BREWER HISTORICAL SOCIETY NEWSLETTER
“Today’s news is tomorrow’s history”
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T.C. Hanna , editor (989-2245)
The Brewer Historical Society would like to thank the following corporate sponsors and supporters
Camden National Bank
City of Brewer
Brewer Federal Credit Union
Brewer High School Air Force Junior ROTC
Brewer Parks and Recreation
Dead River Company
Eastern Maine Development Corporation
Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems
Joseph Ferris, Esq.
Getchell Brothers Inc.
Gold Star Cleaners
Green Thumb Lawn Service
Rand / Rand Dentistry
Scotts Lawn Service
TradeWinds Convenience Store
FRIENDS OF CHAMBERLAIN FREEDOM PARK
Allen / Freeman / McDonnell Insurance
Machias Savings Bank
(Thank you for your support of Chamberlain Freedom Park and the Brewer Historical Society)
(The Brewer Historical Society newsletter is copied using the facilities at Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems. Thank you to EMHS and their staff)
Clewley Museum Holiday Open House
The Clewley Museum was elaborately decorated for the holiday season one cold Saturday afternoon last December and the public was invited to “be part of Christmas in the early 1900’s”. There was a promise to “experience how our forefathers celebrated the holidays” including holiday treats and music. Historical society members had created decorative wreaths, specialty foods and colorful holiday cookies for sale. The event turned into a wonderful Christmas gathering with many members of the historical society enjoying the warmth and nostalgia of the richly decorated rooms. Many guests stopped by, including Maine Legislator and Brewer Historical Society member Archie Verow and his wife Fran. Channel 7 television sent a reporter and Jean Lyford was interviewed bedside a wonderfully decorated Christmas tree. Meanwhile, the dining room was decked out with treats for the guests and members. We send a special thank you to Joanne Black, Barney Thompson and Susan Xirinachs for wreaths and other holiday décor that were sold to help pay for the event. Several members baked goodies including Phyllis Earley’s famous fudge and Ellen Hayes fruitcake passed down from husband Bill’s family recipe. T.C. Hanna and her sister Pam Harris prepared several varieties of cookies while Jean Lyford made apple squares and Charlotte Thompson served a tasty holiday punch. Ron and Helga Kitteredge, Barney and Charlotte Thompson, along with T.C. Hanna decorated. Clayton Rogers provided holiday music on the 1800s pump organ. Lola Buillon and Alan King made special treats and donations. Jen Swayze,, a friend of tre Historical Society, made lovely baskets full of treats there were quickly sold. The occasion was like being part of a family at the turn of the century and a reminder of how good friends make a warm home.
Smithsonian Museum Archeologist Visits the Brewer Historical Society
Kate McMahon, an archeologist preparing for her doctoral dissertation from Howard University, visited the Clewley Museum and Resource Center last December to lay the groundwork for her upcoming research. Kate is employed by the Smithsonian Museum in Washington (D.C.) and is a member of a team that will research the role of the “underground railroad” in Maine. The Smithsonian is getting ready to unveil its newest museum on the Washington Mall which is dedicated to African American history. Part of the museum display involves the role of the “underground railroad’, a trail that developed as escaped slaves made their way to the freedom of Canada. Because of “The Fugitive Slave Act” of the 1850s, it was illegal for anyone in a free state (e.g. Maine) to help a runaway slave, An individual was obligated to return the slave to the “owner” or face harsh legal consequences. However, many people put themselves at risk and helped guide the slaves to freedom by providing information, food and shelter. The major trail of the “underground railroad” was through the Midwestern states and western New England, but there is evidence that Maine was involved, especially along the coast where ships could secretly transport slaves from the southern states. A lot of preliminary work on Maine’s involvement was done by Brian Higgins, past president of the Historical Society, and his colleagues. Brian believed passionately in the role that Maine played in the “underground railroad” especially as it applied to the John Holyoke house (later known as the Christmas house). John Holyoke was an abolitionist and there is evidence that the house was involved in the transportation of slaves. The house was razed by the Maine Department of Transportation in the 1990s despite local efforts to save it. However, The D.O.T. did lease the remaining property (after widening the road) to the Brewer Historical Society. Brian Higgins, along with Legislator Dick Campbell, prepared the area as an interpretation of Gettysburg’s Little Round Top” and erected a statue to Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. Later, a second statue of an escaped slave paid homage to Maine’s role in the “underground railroad”. Today, Chamberlain-Freedom Park is a major part of the Brewer scene. In the summer of 2015, the Brewer Historical Society will provide Kate McMahon with information on this preliminary work, including a shirt that was found in the rafters of the Holyoke house which may have been from an escaped slave. We look forward to a scholarly evaluation of Maine’s role in the “underground railroad” especially in the Penobscot corridor of Brewer and Bangor.
