as our communities adapt and change, Freeport’s history is as much about what happens today as it is what happened hundreds of years ago. The latter half of the twentieth century saw several periods of downturn and revitalization for the town, particularly the retail boom of the 1980s. George Denney was instrumental to Freeport’s revitalization during this modern era, not only with his generosity to the town but also his founding in 2001 of the Freeport Community Improvement Association. During these periods of transformation, the Freeport Historical Society was founded in 1969 to help share the stories and insights learned from past generations as well as advocate for the preservation of Freeport’s historic landscapes and buildings. While today’s Freeport may look different than the Freeport of the past, the power of our shared history is more relevant than ever before.
The Harrington House Story
The Harrington House Story
More Pieces Revealed
While we have long known the broad outline of the story of Harrington House, Freeport Historical Society’s headquarters, recent research has shed new light on some of the details, and filled in a few missing pieces of the story. In large part we have former Yarmouth Historical Society Executive Director Marilyn Hinckley to thank. Marilyn graciously agreed to help us find out more about life at Harrington House during the 1880s to prepare for our “1880s Coastal Christmas” program.
We knew that the house was built ca. 1830 by Freeport merchant Enoch Harrington. In 1830 he married Eliza Nye, the daughter of his business partner, Nathan Nye, who gave him the land on which he built the house. At that time the land was a 14-acre parcel that included extensive gardens and orchards across the street and behind the carriage barn. Enoch Harrington died in 1848, and for many years we have assumed that his widow, Eliza, owned it for the rest of the 19th century, with title passing to Levi and Nettie Patterson at the beginning of the 20th century.
However, records in the Cumberland County Registry of Deeds, US Census returns, and in our own Freeport Tax Valuation books, tell a somewhat different story. Around 1876, census records reveal that Eliza Nye was living in Massachusetts with her son, John. In the early 1880s a man named Henry Sturdivant was living in the Main Street house; the valuation book of 1885 lists him as renting from the Harringtons, who still owned the house.
Sturdivant himself has an interesting story. He was born in 1823 in Cumberland to Ephraim and Rachel Sturdivant, and in 1850 he shows up in the census in El Dorado, California, where he lived with three other miners from Maine, in the home of a merchant from Massachusetts. He married Delia Day in 1852, with whom he eventually had four children. By 1860 he was back in Cumberland, where he remained at least through 1870, working as a farmer. By 1880 he was in Freeport, as a “dealer in hay”.
The Harringtons sold the house to Lydia Fogg in 1886. She and her husband, Isaac H. Fogg, were born in New Hampshire. They apparently moved to Freeport from West Milan, New Hampshire, where he was “keeping a boarding house.” Earlier census returns had him as laborer at the age of 17, a farmer at 27, and a day laborer at 37. In 1900, the household consisted of the Isaac and Lydia, their son Norman, daughter-in-law Addie, grandson Harry, and, perhaps most interestingly, two boarders.
In 1908 Lydia J. Fogg sold the property to Frank W. Edwards, who owned it for less than a year, selling it to Eben Patterson in 1909. Eben then sold it to his son, Levi T. Patterson. The Patterson tenancy was already quite well-known to us. Levi Patterson was a prominent Freeport citizen who served a number of terms in the State Legislature, and the Pattersons rented some of the second floor and attic rooms to workers in the shoe factories. We had not previously realized, however, that this was the continuation of a practice of renting all or part of the house that had been taking place, at least off and on, for twenty years or more before the Pattersons moved in. The Pattersons owned the house for over five decades, and celebrated their golden wedding anniversary here.
In early January, we found another little bit of information about the Pattersons, when Levi Patterson’s granddaughter, Betty Bibber contacted us. Levi owned a number of properties in Freeport, and often attended auctions to buy furnishings for these properties. One store owner who rented from him was not always able to pay his rent in cash, but he repaired furniture and re-caned chairs for his landlord, as payment in kind.
About Pettengill Farm
About Pettengill Farm
Pettengill Farm, a nineteenth century salt-water farm on the estuary of the Harraseeket River, is owned by Freeport Historical Society(FHS).It includes a saltbox house (ca. 1800) on 140 acres of fields, woods, antique apple orchards and salt marsh. Most interesting are the etchings (sgraffitti) found on the plaster walls in the upper chambers of ships, sea monsters, longboats and animals. The farmhouse remains without plumbing, central heat and electricity and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Mildred Pettengill was its last resident and lived in the house until 1970. She loved the natural world, transplanting wild roses, lilacs, cedar trees, and other plants from area fields, shores, and islands into the gardens and grounds about the house. Some are native American species and were among the flowers colonists found on arrival. From an undated letter by Miss Pettengill: “…In the flower garden back of the stable I have made paths with the old deformed bricks from the brickyard down on the shore, also a border of the bricks around the flower garden by the maple trees.” FHS volunteers have added a delightful variety of historic perennials such as dahlias, hollyhocks, iris, and phlox. The garden was recently endowed in memory of Eleanor Houston and Lawrence M. C. Smith, who donated the house and property to FHS in 1975. The small milk shed was re-built in 2006 by local Boys Scout Tropp #45 as part of an Eagle Scout leadership project.
Sgraffitti is an Italian word that means to scratch or draw by incising into the surface. These very rare drawings adorn the walls of three of the upper chambers. Most depict ships, boats, and sea animals. A date and name add to the intrigue of these illustrations.
Directions to Pettengill Farm
The grounds, including gardens, fields, and four forest trails are open to the public, dawn to dusk, year-round. We open the farmhouse by appointment and on Pettengill Farm Day, the first Sunday in October. From Main Street in Freeport, turn east on Bow Street (across from L. L. Bean, Inc. main entrance). Go 1.5 miles; turn right onto Pettengill Road. Park at the gate. Walk the dirt road for about 15 minutes to the farmhouse. In support of Pettengill Farm, we welcome your donation in the metal house-shaped box at the gate. Please note, dogs are not permitted on the grounds of historic Pettengill Farm. Download a trail map here.
You’ll find a virtual tour of Pettengill Farm here.
For information concerning Pettengill Farm or to make special arrangements to visit the property please contact us at 207-865-3170 or E-mail us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read excerpts of Mildred Pettengill’s diary from the year 1921 here!
Freeport's Shoe-Making History
Beyond Bean Boots: Freeport’s Shoe-Making History
Currently, Freeport is known as a shopping destination but was once known for its shoe manufacturing. Freeport’s origins as a “shoe town” began long before L.L. Bean conceived of his now famous hunting boot. In the early 1800s, shoe making was primarily a small cottage industry with shoes being made locally to be consumed locally. Maine started to industrialize with cotton and textile mills in the early 1800s but was limited to development along the major river systems. With the improvement of the steam engine, factories were no longer tied to waterways. But by the mid-1800s, a growing industrial economy created the demand for greater production of items no longer to be consumed locally but to be manufactured and shipped elsewhere. In Freeport, the industrial revolution came in the form of shoe manufacturing.
One of the first shoe manufacturing companies in Freeport was the H.E. Davis Shoe Company, owned and operated by the Davis brothers. Utilizing steam power, the Davis brothers opened their factory in Freeport village sometime around 1881. Edmund Buxton Mallet, Jr. built a large shoe manufacturing facility near the center of town soon after. In 1897 or 1898, Mallet built a more substantial brick shoe factory building adjacent to the railroad on the south side of West Street (the current location of the Freeport Village Square). The Mallet building was the home to many different shoe factories during its existence including A.W. Shaw, Cumberland County Shoe Co., Porter, E.E. Taylor, and Sears and Roebuck.
A second popular location for shoe manufacturing was the old high school. In 1928, the Lenox Shoe Factory moved into the old high school (the current location of the Hilton Garden Inn) and expanded the space with a north and a south wing. They were only manufacturing for a short time when the school and one wing burned on October 23, 1930. A new building was constructed on the site, where the R.J. Sawyer Co., and then the Small-Abbott Co., Inc. produced moccasins.
Recently, the Historical Society received a rack that had been used in shoe manufacturing. The rack, a gift from the John White estate, has yet to be connected to a specific manufacturer or factory in Freeport but research is ongoing. The wooden rack, approximately four and a half feet tall, is on wheels and has pegs on alternating sides, suggesting workers accessed the rack from both sides as it was moved about the factory floor.
