Saturday, July 31, 2010

Parker Cleaveland, the Eccentric Geologist

Parker Cleaveland was born on January 15, 1780 in Rowley, Massachusetts, to physician Parker Cleaveland (senior) and Elizabeth Jackman. Parker, who was an only child, was from what Louis Hatch called “good old New England stock”. Among Parker’s relatives are Moses Cleaveland, the founder and namesake of Cleaveland, Ohio, and president Grover Cleveland.

Photo of an older Parker Cleaveland. From the Pejepscot Historical Society, acc# OH.1948.c.

Parker was prepared for college early, and attended Dummer Academy, later entering Harvard at age 15. In 1799 he received his Bachelor’s degree and in 1802 his Master’s, both from Harvard. After graduating with his Master’s, Parker took a job as tutor at Harvard in the subjects of mathematics and natural philosophy.

Parker never intended to spend his life teaching, instead planning on a career in law, and turned down at least one offer from Bowdoin College to join their faculty. Professor John Abbott was finally able to convince him to teach at the Brunswick college and on October 23, 1805, Cleaveland became Bowdoin’s first professor of mathematics and natural philosophy.

Parker Cleaveland would spend the rest of his life teaching at Bowdoin, becoming, in college historian Louis Hatch’s estimation, “one of the greatest teachers that Bowdoin ever had” (Hatch, 28). Cleaveland was an extremely popular lecturer, renowned for giving “exciting classroom demonstrations” (Bowdoin College website). But he did not limit his involvement with Bowdoin to teaching. Cleaveland was also a driving force in the establishment of the now-defunct Maine Medical School at Bowdoin. Additionally, Cleaveland served as interim college president after William Allen was dismissed. Later, Allen was rehired, only to later resign—after his resignation, Parker Cleaveland was offered the presidency, but turned it down.

Parker Cleaveland's signature on a scrap of paper. From the Pejepscot Historical Society, acc# 2006.32.

But for of all of his accomplishments with the college, Parker Cleaveland is perhaps best known for his contributions to American geology and mineralogy. Cleaveland became interested in the subjects when, in 1807, he was called to a site along the Androscoggin River. There, a group of men had been excavating a ledge, attempting to make the river more passable for the lumber drives. During the dig, a large number of minerals that appeared to be diamonds and gold were discovered. A Bowdoin College scientist was called for and Cleaveland was summoned, only to be just as ignorant of the identity of the minerals as the working men (the minerals were actually iron pyrite, aka “fool’s gold”, and quartz).

His interest piqued, Parker Cleaveland began to collect rock specimens and study available texts on geology. He noticed a lack of American geology textbooks, so in 1816 he published An Elementary Treatise on Mineralogy and Geology, the first major American mineralogical textbook. This brought Packard great fame, including offers from other colleges for twice his Bowdoin salary (which he turned down), a mineral named after him (Cleavelandite, a type of white Albite), and earned him the title “Father of American Mineralogy.”

Cleaveland’s personal life also reflected his devotion to Bowdoin College. On September 9, 1806 he married Martha Bush of Boylston, Massachusetts in Boston. The couple would have 3 daughters and five sons, and at least two of his children were apparently named in honor of the college: James Bowdoin Cleaveland and John Appleton Cleaveland. Not long after arriving in Brunswick, Parker commissioned architect Samuel Melcher III to build him a home. From 1805 to 1806 the Parker Cleaveland House was constructed at 75 Federal Street with a total cost (including land) of $3,200 (approximately $45,000 today). The house, where Parker lived until his death, is now owned by the college and though it was president Robert H. Edwards’ home from 1990-2001, is now used for functions and is a National Historic Landmark.

The Parker Cleaveland House at 75 Federal Street in Brunswick, circa 1960. From the Pejepscot Historical Society, acc# 1992.112.31.

Not interested in limiting his talents to the college, Parker Cleaveland was also involved in local organizations. He was among the first librarians of the Maine Historical Society, an organization which he was active in until his death. Cleaveland was also the first commander of the Brunswick Fire Company, which was formed after the devastating 1825 fire which destroyed a large section of the town.

Despite these accomplishments, Cleaveland second greatest fame—next to that of being the “Father of American Mineralogy”—was his eccentric nature. He was deathly afraid of lightning. During storms he would lie in bed, taking care that his nightstand was not touching it. Anything that appeared to be an approaching thunderstorm would keep him from leaving the house. His fears appear to have been somewhat allayed once he had two lightening rods installed on his home. Called “a keeper at home”, Cleaveland also hated traveling and was wary of technological advances such as trains, steamboats and even stagecoaches (Cleaveland,* 128). He reportedly refused to cross any body of water except by bridge, and even then would only do so after he had inspected the bridge himself.

Photo of Parker Cleaveland's study, the northeast, 1st floor room of his home at 75 Federal Street. From the Pejepscot Historical Society, acc# 1992.112.100.

