Millinocket Historical Society

Preserving Millinocket’s heritage, one story at a time.

Month: January 2019

A Million Hats by a Local Milliner

At the time of Millinocket’s 50th birthday in 1951, a number of its citizens received Pioneer Badges. To receive a badge, the person had to have lived in Millinocket since it was incorporated in 1901 and register at the new municipal building. Many of these pioneers were featured in the Bangor Daily News special edition, August 18-19, 1951.
One of the ladies on the list was Rosalie Rush Ryan, famed local milliner. Recently, I found a 1963 BDN article titled “Millinocket Milliner Retires after 54 Years in Business.” Rosalie and husband Dr. Matthew Ryan came from Rumford and built a home on Highland Avenue. It was one of the first homes and was constructed by her brother Frank Rush, contractor and owner of a saw mill.
Unfortunately Dr. Ryan died two years later & Mrs. Ryan was left with two young children to raise. At this time, women rarely entered the business world, but Mrs. Ryan decided to start a millinery business. The news article details Mrs. Ryan’s journey. She placed her children in a convent so she could travel to Portland and learn to make hats. Then she traveled to New York for a six month stay to learn more. Having learned the skills of a milliner, she returned to Millinocket with her children and started a hat business in her home and hired a woman to care for the children.
Later, Mrs. Ryan moved her business to brother Eugene Rush’s women’s and children’s store on Penobscot Avenue. During the next few years, many millinery businesses came and went in Millinocket, but Mrs. Rush continued on. Women today do not realize the importance hats were to women in those days. The article states that Mrs. Ryan made two trips yearly to wholesale houses to copy new styles. The proper lady of that era would only wear a hat for a season and would need to update as the styles changed. Mrs. Ryan’s first hats sold from $8 to $25 and might be trimmed with large plumes, birds of paradise, feathers, beaver etc. Hats from past seasons would sell for $5. Attempts to train several girls to make hats, failed as they said it was too difficult.
When Mrs. Ryan retired at age 86 after 54 years in business, she claimed to have sold over one million hats. Visit the museum to see one of these creations. It is a black hat, round with a label RM Ryan, Millinocket and was probably suitable for someone in mourning to wear.
The Ryan home, demolished several years ago, was located near the Great Northern Hotel facing Highland Ave. (across from former Dr. Shippee office).

***Available at the museum store………
1. “Within Katahdin’s Realm, Log Drives and Sporting Camps” by Bill Geller – $30.00 ($5.00 each SH);
2. “Tales of Little Italy” DVD, $15.00 ($2.50 each SH)
3. “A Little Taste of History” cookbooks – $15.00 ($5.00 each SH on mail orders);
4. “Spirits of Katahdin” DVD – $10.00 ($2.50 each SH);
5. 2019 MHS Calendars, “Sports for All Ages”- $10.00 ($5.00 each SH);
6. Engraved pavers, $100.00 each, contact MHS for details and form;
…and more.
*** Museum open Thursday, Friday, Saturday, noon – 3PM weather permitting.
***Contact me, Curator Trudy Wyman, 723-5477 or trudy18@beeline-online.net. For groups or appointments, contact the Millinocket Historical Society at P. O. Box 11, on the web at www.millinockethistoricalsociety.org or on Facebook.