Brewer Historical Society Contributes to “Memories of Maine” Magazine
The Brewer Historical Society was asked to provide an article for the March edition of “Memories of Maine” magazine, a regional publication that provides information on Maine history. Publisher David Branch wanted an article about brick making in Brewer and we were pleased to provide information regarding this important Brewer Industry. With documents available for the Historical Society Resource Center, prose by David Hanna, along with input from Bill Hayes, T.C. Hanna and Brooks Brick Company; an overview of the brick making industry was developed. The article focused on the geology, subsequent natural resources, economy, and industrial opportunities of 1800s Brewer. Brick making in Brewer was a major economic force and up to twenty brickyards helped determine Brewer’s present topography. The article also described the brick making process and the difficulties presented to the laborers. Brewer brick was placed in the hold of sailing ships (along with limber and hay) and transported along the East coast and beyond. It was the “gold standard” of bricks and the federal government requested “Brewer brick or its equivalent”.
The article is slated for the March edition of “Memories of Maine” magazine and may be obtained at magazine racks around the area. Copies will also be available at the Brewer Historical Society
Henry Wiswell Discusses the Barbour Family and Boats
On a bitterly cold January 13th, The Brewer Historical Society was treated to a talk by Orrington native and local icon, Henry Wiswell. Henry discussed his relationship with the famous boatbuilding Barbour family. His grandmother was Alice Barbour, daughter of Captain Samuel and Alice Barbour.
Samuel Barbour is one of the most celebrated makers of vessels in Brewer history. He was born in 1839 and lived on Verona Island for many years. Then in 1865 he married Alice Hall and moved to Center Street in Brewer. There he raised a family consisting of five daughters and two sons.
Samuel was a captain during the Civil War who decided to build coastal steamboats and he did so for many years. The Barbour yard stood at the end of Union Street near the present day “High Tide” Restaurant. Between 1874 and 1902 the Barbour family built twenty-six steamboats along with several schooners.
The purpose of Samuel’s business was to build steamboats that would carry passengers and freight to the towns along the immediate coast, including Bar Harbor and Castine. The steamship line made regular trips between these towns and others in the Penobscot region. Such boat names as the “Cimbria” and the Castine” became famous in the area. The “Verona”, built in 19021 was the last of the great Barbour boats.
Samuel Barbour died in 1896. The business which he originated was carried on by members of his family for about 10 more years and leaving a historic legacy.
True North: Trice’s Story
By Mark Alan Leslie
Maine author Mark Alan Leslie has written an informative and entertaining novel about an escaped slave and his travels along the Underground Railroad. The climax of the story takes place in Brewer and incorporates the John Holyoke house and adventures along the Penobscot River. Mark has utilized the “North to Freedom” statue on the cover of the book and has noted that the Brewer Historical Society’s Chamberlain-Freedom Park is the home of the statue.
Mark Alan Leslie grew up in Brewer from the age of 11, graduating in 1966 from Brewer High School, where one of his teachers was well-known local historian James Vickery. Mark’s brother, David, is a 1963 graduate of Brewer High.