Perhaps in the end, Parker Cleaveland’s cautious nature helped him live a long life. Cleaveland died at 8 AM on October 15, 1858, probably from heart disease. The local newspaper reported that “We saw the corpse, a few moments after the Professor died, and the countenance bore an expression of naturalness, calmness and serenity, that told a peaceful departure” (Tenney, “Death of Professor Cleaveland”, 2). Despite his deep-seated fears, Parker Cleaveland lived a life that remains impressive to this day.

Parker Cleaveland's gravestone in Pine Grove Cemetery, located beside the William DeWitt Hyde family plot. On April 27, 1866 the Brunswick Telegraph reported that "It is expected that the monument to the late Prof. Cleaveland will be erected in our burial ground, over his remains, before Commencement. The monument will be of granite, of severe simplicity of style, such as best accords with the almost childlike simplicity of his character, and which, could he have consented to any testimonial in his behalf, he would select above all others."

Several memorials to Cleaveland survive today. In 1869 the name of Cross Street, just across from Cleaveland’s Federal Street home, was changed to Cleaveland Street, the name it bears today. As the Brunswick Telegraph reported that it was “a fitting mark of respect to the memory of the late Prof. Cleaveland, and besides a good change in itself, as Cross Street now has no significance whatever. It might have had when the village was much smaller” (Tenney, “Town Matters”, 2; emphasis in original). The best tribute to Cleaveland is arguably Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem about his former teacher, which Longfellow wrote when he visited Brunswick 17 years after Cleaveland’s death:

Among the many lives that I have known,
None I remember more serene and sweet,
More rounded in itself and more complete,
Than his who lies beneath this funeral stone.
These pines, that murmur in low monotone,
These walks frequented by scholastic feet,
Were all his world; but in this calm retreat
For him the teacher’s chair became a throne.
With fond affection memory loves to dwell
On the old days, when his example made
A pastime of the toil of tongue and pen;
And now, amid the groves he loved so well
That naught could lure him from their grateful shade,
He sleeps, but wakes elsewhere, for God hath said, ‘Amen!’

*Nehemiah Cleaveland was Parker Cleaveland’s cousin.

Bowdoin College. Agency History/Biographical Note. George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives website.
Calhoun, Charles C. A Small College in Maine: Two Hundred Years of Bowdoin. Brunswick: Bowdoin College, 1993.
“Cleaveland House”. Office of the President. Bowdoin College website.
Cleaveland, Nehemiah. History of Bowdoin College, with Biographical Sketches of its Graduates. Boston: James Ripley Osgood & Company, 1882.
General Catalogue of Bowdoin College and the Medical School of Maine, 1794-1912.
Hatch, Louis C. The History of Bowdoin College. Portland, Maine: Loring, Short & Harmon, 1927.
Shipman, William D. The Early Architecture of Bowdoin College and Brunswick, Maine. J.H. French & Son: 1985.
Sisser, Sasha. “Parker Cleaveland (1780-1858)”. Biographies, Temple University website. Tenney, A.G. “Death of Professor Cleaveland”. Brunswick Telegraph, 15 October 1858.
Tenney, A.G. “Funeral of Professor Cleaveland.” Brunswick Telegraph, 22 October 1858. Tenney, A.G. “Town Matters.” Brunswick Telegraph, 2 April 1869.
Woods, Leonard. Address on the Life and Character of Parker Cleaveland, LL.D. Brunswick: Joseph Griffin, 1860.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Lucky Number Seven: William DeWitt Hyde

The seventh president of Bowdoin College, William DeWitt Hyde, was born in Winchendon, Massachusetts on September 23, 1858. His parents were Eliza DeWitt and Joel Hyde, who was described by Hyde’s biographer as half farmer and half industrialist. Whatever Joel was, he must have done alright by his family. William attended Exeter Academy and then Harvard, where he helped found the Harvard Philosophical Society, graduating in the class of 1879. Hyde decided to pursue religion as a career, and graduated from Andover Theological Seminary in 1882. He had no way of knowing that his list of accolades would eventually contain honorary degrees from Bowdoin, Harvard, Syracuse and Dartmouth.

William DeWitt Hyde, the seventh president of Bowdoin College, photographed circa 1910. From the Pejepscot Historical Society, acc# 1992.42.3.

While studying at Andover, Hyde met Prudence Phillips, the daughter of a New York City grain merchant. After he graduated from seminary in 1882 and became ordained in September of 1883, Hyde took the position of pastor at the Paterson, New Jersey Congregational church. On November 6 of the same year he married Prudence. The couple would eventually have three children: William & Elizabeth, a set of twins who died at age 2 weeks, and George, who became a lawyer.

Not two years after taking this job, however, Hyde was lured away from New Jersey for a greater challenge. Bowdoin College had been searching for a new president for 2 years after the resignation of Joshua L. Chamberlain. Though individuals like Alpheus Spring Packard had served in the interim, the college desperately needed someone more permanent. Egbert C. Smyth, a Bowdoin trustee and the son of William Smyth, began to petition that Hyde be hired not only for the presidency, but also as the new professor of mental & moral philosophy. Smyth was ultimately successful, and Hyde became the college’s youngest president before he had turned 27.

