Animal Tales

Animal Tales uses photographs from the Museum’s extensive photography archives and the intriguing stories behind the images to explore the fascination people have with animals. Since the beginning of photography, people have enjoyed using their lens to forever capture beloved pets, livestock, wildlife, and fishing and hunting successes. The exhibit features a range of photographs from casual snapshots taken by amateur photographers, to carefully conceived photos taken by professional photographers like Kosti Ruohomaa. Animal Tales is sponsored by Sally Savage. On display May 25 through October 20, 2019.

Sponsored by Sally Savage

From the Cradle to the Grave: Mining the Ed Coffin Collection

From the Cradle to the Grave: Mining the Ed Coffin Collection showcases 28 of the more than 2,500 photographs Ed Coffin collected throughout his lifetime. There are many themes to explore in the Coffin collection, but two that stand out as crowd pleasers are ship launches and ship wrecks. The “birth” and “death” of ships have long held the public’s fascination. Most of Maine’s Midcoast towns have been involved in building boats, ships and schooners. Watching the culmination of a year or more of construction and investment has been a spectacle not to be missed. On the flipside, the wreck of a ship evokes entirely different feelings, but the pull to see the tragic scene and to learn the grim story can be just as strong. On display May 25 through October 20, 2019.

Lobstering Women of Maine

In Lobstering Women of Maine, Belfast artist Susan Tobey White captures Maine’s lobster industry through her brightly colored paintings of lobster women at work. The exhibit showcases the lobster industry, explores Maine’s traditions and heritage, and reveals the strength of women. White appreciates the hard working women in the lobster industry, and was inspired to depict them in her art. She portrays women from the coast and islands of Maine from Ogunquit to Stonington. Lobstering Women of Maine is sponsored by Hamilton Marine. On display May 25 through October 20, 2019.

Sponsored by

Penobscot Marine Museum Launches Kosti Ruohomaa Microsite

General Store, Weston, Vermont 1946. Copyright Black Star.

Penobscot Marine Museum has recently launched a new microsite dedicated to their Kosti Ruohomaa photography collection. The site highlights the photographer and his collection, and features standout examples of the photographer’s work in a virtual exhibit. The site will also provide updates on the effort to digitize, preserve, and make this resource accessible to the public.

The archive of the Rockland, Maine photographer was donated to Penobscot Marine Museum in 2017 by Black Star of New York, Ruohomaa’s photography agency. The collection consists of thousands of medium and large format negatives, 35 mm negatives and slides, as well as contact sheets and vintage prints.

Pow Wow, Gallop, New Mexico: August. 1940. Copyright Black Star.

Ruohomaa’s work graced the cover of Life magazine numerous times, and was used frequently by other major magazines such as National Geographic and Look. While his published work is fairly well known, it represents less than 10% of his photographic collection; the rest have never been seen by the general public. This multi-year digitization and preservation project will allow these previously seen and unseen works to be accessible to the public.

Gay’s Angora Rabbit Farm, Los Angeles, California, 1943. Copyright Black Star.

The Kosti Ruohomaa project has been generously funded by Linda and Diana Bean, the Mildred H. McEvoy Foundation, and the Wyeth Foundation for American Art.

To view the Kosti Ruohomaa microsite, visit https://penobscotmarinemuseum.org/kosti-ruohomaa-collection/. For more information on this collection and any of the Penobscot Marine Museum photo collections, contact Photo Archivist Kevin Johnson at 207-548-2529 ext. 210 or kjohnson@pmm-maine.org.

Maurice Stanley Powell, Dodge Mountain, Rockland, Maine. 1950. Copyright Black Star.

Maine in the China Trade

Drugs, armed conflict, and free trade. Sound familiar? The First Opium War of the early 1840s, with British and Chinese fighting over the opium trade and Chinese sovereignty, opened up Chinese ports to the world. Maine’s merchant mariners aboard Maine-built ships soon thereafter entered the Chinese import and export trade. The trade aboard Maine-built ships lasted into the turn of the 20th Century. In the meantime, Maine sea captains and their families brought back souvenirs, stories, and an economic understanding of China. Presented on Thursday, May 30, 2019 by Cipperly Good, Curator of the Penobscot Marine Museum.