Bits & Pieces

A little bit of everything this week! People have been contacting the museum with queries, the first item donations for 2019 have been received and Facebook users have been busy posting interesting Millinocket photos.
I found an interesting black three-ring binder by the museum’s front door recently. It contains many news articles about George Wentworth and his basketball teams plus other articles from the same era. Wish the donor would email or Facebook message so we would know who to list as the donor.
Volunteers have been busy preparing and sending out the museum’s annual appeal letters. This is a major part of the fundraising efforts to keep the museum’s doors open year round. These letters will continue to go out over the next several weeks. Options include a money donation, the purchase of an engraved paver, buy something from the museum store or become an MHS member. If you do not receive a letter, we would still like to hear from you!
This column appears weekly on the MHS Facebook page and on our website. Recently on the Facebook page Millinocket, East Millinocket & Medway, ME History page, people have been posting many interesting area photos. Just want to let you know that many of these can also be seen at the museum. In particular, we have several of the Millinocket 50th birthday albums (1951). The photos were done by Millinocket photographer Crowell. Most of the albums have photos of all the parade floats, but the albums differ slightly as to other photos. Apparently, families could choose which photos they wanted included. Other recent Facebook photos are from John McLeod’s The Northern, The Way I Remember. This is the condensed version of the much larger work. The museum has several used copies of this book for sale ($25.00).
The sign board recently placed on the location of the former mini-golf has two photos provided by the museum. The sign was made and placed by the Katahdin Tourism Partnership.
Queries come to the museum by phone, mail, email and Facebook. One person asked if we had information on the Springfield, Carroll Plantation area. We do have some things on the town’s immediate area, but not from those towns. Another query asked about Phillipe Rouleau who was known to be in Millinocket in 1939. He had a brother Octave Rouleau who died 1939. We have the contact information if anyone recognizes those names.
A new item was donated by St. Martin’s Church. It is small bell (tap with your finger) from the former St. Martin’s school. The bell was brought to the museum by Dot Howard.

***Available at the museum store………
1. “Within Katahdin’s Realm, Log Drives and Sporting Camps” by Bill Geller – $30.00 ($5.00 each SH);
2. “Tales of Little Italy” DVD, $15.00 ($2.50 each SH)
3. “A Little Taste of History” cookbooks – $15.00 ($5.00 each SH on mail orders);
4. “Spirits of Katahdin” DVD – $10.00 ($2.50 each SH);
5. 2019 MHS Calendars, “Sports for All Ages”- $10.00 ($5.00 each SH);
6. Engraved pavers, $100.00 each, contact MHS for details and form;
…and more.
*** Museum open Thursday, Friday, Saturday, noon – 3PM weather permitting.
***Contact me, Curator Trudy Wyman, 723-5477 or trudy18@beeline-online.net. For groups or appointments, contact the Millinocket Historical Society at P. O. Box 11, on the web at www.millinockethistoricalsociety.org or on Facebook.

Crosby Steam Gauge & Valve Company

The Crosby Steam Gauge and Valve Company was the maker of the piece of the small steam whistle mentioned in this column a few weeks ago. The same company was the maker of the original GNP steam whistle on display at the museum. The large GNP whistle was from the original steam plant and is remembered by countless museum visitors as the 5 o’clock signal to return home for supper. Recently, an MHS member provided additional information on this company. Crosby was born in Bangor, grew up in Albion and then went to work in New Brunswick at a company building engines and machinery. Then he moved to Boston and became an apprentice machinist at the Boston Locomotive Works and then foreman at a steam gauge company. In 1876, Crosby started the Crosby Steam Gauge and Valve Company. As an inventor, he held over thirty patents, mostly steam engine accessories. Upon his retirement to Albion, Crosby built a palatial mansion equipped with steam heat. This background information is from “Two Feet to Tidewater,” by Jones and Register. It is always good to have additional information on any artifact in the museum’s collection.
Another book(on loan to the museum), A Day’s Work, A Sampler of Historic Maine Photographs 1860-1920, tells the tale of an Italian immigrant who came to a Bangor employment agency and was offered work in a logging camp. He took the train to Norcross (in 1902) with no idea where he was going or what would be expected of him. Leaving the train at the station (a small shack with a wood sign signifying Norcross), the man boarded a small steamer. The man proved unsuccessful as a lumberman and after one winter “escaped” to Boston. The book details this man’s journey and tells that all turned out well for him. This story does not directly relate to Millinocket, it is possible the piece of the small steam whistle donated earlier may have been on the steamer that took this man across the lake from Norcross. The man’s name was Constantine Panunzio. A copy of this story will be added to the museum’s logging collection and the Little Italy collection as side stories.
At the start of each year, a new US map is placed on the table near the museum’s entrance. It is used to note where our visitors are from. In 2018, visitors from thirty-six states plus Washington, D.C. Foreign countries were also represented with visitors from Japan, Germany, Mexico, Taiwan, Wales, Italy, England and Canada. Where will 2019 take us?