Despite his age, Hyde had shown great promise and had excellent recommendations. And, luckily for him, he lived up to the hype. Hyde reinvigorated and revived Bowdoin, taking, as Charles C. Calhoun described it, “the disadvantages of the old-fashioned college—its small size, rural isolation, tradition of piety, and fondness for professors who taught by force of personality more than by intellectual example—and turned them into virtues” (Calhoun, 197). By his tenth year in office, “the boy president”, as Hyde was called, had doubled the college’s enrollment (Burnett, 111). It was during his stead that Whittier Field, Hubbard Hall, the Walker Art Building and Searles Science Building were all constructed. Hyde raised professor’s salaries and made major changes to the curriculum as well, dropping Greek and Latin as requirements for graduation.

A postcard image of Hubbard Hall, the college's library until 1965, when the Hawthrone-Longfellow Library was completed. A portion of Hubbard Hall is now used as the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum. From the Pejepscot Historical Society, acc# 1982.97.298.6.

At the age of just 49, Hyde suffered what his biographer Charles T. Burnett called a nervous breakdown. Hyde suffered from fainting spells and examinations suggested he had a weakened heart (Hyde, ironically the head of the only medical school in Maine, hated physicians). He took a leave of absence and traveled to Europe for a period, but appears to never have fully recovered.

William DeWitt Hyde died on the morning of June 28, 1917 at age 58. His last words, said to his wife Prudence, were reportedly “Don’t worry, don’t worry about anything” (Burnett, 340). On July 4, 1917, the Boston Herald published an article by John Clair Minot, a former student of Hyde’s, titled “The Burial of a Great Teacher”. Minot described Hyde’s burial in a grave just past

“After Mr. [Thompson Eldridge] Ashby had read the committal service, in a flower-bordered grave in the shade of a little tree of thick foliage we left the sleeping teacher. Close by sleep four others of the seven men* who have been at the head of Bowdoin since it was chartered in 1794, and several of those who have been loyal associated on the faculty. No lovelier setting could be imagined—the sunshine flooding the cemetery, the whispering pines thick around it, one little bird singing in a tree near by, and the hushed and uncovered groups in whose hearts the sense of loss was mastered by a proud memory of what had been and an unfaltering belief in what survives” (Minot, quoted in Burnett, 341-342).

When Hyde became president of Bowdoin College, there were only 119 students enrolled, but by the time of his death, there were nearly 500. Though his life was short, William DeWitt Hyde left a lasting impression on Bowdoin College, helping to transforming the school into the success it is today.

Hyde's grave in Pine Grove, located just past the granite-curbed lot where William Smyth is buried (you can see the curbing on the right side of this photo). Hyde is buried with is wife, Prudence.

*Only three previous Bowdoin presidents are buried near Hyde: Joseph McKeen, Jesse Appleton, & Joshua L. Chamberlain. The three other presidents that preceeded Hyde are William Allen, Leonard Woods, Jr., and Samuel Harris—none of whom are buried in Pine Grove Cemetery. Minot may be under the belief that William Allen was buried near Hyde because Allen’s first wife, Maria Wheelock Allen, is.

Bowdoin College. Agency History/Biographical Note. George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives website.
Burnett, Charles T. Hyde of Bowdoin: A Biography of William DeWitt Hyde. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1931.
Calhoun, Charles C. A Small College in Maine: Two Hundred Years of Bowdoin. Brunswick: Bowdoin College, 1993.
Hale, Edward. “William DeWitt Hyde.” The Harvard Graduate’s Magazine. Vol. 26, September 1917, pages 36-39.
Hatch, Louis C. The History of Bowdoin College. Portland, Maine: Loring, Short & Harmon, 1927.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

William Smyth: Abolitionist, Education Reformer & Amateur Architect

William Smyth in an undated photo. From the Pejepscot Historical Society, acc# OH 1969.a.

William Smyth seems like one of the busiest people in Brunswick. Smyth had many pet causes which he felt passionately about, and has left a lasting mark on many of Brunswick’s institutions, such as the school system, Bowdoin College and the First Parish Church.

Smyth’s biographers consistently refer to his childhood as a difficult one. He was born on either the 1st or 2nd of February in 1797 (his grave cites the 2nd, but several other sources say it was the 1st), in Pittston, Maine. While he was still young, Smyth’s family moved to Wiscasset, where his father worked as a ship carpenter and Smyth befriended a young Alpheus Spring Packard. To help support his poor family, Smyth joined the army and served in the War of 1812 as a quartermaster-sergeant in a regiment stationed near the mouth of the Kennebec River. By 1815 he had lost both of his parents, and was left to support his brother and sister by teaching at Wiscasset schools and later at Gorham Academy.