The US shoe manufacturing market reached its heyday in 1968 and rapidly declined. This was reflected in Freeport when the Freeport Shoe Company closed its factory in the Mallet building in 1972, making it the fifteenth shoe factory to close in Freeport in four years. Loree Shoe manufactured in the Mallet building until 1980; the building was torn down shortly thereafter. Even the famous L.L. Bean hunting boot, originally manufactured in Freeport, is now made in Brunswick. Eastland continues to run a distribution center in Freeport but the shoes are no longer locally made. Freeport continues to evolve; it has changed from a “shoe town” to a “shopping town”. Today, most of the factory buildings are gone. The H.E. Davis Shoe Company building on West Street still survives and currently serves as the L. L. Bean Merchandise Pick-up Center and employee store. The Mallet Office building also remains and is again surrounded by a mass of buildings keeping Freeport’s economy alive.
The Story of the Dash
Freeport’s Famous Privateer
The early years of the nineteenth century were difficult for New England shipbuilders and merchants. President Jefferson’s Embargo of 1807, British impressment of American seamen, British and French restrictions on American shipping entering Continental ports, and marauding British and French privateers and naval vessels had cost the shipping industry dearly. Eventually the United States declared war against Great Britain in 1812.
One of the peculiar aspects of the War of 1812 was government licensing of private armed vessels. Commonly known as privateers, each vessel received a “Letter of Marque and Reprisal” signed by the President. These privateers, although not part of the fledgling United States Navy, were nevertheless authorized “to subdue, seize and take” enemy vessels as prizes and to keep or sell the “apparel, guns and appurtenances.” They were essentially licensed pirates.
Dash was built at Porters Landing, Freeport, Maine in 1813 by master builder James Brewer for Seward, Samuel, and William Porter, all born and raised at Porters Landing and part of a family which included twelve brothers. Most were involved with the sea in some fashion. Dash, a fast topsail schooner, was designed to evade the Embargo keeping American shipping bottled up in harbors all along the East Coast and the Canadian border. She was successful in breaking the Portland blockade and made several quick runs to the West Indies, where she exchanged lumber and other local crops for profitable cargoes such as coffee and sugar cane.
Unusually Dash was built from a half model, one of the oldest known to exist. Construction of the model ensured that modifications could be made easily. This type of half model is called a “Hawk nest” model. Because of the War Dash was pierced for sixteen guns, although ten were wooden “Quaker” guns built to fool the enemy.
During 1813 and early 1814 she made three voyages, successfully evading the Royal Navy and United States port restrictions. At some point during this period she was re-rigged as a hermaphrodite brig with a special “ringtail sail” to increase her already impressive spread of canvas. She was fast!
On September 13, 1814, Dash was commissioned as a privateer by President Madison and was re-armed with two 18 lb. guns and a 32 lb. pivot gun. Her crew size was thirty-five men, although it was later increased to sixty. Her first commander as a privateer was George Bacon, and at least part of her crew was from Freeport. Her speed allowed her to evade several British cruisers before returning to Portland with a very valuable mixed cargo.
During her second voyage Dash recaptured an American sloop taken by the British as well as a British ship. The British cargo was transferred to Dash, and as it was rum, was exceedingly profitable. Near Portland on the return voyage Dash had to fight an enemy schooner which fled.
Dash, under the command of John Porter, continued to take other prizes on subsequent voyages during the fall of 1814. A total of fifteen prize vessels were taken without a single injury to any of her crew.
After a short layover in Portland in January, 1815 Porter took Dash to sea. With her was the new privateer Champlain, a schooner from Portsmouth, waiting to test her own speed against that of Dash. Dash gradually pulled ahead over the next day. When a heavy winter gale came on, Champlain changed her course, but Dash kept on. She was never heard from again. It is assumed that Capt. Porter underestimated his speed and lost his vessel on the treacherous shoals of Georges Bank. Sixty men, including John, Jeremiah, and Ebenezer Porter, and thirteen others from Freeport, were among those lost.
Dash was known as a lucky ship. She never let a chase escape, and she was never injured by a hostile shot. With seven voyages under four captains taking fifteen prizes, she was one of the most successful privateers of the War of 1812. Her record was never equaled.
Freeport and the National Pastime
Freeport and the National Pastime
Baseball has long been a popular sport in Freeport. The town’s Centennial in 1889 featured an old-timers game, played by rules that were already out of date. A description of the festivities in the Daily Eastern Argus reported that “the most amusing feature of the day was the old fashioned game of round ball, which was played by ‘boys’ 50 years old and upwards. Anyone under 50 was too young to play.” There were 12 men on each side, with four bases, “or goals as they call them.” Runners were out when touched by the ball (usually thrown at them) and the sides changed after every out. There were no foul balls: Peter Lane “knocked a swift foul which narrowly missed the heads of several in the crowd. Everything goes in this game, and Mr. Lane got two bases. Dana Dennison pounded wind for a while and was put out at second. The game was exceedingly funny and it is to be regretted that the pressure on our columns will not allow a description in full.”
By 1900, although the equipment was crude by modern standards, the game was much more recognizable as baseball as we know it today. There is evidence about the Freeport High School team in, of all places, the guest register for 1898-1901 from the Freeport House, a hotel on Park Street. The book contains several entries for entire visiting teams. Some of the players included the position they played when they signed the register, and in May 1901, A. Frank Ward, second baseman for Gardner High School, even included his nickname, “Kid.”
According to the Freeport High School Clarion, Freeport won that game by the lopsided score of 22-4. The Freeport team that “Kid” Ward faced included John Wesley “Jack” Coombs, who would have to be considered the most talented baseball player to come out of Freeport. Coombs was recruited out of Freeport High School by Colby College, which had a very good baseball team. From there he went on to pitch in the majors for the Philadelphia Athletics, Brooklyn Dodgers and Detroit Tigers. He held a number of major league records, and won three games in the 1910 World Series, when his Athletics defeated the Chicago Cubs. During the regular season that year he had 31 wins against just 9 losses; since 1900, only 12 other pitchers have won 30 games in a season. He was nicknamed “Colby Jack,” for his alma mater, which named their baseball field after him, and he coached the Duke University team for many years after he retired as a player.
Freeport also had a well-established town team by this time, as evidenced by a photograph of the 1902 team in the FHS collection. One of the big events of the year was the Fourth of July Merchants Picnic, which in 1917 featured a double-header against arch-rival Yarmouth at the True Farm at Flying Point. It was common practice for teams to import “ringers” for such big games, and that day, as the story goes, for $100 plus train fare, Yarmouth brought in a young left-handed pitcher from the Boston Red Sox. Danny Snow, leading off for Freeport, sent a home run into Casco Bay. The major leaguer bore down, and allowed no more runs in that game, but that was all Freeport needed, as they shut out Yarmouth and won 1-0. The “Yarmouth” pitcher apparently ate more than his share of lobster at the mid-day break, and Freeport won the second game as well, 6-4. The pitcher for Yarmouth that day turned out to be none other than Babe Ruth!
This was by no means Ruth’s only experience with Freeport. An avid outdoorsman, he often visited L.L. Bean’s on his way north, and became friends with LL. He was returning home from a hunting trip on Thanksgiving Day, 1933, when he stopped in at the LL Bean factory with his wife to make a few purchases. According to an article in the Brunswick Record, “The youngsters of the town swamped him, and for all he had a smile, and for some a pat on the head, and for a few he wrote his name on a bit of paper.” But two, Thomas Randall and Norman Kilby, Jr., had baseballs, which he signed “and as far as is known they are the only Freeport youngsters to enjoy such distinction.”
Thanks to L.L. Bean, another famous major leaguer, Ted Williams, who was an avid fisherman, was also a frequent visitor to Freeport. Ken Brown, who played on the Freeport town team in the 1940s and ‘50s, still treasures a photograph of himself and the rest of the team with the “Splendid Splinter.” And the Freeport team from that era was a strong one. A scrapbook in the FHS collection contains clippings about the 1949 team, which won the Casco Bay League post season playoffs after finishing second to the Gray Tigers in the regular season.
Organized sports, and especially baseball, keep track of records and statistics with an ever-increasing thoroughness and complexity. While the accomplishments of major league teams and players are well-documented, the same cannot be said of the countless local town teams, many of which are on the verge of fading from memory completely. We had to rely on fragments gleaned from newspaper clippings and eye-witness accounts to piece together this story. The 2010 summer exhibit at FHS will focus in part on baseball in Freeport, and we hope that it will jog a few memories, and perhaps motivate people to dig through their attics for artifacts and information about this entertaining piece of our past.
