Saturday, March 16, 2013

Some Folk Art too

Rooster Weathervane, Libby Farm, Scarborough c1820 - click to enlarge
Photo: Maine Historical Society via
  We don't know who made this rooster which was atop the barn for many years.  Some Folk Art is created as children's homework, or by a farmer who had the skills to make an object.
  Many pieces were made by sea captains, or sailors, some by soldiers - there are examples here of those.  But many things remain that were handed down and the origin is just unknown.  Whoever made the things we value, Thank you.
Powder Horn by Joseph Weir c1767 - click to enlarge
Photo: Maine Historical Society via
  This fancy horn from cattle was made for Joshua Freeman whose name is inscribed on it.  Powder horns were made for soldiers, for sportsmen too.  Used to carry gun powder for a musket.  Wonderful work by Mr. Weir.
An inlaid wooden box in the shape of a book c1862 - click to enlarge
Photo: Maine Historical Society via
  This box made by sea Captain David Noble Poor while he made trips from Portland to Cuba and return, it was his regular route.  Mr. Poors wife also made a quilt using the same "compass" pattern.  Very fine craftsmanship by Captain Poor, and by Mrs. Poor.

Friday, March 15, 2013

"We are growing to be somwhat cosmopolitan..."

Main Street, Waterville, Maine c1911 - click to enlarge
Photo: Waterville Public Library via
The title statement was made in 1911 during a public speech.  The newly formed City indeed was growing.  It's location as "central" in Maine, a major rail point, and water power worked together to make it grow.  The population about doubled with the influx of French-Canadian workers to staff the growing mills.  Paper products and cotton cloth and shirts were the major products that have now all but disappeared; the paper products remain in a facility shared with the neighboring Town of Fairfield.

The Lockwood Mill, in 1911, used seven million pounds of cotton to produce seven-teen million yards of fabric of varying widths.  And it's next door neighbor, Hathaway Shirts, was busy making one of the premier shirts of the Twentieth Century.  In 1911 they were making only white shirts for dress and "colorless black shirts" for laborers.  Business increased with the production of khaki shirts for the Army before and during World War One.
The Hollingsworth and Whitney mill made paper products. - click to enlarge
Photo: Waterville Public Library via
Maine Central Railroad roundhouse in 1900.
Photo: Waterville Public Library via

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Furniture store and history

Atherton Furniture store Portland Maine c1938 - click to enlarge
it was located at Free and Center streets
Photo: Maine Historical Society via
Atherton Furniture was started by LeBaron Atherton in 1897 in Lewiston, Maine; the chain grew to nine stores in Maine, Massachusetts and New York State.  The company went out of business in the 1980s.
It's interesting to go back a bit and see what items were for sale in the early part of the 1900s, many things we no longer see and some wouldn't recognize.  Of course over time most things change like a kitchen range or a lamp.  But, what did they used to look like?
The lamp department (left) in 1910 in the Waterville, Maine store - click to enlarge
Photo Maine Historical Society via
Front window display in Waterville in 1911 - click to enlarge
Photo: Maine Historical Society via
Stoves and ranges for heat or cooking in 1900 - click to enlarge
Photo: Maine Historical Society via

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Alanson Mellen "Mellie" Dunham, part 3

Mellie (L) and Gram (R) in Mellie's dance band c1925, shortly after their 50th anniversary - click to enlarge
Photo: Norway Historical Society via
  Remember in Part one Mellie had been given a violin in pieces?  Mellie put the violin together and taught himself to play fiddle - not a terribly easy task.  The very fact that he was successful in this venture, as well as the snowshoe business, testifies to what great amount of Yankee Ingenuity he had.
  Mellie knew that Henry Ford out in Dearborn Michigan had an interest in fiddles as well as the "old time" dance bands - Mellie wrote Mr. Ford a letter and was invited to play for him.
  On December 7, 1925 Mellie and Gram left for Dearborn to meet Mr. Ford, they played a performance at Mr. Fords dance studio and met with Mr. Ford.  I would imagine that would be quite an honor for a farm boy from Maine.  When they left Norway Mr. Ralph Owen Brewster the Governor or Maine was on hand to see them off, along with news people from all over Maine, New England and even New York City.
Mellie with Henry Ford - click to enlarge
Photo: Norway Historical Society via
Mellie plays his fiddle at home c1927
Photo: Norway Historical Society via


