Monday, October 28, 2013

Factory Square History Walk ~ Additional Information Discovered Revised 6/24/2014

William Turner c.1844 at Old Kents Hill Road was included
on the Factory Square history walk on 10/11/13.
On our 10/11/2013 History Walk we included the Curtis (previously Louise Wood) house on Old Kents Hill Road but at the time knew nothing about the origin of the house or what the adjacent stream / water power / dam was used for. No one knew the origin of the name Handy Stream either  or who built that (lovely old) dam. All we knew was that this was part of the Factory Square industrial area. So I did a little digging and below is what I came up with. Anyone who has info to add please feel free to email me.
First of all, Nathaniel Handy lived there around 1930 – thus the name Handy Stream. The house was built by William Turner c.1844. The land this house sits on was sold to Turner by Lot Morrill in 1847 and in the deed it says that Turner had already built a dwelling house on the property. The births of two of William Turner's children were recorded in Readfield. The first was born on 10/4/1844 - which leads me to believe this is about the time Turner built this home.

This parcel is located on the easterly line of lot #211. Water flowage rights (from the adjoining stream and dam) were reserved for Joshua Bean's tan yard. The southeast corner of the tan yard bordered on this property.*

This dam on Handy Stream is on the Old Kents Hill Rd
was built by Joshua Bean in 1817 and supplied the
water necessary for his tannery.
I did not search beyond this in the deeds because I found what I was looking for – when house was built and what the water and dam was used for. In referring to Kingsbury's History of Kennebec County pg. 894 the following information is given about this tanning mill: " Joshua Bean built a tannery and a bark mill before 1815 on a stream that crosses what used to be called Cameron Hill. This was in operation as late as 1840." One of the old deeds from which I extracted the above information refers to an adjoining property as "...previously known as the Cameron place..." The same deed also refers to Bean's mill pond.** So this is where Cameron Hill is - I have always wondered! Another piece of our history puzzle solved!

UPDATE 6/24/2014: Another reference to Cameron was found in 1815 when Joshua Bean and his brother-in-law bought land part/of lot #211 at this location. The deed (book 24 page 111) gave all rights to Bean and Pierce except the dwelling house where Collin Cameron was living at the time. One year later Bean and Pierce bought 4 acres of land on the bank of White's Brook (now called Handy) on the western line of lot #212. One year later, in 1817, Bean bought Pierce's interest in this 4 acre piece and Pierce gave Bean the right to build a dam and flood part of his land for use of a mill. Bean's occupation was listed as tanner.***

Joshua Bean was son of Elisha and grandson of Joshua Bean, the original Bean in Readfield. Joshua's uncle, Joel O. Bean, built and ran a sawmill, gristmill and fulling mill on Torsey Pond. He and three of his sons had homesteads on Thundercastle and Chase Roads. We will be holding History Walks at two locations in that area in the fall of 2014. There will also be a presentation at Maranacook Adult Ed about "The Beans of Readfield Maine" the fall of 2014.

NOTE: There were two Bean's mill ponds in this area - the other we now know as Torsey Pond. From what I can gather, the two were differentiated by being called Bean's mill pond (on White or Handy Brook) and Joel's pond or Joel Bean's mill pond (Torsey). 

* Kennebec County Registry of Deeds Book 165 Pages 412-413 1/4/1847
** Kennebec County Registry of Deeds Book 127 Book 403
*** Kennebec County Registry of Deeds Book 42 Page 257-259; book 24 page 235

Here are some tidbits about another house that we knew little about when we walked Factory Square. The "Grist Mill house" brought out significant interest. It is located on Factory Square next to the stream. I actually stumbled onto some very interesting information about this house when researching for History Walk #15. 

"The Grist Mill house" on Factory Square.
This house is located on the Mill Stream Road / Factory Square and is no longer habitable (in 2013). In the old deeds it is described as the "Grist Mill house". On November 18, 1805 James Craig, who built the grist mill at Factory Square, sold his grist mill lot and buildings thereon on lot #212 to Robert Page (Kennebec Registry of Deeds Book 9 Page 53). The deed states that on the land was "a grist mill, house and barn." COULD it be this was the home of James Craig - one of Readfield's most visible and influential industrial pioneers? In later deeds this property's boundaries are given as: beginning at the southwest corner of the cheese factory lot and north side of the north bridge at the grist mill. At this time I do not know the exact date it was built, but I do know that if it was the home of James Craig it would have been built well before 1800. James Craig came to Readfield c.1770. Harley Weatherby lived here in the 1940s. After that Miss Mildred Humphrey lived here. She was a favorite of the young children who lived in town.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

HISTORY WALK #15 ~ John Lane and Jere Page Homesteads and Mills ~ Friday, November 8, 2013 (UPDATED 10/31/2013)

The Jere Page homestead c.1825 near Beaver Brook
10/31/2013: Please note corrected address at the end of this post and new parking instructions.

On this History Walk we will visit and learn about the mills that were located on Beaver Brook - between Readfield Depot and East Readfield. We will share information about two brothers Simon and Robert Page who both had a very visible presence in Readfield early on. We will also be introduced to John Lane - the "other Lane" who lived near here - on the opposite end of town from James and Ephraim Lane. Were they related? That's yet to be told. John Lane built an "oil mill" on Beaver Brook. Soon after Jere Page - Robert's son - constructed a sawmill on the same brook which was still operating in the early 20th century. The dam and Mill Pond are still intact as are the John Lane and Jere Page homesteads located on either side of Beaver Brook.
Ira and Marjorie Ellis have graciously agreed to host us. Meet at the Ellis home at 10am at 581 Main Street, Readfield. They just had their driveway paved so ask that we not drive on it IF we have studded snow tires. Otherwise go into the yard. There is a parking place across the road beside the brook where you can park also. We suggest you car pool if possible. As always, bring a sandwich and drinking water. We recommend a walking stick and sturdy shoes. See you then!

