Archive for the 'history' Category

21
Apr
20

Maine Woods Walk

Hello! It is early Spring here in Maine and it looks it – we have very little green yet and not much blooming unless in a well tended garden with Southern exposure.

Since we have been under a “Stay at Home” directive for several weeks, I’ve been taking daily walks in my backyard woods and I decided to offer a weekly Facebook Live video to share with you the changes as Spring emerges in the woods and around the pond.

The first one was just last week, but I wanted you to be able to watch it so that you could see the changes when you join us this coming Friday. Here is the 30 minute video, Maine Woods Walk.

Since we are unable to do our regular walking tours now, I thought I’d incorporate our “Tidbit Tasting Tours” into this, as there are many connections to some of the iconic Maine foods that we offer on our Tasting Tours. So every week, we will show or tell you something interesting about Maine foods or products.

These will be every Friday afternoon at 4 p.m. on my Facebook page. We’ll probably do a series of about 6 weeks and then perhaps another series in the Fall. When you join in on Friday, please say “Hi” in the comment section, so I know you’re there and ask questions if you have them along the way!

15
Apr
20

Coach Stop Inn

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COACH STOP INN

This post is about one of the oldest inns on Mt. Desert Island,Maine, and one of the most haunted!

The Coach Stop Inn on the road to Bar Harbor, Maine was built in 1804 and was known as the Halfway Tavern in those early days. It was used to host early newcomers to the island – newcomers who came to build homes, establish farms and build fishing schooners.

Travelers arriving by boat and wanting to go inland to visit or look for a place to settle would also take advantage of all that such a tavern had to offer – rooms, drink and companionship.

The current Bed & Breakfast is known as the oldest establishment in the area, and possibly the oldest house still standing, being the only lodging establishment to survive the Fire of 1947. It is an example of a type of architecture known as Federal style, which blossomed in the newly founded United States of America between 1780 and 1830.

I’m not sure when the Halfway Tavern became a stagecoach stop, but as early as the mid 1600’s the General Court made towns liable to maintain an ordinary – or tavern – though these were usually at harbors due to the fact that most travel in those days was by water. The government felt that it was important to have provisions for travelers. Taverns were set up along the post roads, usually about every 3 miles or so, and usually had accommodations for watering horses as well.

Regular stagecoach service began in Maine after the Revolutionary War. The stagecoach routes followed the old post roads and so it was natural to have the taverns used as stage stops and they were often the first “post offices” in the area. This made them popular gathering places for local people to come and get the news and visit with their neighbors. Folks would know when the stage had come because drivers announced their arrival by blowing on a horn.

There is a cemetery very near the Coach Stop Inn, Leland Cemetery, that holds graves dating to the 1830’s. These older burials are all for the children of Ebenezer and Thankful Leland – Ira and Eben, both in their 20’s. Two other children also died in their prime.

This does not explain the amount of childlike hauntings and strange occurrences that happen in the Inn! One of the child spirits is nicknamed “Abbe” because she often is heard or seen in the room of the Inn that is called Abbe after the founder of the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor. Some of “Abbe’s” antics, described by guests and owners, are fleeting reflections, a child’s voice and flickering lights. If you happen to be staying in the Abbe room, beware – she might lock you out, or in!

“Abbe” seems to like music, as she’s more active when it’s on, but “Abbe” is not the only spirit at play here. Voices of several children might be heard echoing throughout the rooms, as well as strange sounds and manifestations in mirrors at the Inn.

Furniture and other objects are often discovered to have been rearranged and guest’s belongings are sometimes moved or found in disarray. One guest took his clothing into the bathroom while showering and found them neatly laid out on the bed, while another had laid his on the bed to put on after his shower, but found them strewn about the room when he came out!

This is a working inn, so whether you want a spooky stay or just a great Bed & Breakfast – make a reservation!

26
Nov
19

Colonial Life in New England

Today I had the best time doing a presentation on Colonial Life. This is something I’ve been fascinated with/by/about as long as I can remember!

I was able to take a few family heirlooms that I have to use as examples.

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Since it’s almost Thanksgiving, this was a fun topic to explore and think about as the Pilgrims landed 399 years ago!

