Millinocket Historical Society

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

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WWI Letters, Part 2

Odds and Ends From The MUSEUM
By Trudy Wyman, Curator, Millinocket Historical Society Museum
Continuing this week with more from the WWI Murray Morgan letters. While on a short leave Morgan wrote to his friend Capt. Pepper that he was in “Merry England” but within the sound of the guns from France. There were about 10,000 Canadians there with men being sent to the front while others had leave. Morgan was a member of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. He mentions a lot of activity in England and thinks “something is going to start here soon” as there were “2,000,000 soldiers in training this island alone and they are fully equipped.” He asks about the possibility of getting his trombone “for if it is not too much I will send you the money and you may get it for me. I may yet get into a band as there are so many skilled in that branch of service.” (Letter from July, 1915).
The letter dated Sept. 29, 1915 begins “will now drop you a line from the Front (France) which I have traveled several thousand miles to see, have been in the trenches which in places are only 45 yards from the Germans. We give them a lively time of it and throw ‘chestnuts’ at them which they don’t like.” He continues, “ don’t know if you can read this or not as my writing desk is part of a cartridge case across my knees but my trusty Waterman (fountain pen) is still working. My apartment here was formerly a ‘ecurie pour chevre’ (goat barn) but I have it fixed up some, the nearby canal affords us a good bathing place, we get lots to eat but would sell half my equipment for a piece of good pumpkin pie and a cup of American coffee the like of which I have never tasted since I left the old place.”
A November letter talks of the cold. “Snow fell on the15th and 16th but it has since gone off. The cold is much different from cold at home, it seems to penetrate more and although I wear thick woolen socks my feet get very cold at times.”
The letters continue through the fall and into December when Morgan sends some post cards for Christmas. One says, “Dec. 15, Somewhere in France. As the season of Yuletide draws near my thoughts travel back to the homeland and my friends. This year I will be unable to send any presents to friends but hope you will accept this little card as evidence of my friendship.”
Murray Morgan was killed few months later. He is one of the Millinocket soldiers for whom the Millinocket Memorial Library is named. Look for his name on the bronze plaque in the entryway (originally in first library, Central St.).

*** A Little Taste of History, a new cookbook featuring recipes from many Millinocket pioneer families and their descendants (wives of mill employees, businessmen, school and town employees and more. Includes some photos and personal notes. 200 pages. Each cookbook is $15.00 (mail orders add $5.00 SH each book). At the museum, Memories of Maine Gallery, Steel Magnolias, Katahdin General & by mail.

*** Museum HOURS…. Open Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays from noon – 3 PM. The new OPEN sign will be lit.
***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.

World War I Letters

Odds and Ends From The MUSEUM
By Trudy Wyman, Curator, Millinocket Historical Society Museum

Veteran’s Day, Nov. 11, was originally called Armistice Day and marked the end of World War I. Millinocket had men who fought in that war. One was Murray Morgan who joined a Canadian infantry company and fought in France and Belgium. He was a student at Colby College when he enlisted and was one of a number of Maine men who joined the Canadian army before the U. S. entered the war. While in Europe, Morgan sent several letters to an acquaintance in Waterville, a Captain Harold Pepper. Copies of these have been received by the museum recently. The originals will be part of a show of WWI letters at the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine in Augusta. MHS was contacted for photos or possible contact with Morgan relatives.
Morgan was killed in action in Belgium in February of 1916. Following are a few excerpts two of his long letters. “Jan. 13, 1915, the trenches in Belgium. First the scene, a valley just below our trenches which are on the crest of a ridge and which have cost many a life to take.” He talks of the Germans being 400 yards away, firing howitzers called ‘lazy Eliza’ for the sound their shells made. “Next imagine a great hole in the ground, in the side of a hill, reinforced by numerous sand bags, the hole inhabited by numerous rats, more numerous lice and a couple dozen men grouped around a few braziers filled with burning coke and you have a dim picture of my habitation tonight.”
“Jan. 27,1915, somewhere in Belgium. Am still on the firing line, but will be out in a few days for a short rest. Had a close call today, a shell dropped about 25 ft. from me. I don’t mind the rifle fire when iron foundry is hurled at you it gets on one’s nerves a bit. It was pretty cold last night, was on guard just before daybreak, gazing over the parapet trying to get a look at Fritz at that time in the morning is enough excitement for most anyone.” He mentions standing in the mud watching for the enemy, smelling for gas, no feeling in his feet due to cold and being sleepy. “A new sentry takes your place, you cook and eat enough for a dozen and retire to your dugout and hit the flea nest for a few hours.” He describes it as one of the joys of a soldier’s life that must be experienced to be appreciated.
This is only a tiny part from the eight letters and some post cards. More later.