CLARIFICATION:In the Spring 2010 newsletter, our front page story, entitled Freeport and the National Pastime, contained a statement regarding Jack Coombs, which left out part of the story. Thank you to John D. Davis for offering this important clarification. We apologize for leaving the wrong impression .
In your Freeport and the National Pastime article, it was stated that Jack Coombs was recruited out of Freeport High School by Colby College. Strictly speaking that was not the case. In the middle of his senior year at Freeport High School Coombs was enticed out of Freeport High School by an offer to attend Coburn Classical Institute in Waterville–seemingly at no cost. Interestingly enough, Coombs was only one of four FHS athletes who were enticed to Coburn Classical Institute during those years. Coombs finished his preparatory education at Coburn Classical and then, that fall, was admitted to Colby College. Unquestionably, Colby was involved in some manner behind the scenes (the two schools–college and prep school–were located on opposite sides of the same street in Waterville) but strictly speaking Coombs went from FHS to Coburn Classical and then on to Colby College.
Dirigo Vintage Base Ball Club & The Rules of 1860
The Dirigo Vintage Base Ball Club is a non-profit, educational and living history organization dedicated to preserving and promoting the game of Base Ball as it was played during its formative years in the mid-nineteenth century and other historic eras. We educate others about the beginnings of our national pastime through living history Base Ball games, educational presentations to area museums, historical societies and schools.
The Rules of 1860, as adopted by the National Association of Base-Ball Players.
SOURCE: Beadle’s Dime Base-Ball Player (1860)
Rules and Regulations of the Game of Base Ball,Adopted by the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BASE-BALL PLAYERS Held in New York, March 14, 1860.
- Sec. 1. The ball must weigh not less than five and three-fourths, nor more than six ounces avoirdupois. It must measure not less than nine and three-fourths, nor more than ten inches in circumference. It must be composed of india-rubber and yarn, and covered with leather, and, in all match games, shall be furnished by the challenging club, and become the property of the winning club, as a trophy of victory.
- Sec. 2. The bat must be round, and must not exceed two and a half inches in diameter in the thickest part. It must be made of wood, and may be of any length to suit the striker.
- Sec. 3. The bases must be four in number, placed at equal distances from each other, and securely fastened upon the four corners of a square, whose sides are respectively thirty yards. They must be so constructed as to be distinctly seen by the umpire, and must cover a space equal to one square foot of surface. The first, second, and third bases shall be canvas bags, painted white, and filled with sand or sawdust; the home base and pitcher’s point to be each marked by a flat circular iron plate, painted or enameled white.
- Sec. 4. The base from which the ball is struck shall be designated Home Base, and must be directly opposite to the second base, the first base must always be that upon the right-hand, and the third base that upon the left-hand side of the striker, when occupying his position at the Home Base.
- Sec. 5. The pitcher’s position shall be designated by a line four yards in length, drawn at right angles to a line from home to the second base, having its center upon that line, at a fixed iron plate, placed at a point fifteen yards distant from home base. The pitcher must deliver the ball as near as possible over the center of the home base and for the striker.
- Sec. 6. The ball must be pitched, not jerked or thrown to the bat; and whenever the pitcher draws back his hand, or moves with the apparent purpose or pretension to deliver the ball, he shall so deliver it, and he must have neither foot in advance of the line at the time of delivering the ball; and if he fails in either of these particulars, then it shall be declared a baulk.
- Sec. 7. When a baulk is made by the pitcher, every player running the bases is entitled to one base, without being put out.
- Sec. 8. If the ball, from the stroke of the bat, is caught behind the range of home and the first base, or home and the third base, without having touched the ground or first touches the ground behind those bases, it shall be termed foul, and must be so declared by the umpire, unasked. If the ball first touches the ground, or is caught without having touched the ground, either upon, or in front of the range of those bases, it shall be considered fair.
- Sec. 9. A player making the home base, shall be entitled to score one run.
- Sec. 10. If three balls are struck at, and missed, and the last one is not caught, either flying or upon the first bound, it shall be considered fair, and the striker must attempt to make his run.
- Sec. 11. The striker is out if a foul ball is caught, either before touching the ground, or upon the first bound;
- Sec. 12. Or, if three balls are struck at and missed, and the last is caught, either before touching the ground or upon the first bound,
- Sec. 13. Or, if a fair ball is struck, and the ball is caught either without having touched the ground, or upon the first bound;
- Sec. 14. Or, if a fair ball is struck, and the ball held by an adversary on the first base, before the striker touches that base.
- Sec. 15. Any player running the bases is out, if at any time he is touched by the ball while in play in the hands of an adversary, without some part of his person being on a base.
- Sec. 16. No ace nor base can be made upon a foul ball, nor when a fair ball has been caught without having touched the ground, and the ball shall, in the former instance, be considered dead, and not in play until it shall first have been settled in the hands of the pitcher; in either case the players running the bases shall return to them, and may be put out in so returning in the same manner as the striker when running to the first base.
- Sec. 17. The striker must stand on a line drawn through the center of the home base, not exceeding in length three feet either side thereof, and parallel to the line occupied by the pitcher. He shall be considered the striker until he has made the first base. Players must strike in regular rotation, and, after the first innings is played, the turn commences with the player who stands on the list next to the one who lost the third hand.
- Sec. 18. Players must make their bases in the order of striking; and when a fair ball is struck, and not caught flying (or on the first bound), the first base must be vacated, as also the second and third bases, if they are occupied at the same time. Players may be put out on any base, under these circumstances, in the same manner as the striker when running to the first base.
- Sec. 19. Players running the bases must, so far as possible, keep upon a direct line between the bases; and, should any player run three feet out of this line, for the purpose of avoiding the ball in the hands of an adversary, he shall be declared out.
- Sec. 20. Any player, who shall intentionally prevent an adversary from catching or fielding the ball, shall be declared out.
- Sec. 21. If the player is prevented from making a base, by the intentional obstruction of an adversary, he shall be entitled to that base, and not put out.
- Sec. 22. If an adversary stops a ball with his hat or cap, or takes it from the hands of a party not engaged in the game, no player can be put out unless the ball shall first have settled in the hands of the pitcher.
- Sec. 23. If a ball, from the stroke of a bat, is held under any other circumstances than as enumerated in Section 22, and without having touched the ground more than once, the striker is out.
- Sec. 24. If two hands are already out, no player running home at the time a ball is struck, can make an ace if the striker is put out.
- Sec. 25. An innings must be concluded at the time the third hand is put out.
- Sec. 26. The game shall consist of nine innings to each side, when, should the number of runs be equal, the play, shall be continued until a majority of runs, upon an equal number of innings, shall be declared, which shall conclude the game.
- Sec. 27. In playing all matches, nine players from each club shall constitute a full field, and they must have been regular members of the club they represent, and of no other club, for thirty days prior to the match. No change or substitution shall be made after the game has been commenced, unless for reason of illness or injury. Position of players and choice of innings shall be determined by captains previously appointed for that purpose by the respective clubs.
- Sec. 28. The umpire shall take care that the regulations respecting balls, bats, bases, and the pitcher’s and striker’s positions, are strictly observed. He shall keep record of the game, in a book prepared for the purpose; he shall be the judge of fair and unfair play, and shall determine all disputes and differences which may occur during the game; he shall take especial care to declare all foul balls and baulks, immediately upon their occurrence, unasked, and in a distinct and audible manner.
- Sec. 29. In all matches the umpire shall be selected by the captains of the respective sides, and shall perform all the duties enumerated in Section 28, except recording the game, which shall be done by two scorers, one of whom shall be appointed by each of the contending clubs.
- Sec. 30. No person engaged in a match, either as umpire, scorer, or player, shall be, either directly or indirectly, interested in any bet upon the game. Neither umpire, scorer, nor player shall be changed during a match, unless with the consent of both parties (except for a violation of this law), except as provided in Section 27, and then the umpire may dismiss any transgressor.
- Sec. 31. The umpire of any match shall determine when play shall be suspended; and if the game can not be concluded, it shall be determined by the last even innings, provided five innings have been played, and the party having the greatest number of runs shall be declared the winner.
- Sec. 32. Clubs may adopt such rules respecting balls knocked beyond or outside of bounds of the field, as the circumstances of the ground may demand; and these rules shall govern all matches played upon the ground, provided that they are distinctly made known to every player and umpire, previous to the commencement of the game.