Penobscot Marine Museum Receives Grant from the Maine Historical Records Advisory Board

Thanks to a grant from the Maine Historical Records Advisory Board (MHRAB), Penobscot Marine Museum has rehoused and cataloged four collections documenting quintessential nineteenth and twentieth century Maine industries. The collections document the shipping of Maine’s natural resources, the use of Maine built ships in the global trading routes, and the evolution of Maine’s lobster boats.

The Gillchrest Collection consists of over 3,000 family letters, ship documents, and business correspondence of Captain Levi Gillchrest, a Thomaston, Maine merchant mariner, spanning from 1826 to 1877, involving the shipping of Maine lime and timber around the globe. The Gillchrest Collection is a gift of Renny and Julie Stackpole.

The Richard Lunt Collection documents the lobster boat builders in Mount Desert and Jonesport/Beals, from 1880-1989, and explores the regional origins and early evolution of the Maine lobster boat that led to the design differences between the Jonesport-style, Mount Desert Island, and Casco Bay lobster boats of today. The Richard Lunt Collections is a gift of Richard Lunt.

The Whitcomb, Haynes & Whitney Business Records provide insight into the day to day business of an Ellsworth, Maine lumber and shipping business from 1873-1929. The Whitcomb, Haynes, & Whitney Business Records are a gift from Marc S. Blanchette.

The Samuel F. Manning Illustration Collection archives the illustrations of Camden, Maine illustrator Samuel F. Manning, from 1970 to 2017, on subjects ranging from ship and boat building, to coastal and deep sea shipping, to Maine town histories. The Samuel F. Manning Illustration Collection is a gift of Samuel F. Manning.

To access these collections, and the rest of the maritime history and genealogical archival records of the Penobscot Marine Museum, please contact Cipperly Good, Curator/Collections Manager at cgood@pmm-maine.org or 207-548-2529×212.

About Penobscot Marine Museum

Penobscot Marine Museum brings Maine’s maritime history to life on a campus of beautiful historic buildings in the charming seacoast village of Searsport, Maine. Exhibits include hands-on activities for children and adults, as well as a ship captain’s house, marine paintings, scrimshaw, 19th century Chinese and Japanese pottery, boat models, historic Maine boats, a fisheries exhibit, and an heirloom garden. The Museum has over 200,000 historic photographs, and a maritime history research library. Museum offices and research library are open year round. Exhibits are open seven days a week, Memorial Day weekend through the third Sunday in October. PMM’s Visitors Center is located at 40 E. Main Street, Searsport, Maine. For more information call 207-548-2529.

Frederick Ross Sweetser

Fredrick Ross Sweetser Collection #LB2003.61.101

By David Ruberti

I have just finished another one of our small photo collections to add to our on-line database. Not only does this chronicle the photographer’s family but his home, the town of Searsport, where I work and many of you live, and its sea-going families. This is a collection of 400 images by amateur photographer Frederick Ross Sweetser who was born in Searsport, Maine on May 15, 1853, the son of Capt. Jeremiah and Susan (French) Sweetser. In his youth he accompanied his father on long sea voyages. His first music lessons were in Holland and very early in his life he showed a very decided talent for music and it became his life’s work. For 44 years he taught at Boxwood Manor, a school for young ladies in Old Lyme, Conn.

He accompanied innumerable church and concert singers. He numbered among his friends many of the high-ups in musical, literary and theatrical circles. He enjoyed a lifelong friendship with the famous opera star Anna Louise Cary.

Joanna Colcord Collection #LB2003.61.3

He was exceedingly fond of his native town and when vacation time came, he never failed to come back to Searsport, where he spent many happy summers at the old homestead, a dignified old Colonial brick house set picturesquely on a hill back from Main Street.
When at home in the summer he took an active part in the musical life of the town and often put on operas and other musical entertainments for the benefit of various organizations. In 1918 he retired to spend the remainder of his life in Searsport. He organized a large piano class in Belfast, where he had a studio, usually returning to Searsport on the weekends.