Monday, October 14, 2013

HISTORY WALKS # 15 AND #16 ~ November 8th and 22nd

Mark your calendars for November 8th and 22nd for the 15th and 16th
Readfield History Walks. We will be announcing places and details soon!
In the meantime, remember to join us on Friday October 25th
for the trek through Luce Memorial Forest. Follow this link FMI.

Friday, October 11, 2013

HISTORY WALK # 14 ~ Luce Memorial Forest ~ Friday October 25, 2013 (REVISED 10/31/2013)

Some of the History Walkers at Luce Memorial Forest.
This long anticipated History Walk will encompass the former Luce farm on the Dan Luce Road (now called Huntoon Road). Beriah Luce was the progenitor of the Luce family of Readfield. It is said the Luce men came from a long line of sea captains, but like so many others who were living on Martha's Vineyard and Cape Cod in the late 18th century, they were forced to find a new place to live due to exhausted resources in southern New England. So in 1780 Beriah, his wife Remember (Foster) Luce, and their seven children, came to Readfield (then called Winthrop) from Martha's Vineyard and settled in Readfield (then part of Winthrop).

Beriah and his sons William, Freeman, Ellis and Prince Luce settled near (what is currently known as) Readfield Depot.  Prince's son Samuel Howland Luce, then his grandson Nelson Samuel followed by his g-grandson Edgar lived on the original Prince Luce homestead until that burned in 1932. Beriah Luce's direct descendants still own land and have a residence there (on Luce Road) in 2013.

As the years went on Beriah's son Shubael Luce, grandson Thomas and g-grandson Daniel all farmed the land we will be exploring on 10/25. Ultimately this Luce homestead included a cape cod house with attached el, and a large barn and several out buildings. The pastures and stone walls were expansive. The foundations, wells and much of the rock work are still evident.
All told there were five generations of the Luce clan who lived on this land throughout the 18th, 19th and into the 20th century. The last of the line to live on the farm was Dan Luce and his children. Dan Luce married in 1868 to Lydia Ladd d/o Warren and Lydia (Wellman) Ladd. Dan Luce died in 1907 and Emily in 1917. They had two sons and two daughters. Their youngest child, Hannah, died in infancy in 1887; Chester never married and died at age 19 in 1902 of a fractured skull when he was hit by a train; their oldest child, Thomas Warren Luce, became a physician and moved to Portsmouth, NH. He and his wife Nettie Leighton had two daughters. Dr. Thomas died in 1936 in Portsmouth; Dan and Emily's second child was Gertrude. She lived on the farm until  her brother's wife died in 1911 and then she moved to Portsmouth to help him raise his daughters. Gertrude never married and died in Portsmouth in 1950. All are buried in Readfield Corner Cemetery.
By 1987 the house was all that remained and was struck by vandals. The Readfield Historical Society received some of the house's contents from the heirs who then authorized the Readfield Fire Department to level the building in a controlled burn. After that they donated this property to the New England Forestry Foundation in memory of Emily Ladd Luce.

On October 25th Ellen Blanchard of Readfield, who is the New England Forestry Foundation (NEFF) steward of this property, will guide us on an exploration of the land. We are reaching out to some folks who once lived on this farm and Luce family descendants in hopes they will join us. You will see pictures of what the Luce farm looked like in its heyday; and visit the "Know Nothing rock" - a well kept secret for more than 150 years until now! Wear sturdy waterproof shoes or hiking boots; bring a sandwich and drinking water; a walking stick is recommended. There is plenty of parking but we do encourage car pooling. Read on FMI about the land trust and directions to the property.
LUCE MEMORIAL FOREST. This 78-acre property was conveyed to the NEFF in 1991 by James M. Smith and Julia H.M. Smith Solmssen. Three contiguous parcels have been under professional management by NEFF since 1951. There are no marked trails, but the area is open for hiking, hunting, and other non-motorized recreation. No off-road vehicles or overnight camping. Directions: From Readfield Corner, go west on Main Street (Route 17) 0.5 mile. Turn left onto Sturtevant Hill Road and go 2.2 miles. Turn right onto Huntoon Road and go 0.3 mile. Park on the right at the sign for the Emily Luce Memorial Forest.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Relief Savage Gordon to visit Maranacook Adult Ed ~ Wed. October 23, 2013

Relief will be visiting Maranacook Adult Ed October 23rd 6:30-8:pm. $5.00 registration will go to Readfield Historical Society. To read the description visit the Adult Ed catalogue online - see Living History on page 19. 

Relief Savage was born at old Fort Western in 1769, married Daniel Gordon of East Readfield and died here at the ripe age of 92. Over the past few years she has “come alive” as a well known character in our parts. She has led historical bus tours in Readfield and likes to tell tales about her town, family and their way of life. Watch her come alive before your eyes when Dale Potter Clark, historical interpreter and Relief’s 4th g-granddaughter, transforms herself into “Relief’s time.”