2014 Newsletter

Friends of the Southport

Historical Society P. O. Box 3, Southport, ME 04576

Newsletter ***** November 2014

Donald Duncan, Editor                                                donaldduncan@roadrunner.com

The Magic of the New Sproule Map

Bill Messmer

            During this past summer Southport Island ‘s Hendricks Hill Museum acquired from the British Library in London , its own copy of a very important historical map of Maine ‘s mid-coast region. This early map was published in 1772, four years before the signing of America ’s Declaration of Independence. The map was drawn by George Sproule who was a surveyor for the Britain ’s North American colonial authority. The map is referred to most often by historians simply as “the Sproule map.” It is 28” wide and 48” high.

The map is a window on the world of Maine and Southport of the 1770’s. It includes details of the land, buildings, and homesteads of mid-coast Maine from the Kennebec River , west of Southport, to Round Pond Harbor on Muscongus Bay , in the east. Southport Island and the Boothbay region are located in the center of this wide coastal area. The map also presents detail of the inland river valleys of the region.

The map is one of the first accurate maps of Maine ’s geographically complex mid-coast. Its accuracy reflects use of the new mid-1700’s scientific global navigation and surveying system that used latitude and longitude to fix locations.   The Sproule Map has been highly valued over its predecessors for this quality.

Copies of the map have been available to local researchers for many years. However, these earlier maps were black and white photocopies which made careful geographic distinctions more difficult to appreciate. It is therefore significant that the new Sproule map now belonging to the Museum was reproduced in the original color version of the map. These colors are not vivid. Rather they are attractively subtle and referred to by cartographers as ‘hand-washed.’ As a result the color map is very appealing because it is something of a work of art.

The color version of the map is especially noteworthy because it allows researchers to distinguish more of the historical features which Sproule intended us to see. The presence of color hue and shade makes it possible to distinguish greenish forest giving way to brownish cleared land, dark fence lines, and farmland or pasture that gives way to an outcropping of gray rock, or mudflat.

The use of color also makes easily visible what is perhaps the most important feature of the Sproule map, which is the inclusion of houses, barns, and other structures of the 1772 settlers. These structures conform to information found in a variety of deed searches today, and so they are thought to be accurate in location. Buildings are an intense rose color, which makes them stand out clearly from the surrounding land, water, and rock ledge. Thus, the map provides perhaps its most important information on regional homesteads and cottages and their development and locations in 1772.

The Hendricks Hill Museum ’s purchase of this new map represents an interesting and significant addition to its historical archive. Drop by next summer and see for yourself the ‘magic’ of the Sproule map.

The Lobster Pound at Dogfish Head

Eugene Huskins

The pound is right across Maddocks Cove from Hodgdon Yacht Services. The tide still flows in and out of the pound and it has recently been used for raising oysters. Eugene Huskins is a former Selectman of Southport and has recently been appointed as a Trustee of the Southport Historical Society. He has offered the following reminiscence as a boy in the 1950s.

Perhaps a few readers don’t remember or understand the function of this Southport lobster pound. The pound is a body of water or cove which was dammed up in order to impound lobsters. This facility consisted of the packing house, bait shed, tank room and the meat picking room.

Live lobsters were purchased when they were plentiful and inexpensive, along with many being trucked in from Canada . They were stored in the pound until such time that the price increased, during the winter.

At that time, a drag was used to gather them, repack them in crates with most being trucked to Boston for resale. Local fishermen could sell their catch to the pound here along with buying bait. The bait was trucked in, stored in barrels and salted in the bait house. The bait was usually redfish and herring.

My grandfather, Edgar Huskins, and father, Alfred Huskins, operated the facility. The fencing and gate had to be maintained along with the buildings and bridge. Also a pier, ramp and float allowed the fishermen to bring in their catch by water.

Of course the lobsters had to be fed while in the pound, and a square ended skiff was loaded with bait which was pitch-forked into the pound.

Most often the lobster delivery trucks arrived early in the morning. I remember getting up at 2:00 AM many times. After the lobsters were dumped into the pound, my job was to drag the empty crates into the packing house and stack them. When the truck was empty, the crates were reloaded into the truck.

Another operation of the facility beside the sale of live lobsters was picking lobster meat. This was done mostly by my mother and father and me. Lobsters were boiled in a net and washtub, 100 lbs. at a time with 2 tubs operating.

