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Maine on Glass: The Early Twentieth Century in Glass Plate Photography Book Release

Left: Maine on Glass: The Early Twentieth Century in Glass Plate Photography, Right: Kevin Johnson

Left: Maine on Glass: The Early Twentieth Century in Glass Plate Photography, Right: Kevin Johnson

Maine on Glass: The Early Twentieth Century in Glass Plate Photography is the joint effort of Kevin Johnson, Penobscot Marine Museum’s Photo Archivist; W.H. Bunting, Maine’s foremost interpreter of historic images; Earl G. Shettleworth Jr., Maine State Historian. This book uses images from the Eastern Illustrating & Publishing Company to focus on early twentieth century Maine life, from people at work to people at play.

The Eastern Illustrating & Publishing Company was a Belfast, Maine based “real photo postcard” company operated by R. Herman Cassens from 1909 to 1947. He dreamed of “Photographing the Transcontinental Trail–Maine to California,” focusing on small rural towns and villages. Although his dream was never fully realized, the company did manage to produce more than 40,000 glass plate negatives.

The EIP collection is now housed at Penobscot Marine Museum, where PMM Photo Archivist, Kevin Johnson oversees the preservation and digitization of that collection, along with several other photographic collections.

Johnson, puts his experience and knowledge of the Eastern Illustrating & Publishing Company collection into this book, along with 200 photographs from PMM’s extensive collection of negatives from EIP.

Book talks and signings will be held all over the state, including one with all three authors at PMM on Thursday, September 22 at 7:00 p.m.

For more information or to order a copy of the book, click here or please call 207-548-0334.

Maine On Glass: The Early Twentieth Century in Glass Plate Photography

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Maine On Glass: The Early Twentieth Century in Glass Plate Photography ​(Signed by author, Kevin Johnson)​
by W H. Bunting, Kevin Johnson, Earle G. Shettleworth Jr​.​
​Paperback
$37.00 (includes tax and shipping)

Description: ​Nineteenth-century Maine―famed for its lumbering, shipbuilding, and seafaring―has attracted copious attention from historians, but early twentieth-century Maine has not. Maine on Glass redresses this imbalance with 190 postcard photos and three of Maine’s foremost historians.

The images in this book were selected from 22,000 glass plate negatives created by the Eastern company between 1909 and World War II. As an archive of early twentieth-century Maine architectural photography, the Eastern collection (now housed at the Penobscot Marine Museum) has no equal, and it gives us many unexpected glimpses of Maine life.





Searsport Sea Captains React to the Fall of the American Merchant Marine

By Cipperly Good, PMM Collections Manager

During the American Civil War, as the Confederates immobilized 40% of Union ships, shipowners chose to reregister under foreign flags gaining protection from a law prohibiting the sinking of foreign neutral vessels. After reconciliation, Congress debated whether to repeal a 1797 law, which stated that once reflagged, a vessel could not repatriate to the United States. The Jones Act of 1817 prohibited US domestic port-to-port trade by foreign-flagged vessels. Shipbuilders from Maine and elsewhere, seeing a profit to be made by rebuilding the American Merchant Marine from scratch, successfully lobbied their legislators to keep the 1797 law intact. The American Merchant Marine never fully recovered.

The letters and newspaper editorials of Searsport’s sea captains began noting the decline. They blamed the government, competency of the crew and economics. David Nickels wrote in 1872:

But a few years since we had the largest Merchant Marine in the world…Now Alas how fallen- But I must confess I feel very little interest in its enlargement. We can never compete with England whilst our duties and taxes are so high on all that enters into the construction and fitting of ships. I cannot expect to see much change for the better in my days of service…

Perhaps when we have female suffrage we may manage to have a better-regulated tariff. But I presume the majority will vote the republican ticket, And as the party goes for the protection of large Corporations, and monopolies, individual enterprise will not much benefit by any reforms which the female Suffagians may inaugurate…

In all my going to sea, I have never had so inefficient a ship’s company. I cannot get anything done, without being on hand all the time. I am ready to swear to the best of my knowledge and belief, that the material which enters into the construction of the young men of the present day, must be sadly diluted.

