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

Month: February 2020

Horseshoes

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

Horses were an essential part of GNP’s logging operations. Many words have been written about these four-legged workers and the museum has several books that describe their feeding and care, size, harnesses, temperament and more. The logging room has photos of horses at work plus a portable forge that blacksmith Martin George hauled into some of the camps or farms to shoe the horses. There are several blacksmith tools on display also. A recent donation from John Stanley is a single horseshoe all rusty with portions of some horseshoe nails protruding. It must have in buried in the ground for some time.
“Woodsmen, Horses, and Dynamite” by C. Max Hilton, 1942, tells about the logging horse’s shoes. In summer and fall, a “mud” shoe which has heavy and had blunt toe and heel calks was used. In winter a “snowball” shoe was used. It was lighter weight and had a convex edge on the inside that would not hold dirt or snow. For use on hard snow or icy roads, the toe and outside heel calks were sharpened and the inside heel calk was rounded and blunted (to prevents cuts to the horses other legs, called “interfering”). Note that the museum has several “snowball” hammers on display that were used to knock frozen clumps of snow off the hooves. Four mud shoes could weigh eight pounds while the snowball shoes were a bit lighter. A half-pound of horseshoe nails were required to fasten the four shoes.
Sylvio Caron’s book, “Lumbering in the Millinocket, Me. Area, 1930 thru 1950 states that most of these work horses needed a size 8 horseshoe. To fit the shoe properly, sometime the blacksmith had to place the shoe in the forge to reshape it. Some horses required special shoes. Size 8 shoes were nailed on with size 8 horseshoe nails. Before attaching, the hoof needed to be trimmed and the bottom of the hoof had to be filed flat so the shoe would fit properly. After the nailing was completed, the outside edge of the hoof was filed even with the outside edge of the shoe. Caron mentions that some horses took a dislike to the blacksmith, making it difficult to shoe them. Some horses would lean on the blacksmith’s shoulder or try to pull their leg away.
The Caron book tells that when the winter hauling was complete, the horses were returned to the GNP barns where the rear shoes were removed. This was to lessen the possibility of injury from horses kicking each other when out to pasture.

In the Museum Store!
*** Preowned yearbooks – $10.00 each.
*** Matted photos, various prices – GNP mill, Little Italy, river drives, Mt. Katahdin.
*** 2020 Calendars, a few left – Beyond the Mill ($10)
*** DVD’s from both Little Italy Part 1 and Part 2 are available at the museum ($15 each) or mail order ($15 each).
***Books available: “Within Katahdin’s Realm, Log Drives and Sporting Camps” (Bill Geller) $30.00; “Logging Towboats & Boom Jumpers” (Moody) $18.00; “Tanglefoot,” (Edwards) $15.00; “Millinocket” (D. Duplisea) $20.00; “A Little Taste of History” cookbooks – $15.00; both Laverty books; “No Time for Moss (McKeen) $15.00.
*** All items may be mailed – add $5 SH each item.
***Museum open Thurs., Fri., Sat. Noon – 3PM, weather permitting.
*** For information, groups or appointments, contact Curator Trudy Wyman, 723-5477 or trudy18@beeline-online.net or the Millinocket Historical Society, P. O. Box 11, on the web at www.millinockethistoricalsociety.org or on Facebook.

Happenings, 1920, 100 years ago!

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

Let’s take a look at Millinocket in the year 1920, one hundred years ago! The first electric lighting was installed by the Millinocket Light Company. That company replaced its acetylene plant at what was called “the gas house” with two General Electric generators. Citizens were happy to have the new electric lighting option as the former gas lights worked sporadically. The Great Northern had always produced their own electricity, but the townsfolk had to depend on the gas lights.
Dr. Bryant opened the first surgical hospital in town in 1920. He had gained medical experience during WWI and thought the town needed a hospital. His private hospital (also his residence) was at the corner of Central Street and Highland Avenue. It had eight beds, an operating room and an X-ray machine. Prior to this, all surgical patients and accident victims were transported to a hospital in Old Town via Bangor & Aroostook Railroad on stretchers in the baggage car. Some were transported on to Bangor via the Maine Central Railroad.
Another 1920 happening was the creation of a playground on one side of the local ball park. Playground equipment was purchased with a $600 appropriation from the town. GNP prepared the site, put in a cinder running track and built shelters. This playground opened July 6, 1920. Miss Dolloff was the director. The site was near Aroostook Avenue School.
GNP in 1920 gifted the town the use of a LaFrance combination pump, hose and chemical fire truck. It was so long it would not fit into the firehouse so GNP had an addition constructed on the back of the building. The truck had to exit onto Aroostook Avenue. This truck was the beginning of the replacement of the fire department’s horse-drawn fire wagons.
The above information was gleaned from Millinocket, Magic City of Maine’s Wilderness by Dorothy Bowler Laverty. The museum has new reprints (paperback) of this book for sale, $25.00 each plus $5.00, SH if mailed. This is still the only written history of Millinocket. Laverty’s second book, So You Live in Millinocket (paperback and hardcover) is also available at the museum ($10.00 softcover, $15.00 hardcover, add $5 SH).
MHS is in the midst of its annual mailer campaign! Letters are going out to many previous donors (monetary and items), museum visitors and other contacts. If you do not receive a letter and wish to donate, see the address below. Thank you!