His sister, Jane “Jennie” Sweetser married the noted merchant ship captain Lincoln Alden Colcord, who sailed from Searsport on numerous ships over his lifetime of going to sea. Capt. Colcord and his wife Jane embarked on a three-year voyage aboard the sailing vessel Charlotte A. Littlefield on their wedding night, June 4, 1881.

Joanna Colcord Collection #LB2003.61.103

They were the parents of noted writer and journalist Lincoln Ross Colcord, and pioneering social worker and writer Joanna Carver Colcord, both of which were born at sea aboard the Charlotte Littlefield.

It is assumed that “Frank” Sweetser’s niece, Joanna acquired her love of photography from her uncle. The Joanna Colcord collection at the museum consists of 700 glass plate negatives, an annotated scrapbook of her own photos, and postcards of the places she visited in her travels.

Sweetser died on April 15, 1924 and his funeral was held at the First Congregational Church here in Searsport.

Frederick Ross Sweetser Collection

Joanna Colcord Collection

Is this China’s Century or was it the Nineteenth Century?

Downtown Transport, circa 1900. The water taxi sampans add to the crowded thoroughfares, whether land or water-based, of a bustling Chinese city. PMM# 127.15, Gift of Joanna Carver Colcord

Penobscot Marine Museum has teamed up with the Belfast Free Library to answer this year’s Camden Conference question: “Is This China’s Century”. The Camden Conference is an annual conference that fosters “informed discourse on world issues” and this year it runs from February 22-24, 2019. As a lead-up to the main event, the Camden Conference sponsors satellite events around the state of Maine. In December, PMM Curator Cipperly Good gave a talk to audiences at Belfast Free Library arguing that the Nineteenth Century was in fact China’s Century. Our second collaboration with the Library is an exhibit of color prints depicting Chinese daily life from the early 1900s. The exhibit is on view now until the end of February, 2019.

These prints made from color transparencies, provide a glimpse into the lives of the Chinese aboard watercraft, a means for fishing, transportation, and housing. By 1900, China had transitioned from a feudal agrarian economy that resisted foreign commerce to one that embraced the global economy of imports and exports. A society kept hidden by centralized government with strict laws against foreign visitation was now open to the overtly pointed lens of the camera.

So how did Maine and China interact in the Nineteenth Century? Penobscot Bay captains entered the China Trade in the 1840s. The First Opium War of 1844 opened up five treaty ports in China to foreign trade. The Second Opium War of 1858 cracked open more coastal treaty ports and the inland rivers. The sailing ship captains of Maine engaged in the trade until the first decade of the 1900s. The American sailing cargo ship trade failed as foreign steamships took control from the American Merchant Marine, which failed to make the transition to steam early enough to remain competitive. 

Captain Brown acquired these color transparencies of Hong Kong and Mainland China and gave them to Joanna Carver Colcord. Joanna, born at sea and raised on her father’s merchant marine ships, came from a long line of Searsport sea captains. The family made three voyages to Hong Kong, in 1890, 1892, and 1899.

New Online Collection! One of Belfast’s most infamous characters!

Edgar F. Hanson and the pony, Prince in front of the Windsor Hotel, Belfast, Maine

By PMM Volunteer David Ruberti

Sometimes one of our small collections can be one of our most interesting. We have recently added one of those to our on-line database. The photographs were donated by the great-grandchildren of the man from Belfast who is the subject of the collection:

He was born in Lincoln in 1853 and as a young man he farmed, went to sea and was a general laborer on the railroad after moving to Belfast. With his savings, he started a company to manufacture carriages where he was manufacturing as many as 300 carriages per year and doing $36,000 a year in business, a remarkable amount in a small town. With the money he made on that enterprise, he invested in Dana’s Sarsaparilla as one of the owners and the manager. Later he managed the Nutriola Co. of Chicago and was indicted in the US courts on several counts for sending obscene matter through the mails, and was sentenced to one year in Joliet penitentiary and fined $5000. The conviction was later overturned as having no merit by The U. S. Circuit court of Appeals in Chicago.