Ship WILLIAM H. CONNER

Ship WILLIAM H. CONNER

Despite the hope of Maine shipbuilders for an increase of business, in 1877 Searsport built the last of its ships, the WILLIAM H. CONNER. Henry Hall reported on Searsport’s shipbuilding as part of the 1880 census:

All the vessels built were owned there, and it is said that there never was a vessel built on contract in Searsport for outside owners. A few years ago, when coasters became unprofitable, builders and investors turned their attention to other forms of business, and the industry has nearly died out in consequence…Excellent shipyards exist, but their value is not rated above one-third what it used to be.

In his shipboard newspaper, The Ocean Chronicle, Edward Payson Nichols blames government policies. In his October 9, 1883 editorial, Nichols writes:

What is to be the future of the American ships, and what is become of the few that are now remaining? Government will swallow them up…

the moment [an American ship] strikes the water all the birds gather around for a taste of the carcass: the broker, ship-chandler, carpenter, sail-maker, butcher, blacksmith, and down swoops the American eagle to fill her rapacious maw, and fastens her talons on the choiced bits. What does Government do for ships?…

Nothing for, lots against.

With American shipbuilding holding tenaciously to wooden construction with the rest of the developed nations building in iron, Nichols addresses the free ship, or foreign-flagged vessel controversy, in his December 4, 1885 editorial:

We have been listening for the last twenty years to arguments in favor of, and against “free ships.” Our sympathy has mostly been against, but, when it is all looked over, what is our gain by excluding foreign built ships from carrying our flag? All the legislation in the world will never make wood compete with iron. Iron ships are now being built for less than 10 pounds a ton, which is as cheap as a wooden one can be made, and then the iron ship goes into the market and takes five shillings a ton more freight than the wooden one, which is often 15 percent, so the wooden vessel which just pays her bills, has to compete with the iron one which divides 15 percent of her freight…

The cry is, “We must protect our Merchant Marine,”- “Admitting ‘free ships’ would ruin our Coasting trade.”…There is not half of our coasters that pay more than bills, and depreciation; so the ones who really gain are those who have the bills, while the capital is not increased.

In his January 28, 1891 editorial, Nichols was still writing about the free ship debate:

Our Maine Senators, and Congressmen…prevent the building up of the U.S. Merchant Marine. It is a wonder they have been able to fight off the “free ship fallacy” and keep off intruders as long as they have…

what seems strange, is that there was not sound judgment enough to see that if there was nothing done to stimulate the building of ships, the ship might as well come in “free” as to employ the foreign ship and have none of our own…

Without aidfrom the government, the free ship will never do us more harm than it is now doing as belonging to another country, and as long as there is nothing done by the country, it will matter but little whether the ships hoist the Stars and Stripes, or some foreign flag, for the foreigner will get the money “all sa-mee.” There are a few fine ships belonging to the United States, but when the Stars and Stripes are hoisted at the peak, the ship is an honor to the flag, but the flag, no honor to the ship.

By 1902, Searsport fathers were discouraging their sons from entering the Merchant Marine. Lincoln Alden Colcord wrote to his son Lincoln Ross Colcord:

I think…that you would make a most perfect sailor, and perhaps your health would be better on the sea; but we all know that the day has gone by when sea-faring was a profession of a young boy to take up…

It is my hope now, that you will have a chance to get out the best there is in you.

Lincoln Ross Colcord’s response was to chronicle the American Merchant Marine through fictional sea stories based on his childhood in the China Trade, writing articles for the American Neptune and cofounding Penobscot Marine Museum.

Please visit the archives to read more primary sources about Searsport’s contributions to the American Merchant Marine. Select quotes were taken from original copies of the Ocean Chronicle, letters in the Nichols, Nickels, and Dow family papers, and the Colcord Collection. Photos of the captains mentioned in this article are also available through the online collections database: http://penobscotmarinemuseum.pastperfectonline.com.

Penobscot Marine Museum Celebrates Searsport Maritime Heritage Days

Fowler-True-Ross House on PMM’s Campus

Fowler-True-Ross House on PMM’s Campus

Saturday, August 6th, Penobscot Marine Museum will join in with the town of Searsport to celebrate Maritime Heritage Days with a temporary campus-wide exhibit and a house tour featuring Searsport sea captains’ homes.

Saturday, August 6th from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., PMM will host a campus-wide exhibit on the past, present and future of the port of Searsport. In addition to our traditional indoor exhibits celebrating Searsport built ships and captains, outdoor exhibits will highlight the ports of calls of outbound Searsport ships and inbound foreign cargo vessels from the 1790s to the present and the role of Mack Point during World War II. On special loan from the Maine State Museum, artifacts from the 1779 Penobscot Expedition will be on display. The Museum will host our sister historical organizations on campus, with some old sea captains and families who went to sea, rising from their graves to tell their tales. Regular admission prices apply.