We talked about cranes in fireplaces, baking ovens using cabbage leaves, spider pots and porringers, among other cooking items.

The Colonial table was very different than you might imagine. First of all, it was called a board, as it was a board just set on trestles or sawhorses. The covering was a boardcloth rather than tablecloth! There were no chairs, just benches or stools and we learned that children rarely sat – they stood at the table or even behind their parents, waiting to be handed food.

Most meat was cooked into “spoon meat” which was hash or porridge or stew – things you could eat with a spoon as they had no forks. Bread was rare, unless it was rye or corn bread, but they did have a lot of corn and pumpkin and root vegetables.

Honey and maple syrup were sweeteners when needed, and wild berries were always a treat, along with homemade applesauce. Dried apples as well as dried pumpkin were staples.

Indian corn was quickly learned to be easy to grow and cook, as well as filling and nutritional. It was served in countless ways and the husks and cobs were used for toy making as well as fire starters.

I talked about how cooperative the people were, whether they lived in a village or on outlying farms. There were quilting bees and barn raisings, as we’ve heard, but also stone bees (clearing fields) and husking bees (corn), paring bees (apples) and “whangs” which were cooperative spring cleaning bees (I think we should bring these cleaning bees back)! Of course, this is only a small sampling of ways that early folks used to work together to accomplish small and large tasks.

On Sundays, a horn, whistle or drum was often used to call people to “meeting” before meetinghouses had bells. There was a break in the day, held often at a “noon house,” a specific building for the lunch hour, that evolved into what we now might call a parish house or church society building.

Early meeting houses were not white as we see now, but just wooden buildings. Since they were the local meeting area, notices of all types were nailed to the outside walls and in the times when there was a bounty paid for wolves, wolf heads were also nailed to the outside wall as proof that someone had earned their bounty price.

Some other interesting things I discussed were goose baskets, pine knots, nocake, bean & corn counters, clam spoons, Indian brooms, heel pegs, rippling and more!

Don’t know what these are? Give me a follow and maybe I’ll talk about them soon!

Wishing you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving!

09
Oct
18

Lighthouse Legends, Lore & Haunts

We have been having such great lighthouse legends & lore trips, I just have to write you about them!

These pictures have been taken by guests on the cruises and they are kind enough to let me share them. One is of a seal that has caught a sturgeon. Sturgeons have been very scarce in our area until recently, so this is very exciting to see! (photo credit Ted Madill)
seal sturgeon
On the past few tours we have seen seals, porpoises, an eagle and many other shore birds. We also saw a school of striped bass jumping like crazy! They were feeding on either tinker mackerel or pogies.
A high point for me was just this last week when we had a guest who was coming along for a very specific reason. They had seen our tour advertised last year and had not been able to make it, but made a point to come this fall. This gentleman’s father had been born at one of our lighthouses and he’d seen pictures of him as a baby there, but had never seen the lighthouse personally. That lighthouse is Cuckolds Lighthouse in Southport, pictured here (photo credit Pat Mahoney)
cuckolds
Because my Bucket List includes wanting to go to every place that my ancestors lived, I could certainly understand this gentleman’s wish to see his father’s birthplace! I only wish that we could have actually landed him on the island where this particular lighthouse was. We were able to give him a good view from the boat (thank you good weather and a skillful captain!) and fill him in on the history of the lighthouse.
On every trip we land on Burnt Island off of Boothbay Harbor. This is quite a treat for many visitors – not only to go to a Maine island, but to see a lighthouse up close and explore the area where 30 lighthouse keepers and their families spent their days in the last 197 years! Burnt Island Light will be celebrating her 200th birthday soon and needs a little sprucing up, so a portion of our ticket proceeds goes to the restoration fund. (photo credit Greg Latimer)
Burnt Island Light
We see several other lighthouses on our cruise and learn the history, the legends and the haunts associated with them. If you’d like more information – we have 3 tours left this season (every Saturday in October) – the foliage is perfect right now! – here is a link to Maine Maritime Museum who hosts our tours.
28
Aug
18

Helping & Sharing & History (and a ghost story)

I’m writing this at the end of August – cannot believe summer is over already! I have spent some great moments these last few months discovering all kinds of new tidbits, meeting fantastic new people, investigating new places and helping with some fundraisers.

