Odds and Ends From The MUSEUM!
By Trudy Wyman, Curator, Millinocket Society Museum
Fred A. Gilbert, in the early days of Great Northern, presided over the Spruce Wood Department. According to several sources available at the museum, Gilbert was described as colorful, controversial and energetic. He was continuously on the go, giving personal attention to even the most obscure details of his department. He was described as having a “rough tongue.” Novelist Holman Day gave Gilbert the nickname “Baron Fred, the lord of men.”
Gilbert knew how to handle men and his people at all levels were devoted to him. They called him Mr. Gilbert or F.A. He didn’t like if someone tried to put something over on him and was hard on malingerers and those who did not follow orders. On the other hand, if someone was in trouble he would help or if an old-timer was having a hard time doing a full day’s work, Gilbert might assign him an easy spot as dam tender or camp watchman.
Gilbert established conservative cutting practices, set up fire prevention policies and firefighting procedures. He suggested for years that all of the Bangor offices be moved to Millinocket and that the Boston and New York offices merge. It was said that Gilbert had in his head an inventory of all horses, machines and tools in the camps. He knew all the bosses and superintendents, contractors and supervisors.
In the 1920’s, after Garret Schenck’s death, Wm. Whitcomb took control of the company as president. It appears that there was a difference of opinion between Whitcomb and Gilbert. Whitcomb took over decision making for several aspects of the Spruce Wood Department and reversed some of Gilbert’s decisions. This finally led to Gilbert’s resignation in 1929.
The museum acquired the “Gilbert desk” a couple years ago from the library. A letter accompanying the desk states: the desk was purchased by Gilbert between 1918 and 1925 from a Boston store dealing in fine and rare antiques. It may have previously been in the Jordan family (founder of Jordan-Marsh stores). Gilbert used it as his personal desk in his home in Hampden. It was later used by family members before being given to the library by grandson Roger Smith. Smith recently contacted the museum and was pleased to know the desk is now on display at the museum in the Logging Room.
In the Museum Store!
*** Get your 2021 Calendars! Theme: Millinocket, Oh! How We’ve Changed! $12 each, mail orders add $5 SH each calendar. Each page has several photos from different areas of town (Society Hill, park area, Medway Rd., Outer Bates St., Across Tracks, Aroostook Ave., and more).
*** Preowned yearbooks – $10.00 each.
*** Matted photos, various prices – GNP mill, Little Italy, river drives, Mt. Katahdin.
*** DVD’s, Little Italy Part 1 and Part 2 available at the museum ($15 each) or mail order ($15 each).
***Books: “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, $25 history & $10 architecture; “No Time for Moss (McKeen) $15.00 and several preowned books (out of print) by local authors.
*** All items may be mailed – add $5 SH each item.
*** For information, groups or appointments, contact Curator Trudy Wyman, 723-5477 or email@example.com or the Millinocket Historical Society, P. O. Box 11, on the web at www.millinockethistoricalsociety.org or on Facebook.