William Parse Collection

This collection consists of 120 glass plate negatives, believed to have been taken by Captain William Parse. The photographs, most of which were taken in Searsport and nearby, include portraits, family groupings, gatherings and outings, parades, houses, commercial buildings, and street and water views. They date from around the turn of the 20th century.

William Parse and his wife Adelaide (Sargent) lived on Steamboat Avenue in Searsport. His father, Nicholas Parse, an Englishman from Bridgewater, Somerset, came to Searsport in the 1850s. He and his wife Sarah (McLeod) had eight children, the eldest of whom was William, born in 1855, reportedly at sea. Nicholas spent his life as a mariner and commanded several vessels in the 1870s and 1880s, according to the book Searsport Sea Captains. William was a mariner, too, until he became a dealer in shoes, with a store on Main Street in Searsport. His brother James also followed in his father’s footsteps, becoming a steamboat captain about 1900.

William Parse owned land that extended from the east side of Steamboat Avenue to the shore. In 1916 his brother James and his wife Margaret (Butman Sargent) built a house and barn on the west side of Steamboat Avenue.

The collection was donated to the museum by Rod Farris and Charlene Knox Farris. Charlene’s parents found the plates in the attic of the house at 22 Steamboat Avenue, where Charlene grew up.