One of the best parts of this business is helping others, often by the usual monetary or time donation, but also in many other ways. We did a really great fundraiser earlier in the season that raised a good amount of funds for a children’s project – they assist with meals, back to school supplies, Christmas, etc.
We help by reassuring folks who might have some unnerving experiences with the paranormal. Sometimes they are so relieved just to learn that other people might have had a similar experience and that they are not alone. Just being able to tell your experience in a “safe” environment is often enough.
We also help to encourage people’s interest in history. Many people think that history is boring and we open their eyes to a whole new world of fun, exciting, history – kind of like thinking out side the box and looking at it in a different way. I saw an exhibit at a new found museum that used art sketches and stereotypes from the 1800’s to tell a portion of the area’s fishing industry. It was certainly more interesting than reading a book about it!
That museum was one of my newfound treasures! Maine has surprises at every turn if we just keep our eyes open – a historical marker hidden by a tree branch can be just the thing to open your eyes to a piece of that area’s history. A local corner store might have some old photos on the back walls that showcase something you’ve never seen. Even a lecture at a small historical society can really spark a new interest in something you didn’t even think about.
Our new Maritime History Tours have opened my eyes to a lot of things that I’d seen over the years, but didn’t really realize the meanings behind them. I am having such a great time sharing on these new tours in Bar Harbor and Boothbay Harbor. I hope to finalize one for Rockland over the winter. All of the early history of Maine was associated with the water – rivers or sea, as it was the main mode of transportation as well as the livelihood of most, one way or another. Farmers, brickmakers, coopers and more all sent their goods off on boats for trade, unless of course they were small operations and dealt locally.
One of the reasons I like offering custom or specialty tours and speaking engagements is that it does give me the chance to look into different pieces of history. A tour on a singular topic or a particular person offers all kinds of challenges, but what fun when you find the hidden tidbits that make it come alive! Better yet, you get to share it!
I have 3 places on my fall bucket list of travel. We don’t have that much time to travel between May and November, but these are right here in Maine and should be easy. One is to Greenville and the Lumberman’s Museum in Patten – these are really 2 places, but they both relate to the lumber industry in Maine, of which my ancestors were a part of.
The next is to Castine – just a place I’ve always wanted to go. A huge maritime history as well as Revolutionary War ties are there and I hear it’s beautiful! Maybe there’s a ghost or 2 as well…
Lastly, an inn in Bethel that I just heard a haunted story about. Now, I hear ghost stories all the time, but this one was intriguing and offers an opportunity to go somewhere new and different to see what we can find! I’ll share it with you –
A couple was staying at this inn and both commented in the morning how they had heard noises in the night and both had heard similar things. It sounded as if someone was scratching inside a bureau drawer, opening it and rattling the handles. The handles were the hinged pull handles which do make a pretty distinctive noise when jiggled. Neither one of them got up to investigate, but did comment to each other in the morning. When they returned to their room after breakfast, they could not get in. No matter what they did to jiggle the key in the lock and turn it every which way, it would not open! In frustration, they went to get the innkeeper who opened the door with ease. They couldn’t help but think they were being kept out of the room just at that moment for some reason, though nothing seemed amiss!
Thanks for reading – share some history today!
26
Apr
18

Poem

It’s National Poem in Your Pocket Day, did you know? I’m not sure what that means or why it came about, but I thought I’d take a stab at a poem –

Roses are red, cloaks are too
We open in 5 days, just for you!
There’s goosebump fun,
Enjoyable for everyone!
But don’t forget that history
To go along with the mystery
Sometimes it’s the best of the best,
Please join us, you’ll see the rest!
I know it’s a little silly, but it is all true. Many times folks come on our tours because of the haunts and ghost stories, but walk away with a real interest and surprise at the history. I love that we can inspire people to become a little more interested in the history that surrounds them.
My personal bucket list only includes historical or genealogical visits/activities. I’m not sure why it’s so important to me, it just is. I have no desire to jump out of a plane or go mountain climbing, but visiting a cemetery or historical site… well, that’s what does it for me.
My imagination plays a big part in it – I love thinking about my great – greats doing this or that and standing on those spots. Feeling that connection is so important; even the cemeteries, the graves, are meaningful. These often are the only physical pieces of their lives that are left to us.
Another part of it is the hunt! Looking for some tidbit, some tie that connects, some missing piece of information – treasure found – it’s an adrenaline rush! I will happily read through countless pages of information just to find one sentence that excites me.
I hope, in this cyber world, that we can all take a little interest in the actual places, physical sites of our history and our being.
14
Feb
18