As a benefit to PMM, nine historic Searsport Sea Captain’s properties will be open for tours on Saturday, August 6th, 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Participants will get a sense of Searsport’s rich seafaring history as they tour five private residences, two inns and two museum buildings throughout Searsport. The cost is $10.00 per person; tickets can be purchased at PMM’s Visitors Center at 2 Church Street in Searsport. To reserve tickets prior to August 6, please call 207-548-0334.

The Fowler-True-Ross House

By Deborah Nowers

fowler-houseThe Fowler-True-Ross House sits prominently on Main Street and is a major building of the Penobscot Marine Museum. The docents who work in the house asked the library researchers for information related to the ownership of the house and whether there were objects in the collection that belonged to the residents. The collection includes a folder on the house that lists the ownership from a title search at the Registry of Deeds, but little on who they were.

Being a genealogist, I sought to identify the family groups who had lived in the house. I began with a time line begun by another volunteer listing the deed transfers and the individuals involved. Slowly I filled in the families. Using the resources in the library and internet sources, the families came into focus.

The land on which the house is situated was part of a large tract of land owned by Gen. Henry Knox. He had acquired much of the Waldo Patent, originally the property of Brigadier General Samuel Waldo, by marrying Waldo’s granddaughter, Lucy Flucker. A map in the Maine Historical Society includes a notation that the tract contained “576,000 acres equal to 30 miles square.”

General Knox then divided the land and sold parcels. In 1799, Robert Lord Sargent of Islesboro purchased the land where the Fowler-True-Ross house stands which was then in Prospect. He is enumerated in the 1800 U.S. Census in Prospect and in 1801 sold the parcel to Ephraim Colson, Sr.

Ephraim Colson’s family is outlined in a folder in the collection of Priscilla A. Jones, a well-known local genealogist whose papers are housed in the PMM library. It is unclear if Ephraim and his wife Phebe lived on the property. It seems likely as his five oldest children are recorded as born in Prospect between 1797 and 1804.

Fowler PlotThe house’s first namesake, Miles Fowler, purchased the property in 1815 and it remained in his family for 152 years, through four generations. Miles Fowler, a sea captain, had married Jane True in 1813. Their four children—Rufus Warren, Martha Jane, Cyrus True and Emily—grew up there. The PMM publication, Searsport Sea Captains reports he was captain on seven vessels from 1817 to 1840. He served in the War of 1812 as a private from September 2 to 21, 1814. In 1837, he was appointed Postmaster for West Prospect—now Searsport.

It appears from the deeds that the property was mortgaged in 1839 and redeemed in 1840, and sometime in the early 1840s Miles and Jane separated. In 1843, the property was purchased in trust for Jane Fowler and she subsequently purchased it for $1. She continued to live there and is enumerated in the 1850 Census in what had become Searsport with her son, Cyrus True; he was no longer using the Fowler last name. Miles was living in Bangor with a new wife and daughter.

At Jane’s death in 1857, the house passed to her three surviving children, Rufus Warren, Cyrus and Martha Jane. Rufus Warren Fowler’s wife Nancy then purchased it from the siblings. After her death in 1862, Rufus Warren became the owner. Like his father, he was a sea captain, also included in Searsport Sea Captains.

Only two of his children survived Rufus Warren, and at his death in 1873, Rufus Warren, Jr. and his brother Frederick inherited the house. Rufus Warren, Jr. purchased it and presumably lived there with his wife Abbie and children. The house was purchased in 1896, by his uncle Cyrus True. It then passed to Lucy (Merrithew) Ross, the wife of Cyrus’ nephew Andrew M. Ross, the son of Martha Jane (Fowler) and Andrew J. Ross. Father and son were sea captains.

Their daughter Rebecca M. Ross, a teacher, inherited the house in 1937 and sold it to the Museum in 1967.

The Museum collections contain a number of objects connected to the Fowler, True and Ross families. Miles’s eyeglasses, Martha Jane (Fowler) Ross’s portrait shows her wearing a broach that is also part of the collection. Her brother Cyrus True is represented with a half model, a trunk and a compass. There are photographs of Rufus Warren Fowler, Jr. and Andrew M. Ross as well as a collection of navigation instruments owned by Andrew M. Ross.