In the Museum Store!
*** Preowned yearbooks – $10.00 each.
*** Matted photos, various prices – GNP mill, Little Italy, river drives, Mt. Katahdin.
*** 2020 Calendars, a few left – Beyond the Mill ($10)
*** DVD’s from both Little Italy Part 1 and Part 2 are available at the museum ($15 each) or mail order ($15 each).
***Books available: “Within Katahdin’s Realm, Log Drives and Sporting Camps” (Bill Geller) $30.00; “Logging Towboats & Boom Jumpers” (Moody) $18.00; “Tanglefoot,” (Edwards) $15.00; “Millinocket” (D. Duplisea) $20.00; “A Little Taste of History” cookbooks – $15.00; both Laverty books; “No Time for Moss (McKeen) $15.00.
*** All items may be mailed – add $5 SH each item.
***Museum open Thurs., Fri., Sat. Noon – 3PM, weather permitting.
*** For information, groups or appointments, contact Curator Trudy Wyman, 723-5477 or trudy18@beeline-online.net or the Millinocket Historical Society, P. O. Box 11, on the web at www.millinockethistoricalsociety.org or on Facebook.

Stories from the Past!

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

Klondike fever was a common occurrence in the 1890’s. Among Canadians hoping to strike it rich was William Watters Boddy of New Brunswick. Boddy was fifty years old. It appears he had some success, returning to New Brunswick with two gold nuggets. After the Great Northern Paper Company mill started production, several members of the Boddy family moved to Millinocket. By 1920, William Watters Boddy and his wife had moved to Millinocket and were living on Knox Street. He died in 1922 and is buried in the Millinocket Cemetery.
Several months ago, Frank Lawson from Fredericton, New Brunswick visited the museum. Previous contact had been made via email. Lawson is a descendant of W. W. Boddy. On his visit to the museum, we were able to provide him with W. W. Boddy’s obituary and those of two other family members. These were found in the scrapbooks of the 1920’s compiled by Mr. Hull, a former Millinocket librarian. We were also able to help Lawson make contact with current and former Millinocket Boddy residents and subsequently, he contacted Jean Marie (Boddy) Johnston. Together, they compiled a detailed genealogy that included an in-depth story of W. W. Boddy’s adventures in the Klondike. This was then published in the Journal of the New Brunswick Genealogical Society, Winter, 2019. Lawson recently sent a copy of this lengthy article the MHS where it can be seen and read at the museum.
Recently, MHS received a letter from Arlene Carlstrom telling of some of her early memories of the cemetery. (MHS is still seeking information as to the early history of that area.) She notes that when she was young the cemetery was much smaller as Peter Barnett had a potato field at the lower end. Other memories include: a set of steps over the fence where she would sit and look at the mountain; fresh flowers covered the graves of new burials; a grieving spouse would wear black all year and the men wore black arm bands. She remembers one occasion when her parents were at a funeral and she and another girl listened to the radio… this was not something that was permitted. Another memory is when asked by her mother where she wanted to go for a walk, she answered to the “somatory.” And that’s where they would go!
Help the museum preserves these stories of time past! Write them down and share them.
MHS has several copies of “No Time for Moss” by Sid McKeen. It is the very interesting story of Verna Thorpe who grew up in Millinocket. Available at $15.00 while they last!