My job was to break up the boiled lobsters. The tail was twisted off and thrown into a basket. The claws were removed and went into a second basket. Then the knuckles were snapped from the claws and put into a third basket. Next the fins were broken off the tail and the meat was pushed from the shell. Sometimes we were helped by my aunt and uncle, Marion and Harold Roberts.

My father would do the claws with a heavy butcher knife and my mother picked the knuckles with a special homemade paring knife. I remember that in one day, the three of us picked the meat from 1,700 pounds of lobster. The meat was packed into one- or five- pound packages and sent away in refrigerated trucks

It was a good time to have lived in the 50’s of which I have many fond memories.

Town Class Sailboats  

We received from Stan Freeman the following response to the 2013 Newsletter article about the Southport Yacht Club’s early sailing program.

My father, Stan Freeman, purchased a Town Class boat in 1939 so we could join that fleet. The Town Class was a wooden 16½ foot, lap-strake center-board sloop. She carried no spinnaker. Ours was delivered and launched at the beginning of September, just as WW 2 broke out. Our sail number was 158, the first number called in the draft. So, we named her “Draftee” and raced her every weekend until I joined the Navy in 1945. After the war, I returned to races in 1947 and 1948. In August ’48 I clearly remember a particular race. It was two weeks before my scheduled wedding. My bride-to-be was my crew. The wind was strong and the seas rough. I failed in two attempts to come about near Cat Ledges, so I chose a spot and ran aground. I got my crew onto the ledge, and then swam to a rope thrown from a patrol boat which I tied to the boat and was towed to Cozy Harbor . Some other boat rescued my bride-to-be whose legs were bloody from barnacles. So two weeks later she became my “battered bride”. Happily, she lived with me for 64 years!

Annual Meeting

June 16, 2014

The officers were re-elected: President Dick Snyder, Vice President Jean Hawley, and Treasurer Becky Singer. Carole Zalucky was elected Secretary. Ann Roche and Shelby Kaider were elected to the Board. Meredith Mitchell and Cathy Messmer retired after six years’ service. Happily Cathy continues to serve as recorder of dues and Queen of the address list and Meredith remains close by.

The program was put together by Larry Crane and consisted of a DVD that Larry had edited from videotapes. His skill and generosity is deeply appreciated.

The first section was Cecil Pierce making lobster stew. His recipe: Meat from three small lobsters. Cecil prefers male lobsters. Place lobsters in two quarts of boiling water. Fifteen minutes from the time the water boils again is about right for cooking time. Cool the lobsters in cold water and pick out the meat, reserving all tomalley for flavoring. Cut the meat into small pieces and sauté with about 1/4 cup of butter until it has the “color of a sunset.” Combine the sautéed meat with 1½ quarts of warm 1½% milk and the tomally. Heat and serve. He never mentioned the need for the stew to age! He served it with crackers, but was very scornful of those who mixed crackers into the stew. Lobster flavor should stand alone!

Larry’s second section was on Cecil as a planemaker. Two ideas stood out. First of all, Cecil was indeed a dogged seeker of perfection as the plaque in our boatshop records. He was never satisfied, and on the completion of any project was ever seeking ways to do it better. The second was his aversion to sandpaper. “It is a nasty word in my shop!” Better always to use a handmade scraper which produces a truly glassy surface.

The third section records Larry’s researches on the grave of William Decker near where the bridge on Sawyers Pond Road crosses the gorge below the dam. Decker died on April 13, 1821. Before the bridge was built at the north end of Route 238, the road to the east side went around the head of Deckers Cove on what is now Plummer Road and to the west of Sawyers Pond. It then joined the road to Newagen at the head of the lobster pound just to the south of Capitol Island Road . He pointed out how he had only scratched the veneer of history that is lying under our very feet.

He ended with a taped interview with Ramona Gaudette in 2004. Ramona retired last year after 50 years of serving meals to students and teachers in the Southport Central School and ended serving the grandchildren of children she had earlier served. The interview showed off her skills at tap-dancing, yodeling and even dancing the hula dance which she learned on a trip to Hawaii . We truly have an ageless treasure in our midst.

Finally at the Annual Meeting, the “cemetery ladies” presented the Museum nine elegant loose-leaf notebooks recording all of the graves on the Island . Each stone has an 8 x 10 photograph. It is truly a monumental task of love.

Cemetery Ladies

By Jim Singer

Becky Weeks Singer of Southport and Lois Rand Weeks of Hampden, the “Cemetery Ladies,” completed their project cataloging every grave on Southport . Two valuable resource tools are now available, both in hard copy at the Museum and on the internet.