*** A Little Taste of History, a new cookbook featuring recipes from many Millinocket pioneer families and their descendants (wives of mill employees, businessmen, school and town employees and more. Includes some photos and personal notes. 200 pages. Each cookbook is $15.00 (mail orders add $5.00 SH each book). At the museum, Memories of Maine Gallery, Steel Magnolias, Katahdin General & by mail.

*** Museum HOURS…. Open Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays from noon – 3 PM. The new OPEN sign will be lit.
***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.

Halloween, 1922 Style

Odds and Ends From The MUSEUM
By Trudy Wyman, Curator, Millinocket Historical Society Museum
The cookbooks are ready for purchase! Called Remember Our Heritage, A Little Taste of History, it is available at the museum, $15.00 each (by mail, add $5.00 each for SH). The cookbook (nearly 200 pages) has recipes from many of Millinocket’s pioneer ladies and their descendants plus some photos and other tidbits. They are from older local cookbooks 1900-1960 and are written as they were originally used by the various cooks.
Charming functions with attendees in attractive costumes! These were the words in the newspaper describing Halloween activities in Millinocket (Bangor Daily News,1922). Perhaps other less charming events occurred, but they didn’t make the newspaper. Described as “the most important of the charming functions” held during Halloween week were the socials sponsored by the Congregational and Baptist churches.
At the Congregational Church, a crowd gathered to watch a delightful play, The Bachelor’s Dream, followed by a piano solo and a reading. A social completed the evening “with games and Halloween stunts. Apple blossoms containing fortunes were sold. Refreshments of sandwiches, cake and coffee were served. All agreed the evening had been a most delightful one.”
That same year, at the Baptist Church, a large crowd gathered to celebrate All Saints Eve. A masquerade social and a play titled The Haunted Gate was presented by the choir and orchestra. The article states this play was presented on the “new platform of the spacious basement with its fine footlights.” Later, Halloween stunts were enjoyed and sandwiches, coffee and doughnuts were served. Money raised went to the piano fund.
The Thimble Club had a Halloween party as their first meeting of the year. Held at the Simon Gagnon home, this group celebrated in a bit more lively fashion. “The guests were received at the door in darkness by weird witches who led the way to the ghost room above. The remains of John Brown’s body were discovered and examined amid many blood-curdling shrieks.” Each guest told a “hair-stirring ghost tale” and there was a ghost telling fortunes. “A skeleton danced, even more denuded than Isadora Duncan” (a famous vaudeville dancer). Refreshments included sandwiches, salad, pumpkin pie, marguerites (a sweet treat on a cracker), coffee and sweet cider.
In 1924, Barbien’s Hall was the site of the Baptist Church party where the costumes were described as attractive and varied. Eighty dollars was raised.

***MHS is now part of the Amazon Smile program. When shopping there, choose smile, select MHS, and the museum will receive a small amount. Every little helps!

*** The 2018 calendars at the museum, Levasseurs, Save-a-Lot, Katahdin General Store, Rideout’s Market. Just $10.00 each. Add $4.00 SH each for mail orders.
*** Orders for the next group of pavers now being taken. Contact MHS for specifics. The pavers are $100.00 each (tax deductible) and may be in honor or in memory, for a school or team, business, organization, family, your own name or other wording.
*** Visit the museum store for local books, calendars, DVD (legends of Mt. Katahdin) and more or contact us for details including prices and shipping information.

*** Museum HOURS…. Open Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays from noon – 3 PM. The new OPEN sign will be lit.
***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.

Incident in Little Italy, 1907

Odds and Ends From The MUSEUM
By Trudy Wyman, Curator, Millinocket Historical Society Museum