- Sec. 33. No person shall be permitted to approach or to speak with the umpire, scorers, or players, or in any manner to interrupt or interfere during the progress of the game, unless by special request of the umpire.
- Sec. 34. No person shall be permitted to act as umpire or scorer in any match, unless he shall be a member of a Base-Ball Club governed by these rules.
- Sec. 35. Whenever a match shall have been determined upon two clubs, play shall be called at the exact hour appointed; and should either party fail to produce their players within fifteen minutes thereafter, the party so failing shall admit a defeat.
- Sec. 36. No person who shall be in arrears to any other club, or who shall at any time receive compensation for his services as player, shall be competent to play in any match.
- Sec. 37. Should a striker stand at the bat without striking at good balls repeatedly pitched to him, for the apparent purpose of delaying the game, or of giving advantage to a player, the umpire, after warning him, shall call one strike, and if he persists in such action, two and three strikes. When three strikes are called, he shall be subject to the same rules as he had struck at three fair balls.
- Sec. 38. Every match hereafter made shall be decided by a single game, unless mutually agreed upon by the contesting clubs.
- Section 16 is a source of angst for players of the 1860 rules. Henry Chadwick added comments to the rules and provides other game interpretations in the 1860 Beadles Dime Base-Ball Player, the first edition of the series.
- From the Ohio Village Muffins and Lady Diamonds website
Crank, Rooters, or Bugs: this is what spectators were called. The term “fan” was not used until 1889
The Women of the Present Century
Charles R. Weldon recently donated papers from his grandmother, Anna Elzade Noyes, to the Freeport Historical Society. The donation consisted of an interesting scrapbook of clippings related to Freeport that Anna apparently put together in the 1920s and’30s, along with copies of a few papers related to her graduation from Freeport High School in 1897. One of these is an essay, “The Women of the Present Century,” which she wrote to be read at her graduation. It opens with the following lines:
The women of the present century compared with those of the past, differ in a great many ways. Those of today have more advantages for getting an education, and good situations in life, than those of other times.
A 21st-century reader cannot help but be a bit startled by this statement. After all, in 1897 we were still more than two decades from women winning the right to vote. By today’s standards, there were not many doors open to women who wished to enter the workplace, and very few were found working in the sort of professional positions that men occupied.
Perhaps the phrase “by today’s standards” is one key to understanding the context of Anna’s essay. Certainly there were female teachers, urban working class women might be found in factories, and women living on farms generally made their own contributions to the family’s economic well-being. In fact, as early as 1870, according to the US Census, women made up just under 15% of the total work force. One-third of factory workers were women, and two-thirds of teachers were female. According to figures from 1890, women made up just over 17% of the total work force, a modest increase over the twenty year period. Is this as a small number, given the fact that women make up roughly half of the population, or a large number, given the social reality of the times?
For Anna, it seems, the answer to that question was quite clear. She saw gains that women made during the latter part of the 19th century, and viewed these advances as examples to follow. According to Anna it was “no longer unusual for women to study law,” and she wrote that “we ought to know especially about the women of business, because they encourage others [to succeed] … Many think that women who are thrown upon their own resources are not practical, and that they waste their time over visionary schemes.”
She cites the Women’s Christian Temperance Union as a way that women were having an impact on society, and points out that “it is exceedingly difficult for these young women, partaking of the benefits and pleasures of such organizations, to realize that there was a time when organization among women was a thing unknown, and that it was even debated, on whether a woman had a right to give her opinion, or be heard.” She admired Miss Frances Willard, president of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, for the “long weary struggle” she endured before her effort met with success.
Anna was writing in 1897, at a time when the suffragette movement had been active for decades, and would continue to be so for several more decades. On the subject of voting rights for women, she commented that “it is hoped that the time will come when they may have that privilege,” and she expressed an optimistic attitude for the future, ending her essay by saying “let us hope in years to come that there will be a constant improvement in the line of woman’s work, and that her influence may be felt in a way that will be a help to others.”
In 1900, three years after graduating from Freeport high School, Anna was married to William A. Noyes in Portland. Although it would take some time, she lived to be able to vote, and see some of the changes she hoped for in her high school essay. She died in Plainville, Connecticut in 1951, survived by her husband, two children, and four grandchildren, in addition to two sisters and a number of nieces and nephews. In addition to raising a family, she had lived up to her ideals of service, having been a member of the Plainville Grange for 25 years, serving as the organization’s Chaplain for 22 of those years, as well as being a member of the order of the Eastern Star.
Christmas in the 1880s
Christmas has become such an important part of American culture that it is hard to imagine the month of December without it. But thanks to the influence of the Puritans, who regarded it as a “papist and pagan” tradition, few New Englanders took much notice of the holiday prior to the second half of the nineteenth century. In fact, the timing of the celebration has more to do with pre-Christian festivals that marked the winter solstice than with any evidence that December 25th was the date of Christ’s birth. It was much easier for early Christians to spread their word if they were not asking converts to give up their time-honored traditions.
Most of those early traditions were boisterous celebrations, along the lines of the Roman Saturnalia. The rowdy customs continued in Europe, and despite the Puritans’ resistance, it crossed the Atlantic with many emigrants. One element of this tradition was a sort of social inversion. The rich were expected to share their wealth with the poor, sometimes even waiting on their own servants. According to Steven Nissenbaum, author of the thought-provoking book, The Battle for Christmas:
“It was not just a case of the rich giving alms to the poor, but the poor demanding gifts. In return, the poor offered something of true value in a paternalistic society: their goodwill. Traditionally, it does not seem to have constituted a challenge to the authorities, but was tolerated by the elite, perhaps as a kind of safety valve that contained class resentments.”
As time went on these traditions took on more elements of class warfare, and became increasingly violent. Nissenbaum sees the evolution of Christmas into a child-centered holiday as a response to this threat. Santa Claus was essentially invented in 1823 with the publication of “A Visit from St. Nicholas” (better known as “Twas the night before Christmas”). And of course the “jolly old elf’s” appearance as a rotund, bearded man, much as we picture him today, came from Thomas Nast’s classic drawing, first published in Harper’s Weekly in 1863.
Nissenbaum points out that with the powerful adults giving gifts to the less powerful children, the new version of Christmas was in some ways similar to the earlier traditions. But now it was all within the relatively private sphere of the family, rather than between differing social classes. The nineteenth century also saw changing attitudes towards childhood. After the 1840s, children entered the work force at an older age, and around 1850 toys and games made specifically for children became less expensive and more readily available. While we all complain about the commercialization of Christmas, Christmas actually helped to create the consumer culture that has merchants depending on the holiday, sometimes for their economic survival.
This year we will be decorating the first floor of Harrington House as it might have been decorated for Christmas in the 1880s. By then the holiday was well-established throughout New England. The December 13, 1889 issue of The Sentinel, published semi-monthly in Freeport, included several notices such as “W.C. Fogg has a nice line of Xmas Cards, Booklets, Toilet and Fancy Articles, Toys, etc.” Frank B. Clark, at 515 Congress Street in Portland, advertised on the front page “My Christmas Goods are all Open and I have a splendid assortment of Books, Booklets, Photograph Albums, Jewelry, Pocket Books, Plush Boxes of all kinds and a great variety of goods too numerous to mention.” Apparently Freeporters were willing to travel to the “big city” to do some of their Christmas shopping (of course today, thousands come to Freeport for the same reason).
Here in Freeport there were community celebrations as well. The December 27, 1889 issue of The Sentinel describes a gathering in the Pleasant Hill neighborhood, where “the schoolhouse was well filled and the audience were entertained with music, declamations, dialogues, etc. After the entertainment came the distribution of gifts, the display of which was very fine. Two trees were more than loaded. The happy company adjourned about 9:30 o’clock.” The same issue of The Sentinel also described a Christmas tree at the Baptist Church, reporting that “The presents were very choice and pretty.”
We hope that you will find time during the busy holiday season to visit us at Harrington House for “A Coastal Christmas,” and recapture a bit of the spirit of those past community gatherings.
Note: We wish to thank Colleen Sanders for providing much of the research for this article. Steven Nissenbaum is quoted from an interview in an article by Berit Haugen Keyes at http://www.threemonkeysonline.com/als/_battle_for_christmas_stephen_nissenbaum_christmas_traditions.html.