Possessing a thirst for knowledge, Smyth entered Bowdoin College as a member of the junior class in 1820. He suffered from poor eyesight, so roommates and friends would read Smyth’s assignments to him each night. Nevertheless, Smyth overcame his relative poverty—he often ate just bread & water to save money—and eye problems to graduate at the head of his class in 1822. After graduation Smyth taught for a few years before returning to his alma mater as Greek tutor. In 1825 he gained an assistant professorship in both mathematics and natural philosophy. He would later become a full professor of both subjects. William Smyth is credited with introducing the blackboard to Bowdoin College, an innovation which caused students who had already taken his algebra course to (voluntarily!) re-enroll and repeat the subject. Smyth married Harriet Porter Coffin in 1827 and lived in the Smyth-Packard House for over 40 years with his lifelong friend, Alpheus S. Packard.

The Smyth-Packard House at 6-8 College Street, William Smyth's home for over 40 years. Smyth also used his home to hide slaves escaping to Canada. From the Pejepscot Historical Society, acc# 1978.10.a.

If he were alive today, William Smyth would certainly be considered an activist. He was a charter member of Brunswick’s Temperance Society, but is perhaps most celebrated for his abolitionist views. He helped found the state’s first antislavery society in 1834, and later served on the Board of Managers for the American Anti-Slavery Society. In March 1838, Smyth served as the first editor of The Advocate of Freedom, an abolitionist newspaper published in Brunswick. That same year he served as a delegate at the meeting of the Maine Anti-Slavery Society in Augusta. One biography states that Smyth “never swerved, -no, not for an hour,- from his allegiance to the cause of human freedom and the rights of man” (Wheeler & Wheeler, 806). Smyth’s home even served as a stop on the Underground Railroad for escaping slaves headed to Canada.

Smyth also has an interesting tie to most famous abolitionist to ever live in Brunswick. Harriet Beecher Stowe, wife of a newly hired Bowdoin professor, arrived in Bath with her children on May 25, 1850. As Stowe reports in this letter to her husband, Prof. William Smyth was supposed to met her in Bath and escort her to her Brunswick lodgings:

“Proff Smith had written that he should be at the landing to wait on me to the cars—It was a drenching running rain & fog when the boat stopped. Proff Smyth was there umbrella in hand waiting in anxious expectation he says—but I also waited on board the boat hoping to hear somebody enquire for me—I waited till all the baggage was taken out & seeing or hearing no one I went on shore & took a hack & was driven up to the [street] cars took my ticket saw my baggage put in & then waited patiently for the cars to go off—Meanwhile Mr. Smith after rambling over the boat in search of me came to the cars in despair to go back to Brunswick…He went into the front car—I & the children into the back & in fifteen minutes we were in Bath—I wondered when I got there that nobody came to the cars to look for me—he got out [in Brunswick] quite disappointed & walked up to Mrs. Upham’s who had her breakfast table all waiting announced the [grim?] fact that I was not coming & then directly on the heels of this while he & Mrs. Upham were wondering over their coffee what could have become of me I came bad & baggage to the door—What way did you come was the astonished cry—From Bath says I quite cool—Impossible says Proff Smyth how could you have got there you were certainly not on the Bath boat—But indeed I was says I--& then such a laugh as Mrs Upham & Mary & Susan railed on the poor Professor—it has been a standing joke ever since—he laughs and shakes his sides talks about it incessantly himself—begs nobody will mention it to him—for it hurts his feelings to have it alluded to—What was the matter yet remains a mystery—I am quite sure that I stood a long time in a very conspicuous situation with my children drawn up before me--& he is sure that he came on board—looked every where & did not see me.” (Harriet Beecher Stowe, quoted in Calhoun, 151-152).

Perhaps in an effort to atone for the misunderstanding, Smyth helped plant a garden and found a cow for Stowe.

Brunswick's first high school, completed in 1851. Note that there are separate entrances for boys (on the right) and girls (on the left). From the Pejepscot Historical Society, acc# OH 2119.c.

Smyth was also a passionate advocate of educational reform. Before Smyth led the charge, Brunswick’s school system was actually three completely separate districts where students of all ages and intellectual abilities learned together. It was Smyth who pushed for the town’s school system to be unified, and called for the graded separation of pupils into a primary, elementary and high school. Involved in the town school committee for 17 years, Smyth also designed the first Brunswick high school, which stood where Hawthorne School, at the corner of Federal & Green Streets, is today. This, along with his tireless efforts on behalf of the town’s schools, earned him the title “Father of the Brunswick High School.”

The First Parish Church, aka "The Church on the Hill", showing the spire which Smyth designed. The spire only lasted from 1845 to 1866, when it was blown off in a windstorm. From the Pejepscot Historical Society, acc# 2008.382.2.b.

Smyth’s role in the building of the first Brunswick high school was his first experience with erecting a major Brunswick edifice. On February 15, 1845, it was Smyth who made the motion to build a new Congregational church. Smyth, “working like a galley slave”, served as the construction manager and kept constant correspondence with the building’s architect Richard Upjohn (Tenney, 1). Upjohn, who also designed New York City’s Trinity Church, never came to see the church while it was being built. After the First Parish Church building was completed, it was Smyth who drew the plans for a spire which was added in 1848.

