This has been an eventful year for the Central Aroostook Historical Society. A book about local history entitled Stories From the Heart of The County was published on August 8th, just two days before Homecoming Weekend for Aroostook Central Institute and Central Aroostook High School. The first story for the book was written in 2011 and for the next seven years we collected photographs and stories. Betsy York and I shifted the organization of the book into high gear just after Christmas last year nudging our writers to wrap up their work and digging for old photographs, dates and names.
We selected 48 HourBooks of Ohio to print for us which meant that we had to do all of the setup and organization to make the work ready to print. This was an education for both of us but meant that we did not have to pay to have this work done. With a final approved proof we gave the printing company our payment information and hit the “GO” key then 48 hours later the books had been printed and boxed. Three business days later the UPS man delivered the books. This initial order for 225 books sold at a brisk pace so we ordered 175 more. Presently about 350 books have sold at $25 each. (we net about $18 per book) Thanks to Mars Hill Pharmacy, Mars Hill IGA and both Blaine and Mars Town Halls for selling the book for us. This has already been an excellent fund raiser for our society. We are preparing to order another 100 books for the Christmas shopping season. For a description of the book and ordering information go to the front page of our website, centralaroostookhistory.com.
New Roof on Our Headquarters Building
In the winter of 2014 we were awarded a $5,000 grant from the Maine Community Foundation to help pay for the replacement of the roofing on the south side of the former Grange building at 58 Military Road then $2,500 was raised locally. The serious roof leak present when we got the building from the Town of Blaine was fixed that summer when the entire south side roofing was replaced. Last winter I submitted grant applications to three foundations for the replacement of the remaining ¾ of the roofing as well as that of the entry. The Davis Family Foundation based in Yarmouth, Maine awarded us $10,000 and with $2,000 raised locally from businesses and individuals, the work was done in August. We now have a dependable water tight roof which will protect the building and our collections for many years to come.
Teaching History at Central Aroostook High School
During the cookout at the fire station on homecoming weekend Samantha Drost’s, dad bought a copy of Stories From the Heart of The County. Samantha is a Social Studies teacher at CAHS. Apparently this got the ideas flowing and Samantha decided to teach a unit on local history utilizing the new history book as the basis. She would need 20 copies so started a Go Fun Me fundraiser on the internet. After a few months and some success on this site a graduate of CAHS offered to purchase all of the books. June Milliard made arrangements and bought 20 books to be donated to the class members by her and her siblings, Pricilla ’74, Ruth ’84 and Steven ’87. June graduated in’75. With another $100 donated by a local individual an additional 4 books were purchased for a total of 24.
The major goals of the Historical Society are three fold. First, learn local history, second preserve and record it, then third teach local history. This program by Samantha takes the book which accomplishes the first two goals and teaches the content to local young people. What a great match.
The History Connection to the Blaine/Mars Hill Storm Sewer Project Now Under Way.
After Deryle Sponberg, Chief Inspector on the storm water project, got settled in his office on Main Street I paid a visit to talk about history. I explained that the Central Aroostook Historical Society was interested in any items they might dig up as they did their work. Piping from the Bubar Road on Route 1 (Military Road) clear down to the north end of Main Street in Mars Hill was to be replaced. Also several crossings were planned.
I alerted Deryle about the possibility of finding wooden water pipe in Blaine in the area of Robinson Road. In the days of horse and wagon two wells existed at the top of the hill on E Plantation Road just off Route 1. It wasn’t three days later when Deryle called and a young DOT Inspector, Tony Huston, had found a piece of wooden water pipe in a trench right in front of the Historical Society headquarters building at 58 Military Road.
Figure 1 Shotgun
New Item Donated to the Historical Society
Tom Saucier donated several items when he sold the former hospital at the top of York Street. Included is the baby bassinet many local folks were placed in after birth, a metal emergency trunk with a medical supply inventory list provided by the U. S. Government during WWII in case the hospital had to be evacuated, and a steam sterilizer.
Figure 2 Railcar Heater
Hershel and Betty Smith donated a pickup load of items collected over the years. There are two ticket boxes used on trucks during the potato harvest to collect tickets from barrels. Each picker had an assigned number. Each night the farmer would count the tickets and keep track of the number of barrels picked that day and week. There were also a set of barrel grapples, a hand potato crop duster, both brush and hay scythe and many photographs.
Thanks to these and others for preserving historical items and helping to build an interesting display at the former Grange building, our headquarters.
Remember that you can help the Historical Society financially by donating your returnable cans and bottles at the redemption center on the Fort Road in Mars Hill. Simply tell the attendant that you wish to donate the returnables to us and they will keep track and issue us a check periodically.
Meetings are scheduled at the Walter T. A. Hansen Memorial Library for the next several months. They will begin at 6:30 PM. Dates are as follows: November 26, December 17, January 28, and February 25. Thanks to all for your continued interest and support. Steve Hitchcock-President