Freeport's Role in Maine's Statehood
by Sally W. Rand
There has been concern for many years about the tradition that papers were signed in 1820 in Freeport making it the “Birthplace of Maine.” No verification for this claim has been found, despite the bronze plaque dedicated by the DAR, Daughters of the American Revolution, in 1915, and placed at the Jameson-Codman Tavern on Freeport’s Main Street. When the authors of Three Centuries of Freeport published their book in 1940, they devoted an entire chapter to the question of “Freeport and Maine Independence,” concluding the invalidity of the claim, but this unsubstantiated story has lingered on. Without sources, this legend does not stand up to scrutiny.
The struggle to set the District of Maine free from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts began in 1784 shortly after the American Revolution. A series of meetings and conventions in the first phase of the effort lacked sufficient strength to succeed. However, the population of the District grew shortly after Revolution, and the stage was set for a new try. The separationists rallied under the new Democratic-Republican Party, whose stronghold was in the Kennebec Valley Region. The opposition was focused in the Federalist party whose members came primarily from the settled communities along the coast.
The Federalists had many members involved in the merchant class and the shipping business. According to historian Roland Banks in his book Maine Becomes A State, their consistent objection to separation from Massachusetts stemmed from the “Coasting Act” passed by Congress in 1789, requiring all coasting vessels to enter and clear a custom house (and pay a fee) both coming and going in every state, except states that were contiguous with the state from which the vessel hailed. The “Coasting Act” was revised in February 1819, allowing vessels to go from Portland to Savannah, for instance, without having to enter and clear. This action removed the major objection to separation, although some coastal communities remained adamant in their opposition, including Freeport.
In the spring of 1819, 125 out of 130 towns in the District of Maine petitioned the Massachusetts Legislature (the “General Court”) for another vote on the question of separation to be taken in the District. This was done and then approved by the Governor on June 19, 1819. On July 26, the vote of the citizens of the District took place, with every county voting in favor of separation. A constitutional convention then met in Portland in October 1819. The bill making Maine a separate state was signed by President Monroe on March 3, 1820, and on March 15, 1820, all ties with Massachusetts were severed.
Just before the final vote on July 26, there was a flurry of broadsides and letters published both for and against separation. The Maine Historical Society in Portland has in its collection three of these broadsides. One of them was also published in the Portland Gazette, a Federalist newspaper, on Tuesday, July 20, 1819 with the title “NO SEPARATION-this time!!”, reporting on an opposition meeting held in Freeport, and addressed to “The People of Maine.” It was signed by Robert H. Gardiner, Jacob Abbot, Ammi R. Mitchell, John A. Hyde, Josiah Pierce, Dudley Todd, Samuel Fessenden, Edward Russell, Stephen Longfellow Jr., Josiah W. Mitchell, William O. Vaughn, Banjamin Orr, William R. Stockbridge, Joseph M’Keen, William Barrows, John W. Mellen, and Benjamin Dunning. While several of the signers were well known as prominent citizens and ardent Federalists in the District, included were leading citizens of Freeport, Ammi and Josiah Mitchell, Dr. John Angier Hyde, and possibly William Stockbridge. At least two of the latter were, had been or would be selectmen of the town.
Among other complaints, this broadside railed against the requirement in the Act of Separation for the appointment of commissioners to negotiate over the division of public lands. Once the new state was established in the spring of 1820, a Joint Commission was appointed by Maine and Massachusetts to carry out this provision. The Commission met many times in Boston, Portland, Bangor and Augusta between 1821 and 1827, but their records show no meeting in Freeport, as claimed by the DAR in 1915, nor, being appointed following statehood, could they have signed papers make Maine a State.
Nor should Freeport continue to claim to be the “Birthplace of Maine.” Although the proponents’ numbers rose steadily, Freeport voted against separation at least five times, doubtless due to local shipping interests. In addition, some of Freeport’s leading citizens signed a petition against separation just prior to the final vote. The Town of Freeport has much to be proud of, but the evidence indicates this is one claim it cannot make.
Debunking the Myth
The legend that Freeport is the birthplace of Maine has long been controversial, and there are those who will defend this allegation and those who will challenge this story.
When the Daughters of the American Revolution erected the bronze tablet at the Codman Tavern in 1914, it only further cemented this interesting but inaccurate story in local citizen’s memories. This 1920s brochure for tourists summarizes the local lore version that many continue to hold fast to.
The Codman Tavern, now known as Jameson Tavern & Restaurant, remains an important architectural landmark in Freeport worthy of preservation, despite debunking the myth.
Freeport’s voting record during the six elections regarding Separation of the District of Maine from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1792 – 1819
Year For Against
1792 0 85
1797 9 104
1807 no return filed
1816 May 59 107
1816 Sept. 74 160
1819 103 107
The legend exaggerating Freeport’s true role in Maine statehood was further perpetuated by the sale of collectible china. Souvenir china was imported from Germany for sale in local dry goods store in the late 19th century along with numerous other styles of china, needle cases and thimbles.
Captain Josiah A. Mitchell
Excerpts from the Account of the Burning of the Clipper Ship Hornet
by Mark Twain, Sacramento Daily Union, 1866
“At seven o’clock on the morning of the 3d of May, the chief mate and two men started down into the hold to draw some “bright varnish” from a cask. The captain told him to bring the cask on deck – that it was dangerous to have it where it was, in the hold. The mate, instead of obeying the order, proceeded to draw a can full of the varnish first. He had an “opening light” in his hand, and the liquid took fire; the can was dropped, the officer in his consternation neglected to close the bung, and in a few seconds the fiery torrent had run in every direction, under bales of rope, cases of candles, barrels of kerosene, all sorts of freight, and tongues of flames were shooting upward through every aperture and crevice in the deck…
The ship was moving along under easy sail, the watch on duty were idling here and there in such shade as they could find, and the listlessness and repose of morning in the tropics was upon the vessel and her belongings. But as six bells chimed, the cry of “FIRE!” rang through the ship, and woke every man to life and action. And following the fearful warning, and almost as fleetly, came the fire itself. It sprang through hatchways, seized upon chairs, table, cordage, anything, everything – and almost before the bewildered men could realize what the trouble was and what was to be done the cabin was a hell of angry flames…
Captain Josiah Mitchell
Captain Mitchell ordered the three boats to be launched instantly, which was done – and so hurriedly that the longboat (the one he left the vessel in himself) had a hole as large as a man’s head stove in her bottom. A blanket was stuffed into the opening and fastened to its place. Not a single thing was saved, except such food and other articles as lay about the cabin and could be quickly seized and thrown on deck. Forty minutes after the fire alarm the provisions and passengers were on board the three boats, and they rowed away from the ship – and to some distance, too, for the heat was very great. Twenty minutes afterward, the two masts with their rigging and their broad sheets of canvas wreathed in flames, crashed into the sea….
All night long the thirty-one unfortunates sat in their frail boats and watched the gallant ship burn; and felt as men feel when they see a tried friend perishing and are powerless to help him. The sea was illuminated for miles around, and the clouds above were tinged with a ruddy hue; the faces of the men glowed in the strong light as they shaded their eyes with their hands and peered out anxiously upon the wild picture, and the gunwales of the boats and the idle oars shone like polished gold…
At five o’clock on the morning after the disaster, in latitude 2º 20′ north, longitude 112º 8′ west, the ship went down, and the crew of the Hornet were alone on the great deep, or, as one of the seamen expressed it. ‘We felt as if somebody or something had gone away – as if we hadn’t any home any more.’
Captain Mitchell divided his boat’s crew into two watches and gave the third mate charge of one and took the other himself. He had saved a studding sail from the ship, and out of this the men fashioned a rude sail with their knives; they hoisted it, and taking the first and second mates’ boats in tow, they bore away upon the ship’s course (northwest) and kept in the track of vessels bound to or from San Francisco, in hope of being picked up…
Their Water, Provisions, Etc.
Here is the list: Four hams, seven pieces of salt pork, one box of raisins, 100 pounds of bread, twelve two-pound cans of oysters, clams and assorted meats; six buckets of raw potatoes, a keg with four pounds of butter in it, twelve gallons of water in a forty-gallon ‘scuttle-butt,’ four one-gallon demijohns full of water, three bottles of brandy, the property of passengers; some pipes, matches and a hundred pounds of tobacco; had no medicines. That was all these poor fellows had to live on for forty-three days – the whole thirty one of them! Each boat had a compass, a quadrant, a copy of Bowditch’s Navigator and a nautical almanac, and the captain’s and chief mate’s boats had chronometers….