Bowdoin College's Memorial Hall, circa 1890. The building is now more commonly known as Pickard Theater and is the summer home of the Maine State Music Theater. From the Pejepscot Historical Society, acc# 1978.10.l.

But William Smyth’s was not quite done as a builder & designer. On September 1, 1865, the Brunswick Telegraph reported that Smyth was seeking donations for a new Bowdoin College building, to be dedicated alumni who fought in the Civil War. Over the next 3 years, Smyth managed to raise an impressive $20,000 (about $320,000 today) for the new building, Memorial Hall, while only charging the college $4.17 for his travel expenses. Smyth also had a role in the design in the building—he wanted an architect to design the exterior while he was responsible for the interior. Surviving correspondence suggests that Smyth was a rather difficult person to work with.

William Smyth's monument. The Smyth family plot in Pine Grove Cemetery is located just past the Chamberlain family plot, on the right.

The Memorial Hall project would prove to be Smyth’s last. He spent the morning of the day he died overseeing the laying of the building’s foundation, but suffered an apparent heart attack and died at his home around 2:30 PM on April 4, 1868. His obituary reports that Smyth had repeatedly stated that “he desired no other inscription upon his tombstone than the simple words—‘The friend of the Children’” (Tenney, 1).

Ashby, Thompson Eldridge. A History of the First Parish Church in Brunswick, Maine. Brunswick: J.H. French and Son, 1969.
Calhoun, Charles C. A Small College in Maine: Two Hundred Years of Bowdoin. Brunswick: Bowdoin College, 1993.
Cheetham, Mark. Facts and Legends Concerning the Underground Railroad in Topsham and Brunswick Maine website.
Cleaveland, Nehemiah. History of Bowdoin College, with Biographical Sketches of its Graduates. Boston: James Ripley Osgood & Company, 1882.
General Catalogue of Bowdoin College and the Medical School of Maine, 1794-1912. Brunswick: Bowdoin College, 1912.
Hatch, Louis C. The History of Bowdoin College. Portland, Maine: Loring, Short & Harmon, 1927.
“Memorial Hall”. Brunswick Telegraph. 1 September 1865.
Tenney, A.G. “Prof. William Smyth, D.D.” Brunswick Telegraph. 10 April 1868.
Wheeler, George Augustus & Henry Warren. History of Brunswick, Topsham, and Harpswell, Maine, Including the Ancient Territory Known as Pejepscot. Boston: Alfred Mudge & Son, 1878.

Friday, July 23, 2010

“Poor Mahershalalhasbaz!”: How New Englanders Were Named

Have you ever walked around an old New England graveyard? If you have, you may have noticed that some of the names used back then are very uncommon today—you just don’t meet many Ephraims or Ebenezers these days.

New England, more than any other region of America, relied on the Bible as the source of names. In his ridiculously thorough book Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America, David Hackett Fischer discusses this phenomenon. By his count, “In seventeenth-century Boston, 90 percent of all first names were taken from the Bible; in Concord, 91 percent; in Hingham, 95 percent. That proportion was nearly twice as great as in non-Puritan colonies” (Fischer, 94).

Though Fischer does not look specifically at the naming practices here in Maine, a tour though Pine Grove Cemetery suggests that the same traditions were used here. Though there are no people named Mahershalalhasbaz—the longest name in the Bible—plenty of Biblical names appear on the gravestones here. I’ve already mentioned Alpheus S. Packard—In the Bible, Alpheus was the father of 3 of the 12 apostles. Among some of the simpler Biblical names appearing in Pine Grove are Israel, Magdalene, and Nahum (a Biblical prophet), but they certainly get more complicated. There is an Erastus, an Abiah, a Thirza, a Tryphena, a Huldah, an Abiezer, a Mehitable and at least two Beulahs.

Fischer also mentions that there is some evidence to suggest New England parents “sometimes shut their eyes, opened the good book and pointed to a word at random” to come up with their child’s name (Fischer, 94). This may explain how Pine Grove residents Experience, Thankful, Charity, Prudence and Mindwell got their names.

Fischer goes on to describe how necronyms, the practice of using the names of the dead, was another common New England practice: “When New England families lost a child, its name was used again in 80 percent of all cases where another baby of the same sex was born” (96). Apparently, this practice is still going on today. One of our faithful volunteers here at the Pejepscot Historical Society, who used to work at the Town Clerk’s office, recalls when a gentleman—“Dave”—came in requesting a copy of his birth certificate. She took Dave’s name and the names of his parents and pulled the birth certificate from the files. When Dave saw the birth certificate, he noticed that the date of birth was incorrect. After some research, our volunteer discovered that Dave had an older brother who had died before Dave’s birth, and Dave’s parents had simply reused the name when he came along—the birth certificate she had pulled belonged to a sibling he didn’t even know he had.

Fischer, David Hackett. Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.