Bits and pieces of our town’s history keep coming to light as people share some parts of their family stories. Recent columns told pieces of Clark and Galvin stories that were shared with the museum. This week, here’s an account of an incident occurring in Little Italy in 1907. A squabble between a young resident of Little Italy and three young men from the town side of the bridge led to the shooting and death of one of the town men. The cause of the argument is unclear, but the shooting took place in the “dooryard” of Peluso’s place. The shooter (the Little Italy resident) was charged with murder. However, after the shooting, he ran and apparently escaped into Canada.
This story is supported by documents shared with museum volunteers during a recent visit by a descendant of the shooter who asked that we treat the story with sensitivity as the facts seem fairly clear that it was more of an accident or self-defense rather than a brutal murder. Documents shared with the museum include a statement by Police Chief Fred Gates and statements by the other two town men. The shooter, indicted for murder, appeared in Millinocket Court in front of Judge George Stearns. As the shooter had fled, extradition papers were sent to Washington, D.C. where they were signed by President Roosevelt and returned to Bangor to be delivered to New Brunswick where the shooter was believed to be. Eventually the defendant was convicted of self-defense/manslaughter and spent fifteen months in Thomaston state prison. He did not return to Millinocket.
The descendant in this story visited the museum and Little Italy where she took several photos. She wished that there was some way to discover which home her relative had lived in with his wife and young son.
There are so many stories…we hope you continue to share with us. All the information, photos and copies of documents find a place in the research/genealogy room.

***The museum’s heritage cookbook will be ready soon. Watch for details!
***MHS is now registered as part of the Amazon Smile program. When you shop online at Amazon, go to smile.amazon.com and choose Millinocket Historical Society from the list and 0.5% of the purchase price of eligible products will be sent to MHS. It is a small amount, but it all adds up.
***At Hannaford through October, purchase one of the specified blue and gold reusable bags and MHS will receive $1.00 for each one sold.

*** The 2018 calendars at the museum, Levasseurs, Save-a-Lot, Katahdin General Store, Rideout’s Market. Just $10.00 each. Add $4.00 SH each for mail orders.
*** Orders for the next group of pavers now being taken. Contact MHS for specifics. The pavers are $100.00 each (tax deductible) and may be in honor or in memory, for a school or team, business, organization, family, your own name or other wording.
*** Visit the museum store for local books, calendars, DVD (legends of Mt. Katahdin) and more or contact us for details including prices and shipping information.

*** Museum HOURS…. Open Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays from noon – 3 PM. The new OPEN sign will be lit.
***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.

Roughing It, 1905 Style!

Odds and Ends From The MUSEUM
By Trudy Wyman, Curator, Millinocket Historical Society Museum

Going camping in 1905? How do you prepare? The answer is found in a a letter donated to the museum recently. A young man named Thomas Clark who was staying at the Great Northern Hotel wrote a letter to a lady named Lydia. It gives specific directions on which train to take from Boston to Norcross, what to pack and what to expect upon arrival. The following are excerpts from that letter with spelling and punctuation etc. as written.
“For clothes every girl will want bloomers not to full to be worn under a woolen skirt at least twelve inches clear off the ground and golf stockings. Two pair of shoes one heavy pair for rough walking and one pair of sneakers for hunting for surely you will bring a camera.” (The sneakers probably were not the 2017 version.) “Rubber soled shoes will not do at all unless they so old you don’t care to bring them back and also they must be large enough to wear over your golf or other woolen stockings as you can’t walk anywhere without getting your feet wet sooner or later and with woolen stockings your feet will be warm when wet and prevent you catching cold. If you think all this woolen will kill you in summer” (letter written in July and mentions 90 degree temps) “just make up your mind to be a martyr to the cause then you will die happy.”
The letter continues saying to pack woolen shirtwaists and sweaters and an old felt hat. As to doing laundry after arrival “there is a steam laundry here in town that will guarantee to ruin almost anything you send them and you may send them work one day and they will return more or less of it the next day.”
There is much more in this one letter. A large number of letters written by and to Thomas Welcome Clark during the period 1903-1925 were compiled by Catherine Clark into book form and donated by Tom Shafer. She wished for the museum to have a copy as Thomas Clark was living and working in Millinocket at the time.

*** Good selection of Stearns and Schenck yearbooks for sale, $10.00 each, good condition!
*** The 2018 calendars are available at the museum, Levasseurs, Save-a-Lot, Katahdin General Store and Rideout’s Market. Still just $10.00 each. Add $4.00 SH each for mail orders.
*** Orders for the next group of pavers are now being taken for fall placement. Contact MHS for the specifics. The pavers are $100.00 each (tax deductible) and may be in honor or in memory, for a school or team, business, organization, family, your own name or other wording.
*** Visit the museum store for local books, calendars, DVD (legends of Mt. Katahdin) and more or contact us for details including prices and shipping information. We have copies of the 2010 alumni book, some Fernwood items, dishcloths and more.
*** Museum HOURS…. Open Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays from noon – 3 PM. The new OPEN sign will be lit.
***Contact me, Curator Trudy Wyman, 723-5477 or trudy18@beeline-online.net. To arrange 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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