Fowler Descendants

Searsport High School Boatbuilders Sail With Maine Daysail, LLC On The Schooner TIMBERWIND

Schooner TIMBERWIND from the Boutilier Collection; part of Penobscot Marine Museum’s extensive photo archives.

Schooner TIMBERWIND from the Boutilier Collection; part of Penobscot Marine Museum’s extensive photo archives.

(Belfast, Maine) On Tuesday, June 21, student boatbuilders from Searsport High School have been invited by Maine DaySail, LLC for a six hour sail aboard the schooner TIMBERWIND with Captain Lance Meadow. The group will leave at 11:00 am from Thompson’s Wharf in Belfast.

Not only will this be a fun experience for the students, but it will give them the chance to try out the 75 blocks they rebuilt, see how sails preform on a larger scale, and put to use their charts and courses knowledge learned in their navigation class.

The ten students worked from mid-January through their boat launch the end of May, with nine community volunteers, and master boat-builder Greg Rossel to build two Shellback Dinghies for the class The Geometry of Boat Building. This is the sixth year for The Geometry of Boat Building, a collaboration between Searsport District High School and Penobscot Marine Museum held at the museum’s Hamilton Learning Center in Searsport.

Wayne Hamilton, owner of Hamilton Marine, teaches a navigation class, and the students travel to Camden to work with sailmaker Grant Gambell to make sails for the dinghies. The class would not be possible without local businesses who donate time and materials: Gambell and Hunter Sailmakers, Hamilton Marine, Epifanes, Maine Coast Lumber, WoodenBoat Store, Chesapeake Light Craft, George Kirby Jr Paint Company.

For more information on the Penobscot Marine Museum, please visit www.PenobscotMarineMuseum.org. For more information on Maine DaySail, please visit http://mainedaysail.com.

Postcards! Postcards! Get your Postcards! Penobscot Marine Museum at Maine’s 2016 Antique Paper Show

Car used by Eastern Illustrating and Publishing Co., Penobscot Marine Museum collection

Car used by Eastern Illustrating and Publishing Co., Penobscot Marine Museum collection

A sampling of historic images from Penobscot Marine Museum’s collection of over 140,000 photographs will be available at the Maine 2016 Antique Paper Show on Saturday, June 25, from 8:30 am to 3:00 pm at the First Congregational Church Vestry, 8 Church Street, Searsport.

Penobscot Marine Museum’s collection of historic photographs began with a collection of negatives from a turn-of-the-nineteenth-century postcard company, Eastern Illustrated & Publishing Company of Belfast, Maine. Postcards, which were hugely popular in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, and their glass plate negatives still have a significant presence in the museum’s collection.

The postcard show complements the museum’s 2016 exhibit Wish You Were Here: Communicating Maine. Inspired by the 100th anniversary of “Maine Postcard Day”, this exhibit includes a hundred years of images which have been used to communicate the unique qualities of Maine to the outside world. With photographic postcards, photography, and contemporary art, this exhibit explores the changes which have taken place to the images that have been used to communicate Maine.

In connection with this year’s show, Associate Professor of History and Department Chair at the University of Southern Maine, Libby Bischoff will be conducting her Maine Postcard Project on campus from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. You will be able to write postcards to friends and family using postcards designed by Bischoff featuring historic and contemporary images of Maine. Bischoff was an advisor on our 2015 exhibit, Through Her Lens, and was the writer of our introductory panels about the history of postcards for our current exhibit, Wish You Were Here: Communicating Maine. Libby is also one of the authors of the recently released book, Maine Photography: A History, 1840-2015.

The Maine 2016 Antique Paper Show: Postcards and Paper Collectibles includes thousands of vintage postcards, old maps, historic photographs, sheet music, and paper ephemera. Free appraisals for your paper collectibles will be available from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm. Admission is $2, and includes $2 off of a Penobscot Marine Museum admission ticket.

For more information call Kevin Johnson at 207-548-2529 ext.210.

Searsport High School Students Launch Their Boats

Last year’s Searsport District High School students launching their boats in May 2015

Last year’s Searsport District High School students launching their boats in May 2015

Ten students from Searsport District High School with nine community volunteers, and master boat-builder Greg Rossel have been working together since mid-January building two Shellback Dinghies for the class The Geometry of Boat Building. The dinghies, which the students will launch at Searsport Town Dock on Thursday, May 26 at noon, are small sail boats designed by E.B. White’s son Joel White. This is the sixth year for The Geometry of Boat Building, a collaboration between Searsport District High School and Penobscot Marine Museum held at the museum’s Hamilton Learning Center in Searsport.