For Valentine’s Day – “The Frozen Lovers”

There was a terrible storm in December of 1850, with several ships going aground in Penobscot Bay, Maine. About midnight the storm picked up and the winds were howling. One small schooner had anchored earlier, intending to wait the storm out and continue to Boston the next day.
 
The captain had gone ashore and left his first mate, a seaman and one passenger on board. When the winds intensified, the schooner broke free, was blown across the bay to Owl’s Head, and crashed into the rocky ledges.
 
The 3 on board were not injured, but were exposed to the storm and waves and were soon soaked. They wrapped themselves in blankets to try to stay warm. As the schooner began to break apart, the seaman, Roger Elliott, scrambled ashore over ice coated rocks and eventually made his way to a road.
 
It was the road to the Owl’s Head Lighthouse and fortunately the lighthouse keeper was going by in a sleigh and saw the exhausted, freezing man. He quickly took him home and put him to bed (after a hot rum). Roger told the keeper about the 2 left on the schooner.
 
About a dozen men were called out for the rescue and made it to the schooner before it had totally broken apart. They found the 2 wrapped in each others arms under a blanket which was covered in ice! They seemed to be dead, but the rescuers would not take a chance and took them to the keeper’s house where they chopped the ice off of the pair and then placed them in cold water. The water temperature was slowly raised and the limbs of the pair were gently exercised and massaged.
 
After about 2 hours the passenger, Lydia Dyer, began to come to and within the next hour Richard Ingraham did as well!
 
During the sharing of the events, it became known that the pair were engaged to be married and thought, as they were freezing on the wrecked schooner, they’d never have a chance to share their vows. It was many months before they were totally recovered, but they did marry and had 4 children, living very near Owl’s Head, Maine and extremely thankful for Roger Elliot’s bravery.
Check my Facebook page for a Valentine poem written for a medium in 1875.
08
Dec
17

Mistletoe Bride

“The Mistletoe Bough” written by Thomas Bayley (Bayly) in the early 1800’s and set to music in 1830, might have been inspired by an incident in Germany, reported in 1809.

Also known as “Mistletoe Bough, ” “The Missing Bride,” “The Lost Bride,” and sadly “Bride-and-Seek.”

The tale goes… a group of young friends on the night of the wedding were playing hide-n-seek and all were found but the bride. Everyone, including servants were employed to search the home and grounds. Thinking maybe she had been taken or had second thoughts, searchers were sent out through the countryside, looking in vain through the night. She was finally found 30 years later when the estate was being repaired and an old trunk in the attic popped open upon removal, finding the aged skeleton, and remnants of her wedding dress… I’m sure she haunts that castle!

The mistletoe hung in the castle hall,

The holly branch shone on the old oak wall’

And the baron’s retainers were blithe and gay,

And keeping their Christmas holiday.

The baron beheld with a father’s pride

His beautiful child, young Lovell’s bride;

While she with her bright eyes seemed to be

The star of the goodly company.

“I’m weary of dancing now,” she cried;

“Here, tarry a moment-I’ll hide, I’ll hide!”

And, Lovell, be sure thou’rt first to trace

The clew to my secret lurking place.”

Away she ran-and her friends began

Each tower to search, and each nook to scan;

And young Lovell cried, “O, wher dost thou hide?

I’m lonesome without thee, my own dear bride.”

 

They sought her that night, and they sought her next day;

And they sought her in vain while a week passed away;

In the highest, the lowest, the lonliest spot,

Young Lovell sought wildly-but found her not.

And years flew by, and their grief at last

Was told as a sorrowful tale long past;

And when Lovell appeared the children cried,

“See! the old man weeps for his fairy bride.”