Their mother, Mary, taught sophomore English at Brewer High for many years before retiring and serving on the Brewer School Committee for a time.
Their father, Harry, was a well-known insurance salesman for UNUM in Bangor. The Leslies lived on Crescent Street for a number of years, then on Birchwood Boulevard.
Mark graduated from the University of Maine-Orono in 1971 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, while David graduated from UMO earlier with a degree in electrical engineering.
The winner of five national magazine writing awards, Mark has written for such publications as Sports Illustrated, GOLF Magazine, Urban Land and Links and was the founding editor of Golf Course News, now Golf Industry.
He has authored two historical novels. Midnight Rider for the Morning Star, based on the life and times of America’s first circuit-riding preacher, Francis Asbury, has earned nationwide accolades.
True North: Tice’s Story, follows the escape in 1860 of the slave, Tice, who swims the Ohio River from Kentucky to Ohio, where he is connected to the Underground Railroad. People “conduct” him northeastward through Massachusetts and into Maine. All along the way he is pursued by the ruthless slave-hunter Morgan.
The heroes of Maine’s Underground Railroad from Portland to Augusta, China, Bangor and including the Holyokes in Brewer are vital characters in a new novel.
Mark, who lives in Monmouth with his wife, Loy, has spoken in Maine and Massachusetts at schools, historical societies, churches and camp meetings — often “putting on” the character of Francis Asbury.
A copy of the novel is available at the Brewer Historical Society. Contact David Hanna at 9889-2245 to check the book. You can obtain your own copy by contacting Mark Leslie at email@example.com.
IT IS TIME TO RENEW YOUR ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP IN THE BREWER HISTORICAL SOCIETY.
ANNUAL DUES ARE $20 FOR INDIVIDUALS, $30 FOR FAMILIES, AND $200 FOR A LIFETIME. CORPORATE ANNUAL DUES ARE $200.
Thank you for your continued support of the Brewer Historical Society……
As we begin our annual membership renewal program, it is a good time to review the accomplishments of the Brewer Historical Society during the last year. The historical society has continued to partner with both the community and the school system in helping to promote and preserve Brewer’s historical heritage
>>>>>The Clewley Museum had its barn/carriage house straightened and stabilized. It was painted and gutters were installed. A heat pump was installed to reduce the need for oil and provide air-conditioning during the summer. The building is part of the Brewer Register of Historic Places and was involved in many community events as well as being open for visitors during the summer months.
>>>>>Associated with the Historical Society and the Museum is the Resource Center which archives materials and shares that material with the community. The Resource Center was supported by local businesses in the acquisition of equipment to in order to digitize the historical society’s collection of photographs. During the year, the Center provided historical photographs for schools and local businesses, aided in the research of authors compiling information for publication, as well as responding to requests from throughout the region. The Smithsonian Institute is presently working with the Historical Society in researching the role of the Underground Railroad in the Brewer-Bangor region.
>>>>>The first annual Brewer Historical Society Scholarship was awarded to a Brewer High School senior. The emphasis of the scholarship is on community service and an appreciation of Brewer history. In addition, the organization provided photographs for the new Brewer High School “Sports Hall of Fame”, the remodeled Student Service office, and initiated a photography program with the art department. We continued to maintain a historical display case at the Brewer Community School and provide information for the curriculum.
>>>>>The Chamberlain-Freedom Park continued to be an important community asset. The Brewer High School Air Force Junior ROTC played a major role in maintaining the park as part of its commitment to civic involvement. Because Chamberlain Freedom Park is a recognized Underground Railroad site, the park is part of the annual “Juneteenth” celebration of the end of slavery. The Park was also placed on the Brewer Register of Historic Places.
With the support of our members and the community, this will be an outstanding year. It is important to know that the Brewer is a volunteer non-profit (501 (c ) (3) organization that is dependent on community support.