***Available at the museum store………
1. “Within Katahdin’s Realm, Log Drives and Sporting Camps” by Bill Geller – $30.00 ($5.00 each SH);
2. “Tales of Little Italy” DVD, $15.00 ($2.50 each SH)
3. “A Little Taste of History” cookbooks – $15.00 ($5.00 each SH on mail orders);
4. “Spirits of Katahdin” DVD – $10.00 ($2.50 each SH);
5. 2019 MHS Calendars, “Sports for All Ages”- $10.00 ($5.00 each SH);
6. Engraved pavers, $100.00 each, contact MHS for details and form;
…and more.
*** Museum open Thursday, Friday, Saturday, noon – 3PM weather permitting.
***Contact me, Curator Trudy Wyman, 723-5477 or trudy18@beeline-online.net. For groups or appointments, contact the Millinocket Historical Society at P. O. Box 11, on the web at www.millinockethistoricalsociety.org or on Facebook.

End of Year Donations

Wishing all the many MHS visitors and supporters a Happy New Year! The number of individuals and groups donating one or more items to the museum collection in 2018 rose last week to 95. These are some of the items recently donated.
A ticket from the Elks Thanksgiving Ball, 1949, was donated by Becky Drennan. The ticket was $1.00 plus $.20 tax. Darlene Kronholm gave a scrapbook of weddings, engagements and other 1940’s news articles made by Leatha Lyle. News articles such as these are added to the Research Room files. Mike E. Madore shared a 1905 The Engineering Record magazine. This subscription magazine was mailed to a Millinocket resident. George Hussey of Winn brought in several paper items including an ink blotter advertising The Millinocket Insurance Co., a business card from James W. Frost, local provider of chimney building and cleaning and a pocket size advertisement of Frank Rush as seller of Bestwall for construction of ceilings and walls. Rush was a noted businessman in Millinocket’s early days. A section of trim board from a house on State Street has a tie to the Rush family. Stephen Bailey, working on the home, thought this architectural piece might be of historical interest. This trim was used throughout the home. On the back, handwritten with some sort of black crayon or marker is J. Rush, Millinocket, Me. What is the story of this architectural piece? Another mystery to try to solve.
More items, Flo Berry of Indiana sent a Millinocket 50th birthday booklet and a Fernwood piece of the bandstand. Paul Haines showed museum volunteers a large collection of GNP stock certificates. He presented the museum with several dated the 1930’s and one GNP #92 dated May 21, 1901. Ed Hamm allowed the scanning of 50+ photos of mostly GNP East Millinocket workers, c1960-80’s. Darryl W. Perry, the marathon runner who set up a fund for the museum, donated a copy of his book, Lapping Everyone on the Couch. It details his story of a large weight loss to becoming a marathon runner.
The largest item donated at year’s end is the large cast iron coffee grinder given by Les Harriman. The grinder was once a fixture in the store of Harriman’s great-grandfather Frank Chase. Chase had a store on Katahdin Ave. and also rented rooms (23) and served meals. The coffee grinder, made by the Enterprise Manufacturing Co., Philadelphia, was patented in 1898. These grinders or coffee mills were designed to be used by customers, were often painted red and adorned with decals. The top hopper for beans was usually copper or brass and had an eagle finial atop the hopper. The finial is missing on the donated grinder.
***Available at the museum store………
1. “Within Katahdin’s Realm, Log Drives and Sporting Camps” by Bill Geller – $30.00 ($5.00 each SH);
2. “Tales of Little Italy” DVD, $15.00 ($2.50 each SH)
3. Taste of History cookbooks – $15.00 ($5.00 each SH on mail orders);
4. “Spirits of Katahdin” DVD – $10.00 ($2.50 each SH);
5. 2019 MHS Calendars, “Sports for All Ages”- $10.00 ($5.00 each SH);
6. Engraved pavers, $100.00 each, contact MHS for details and form;
…and more.
*** Museum open Thursday, Friday, Saturday, noon – 3PM weather permitting.
***Contact me, Curator Trudy Wyman, 723-5477 or trudy18@beeline-online.net. For groups or appointments, contact the Millinocket Historical Society at P. O. Box 11, on the web at www.millinockethistoricalsociety.org or on Facebook.

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