Of course, all hands were put on short allowances at once. The first two days they only allowed one gill of water a day to each man; but for nearly a fortnight after that the weather was lowering and stormy, and frequent rain squalls occurred. The rain was caught in canvas… There were luxurious occasions when there was plenty of water to drink, but after that how long they suffered the agonies of thirst for four long weeks!..
Hoping against Hope.
For seven days the boats sailed on, and the starving men eat their fragment of biscuit and their morsel of raw pork in the morning, and hungrily counted the tedious hours until noon and night should bring their repetitions of it.
The nights were very dark. They had no lantern and could not see the compass, and there were no stars to steer by….
On the fifth day a notable incident occurred. They caught a dolphin! and while their enthusiasm was still at its highest over this stroke of good fortune, they captured another. They made a trifling fire in a tin plate and warmed the prizes – to cook them was not possible – and divided them equitably among all hands and ate them…
The Boats Separate.
The eighteenth day was a memorable one to the wanderers on the lonely sea. On that day the boats parted company. The Captain said that separate from each other there were three chances for the saving of some of the party where there could be but one chance if they kept together.
The magnanimity and utter unselfishness of Capt. Mitchell throughout this distressing voyage, are among its most amazing features. No disposition was ever shown by the strong to impose on the weak, and no greediness, no desire of food, was ever evinced. On the contrary, they were thoughtful of each other to the utmost of their ability. When the time came to part company, Mitchell and his crew, although theirs was much the more numerous party, took only one-third of the meager amount of provisions left…
At eleven o’clock in the forenoon the boats were all cast loose from each other, and then, as friends part from friends whom they expect to meet no more in life, all hands hailed with a fervent ‘God bless you boys; Good-bye!’.
The third mate does not remember distinctly, but thinks morning and evening prayers were begun on the nineteenth day. They were conducted by one of the young Fergusons, because the Captain was without his spectacles, as they had been burned with the ship…
Further Reduction of Rations.
What these men suffered during these next three weeks no mortal man may hope to describe. Their stomachs and intestines felt to the grasp like a couple of small balls, and the gnawing hunger pains and the dreadful thirst that was consuming them in those burning latitudes became almost insupportable….
The Last Ration!
On Monday, the thirty-eighth day after the disaster, ‘we had nothing left,’ said the third mate, ‘but a pound and a half of ham bone – two ounces of food to each man.’ This was the last division of food the Captain made…
The Awful Alternative.
The men seem to have thought in their own minds of the shipwrecked mariner’s last dreadful resort – cannibalism; but they do not appear to have conversed about it! They felt that some one of the company must die soon -…
The Captain’s Birthday.
Captain Mitchell was fifty-six years old on the 12th of June – the fortieth day after the burning of the ship. He said it looked somewhat as if it might be the last one he was going to enjoy…
At eleven o’clock on the 15th of June, after suffering all that men may suffer and live for forty-three days, in an open boat, on a scorching tropical sea, one of the men feebly shouted the glad tidings, ‘LAND HO!’ The land was the island of Hawaii, and they were off Laupohoehoe and could see nothing in shore but breakers…. Two of Captain Spencer’ s natives saw the boat, knew by the appearance of things that it was in trouble, and dashed through the surf and swam out to it. When they climbed aboard there were only five yards of space between the poor sufferers and a sudden and violent death. Fifteen minutes afterwards the boat was beached upon the shore and a crowd of natives were around the strangers dumping bananas, melons, taro, poi – anything and everything they could scrape together that could be eaten – the Kanaka girls and men took the mariners in their arms like so many children and carried them up to the house, where they received kind and judicious attention…
The hardest berth in that boat, I think, must have been that of provision-keeper. This office was performed by the Captain and the third mate; of course they were always hungry. They always had access to the food, and yet must not gratify their craving appetites…
The young Fergusons are very highly spoken of by all the boat’s crew, as patient, enduring, manly and kind-hearted gentlemen. The Captain gave them a watch to themselves – it was the duty of each to bail the water out of the boat three hours a day…
To this man’s good sense, cool judgment, perfect discipline, close attention to the smallest particulars which could conduce to the welfare of his crew or render their ultimate rescue more probable, that boat’s crew owe their lives. He has shown brain and ability that make him worthy to command the finest frigate in the United States, and a genuine unassuming heroism that entitle him to a Congressional medal. In the above remarks I am only echoing the expressed opinions of numbers of persons…
Captain Mitchell, one sailor, and the two Fergusons are still at Hilo. The two first mentioned are pretty feeble, from what I can learn. The Captain’s sense of responsibility kept him strong and awake all through the voyage, but as soon as he landed and that fearful strain upon his faculties was removed, he was prostrated – became the feeblest of the boat’s company….
The seamen here are doing remarkably well, considering all things. They already walk about the hospital a little; and very stiffed-legged, because of the long inaction their muscles have experienced…
When they came ashore at Hawaii, no man in the party had had any movement of his bowels for eighteen days, several not for twenty-five days or thirty, one not for thirty-seven, and one not one for forty-four days. As soon as any of these men can travel they will be sent to San Francisco…
I have written this lengthy letter in a great hurry in order to get it off by the bark Milton Badger, if the thing be possible, and I may have made a good many mistakes, but I hardly think so. All the statistical information in it comes from the 3rd mate, and he may have made mistakes, because he tells his story entirely from memory, and although he has naturally a most excellent one, it might well be pardoned for inaccuracies concerning events which transpired during a series of weeks that never saw his mind strongly fixed upon any thought save the weary longing for food and water. But the log-books of the Captain and the two passengers will tell the terrible romance from the first day to the last in faithful detail, and these I shall forward by the next mail if I am permitted to copy them.”
The Story of Casco Castle
South Freeport village, where the tower of Casco Castle still stands, is a small village once famous for shipbuilding. It is located twelve miles from Portland, Maine, by water and fifteen miles by land. In the early nineteen hundreds it was quiet, and communication with the outside world was by means of the Maine Central Railroad and in summer by steamboat from Portland and the islands. Local travel was by horse and buggy or sleigh.
The building of Casco Castle in 1903 is linked to the development of the electric trolley car that was then regarded as the ultimate in rapid transportation. The Brunswick-Yarmouth Street Railway was a link in the system by which a person with sufficient stamina could travel from Bangor to Boston “on the cars.”
Amos Gerald of Fairfield, Maine, a natural promoter, dreamed of making a fortune for himself and others in the street railway business. To increase patronage of the trolleys a number of amusement parks were built, the showiest of these being Casco Castle and Amusement Park in South Freeport.
The Castle was built on a high rocky hill overlooking the bay which gave it its name. The approach from the trolley line was by means of a suspension bridge across a branch of Spar Creek. A flight of steep steps led to the hotel which was built entirely of wood with gray shingles to simulate stone. Many described the Castle as a “Yankee’s dream” of a Spanish castle. It was joined by bridges to the stone tower which still stands today.
The tower is a remarkable piece of work. The contractor and builder was a local man, Benjamin Franklin Dunning. As nearby rocky fields were cleared, the stones were used for walls, really stone fences, which lined the roads and separated neighboring properties. Stones from some of these walls were hauled up the steep hill by ox and horse and built into the tower. Wooden stairs with platforms lined the tower which was one hundred feet high. The views of the bay and the countryside from the top of the tower were magnificent.
The hotel had accommodations for a hundred guests. Rates, according to the menu cards, were three dollars a day for room and meals or “twelve dollars and up per week.” Shore, steak and chicken dinners were fifty cents. It is well to remember that the common laborers then earned a dollar for a long day’s work and worked six days a week.
The amusement park that surrounded the hill on three sides was open to the public. There was a small zoo with a frequent change of denizens. There were usually monkeys, bison and Angus cattle (a rare sight in Maine in those days). Once there were two wolves and a coyote. One summer a peacock strutted about the grounds and put on a great display.
The formal gardens were worthy of the name. The superintendent, J. J. Turner, was an expert gardener and made the most of the rocky hillside. The Castle ballpark was the delight of local fans, for Freeport was and still is a great baseball town.
The picnic grounds probably attracted more people than the hotel dining room. Comparatively rapid and cheap transportation drew the crowds. The trolley fare at first was five cents for three miles, and on summer Sundays the open trolleys were packed.