An exhaustive list of Biblical names can be found here.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Other Woman: Elizabeth C. Edmunds

The simple headstone of Elizabeth C. Edmunds, located on the western side of the Chamberlain family plot in Pine Grove.

Just as Grant is buried in his tomb, the Chamberlain family is buried in the Chamberlain plot at Pine Grove Cemetery. Visitors are able to see Joshua Chamberlain's two gravestones, Fanny's, and the stones of their children: Grace, Harold, Emily & Gertrude. But there is one more gravestone in the plot, a small stone that bears only the name "Elizabeth C. Edmunds".

Who was Elizabeth Edmunds? What we know is that she was born in 1845 in Ontario, Canada to farmers Asahel Edmunds and Harriet Wakefield. At the time of her death in August 1896, at the age of 50 years 3 months, she was working as an artist. Interestingly, her death certificate indicates that she was buried in St. John Cemetery, just up Bath Road from Pine Grove Cemetery.

But the more pressing question is why is Elizabeth Edmunds buried in the Chamberlain plot? The short answer is nepotism. Elizabeth was the sister of Lillian Edmunds, who was Joshua L. Chamberlain's secretary. Lillian, who was actually a distant relative of Fanny's, later became Fanny's personal companion. During the last few years of Fanny's life, Lillian took care of her; the pair would even travel to Portland for shopping excursions. During this time, Joshua referred to Lillian as "a blessing to all" (J.L. Chamberlain, quoted in Smith, 302). After Fanny's 1905 death she became Joshua's housekeeper, and, as he grew older, his nurse at the Portland home where he spent the last years of his life.

In his will, Chamberlain left a space for Lillian to be buried in Pine Grove Cemetery. She apparently never took him up on the offer, but her sister Elizabeth will spend eternity with the Chamberlains, forever puzzling visitors.

Crothers, Joan. Letter to Hugh Edmunds. 23 October 1992.
Smith, Diane Monroe. Fanny & Joshua: The Enigmatic Lives of Frances Caroline Adams and Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. Gettysburg: Thomas Publications, 1999.
Trulock, Alice Rains. In the Hands of Providence: Joshua L. Chamberlain & the American Civil War. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1992.

Frances Adams Chamberlain: Death & Funeral

Below are three transcribed newspaper articles: Fanny Chamberlain’s obituary, an article about her funeral, and the beautiful eulogy given by Rev. E.B. Mason at her service.

Fanny Chamberlain’s obituary, as printed in the
October 20, 1905 issue of The Brunswick Record

Mrs. Frances (Adams) Chamberlain, wife of Gen. Joshua L. Chamberlain, passed away on Wednesday night at her home in this town. She was about 80 years of age. They had been looking forward to the celebration of their golden wedding in December next. She was the daughter of Asher Adams, one of the old Boston merchants, and Amelia Wyllys of Hartford, Conn., whose home was the old Wyllys mansion of Charter Oaks fame. She was a lineal descendant of Mabel Harlakenden, known as “the Princess of New England,” being in fact of the blood royal. She was a member of the family, regarded as an adopted daughter, of her cousin, Rev. Dr. George E. Adams, pastor of the First Parish church in Brunswick. She was a rare and gifted woman, and had opportunities in life to be active in wide and varied spheres. During her husband’s governorship of Maine and presidency of Bowdoin College, her generous hospitalities and especially her personal interest of a large number of young men, students of the college, she endeared herself to many who cherish the memory with grateful affection. Mrs. Chamberlain lost her eye-sight several years ago, and has since suffered very greatly from a combination of diseases, which she had borne with admirable patience. She will be widely missed and deeply mourned. She leaves a son, Harold Wyllys Chamberlain of Brunswick, and a daughter, Mrs. Horace G. Allen of Boston.

Funeral services will be held on Saturday at 2:30 p.m., at her late home on Maine street.

Photo of the First Parish Church, taken during the brief period between 1848 and 1866 when the church had a spire. The spire was blown off in a windstorm and fell onto Maine Street--no one was injured. From the Pejepscot Historical Society, acc# 2008.383.3.b.

Description of Fanny’s funeral, from the
October 23, 1905 Lewiston Daily Evening Journal

TRIBUTES TO MRS. CHAMBERLAIN, BRUNSWICK, ME., Oct. 24 (Special).—Saturday the funeral of Mrs. J.L. Chamberlain was held in Brunswick. Only family and intimate friends attended the prayers at the house at half after two in the afternoon.

From the home the remains were carried to the Congregational church where the funeral service was held. The officiating clergymen was Dr. Mason, who was a pastor of the college church for over forty years and he was assisted by the present pastor, Rev. Mr. Jump, who offered the opening and closing prayers.

“Sun of My Soul,” one of Mrs. Chamberlain’s favorite songs, was given at the beginning of the service, and at the close the organist played magnificently, “The Land of the Leal.”

Mrs. Chamberlain passed away on Wednesday night. Only the Sunday previous she went for a drive. On Monday it was noticed that she wad suffering from a cold and on Tuesday she was much worse. This hastened her death, the indirect cause of which, no doubt, was the injury to her hip, received last August as the result of a fall.