In the Museum Store!
*** Preowned yearbooks – $10.00 each.
*** Matted photos, various prices – GNP mill, Little Italy, river drives, Mt. Katahdin.
*** 2020 Calendars, a few left – Beyond the Mill ($10)
*** DVD’s from both Little Italy Part 1 and Part 2 are available at the museum ($15 each) or mail order ($15 each).
***Books available: “Within Katahdin’s Realm, Log Drives and Sporting Camps” (Bill Geller) $30.00; “Logging Towboats & Boom Jumpers” (Moody) $18.00; “Tanglefoot,” (Edwards) $15.00; “Millinocket” (D. Duplisea) $20.00; “A Little Taste of History” cookbooks – $15.00; both Laverty books; “No Time for Moss (McKeen) $15.00.
*** All items may be mailed – add $5 SH each item.
***Museum open Thurs., Fri., Sat. Noon – 3PM, weather permitting.
*** For information, groups or appointments, contact Curator Trudy Wyman, 723-5477 or trudy18@beeline-online.net or the Millinocket Historical Society, P. O. Box 11, on the web at www.millinockethistoricalsociety.org or on Facebook.

POW Camp at Seboomook

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

Was there a POW camp near Millinocket during WWII? This question has arisen several times at the museum. John McLeod’s book “The Northern, the Way I Remember” mentions a camp at Seboomook. The internet revealed a bit more information. It appears that the war had caused a labor shortage for the Maine potato growers and for the paper mills. Maine Congresswoman Margaret Chase Smith and Senator Owen Brewster lobbied for the government to send German POW’s to Maine to ease the shortage. At the time, potato growers and paper mills were Maine’s largest employers and many young men left their jobs to enlist or to leave Maine for higher paying defense industry jobs out of state. Also, the paper mills needed to produce paper needed by the War Department, artillery shell container paper, dynamite shell paper, map paper, card stock and many other wartime paper products. As a result, in 1944, approximately 4000 German soldiers arrived at four POW camps at Houlton, Princeton, Seboomook and Spencer Lake.
Great Northern housed 250 of these prisoners at their Seboomook Farm. McLeod states they were from Rommel’s Afrika Korps. They were sent to the woods to cut pulp, but they weren’t very successful. The McLeod book says “their production wasn’t half that of an ordinary cord cutter.” At one point, they refused to work because it was too cold, but the captain in charge said they could choose to work or they wouldn’t get anything to eat. The prisoners said breakfast first, then work. After some more stern words from the captain, the men decided to go to work, after which they were fed.
One online source explains that the camp was surrounded by a double barb-wire fence and had four guard towers with a guard on duty twenty-four hours a day. Each tower had strong spotlights and 30 caliber machine guns. The horse barn was converted to living quarters with toilet and laundry facilities in the basement. The potato house became the mess hall for prisoners. A kitchen was on the lower level with the dining area upstairs. The blacksmith shop’s first floor became the infirmary with doctor’s quarters upstairs. Other buildings were constructed to house U. S. troops and guards. Officers lived outside the compound in the farmhouse. Rooms at the nearby Seboomook Hotel also housed some U. S. troops and their wives in rented rooms during summer months. The Seboomook Farm served as a prison facility until 1946 when the men were repatriated to Germany.

In the Museum Store!
*** Preowned yearbooks – $10.00 each.
*** Matted photos, various prices – GNP mill, Little Italy, river drives, Mt. Katahdin.
*** 2020 Calendars, a few left – Beyond the Mill ($10)
*** DVD’s from both Little Italy Part 1 and Part 2 are available at the museum ($15 each) or mail order ($15 each).
***Books available: “Within Katahdin’s Realm, Log Drives and Sporting Camps” (Bill Geller) $30.00; “Logging Towboats & Boom Jumpers” (Moody) $18.00; “Tanglefoot,” (Edwards) $15.00; “Millinocket” (D. Duplisea) $20.00; “A Little Taste of History” cookbooks – $15.00; both Laverty books; “No Time for Moss (McKeen) $15.00.
*** All items may be mailed – add $5 SH each item.
***Museum open Thurs., Fri., Sat. Noon – 3PM, weather permitting.
*** For information, groups or appointments, contact Curator Trudy Wyman, 723-5477 or trudy18@beeline-online.net or the Millinocket Historical Society, P. O. Box 11, on the web at www.millinockethistoricalsociety.org or on Facebook.