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!