The hotel itself had, it seems, only a few paying seasons. In spite of early reports it was never a resort for the fashionable or the wealthy. The rapid rise of the automobile led to the decline of the trolley, and fashions in amusements changed and after a few seasons the hotel was closed. A few attempts were made toward revival; the last was in 1914 which ended in disaster. In September, as the guests were packing up to leave, fire broke out, and the entire hotel structure burned to the ground. The wooden stairs in the tower sent flames shooting high into the air. There was so suspicion of arson as the wood was tinder dry. The masonry of the tower withstood the heat of the flames, and today is a well-known landmark for the fishing and pleasure boats that throng the bay.
The stone tower of the Casco Castle stands today on private property. The best place to view the tower is from Freeport’s town park, Winslow Park, located at the end of Staples Point Road.
Freeport Historical Society’s collections include the notebooks of J. J. Turner, a contribution from his great-grandson David Emmith. David’s website The Life and Times of John J. Turner highlights The Casco Castle Years as recorded in Turner’s extensive scrapbooks of photos, newspaper clippings, and other memorabilia.
Eleanor Houston and Lawrence M.C. Smith
The Story of Eleanor Houston and Lawrence M.C. Smith
Collectors, Conservationists, Environmentalists, Farmers, Philanthropists, Preservationists
Lawrence M.C. ‘Sam” Smith (1902-1975) was born in Philadelphia to an old Philadelphia and Delaware County family, educated at the Haverford School, the University of Pennsylvania, and Oxford. By profession a lawyer, he became many other things as well-conservationist, collector, farmer, to name but a few-and yet he preferred to think of himself as a “generalist.” He practiced law in Philadelphia for five years before moving, with his new bride of 1933, to Washington, D.C.
His bride was the former Eleanor Houston (1910-1987), also from an old Philadelphia family with Pennsylvania roots going back to the days of William Penn. She was the daughter of Samuel Frederic Houston, developer of the delightful Chestnut Hill area of the city and granddaughter of Pennsylvania Railroad executive Henry Howard Houston. Mrs. Smith strongly and generously supported many national conservation organizations and was particularly concerned about the preservation of beach, forest, fields, and farms. Her conservation interests were further guided when she read Malabar Farm by Louis Bromfield, in which Bromfield described his experiments in organic agriculture. Mrs. Smith was a Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania, served two terms on the Historical Commission of Pennsylvania, was a longtime member of the Board of Governors of the Nature Conservancy, and in 1987 she received the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from the Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science. From the day they were married until Sam Smith’s death in 1975 they worked as a team in all things-with foresight, fervor, and joy.
In Washington, as part of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Administration, L.M.C. Smith served, successfully, for more than a dozen years as general coordinator of the legal division of the National Recovery Administration, as associate counsel for investigation and study of investment trusts at the Securities and Exchange Commission, and, during World War II, as chief of the special war policies unit of the Department of Justice, chief of the economic mission to French West Africa, and head of the United States Purchasing Mission in Switzerland. For his wartime services, he became a Chevalier of the Legion d’Honneur of France and was awarded Brazil’s Order of the Southern Cross.
After the war, the Smiths returned to Philadelphia, whence he became active in UNESCO, of which he was national vice-chairman for ten years preceding his death. In Philadelphia he served as chairman of the Board of Trade and Conventions for nearly a decade and for his work there was honored with the Order of the British Empire. He was also the founder of the local chapter of Americans for Democratic Action, the Human Relations Commission, and the Housing Association. At the same time, Sam and Eleanor Smith together founded Philadelphia’s first classical music station, WFLN-FM, and created the Schuykill Valley Nature Center.
“At some point you have to decide how to use your money to benefit society. We didn’t have too much trouble deciding how to employ it in Maine….
The land spoke to us and told us what do. All we could say was ‘yes, sir!’ ”
~Lawrence M.C. Smith
In 1946 they purchased the nucleus of what was to become a saltwater organic beef farm on Wolfe’s Neck, Freeport, Maine. There, with Casco Bay sparkling on one side and the Harraseeket River ebbing and flowing on the other, the Smiths and their six children summered.
It was against this background, with a succession of worthy projects yet to come, that the Smiths became infatuated with ancient maps, globes, and atlases. Concentrating on maps depicting the northeast coast of America, Mrs. Smith choose the University of Southern Maine as the collection’s guardian, now known as the Osher Map Library and Smith Center for Cartographic Education.
During this period, and for nearly another ten years of joint collecting, they together nurtured their organically raised Angus beef herd at Wolfe’s Neck Farm, experimented with alternative agricultural methods, and fought successfully in court for Maine property owners to have the right to prevent Central Maine Power from spraying their land with chemical defoliants.
They gave portions of their farm to the state for public use as Wolfe Neck Woods State Park, a parcel of nearby land for Maine Audubon Society’s Mast Landing Sanctuary, the early nineteenth-century Pettengill house and farm to Freeport Historical Society, and the historic Percy & Small Shipyard in Bath, Maine, to Maine Maritime Museum. They also enabled the preservation of the ecologically important Popham Beach as a state park. Together they founded the Landguard Trust, purchasing Stone Island, Machiasport, Maine, and later transferring ownership to the Nature Conservancy.
In the eleven years remaining following her husband’s death, Eleanor Houston Smith pursued the course they had set for themselves years before. She donated the bulk of her Wolfe’s Neck Farm to the American Farmland Trust, to be administered by the University of Southern Maine, and gave her summer home to the same institution for a conference center. The Wolfe’s Neck Farm is now owned and managed by the Wolfe’s Neck Farm Foundation. She bequeathed to Freeport Historical Society the ca. 1830 Harrington House, which houses their collections and research library.
The Smiths’ preference for anonymity led to their never having been given proper credit for their leadership in Maine’s land use policies or for their foresight in purchasing significant properties for preservation, in perpetuity, for all citizens.
“We’ve dropped a pebble, now we have to see where the ripples go.”
~Eleanor Houston Smith
This information was excerpted from the following sources:
Austin, Phyllis. Maine Times, August 22, 1975.
Clark Jeff. Maine Times, June 22, 1984, “The Wolfe’s Neck Gift, A model for alternative agriculture joins with
an urban university.”
Mooney, James E. American Antiquarian Society. Obituary for Lawrence Meredith Clemson Smith, 1975.
Portland Press Herald. Obituary for Eleanor Houston Smith, early environmentalist and philanthropist, 1987.
Smith, Philip Chadwick Foster. “Introduction,” Maps, Globes, Atlases and Geographies Through the Year 1800, The Eleanor Houston and Lawrence M.C. Smith Cartographic Collection at the Smith Cartographic Center, University of Southern Maine.
Portland, Maine: University of Southern Maine. c1988.
E.B. Mallet, Jr.
The unique story of a lucky Maine legislator who inherited a fortune and is building up a town.
Special correspondence, Lewiston Journal, 1885
“No stranger luck every befell a Maine town as that which came to Freeport through the good fortune and munificence of a gentleman known as Mr. E. B. Mallet, Jr., but greeted by the people of that village universally as Ed!
The attention of almost everybody who has visited the State House at Augusta this winter has been called to a clean-looking young man with an open face, dark curly hair, a short brown mustache and a finely rounded form. He had been pointed out as the representative from Freeport-as the noted Mr. Mallet, who inherited an immense fortune from a queer old uncle, and who built a shoe factory and started many enterprises, merely to benefit his neighbors. Never was there a more striking illustration of what one man with an abundance of both public spirit and capital can do for a town, than is afforded by the current history of Freeport. Seldom has a novelist described a more dramatic representative to the Legislature.
It was Thomas Mallet the second who accumulated the Mallet million and opened the way for this laudable exercise of public spirit by his heir, and the consequent prosperity of the Town of Freeport. Thomas was born in 1804, leaving home when he was sixteen for the sea. “Tom” sailed out of Thomaston in the brig Enterprise in 1823, with nothing but clothes on his back and an extra shirt. Sixty-one years afterwards, he died worth almost a million dollars. Edmund Mallet, Jr., with whose name this sketch opens, was always his rich uncle’s favorite nephew. He expected to get a comforting legacy of $10,000 from Uncle Tom, but he was the most surprised man in the State of Maine to find that after bequeathing several legacies of $10,000 or $20,000 each to his other relatives, the old gentleman had left the residue of his property, amounting to $700,000 to him. It was a happy day for Freeport when the heir of old Thomas Mallet decided to move from Pownal to Freeport. Thus “Ed” began his career of enterprise in Freeport, which has made it a new town and which has not stopped yet. Up to this time Freeport Village was a trading corner for farmers and the home of a number of retired sea captains, but it contained no industries of any account.
