Posts Tagged ‘Maine

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!
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03
May
18

National Paranormal Day

Happy Paranormal Day to you! It’s good timing for us at Red Cloak Tours since we just opened for our season 2 days ago.

Paranormal interest certainly has its cycles. There are not quite as many shows on TV anymore, so in some cases interest has waned, but in others it has left a void for some who would like to continue to live vicariously through those shows.
In the later half of the 19th century, Spiritualism was very, very popular with seances, table tippings, and private readings. The Civil War had prompted many to try to connect with their lost loved ones. Over time it became less and less popular to be associated with such events.
We have an interesting story of a minister who spent some time here in Maine in the early 1800’s. Rev. John B. Dods was preaching in Levant as a Congregationalist and had so many experiences with spirits and haunts (not for the first time – his deceased father appeared to him several times as a younger man) that he was forced to to leave the house that he’d built. Many Levant residents witnessed activity at his home.
He moved to Union, changed his vocation per the demands of a particular spirit, and began preaching at Universalist Churches in Thomastonand Rockland. His home in Union was also taken over by violent activity, deemed to be poltergeists! This activity was again witnessed by many people. “This was followed by a series of astonishing physical phenomena, such as loud rappings about the room, the moving of a table across it without perceptible means, the raising of himself in his chair, etc., until he had all the evidence that the senses were capable of receiving, that these things were real, and that he was in his normal state.”
Rev. Dods often used the pulpit to share his paranormal experiences and over time this was considered inappropriate and his connections were dissolved by mutual consent on June 20, 1829, according to “A History of the Town of Union, in the county of Lincoln, Maine to the middle of the 19th Century” by John L. Sibley.
John moved to Massachusetts, became involved in animal magnetism and electrical psychology and wrote several books. He converted to Spiritualism and became very well known in that circle. Some credit him with coining the term “Spritiualism.” Here is a link to one of my sources if you’d like to read more –
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.
27
Sep
16

Ancestor Appreciation Day

Today is Ancestor Appreciation Day – I’d like to appreciate my 4th great grandfather, Caleb Shaw.

During our Haunted History tours people often ask if I’m from Maine – I have to answer no, but I often can elaborate. I do have roots here in Maine, though I was not born here. To many, that means I’m “from away.”

On my father’s side, both his paternal and maternal ancestors were from Maine. He did not know this until just a few years before he passed and unfortunately was never able to visit any ancestral properties or gravesites. I know he would have loved to be able to do this, but I have been able to at least show some of his family members a home, a home town and a gravesite.

 Caleb Shaw is the ancestor who I’ve chosen to write about today. He was from New Hampshire originally, but came to Maine in 1801. He died in 1849 at age 80!

 He, with his wife Betsy, is buried in Newport, Maine, though they lived in nearby Palmyra. His gravestone says “Who first traveled with a wheeled vehicle from the Kennebec River to the Penobscot River.”

 caleb-shaw-headstone

 

I have not been able to find out a lot about this effort, though it is noted in several publications, one mentioning that “it was a great curiosity, upon which the people along the route looked with wonder.”

I do know that there were not many roads in those days. Most people traveled by river and/or Native American trails. These trails were certainly not wide enough for a wheeled vehicle, so some “trail blazing” certainly had to take place! I can only guess that it might be about where Route 2 is now, from Skowhegan to Bangor, over 50 miles.

I’m proud that one of my ancestors played an important part in the settlement of Maine. Caleb and Betsy had 13 children, many of whom have played their own parts in Maine’s history, as well as their descendants.

The other half of the family is one that I have not had luck with – the Locke’s from Maine who migrated to Kentucky in 1801. I will persevere, though, in my research!

Genealogy can be challenging, but it can also be very exciting and fulfilling!

08
Apr
16

Maine Lighthouses

We’ve been doing a lot lately with Maine Lighthouses. They are so iconic and romantic and full of history! Do you think many are haunted? It seems that may be the case!