 

At length an oak chest, that had long lain hid,

Was found in the castle-they raised the lid,

And a skeleton form lay moldering there

In the bridal wreath of that lady fair!

O, sad was her fate! – in sportive jest

She hid from her lord in the old oak chest.

It closed with a spring! – and, dreadful doom,

The bride lay clasped in her living tomb!

20
Nov
17

A Time for Thankfulness

We are all thinking along these lines this week. Here at Red Cloak Tours we are most thankful for each other, our outstanding team that makes the Haunted History Tours happen!

Next, we are thankful for the wonderful guests who come on our tours and share in our love of the lore and legends!

We are also thankful for you readers – you may not have ever been on a tour or to a speaking engagement, but we are grateful for your support!

Our thankfulness extends to our communities – the property owners and neighbors, chambers and businesses that support us and help in every way they can!

Of course, we must be thankful for the beautiful state of Maine – its rich history, huge amounts of folklore, both oral and written, and amazing people!

Happy Thanksgiving to You and Yours!

26
Oct
17

Candles

It’s my birthday week, so I thought this was a timely article to write –

Candles are romantic, candles are for birthdays, candles are for scent, candles are for religion and celebrations, candles have lots of different meanings for many of us – crossing cultures around the world.

The earliest candles may have been small torches – branches dipped in animal fat and lit for a slow burning, dependable light source.

In 3000 BC, Egyptians were using tallow (fat rendered from animals other than pigs) for candles and as time went on, other cultures began finding different sources to use. In India they found that a residue was left by melting cinnamon and it would burn (also smell nicer than tallow, I presume!). China was using whale fat and insects, while Japan extracted oil from tree nuts.

Indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest found that fish called eulachon had a very high fat content during spawning, so they would dry them and use them as candles for lighting, thus the fish’s new name “candlefish.”

In more modern times, beeswax, bayberry wax and whale spermaceti were used. Spermaceti was made by crystalizing sperm whale oil which was a harder wax that didn’t melt in the summer, produced a brighter light and didn’t smell as badly as tallow.

In the early 19th century a French chemist discovered how to extract stearic acid from animal fatty acids, which lead to stearin wax, a wax that burned cleanly and was hard and durable. Later, paraffin wax, made by distilling coal, came into use.

Candles seem mystical – have you ever been mesmerized by watching a candle’s flame flickering? It’s easy to understand why/how certain superstitions got started. If a flame burns blue, supposedly a ghost is in the area and if there is a tall, straight flame it means a stranger will come. Burn a candle in the window to make sure a lover will return.

You should always light a candle with your right hand, otherwise, expect bad luck! Also, it’s bad luck to melt the base of a candle to make it set well in its base or to light it from a fire’s flame. I do hope, for your sake, that a candle that you light does not immediately go out – otherwise bad luck will follow! If it is difficult to light – rain is on the way.

The Irish used to have a superstition that 12 candles must be lit around a body at the wake as protection from evil spirts.

In 1700’s New England, a cultural tradition was begun using wax and oil of the bayberry plant added to their candles. They found the candles burned longer and gave off a wonderful scent. They presented these new candles to friends and neighbors at Christmas time, with the poem that indicated all good wishes would be lost in the smoke if they were blown out.

A Bayberry candle, burned to the socket

Brings joy to the home, and wealth to the pocket.

And now to the point of this whole article – birthdays! And of course, with birthdays, come candles on birthday cakes (or in my case birthday pies) and the tradition of blowing them out.

Apparently, the first birthday party was recorded in early Egypt, for a pharaoh on his coronation, which marked the moment he was “birthed” as a god. But the Greeks made cakes in offerings to some of their gods and eventually placed lit candles on some cakes as a way to symbolize the moon. It was believed that when the candles were blown out their prayers were carried up to the gods.

In the 1700’s in Germany, there were many accounts of cakes and candles used to celebrate children’s birthdays – a kinderfest. A record of a cake decorated with a candle for each year of life was in 1746, for Count Ludwig Von Zinzindorf.

Just when the belief of having to blow out all the candles to have your wish (or prayer) come true is unsure, but we still all make that important wish (prayer) annually, and send the wishes up to the heavens.




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