As they build the boats, the students explore marine physics and engineering concepts, Newton’s laws of motion, traditional and modern wood working, chemical reactions, and navigation. The class is taught by Greg Rossel who has been teaching boat building at WoodenBoat School for over twenty years, but it would not be possible without the additional help of community volunteers at every class: Susan Orsato, Lora Mills and Rick Fitzsimmons of Belfast, Gerry Saunders of Unity, Bruce Brown of Brewer, Rob Giffin of East Orland, Fred Kircheis of Carmel, Dan Merrill of Stockton Springs, and Pete Jenkins from Prospect.

Wayne Hamilton, owner of Hamilton Marine, teaches a navigation class, and the students travel to Camden to work with sailmaker Grant Gambell to make sails for the dinghies. The class would not be possible without local businesses who donate time and materials: Gambell and Hunter Sailmakers, Hamilton Marine, Epifanes, Maine Coast Lumber, WoodenBoat Store, Chesapeake Light Craft, George Kirby Jr Paint Company.

Edith & Bennett To Sing At Penobscot Marine Museum Members Opening

Edith Gawler and Bennett Konesni

Edith Gawler and Bennett Konesni

Edith Gawler and Bennett Konesni, who play banjo and fiddle and sing old-time music from Maine and beyond, will be playing at Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport, Maine for a Members Reception in Main Street Gallery on Friday, May 20, 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Edith grew up in Belgrade, Maine as a member of the legendary Gawler Family Band. Together Edith & Bennett have played Maine music across the U.S. and around the world. This event is free to Penobscot Marine Museum members. Museum membership is available online or by calling 207-548-0334 or 2529.

“It was one of the best nights of music the Parrish [Art Museum] has ever experienced, and the dynamism, charm, and talent of Edith and Bennett have made an everlasting imprint,” says Amy Kirwin of the Parrish Art Museum. In addition to their music, Edith and Bennett own and operate Duckback Farm in Belfast, Maine, which focuses on growing garlic and culinary herbs for table and seed.

Penobscot Marine Museum opens for the season on Saturday, May 28th. New this year, residents of Waldo County will receive free admission, each town during a specific week. Each town’s free week is listed here. Residents of Lincolnville and Islesboro will kick off the program with free admission to Penobscot Marine Museum from Sunday, May 29 through Saturday, June 4.

Free Admission For Waldo County Towns At Penobscot Marine Museum

Downeaster-Days-08022-640

Penobscot Marine Museum opens for the season on Saturday, May 28th and is inaugurating a new program to offer residents of each town in Waldo County free admission to the museum for a week.  Each town’s free week is listed below.  Residents of Lincolnville and Islesboro will kick off the program with free admission to Penobscot Marine Museum from Sunday, May 29 through Saturday, June 4.
 
“We want to give back to the community,” says Liz Lodge, Penobscot Marine Museum’s Executive Director.  “We are a great place to bring your children, your summer guests, or to do research.  We are a community resource, and wanted to make sure all of our neighbors in Waldo County had an opportunity to visit.”

Kathy Goldner at WBAI

Kathy Goldner discusses the Free Admission for Waldo County Program with Joy Hollowell for WBAI

The museum’s theme this summer is Wish You Were Here: Communicating Maine, celebrates a hundred years of images which have been used to communicate the unique qualities of Maine to the outside world.   The public is invited to the opening reception on Friday, May 27, 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm.

Do you live in Waldo County? Find your free week!

Museum admission is free for residents, with proof of residency:

Belfast October 9- October 15
Belmont July 24- July 30
Brooks July 17- July 23
Burnham July 31- August 6
Frankfort June 19- June 25
Freedom June 12-June 18
Islesboro May 29- June 4
Jackson June 5- June 11
Knox June 26- July 2
Liberty June 12-June 18
Lincolnville May 29- June 4
Monroe June 5- June 11
Montville August 7- August 13
Morrill July 10- July 16
Northport August 21- August 27
Palermo August 28- Sept 3
Prospect June 19- June 25
Searsmont Sept 4- Sept 10
Stockton Springs Sept 11- Sept 17
Swanville Sept 18- Sept 24
Thorndike June 26- July 2
Troy August 14- August 20
Unity Sept 25- October
Waldo July 10- July 16
Winterport October 2- October 8