Mr. Mallet started by building a shoe factory at a cost of $20,000. In obtaining stone for its foundation, he happened to strike a good quarry of granite and he embarked in the granite business, giving employment to 100 men last season. The town needed a grist mill. Mr. Mallet built one, and a good one too, at a cost of twelve or fifteen thousand dollars, and fitted it with the best machinery which he is now running. There was no saw mill in town. To build one was Mr. Mallet’s next move. The mill is nearly completed and will be in full blast next week. It contains both sawing and planeing machinery. Between the grist mill and the saw mill is a brick engine house, flanked by a monster brick chimney, both of which were built from the product of another of Mr. Mallet’s enterprises. Last season he opened a successful brick yard. The bricks proved to be so good that he proposes to manufacture a million next summer. At the opening of winter he bought a piece of timber land and put on a crew of a dozen men or more, to cut and haul it. Within the past six months he has completed six pretty cottages and three tenement houses which are rented to men to whom his works give employment. He has disbursed to laboring men in Freeport nearly $3,000 per month the past year, and fifteen new houses have been built since he set the ball rolling. Do you wonder that his name is in everybody’s mouth in Freeport-that the citizens have elected him town treasurer and sent him to the Legislature and are ready to do anything they can for him?
Mr. Mallet was BORN IN THE ENGLISH CHANNEL on board is father’s ship 32 years ago. He is a handsome fellow, with reserved manners, a great fondness for his library. With his wife and four beautiful children he lives in a modest house, surrounded by well-chosen oil paintings and a wealth of books. He is a persistent student. He uses no tobacco, and is a total abstainer from liquors. He likes the swing of business life, and enjoys the luxury of managing…”
A short History of EB Mallet Jr. and the Mallet Barn on Wolf’es Neck
Freeport as Phoenix
A newly-donated painting tells the story of an interesting episode in Freeport’s twentieth-century history. James McNeely, son-in-law of the late Freeport Attorney Paul Powers, brought in a painting that depicts a sidewalk crowded with passers-by watching a fire. The painting, signed “Maki ’46” certainly looked like Main Street in Freeport, and since it belonged to Paul Powers (a fact confirmed by a sticker on the back of the frame), we gladly accepted it, promising Mr. McNeely to do some research and try to find out something about both it. Somewhat to our surprise, the explanation came to light quickly in our vertical file, and our collections records answered some questions about the painting itself.
The fire in the painting was clearly the one that burned the building at the corner of Main and Mechanic streets on June 26, 1946. According to accounts in the Portland Press Herald, the fire destroyed the Roma Lunch (where it started), the Freeport Hardware Co. Store, and two apartments, only one of which was occupied. Fortunately nobody was hurt, and the Royal Market, which was also in the building, escaped destruction, although it suffered smoke damage. The total damage was estimated at $35,000-$40,000.
The remarkable thing about this fire, though, was that it came just three weeks after an even larger fire, which destroyed the Clark Block at the corner of Main and Bow, just a block away. This fire, which broke out in the Kimball Pharmacy, caused damage that the newspaper estimated to be $150,000. It virtually destroyed Kimball’s and the Gould-Curtis clothing store, both of which were on the Main Street side of the building. Several other businesses, on Bow St. were heavily damaged. The fire swept through all three floors. Some of the 24 people living in Clark’s Hotel had to climb down a ladder to safety, but “even Miss Margaret Simond’s” Pomeranian was rescued by the firemen”.
These two fires, in the heart of the business district, clearly, dealt a blow to downtown Freeport. But less than a year later both properties were back on their feet again. Harland Heywood, who had owned the building at the corner of Mechanic Street for less than a year, replaced it with a concrete, steel reinforced building, which was occupied by Freeport Hardware (which he owned), Mason’s Drug Store, and the First National Store.
At the old Clark Block, Earle G. Shettleworth (whose son of the same name is so well known to us as the director of the Maine Historic Preservation Commission), had grasped the opportunity to purchase the building, whose brick structure had withstood the fire. By January, 1947, according to the newspaper, “in an era market by building material shortages, he has been able to renovate the entire block for occupancy.” Shettleworth, who had managed Woolworth’s Portland for 12 years, opened a store of his own in the rejuvenated building. This turn of events prompted the newspaper to publish “a series of article about enterprising Freeport, a modern Phoenix rising from the ashes.”
As for the painting, one of the newspaper articles mentioned that the Powers Block narrowly escaped the flames, thanks to a firewall between it and the Clark Block. The fact that it made it through two major fires so close by no doubt explains why Mr. Powers had the painting. To find out about the artist we started by searching for “Maki” in our collections database. It turns out that we have five acorn-shaped ceramic buttons in their original packaging, which is a card that says “By Virginia Ladd Maki.” The card also has a sketch of a house, labeled “Mast Landing Hilltop House, Freeport Maine.” Presumably, Maki did the sketch as well. Our obituary file confirmed that the Virginia Ladd Maki, of 96 Bow St., was an artist who “had one-man art shows in Palm Beach, Boston, New York, Ogunquit, and Rockland. She belonged to the New York Art Association, the Ogunquit Art Association, and the Freeport Art Club.”
The relative ease with which this all came to light is a tribute to the remarkable job that Collections staff and volunteers have done over the years in organizing, cataloguing, and documenting the collection.
Frederick E. Mortimer and His Photoplay Garden
For many years Freeporters had to go no farther than the Nordica Theatre on Bow Street for a night at the movies. While most long-term residents know about the Nordica, and many still remember it, few know, and probably none remember its predecessor, Mortimer’s Photoplay Theatre. The theater, sometimes referred to as the “Photoplay Garden,” was showing silent movies, and presenting musical performances and other actsas early as 1911. A paragraph in the Six Towns Times newspaper in October of that year announced that “Mr. F.E. Mortimer, proprietor of Freeport’s Photoplay theatre, has purchased lumber to build a small store at South Freeport.” The article went on to explain that the store would also serve as a waiting room for the Portland and Brunswick Street Railway. An advertisement for the theatre in the same edition proclaimed it “The People’s Popular Playhouse – Beautiful Moving Pictures and Illustrated Songs – Tuesday and Saturday.”
The admission was normally 10 cents, but in early October, 1911, when Mortimer presented The Passion Play, described as “3,000 feet of beautiful film,” ticket prices doubled to 20 cents, “owing to the expense of securing this attraction.” He also issued a special invitation to the clergy to attend this religiously-based work. This may have been part of a campaign to convince the locals that the theater did not pose a threat to the community’s moral standards: in another advertisement from 1911 he asserted that the theatre was “patronized by Freeport’s Best People,” and promised to give away 10 Rogers silver spoons with every performance.
And Frederick E. Mortimer was not your typical staid yankee businessman. An undated obituary from an unknown newspaper characterized him as an “actor, theatrical man, builder, promoter, pioneer, aeronaut, and prize fight referee.” He was born in Biddeford and by the age of 12 was performing magic tricks as “Master Frederick, the Boy Wonder.” He performed as a comedian in New York, and eventually headed west, where he performed in minstrel shows and vaudeville acts. For four years he operated the Gem Theater in Deadwood, Dakota. The gold that was discovered nearby brought in a steady stream of rough and ready adventurers, who spent their money freely, but had to be frisked for weapons on entering the theater. He operated theaters in several other mid-western towns, ran an amusement park in Little Rock, Arkansas, and once refereed a prize fight between John L. Sullivan and Joe Goss. In a role reminiscent of the Wizard of Oz, “Professor Mortimer” made balloon ascensions and parachute jumps. He barely escaped with his life in one instance, when his balloon burst into flames, and his parachute failed to open until he was just 50 feet above the ground. The brush on the ground below was credited with breaking his fall.
In 1882 he returned to Maine. With little cash, he opened the Lyceum Theater in Portland, and operated a theater on Peaks Island for one season. He showed silent movies in Yarmouth and South Portland, as well as Freeport, where, according to this obituary, he eventually opened the Nordica Theatre. He died in Freeport at the age of 72. He was survived by his wife Jennie, and was buried in a family lot in Biddeford.