Edgar F. Hanson standing by his automobile with a banner advertsing Avocado Park Groves.

He was the director of People’s National Bank and president of the Belfast & Moosehead Lake Railroad. As a man who was always on the hunt for financial advance he invested in the Eastern Importing & Breeding Company which imported Belgian hares and was also an investor in the Petit Manan Island land development company.
 
In politics, he was a lifelong Democrat and, as such, served 10 terms as Belfast’s mayor as well as a state senator. Also, as a democrat he was diametrically opposed to Charles Pilsbury and his “Republican Journal” which encouraged him to found the “Waldo County Herald” which was to have been more politically neutral but quickly devolved into partisan politics with a decidedly Democratic bent.

Group photograph of the Hanson and Cassens clan and a flivver

He brought Herman Cassens to Belfast to take a job with his Cream Publishing Co. that published the magazine “Cream”, which was published from 1897 to 1898. Cassens eventually married his daughter Lillian. With his financial aid, Cassens founded, the Eastern Illustrating & Publishing Co. in 1909, and later worked at the Waldo County Herald where his father-in-law was editor and publisher.

He was a principal shareholder at Maple Grove Campmeeting on Cain’s Pond in Searsport where he was also a frequent preacher. For the first 23 years of his life Edgar attended numerous Spiritualist meetings but later, he had an epiphany, in which he saw Spiritualism as the Devil’s trickery and published Demonology or Spiritualism.

He retired to Florida but soon became a land developer as the Square Deal & Development Company and became the owner and developer of the largest avocado grove in the world. It was a square mile in size and located west of Miami. It was destroyed in two separate hurricanes in 1926 and 1928. He passed away in 1933 at the age of 80 and is now a permanent resident of the Smart Cemetery in East Belfast.

He was Edgar Filmore Hanson aka The “Man from Maine”!

Visit our on-line database and see this fascinating local character through the photographs from his family albums.  A big thanks to Edgar’s great grandson Mike Hanson or sharing this wonderful collection!

A Long Look Back

pictured L to R: Dave Lowell; Gene Dalrymple; PMM’s Matt Wheeler

Gene Dalrymple would probably not be considered a native by some people’s reckoning, but his 97-year association with Marshall Point in Port Clyde, Maine, makes him a local by ours. Dalrymple grew up outside of Boston, but his maternal grandfather was the last keeper at Marshall Point Light during the US Lighthouse Service era; his tenure there (July 1874 to May 1919) was the longest in the history of the Service. Dalrymple’s mother was born in the lighthouse; his family were at home when the original mortared stone keeper’s house was struck by lightning in 1895 (there were no casualties but the building itself, which had to be replaced).

Gene himself was born in the cottage pictured above, which was built on land his grandfather bought on the Point. He travelled with his mother by steamer from Boston each summer to spend the warm months at Port Clyde. A historian by nature, Gene has an ear for stories and a keen interest in the people around him. Throughout his adulthood, as a dentist whose primary residence was in Camden, Dalrymple continued to return to this peninsula, a working port and a summer haunt for many, including luminaries such as the three generations of painterly Wyeths. Dave Lowell, a former Tenants Harbor resident and a friend of PMM’s, made Gene’s acquaintance over a period of years; he encouraged a meeting, knowing that our photography holdings included a generous lode of old Port Clyde images. Since many of our images are undescribed, we jumped at the chance to hear more about this richly-storied place. Starting in 2013, with Gene’s guidance and with the enthusiastic participation of several other local elders, we began to piece together a narrative.

The effort has brought us to the point of planning a Port Clyde photo book. The book will include wide views of the harbor with labels identifying historic homes and businesses, street scenes, photos of local buildings—homes, hotels, businesses which are local landmarks or are no longer standing—and waterfront views. Its captions will recall a thriving center of commerce and the characters who made the place lively and memorable. There’s still a lot of work to do, including further interviews with additional sources. As Gene exhorts us, “This thing has got to be 110% right”. We agree. The prospect of revealing this world before it succumbs to the blurring of time excites us. Stay tuned.