We actually do know quite a few tales of haunted lighthouses, in fact one is on the cover of our most recent book, “Ghost of the Boothbay Region.”

Maine has over 60 lighthouses, many of which are open to the public or at least able to be seen  by land. Others are visible by short boat trips. Several have museums or informational centers and gift shops. In Rockland, the Maine Lighthouse Museum is open year round.

Next month, on Saturday, May 21, I will be leading a special Lighthouse Cruise that will view 5 lighthouses in the Boothbay Harbor area (weather permitting) and then stop at Burnt Island Lighthouse for an up close look at the tower as well as the outbuildings and keeper’s house.

You’ll learn about the lives of some of the keeper’s – their joys as well as hardships, their routines and their families. I’m sure I won’t be able to resist a ghost story or two, as well!

This is a morning cruise, so you’ll have time for lunch and some exploring in the Boothbay area in the afternoon. The link to purchase tickets is below.

https://msad11.coursestorm.com/course/maine-lighthouse-adventure?search=lighthouse

In the late summer and fall, we’ll also be doing some Lighthouse Legends and Lore cruises with Maine Maritime Museum. These will also include much history as well as haunted tales and ghost stories. The link to purchase tickets for these cruises is below, though I don’t think they are listed yet, so keep checking!

http://www.mainemaritimemuseum.org/

Hope to see you soon!

08
Nov
15

Maine Place Names

On a recent “Haunted Lighthouse Cruise” on the Kennebec River with Maine Maritime Museum, we were discussing Maine place names. Most of the ones we were talking about were Native American names, such as Kennebec, Sasanoa, Arrowsic, and Seguin.

Then the discussion led to the strange phenomena that Maine has of having place names of Peru, Rome, China, Naples, Mexico, Poland, Sweden, Lisbon, Denmark, Vienna, Paris, Stockholm, Madrid, Moscow and Norway.

There is also Frankfort and Bremen of German heritage (not Dresden – Pownalborough was renamed Dresden just because the Probate Judge liked the sound of it!). Belfast and Limerick are of Irish background, as well as more, I’m sure.

Many of our place names are of English origin due to the majority of the settlers coming from Great Britain. Maine also has a fair amount of Finnish history, which you might run across.

Of course we also have Union, Hope, Freedom, Unity, Liberty, Friendship, and Harmony which are fairly self explanatory. As are Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson, etc.

I won’t even start on Maine island names – that may be another blog entry!

The point of all this is that we tend to believe that place names came from the name of an early settler or the place that the early settlers came from or in honor of a person or a value.

There are other reasons!

China and Poland were named after songs/hymns that the person in charge happened to like at the time.

Some towns chose their names in solidarity with a country that was having independence conflicts at the time; Mexico and Peru for example. Others chose names out of respect for how the countries handled certain conflicts or battles, such as Moscow and Denmark.

Paris was named such in recognition of France’s help during the American Revolution, as was Camden, after a Lord Camden of England who was sympathetic with the colonies.

I, frankly, am amazed that in the 1700 and 1800’s, Maine people were so aware and knowledgeable of world happenings and felt such sympathy. It’s quite a statement, one that could be said to stand today.

19
Aug
15

Mount Desert Island, Bar Harbor, etc. continued

Part II – in brief

The first settlers who came to Mount Desert Island were Jesuit Priests who had actually been sent to Port Royal, but were turned away. They found themselves in the fog as they were heading south and ran into the Island. They decided to just stay and establish a mission there.

In the early 1600’s they were fired upon by those who had been told to prevent any French settlements. Several were killed, the others were captured and taken away to be sold as slaves.

The Priests who were killed were buried near a spring, now known as Jesuit Spring and many believe that this now a haunted place. Some say the waters run red at times, others say that white shapes are seen at night. Once an apparition of a man in a brown robe with a cross was seen in a boat, and splashing oars have been heard. Sometimes there are claims of hearing voices in French, praying.

As with most ghost stories, there are many differences, but some similarities. If you go to Jesuit Spring, please share with us what you hear or see!