Besides her husband, Mrs. Chamberlain is survived by two children, Mrs. Horace Allen of Boston and Mr. Harold Wyllys Chamberlain of Brunswick and three littler grand-children, all the daughters of Mrs. Allen.

Mrs. Chamberlain, who was seventy-seven years of age [sic; she was actually 80], has been totally blind for the past five years and for several years previous to that, was partially blind. Her husband and son have been especially devoted to her during her years of affliction. Even after her blindness Mrs. Chamberlain played beautifully upon the piano and not only from memory for she also improvised.

In speaking of her a friends said: “Mrs. Chamberlain had a fund of funny stories and of quaint sayings. She was young and bright in spirit, even to her last. She was cultured and intellectual and an artist in painting as well as in music. But better than all her versatile talents was her dear, true strong, loving heart.”

One of her dearest friends spoke to the Journal reporter of Mrs. Chamberlain’s wonderful faculty of entertaining a large company of people easily and with no apparent effort, making everyone feel that he was a part of the happy circle.

It will be remembered that Mrs. Chamberlain, who was formerly Miss Fannie Adams, was adopted by her father’s brother, Dr. Adams of Brunswick, when but a child. The officiating clergyman at the funeral services told the story of her life in a series of word pictures, the first of which described the beautiful little girl with her great, observant brown eyes, as she came up the aisle of the old white church, on the first Sunday after the adoption by Dr. and Mrs. Adams.

He carried her through her girlhood to young womanhood when she had the care of the singing in the church and played the organ for eight years. Then he told how she became interested in a young man in the college and later gave her heart to him and the scene of her marriage which was solemnized by her adopted father, was pictures. Then he described her as a mother and never, said he, was there a more devoted mother than she. Then he pictures the time when her husband was made governor of the State and “this same little Fannie Adams” performed the duties she was called upon to perform with such marked ability and acceptability.

Then to the time Mr. Chamberlain was made president of Bowdoin College when she was still “the same little Fannie Adams,” and the students came to her with their joys and sorrows, wrong doings and love affairs. Whatever happened, she always took the part of the student, being almost a mother to them.

Then he told of her blindness when he came with faltering step up the aisle of the church, leaning upon the arm of her husband and followed by her son, and then, sweetest of all, of her last years.

Colored postcard showing the interior of the First Parish Church. The Chamberlain family sat in pew #64. From the Pejepscot Historical Society, acc# 1982.97.418.6.

Rev. E.B. Mason’s eulogy, printed in the
October 27, 1905 issue of The Brunswick Record

Eloquent Tribute Made by Rev. Dr. E.B. Mason in the Congregational Church

It is the prerogative of man, as an intelligent being, with memory and imagination, to banish the present and recall the past; to summon before him the faces and forms of things and persons that were long ago, and live over again the experiences of other times. We can blot out in a moment the town as it is, with trolley cars, new buildings and dwelling houses; the splendid structures on Bowdoin College campus, the Science and Art buildings, Hubbard hall and even Memorial hall, and see in place of them a quaint beautiful New England village with its simple life and scholarly ways.

It is on a Sunday morning. The “past rises before us like a dream.” We are in the old church which once stood on the sire of the present edifice. We see a square prim New England meeting house, with galleries around three sides, and windows screened by green blinds. Outside the streets are quiet and empty, save for the people on their way to morning service. The door opens and a father mother and little girl softly enter the sacred place. Little Fanny Adams has come from her home in Boston, to live with her cousin George, who loves children, and longs to have one in his house. The little girl grew up, listened to her adopted father, your honored pastor, Dr. Adams, preaching Sabbath after Sabbath, and became a part of Brunswick life.

Years have passed away, this impressive church, which always deeply affected her, has risen on the site of the old meeting house, and each Sabbath morning, there is seated at the organ, a young woman who loves music, and knows how to lead the congregation in its public and solemn worship. Soft strains breathe forth or swell into loud triumphant chords, while the people sit and reverently wait for the uttered words of prayer praise and religious instruction. Once more Fanny Adams is taking her part in the church life, and for years continues to render this important service to the congregation.

Among the members of the choir, and for a time leader of the choir, is a young man between whom and the organist grows a beautiful friendship, which ripens into warm deep love, and which we know now was to last for half a century.

A third picture rises before is like a vision. It is a wedding. The bride and groom walk slowly up the aisle, and stand before this altar while the solemn words are spoken, which make them husband and wife. The picture is easily filled out. All its details come back. We see the throng of friends, and hear the thrilling organ notes, and the full melodious voice of the minister, as he recited the impressive and touching marriage service. Fanny Adams again goes out of the church, and this time as the bride of the young man who helped her in the singing of the choir.