Becky grew up in Massachusetts , but has been coming to Southport nearly her whole life, retiring here with her husband Jim in 2008. She is an elected member of the Southport Cemetery Committee. Lois Rand Weeks, married to Becky’s brother Charlie, grew up on Southport and graduated from BRHS. Her family roots trace to the 1600’s on the Island .

Both ladies are, and have been, very interested in family genealogy, and have spent hundreds of hours doing research. Gravestones are important sources for accurate historical information. They learned early on how difficult it is to access that information, and concluded that they could help other genealogists and researchers by creating a database of all the cemeteries and gravestones in the Town of Southport . What they thought would be a simple, quick project became a multi-year enterprise. With help from their husbands, they painstakingly examined over 900 gravestones in eight public and several private cemeteries containing 1,322 individual names. Their process required cleaning every stone (using water, vinegar and incredible elbow grease!), reading and recording all information on each stone, and then photographing each marker.

Phase II evolved into two separate projects. The first, managed by Lois, involved creating a series of 9 books. Every gravestone has its own page, with plot location, all legible information from the stone, and a photograph. Lois and Charlie produced these beautiful documents and donated them to the Southport Historical Society, where they are accessible to the public.

Becky’s assignment was to locate the best way to make this information available on line, and she found the ideal platform, “findagrave.com,” the most comprehensive “gravesite” web location available, very user friendly and owned by “Ancestry.com.”

So how does this work? Let’s use the example of researching Cecil Pierce, one of those genuine characters that helped make Southport the place it is. Cecil died on January 11, 1996, and is buried in Decker’s Cemetery.

At the Hendricks Hill Museum , you can browse through the master index and find that Cecil Pierce is buried in Decker’s cemetery, and you should note the plot location within the correct volume. Select that volume, go to the plot location page for Cecil, and you should find all the information that is available at the cemetery.

If you choose to look online, type in www.findagrave.com. On the home page, on the right side, select “Search 121 million grave records” and a search form will appear. Just fill in “Cecil Pierce” in the name box, select “ United States ” in the “Cemetery in” box, and then “ Maine ” in the drop down menu. A new “County” box will appear, click on “ Lincoln ”. Click “Search”, and Cecil’s record will appear. Click the link, and all manner of interesting information will appear, including links to his wife Lucy’s record, all the graves in Decker Cemetery , and a variety of other options that are very intuitive. It’s free, and a lot of fun!

Above and Beyond

The Friends Honor Ron Orchard

At the Closing Party in October, Ronald Orchard was presented with a baseball cap carrying the embroidery ABOVE and BEYOND and a check in recognition of his years of service to us all; well above and beyond the call of duty. Between the words on the hat was embroidered a small brown mouse.

Here is the significance of the mouse. One night well after midnight, Ron’s phone rang with a report from Northeast Security that there was an intruder at the Museum. There had recently been some house breaking on the Island and the deputy sheriff advised Ron not to go in to the Museum until the deputy arrived. With flashlights and caution they went in but found no sign of an intruder. They concluded that perhaps a mouse had set off the alarm. In due course they found the varmint in the Post Office Room and tried in vain to kill him with brooms! Finally, giving up, they prepared to leave and Ron noticed the mouse, sitting on the top rung of a ladder backed chair, smiling at them! Mouse 1, Men 0!

For over forty years, Ron has served on the Historical Committee of the Town and, since 1988, he has been Chairmen of the Trustees of the Museum. He traces his own ancestry well back into Town history and he has more genealogical information in his head than most of us have on paper. He is a sensitive docent who feels out the interests of visitors and gives a custom made tour each time. He truly has served both the Friends and the Town well ABOVE and BEYOND! Thank you, Ron.

Fire Department Log

From Historical Gleanings, published originally in 1977 in recognition of the bicentennial and revised in 1992 by the Southport Historical Society:

“Saturday, April 16, 1927, dawned clear and calm. Fred Atkinson, who owned the old Orne homestead, now Mrs. Stranahan’s, at the head of West Southport Lobster Pound was burning dead grass in his yard. …”

This fire motivated the citizens of Southport to start the Southport Fire Department that still protects us all. Charles E. Pinkham kept a log of fires to which the Department responded with careful records of the hours credited to each man. Herewith some excerpts.

5-13-30, 8:30 PM Lightening struck this house (Etta Thompson House) on the roof near the chimney setting the wooden shingles on fire and sleet was so heavy it extinguished the blaze before the engine arrived. This lightning went down the chimney, blew off a thimble cap (covering an un-used flue opening), and sent soot all over the place. There were two small children sleeping with their heads near the chimney opening and they looked like two “darkey” children. The sleet was so heavy that I could not face it while rounding Love’s Cove. (The truck had no cab and Charlie was completely open to the sleet!)