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Mellie Dunham, part 2 the snowshoes

The Peary snowshoes - click to enlarge
Photo: Norway Historical Society via
  Mellie Dunham began making snowshoes in 1878 using a mold the Clarence Smith had given him.  Mr. Smith was the man who first made snowshoes with the toe turned up, now a common practice.
  He made and sold a few pair each year and the business for his quality craftsmanship grew, by 1885 he was making and selling over 30 pair each year.  Local newspapers printed articles about the quality and great aspects of his work, and he began to become more well known, by 1895 he was making 75 pair a year.
  In 1901 he took several pair of snowshoes to a Sportsman Exhibition in New York City and was so well received that he took his son-in-law, a nephew and a neighbor into the business and by 1904, making 314 pair, was the largest maker of snowshoes in Maine.
  In 1905 he made 75 pair for Commodore Robert E. Peary to be used on his last two Arctic Explorations.  Several pair were 60 inches long and 12 inches wide, and most were 48 inches long and 12 inches wide.
  Mr. Dunham with his son-in-law named the business Norway Snowshoe Company in a building in town, enlarged it in 1910 and by 1912 were making over 500 pair a year.  Mr. Noble took over the business in 1924.
The workshop in c1915 - click to enlarge
Photo: Norway Historical Society via

A 1907 advertising card - click to enlarge
Photo: Norway Historical Society via

Monday, March 11, 2013

Mellie Dunham - part 1

Mellie Dunham c1925 - click to enlarge
Photo: Norway Historical Society via
  Mellie Dunham was born, raised, lived and died on Crockett Ridge in Norway, Maine.  Norway is in Oxford County in western Maine.
  He was a tinkerer and by age 12 showed signs of craftsmanship and by the time he died had been sucessful in his craftsmanship, and in his love of music.  He purchased a violin in pieces, put it back together, and learned to play fiddle - by himself, no lessons.
  Farming in Maine his entire life with the help of his wife Emma "Gram" Richardson Dunham.  They were, as were many in Maine, self-sufficient farmers who ate what they grew or hunted for.
  In his lifetime, as we will learn, his love of "Gram", music and craftsmanship formed a legacy of him.
Emma "gram" Richardson Dunham c1895 - click to enlarge
Photo: Norway Historical Society via
The family homestead, Mellie was born, raised and died on this farm. - click to enlarge
Photo: Norway Historical Society via

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Mt. Katahdin and A. Granger

Mt. Katahdin and A. Granger
  A. S. Rand of Stetson, Maine (the next town up the road) wanted to breed a pair of oxen for size.  Breeding a Holstein with a Durham produced the desired result.  Mr. Rand named the pair after the two biggest things in Maine at the time; Mount Katahdin and the Grange, which had a huge membership.
  They were early to win prizes at the area fairs, and by age two tipped the scales at 6600 pounds for the pair.  They grew to be unable to work well and the worried farmer put the water for the oxen at the top of four large granite steps so the oxen had to walk up and down, it worked.
  In 1906 Mr. Rand and his oxen were at Madison Square Garden in New York City and the pair rounded the ring to much applause.  With the hair brushed to perfection and their hooves and horns polished they looked like a black mountain one man remarked.  By that time Granger weighed 4800 pounds, and Mt. Katahdin weighed 5000 pounds and was 13 feet 6 inched from the tip of his nose to the tip of his tail.
  Mt. Katahdin died of a burst bladder at age eleven and Mr. Rand had him stuffed, at a cost of $175, and the mounted ox was still a favorite at fairs.
Creambrook Farm in Stetson, Mr. Rands farm
Photo Stetson Historical Society via
At the Etna Train Station 1904
Photo: Stetson Historical Society via
Eliab Shephardson with the mounted ox in 1931
Photo: Stetson Historical Society via