7-13-37, 5:15-6:15 PM Two boys Walworth & Ramy from Chas Symonds cottage. Gone from 12 noon until 6:15 PM Found.

8-7-57 Winifred Marr’s chicken caught fire in oven fire about noon time. Chicken and fire all out on arrival.

9-1-31 9:45 PM Sawyers Ice House (This is the pond at the corner of the Cross Road and Route 238. Ice was cut here and there was a nearby ice house) On a Fire Meeting night this call came in that this ice house was all ablaze. We manned the engine and tried to start. The engine would cough once or twice and stop. I held my hand over the carburetor to flush it, but no go; as a last thought I said “Look in the gas tank,” not thinking that this was possible that we lacked gas, for we always carried a full tank. But every drop of gasoline was drained from the tank, not enough left to get out of the building with. We rushed to my gas pump (Charlie’s store was close to the fire house), filled a five gallon can, turned this in and started, leaving someone behind to follow with more gas. As the saying goes, “This job looks fishy.”

Jan 12, 1939 Number of fires up to here (since establishment of the department?): 33 Forest (1 out of town), 12 cottage, 12 house, 45 chimney, 1 lost boys (2), 1 lost woman, 1 hall, 1 stove, 2 barns, 8 grass, 4 auto, 1 dump, 1 tar truck, 1 Boothbay Harbor, 1 oil burner, 1 casino, 1 school house.

8-22-37 12 midnight to 2 AM Miss Delia Collier lost in woods at Newagen. Searched for two hours. Covered woods within a mile of Newagen. No Trace. She came out of woods herself at daybreak.

May 29, 1947 New Ford fire engine 799T 1337923 Model 798T Reached Southport.

June 3 1947 10 PM New school bus arrived. Fourteen citizens rode around Southport on Trial trip.

8-28-53 10 AM Hurst studio on Cape Island Total Loss. Saved dwelling

Books for Christmas

A quick reminder that copies of Island Tales @ $10, Historical Gleanings @ $5, The Old House Book (old edition) @ $5, Leland Snowman’s Out of the Cape @ $5, Luther Maddocks’ Looking Backwards @ $5 and I’m Different (Ethelyn Giles) @ $5 are available for purchase by mail. Include $5 for postage and packing with each order. Please make checks payable to The Friends of the Southport Historical Society and send to Donald Duncan, 32 Blair Road , Southport , ME 04576 .

Thank you Volunteers!

There have been a total of 1,148 volunteer hours since last November. This year we had 266 visitors from 23 states, DC and Australia .

Without our Volunteers we could not operate. A special thank you to Nan Jackson who scheduled all the men and women who guided visitors. She kept careful track and hardly anyone missed an assignment!

Charles Baker

Kathy Bugbee

Ann Charlesworth

Phyllis Cook

Larry Crane

Karen Curtis

Fleet Davies

Peter Doelp

Donald Duncan

Joyce Duncan

Bob Eaton

Gerry Gamage

Anne Grimes

Tim Hanley

Jean Hasch

Mimi Havinga

Jean Hawley

Toni Helming

Gene Huskins

Nan Jackson

Mary Lou Koskela

Bill Messmer

Cathy Messmer

Meredith Mitchell

Ralva Orchard

Ronald Orchard

Michael Pollard

Evelyn Sherman

Becky Singer

Jim Singer

Dick Snyder

Pegi Stengel

Jean Thompson

Priscilla Wallace

Charles Weeks

Lois Weeks

Bruce Wood

Carole Zalucky


Museum Trustees

Ronald Orchard, Chairman

Kathy Bugbee, Secretary

Mary Lou Koskela, Treasurer

Phyllis Cook

Donald Duncan

Bob Eaton

Jean Hasch

Gene Huskins

Bill Messmer

Evelyn Sherman


Friends Directors

Dick Snyder, President

Jean Hawley, Vice President

Carole Zalucky, Secretary

Becky Singer, Treasurer

Tim Hanley to 2015

Larry Crane to 2015

Kathy Bugbee to 2016

Nan Jackson to 2016

Shelby Kaider to 2017

Ann Roche to 2017

Phyllis Cook (Emerita)

[1][1] See the following article!

[1][2] The entire letter is printed in Island Tales page 151.

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