Forty or more years elapse, and we are in the Congregational church, on almost any Sunday evening, when the door slowly opens and three persons carefully enter; a father, a mother, and a son. They move cautiously down the aisle, at almost a creeping pace, and we soon see that the mother is totally blind. A devoted son and husband support her at every step, and seat themselves by her side. She sits motionless during the service, and at its close smiles brightly on friends who stop with a word of greeting, before being led back to the other side of the street, and the home made as comfortable as love can make it, but always in darkness. Those who fill in the events between four scenes described, can rehearse the story of a strong useful and beautiful life.

I have not alluded to other incidents outside this building, her experiences in the war, the days in Augusta as governor’s wife, with receptions and social obligations; nor the college life when her husband was president of Bowdoin College, and students gathered in their home, or came to her with their troubles and questions for sympathy and direction; for the home life which is too sacred for strangers to meddle with; nor her regretted inability to unite with the church, because of a scrupulous conscience which could not assent to propositions beyond comprehension.

Enough, however has been said, and we turn from the days of yore to the ‘Land o’ the leal.’ We forget the past, and summon the future. Memory gives place to vision. It is not a new life but the same life enriched and enlarged, which is projected on into scenes of indescribable brightness and grandeur.

Immortality is an experience like love, or marriage, or any other part of the life lived by reasonable beings. It is not a deduction, for arguments crumble to pieces and fall like a house of cars, but it is an experience, an achievement, an attainment. Some accomplish immortality in this world, and are already passed from death unto life, but others, perhaps most people, learn its meaning, and feel its power only in the world to come. They move on into brightness, while we watch the departing glow. It is an experience not of the body, which moulders away and disappears in the corruption of the grave; it is an experience not of the mind, for learning never comes to a knowledge of God, or eternal life, but it is an experience of the spirit, of the human spirit, blended with the Divine Spirit, and becoming a part of the imperishable. While everything is an experience of God, either a walk in the morning, a song sung from the heart, a piece played on the organ, a friend met in the darkness, yet the supreme experience is the experience of love and immortality with the Eternal Father. That little Fanny Adams, who appeared one Sunday morning in this church seventy or more years ago, who later played your organ, was married before your altar, and worshipped here on Sunday evenings with her husband and son, has gone into the bright and glorious life and light which is immortality and joy and peace. Old and tried friends have brought in for the last time her mortal body, and will lay it in the grave, but her spirit, with its music, and brilliant gifts, and memories of the past, and treasures gathered in this world, has gone to God who gave it, and will abide with Him forever.

The services were held on Saturday afternoon in the Congregational church, and were conducted by Rev. H.A. Jump, assisted by Dr. E.B. Mason.

The singing was by a quartet of Bowdoin students.

The bearers were Prof. Franklin C. Robinson, Capt. Lemuel H. Stover, James W. Crawford, Prof. Henry Johnson, Prof. William A. Houghton and Emery A. Crawford. Interment was at Pine Grove Cemetery.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Frances Adams Chamberlain, Accomplished Artist

Frances "Fanny" Caroline Adams Chamberlain, pictured here in an undated photo from the Pejepscot Historical Society, acc# 1984.122.1

Joshua L. Chamberlain’s grave lies next to that of his wife, Frances “Fanny” Caroline Adams Chamberlain, an accomplished painter and musician. Fanny was born on August 12, 1825 in Boston, Massachusetts to Ashur and Amelia Wyllys Adams. Because her father was 48 when she was born (at that time an age more appropriately fit for Fanny’s grandfather than father), and was suffering financially to support his other children, by the time Fanny turned 4 her parents decided to move her to Brunswick. There, Fanny was raised by her cousin, Rev. George Adams of the First Parish Church, and his wife Sarah Ann Folsom. The couple, who had no children, also adopted Anna Davis, who was very close in age to Fanny. It was not until she was 12 that Fanny wrote to her birth parents in Boston, a fact that author Diane Monroe Smith believes indicates Ashur & Amelia’s “complete surrender” of Fanny to Rev. George & Sarah (Smith, 5).

Rev. George E. Adams (1801-1875), Fanny's cousin & adoptive father.
From the Pejepscot Historical Society, acc # OH.1726.1.e.

Fanny displayed her artistic aptitude at a very young age. Her organ instructor, Henry S. Edwards of Portland, was considered the best in Maine. Fanny was also instructed in art by her older (blood) sister, Catherine, and loved poetry and literature. By 1850 she was painting in her own studio in Portland while taking vocal lessons from a Professor Crouch (it is unknown if any of her paintings still exist). Fanny was also firm in her beliefs, frustrating her adoptive father by never officially joining the Congregational First Parish Church, though she would play the organ and sing during services there. Joshua L. Chamberlain, who had noticed Fanny at church and at various Brunswick literary events, began courting the 25-year-old woman in 1850, while Chamberlain was a student at Bowdoin College. In 1851, the pair directed the church choir together, and by October they were engaged.

During the couple’s engagement (while Chamberlain was studying at the Bangor Theological Seminary), Fanny stayed active. Not content to simply wait in Brunswick for Joshua to return, in April 1852 she traveled to New York to study music with her new uncle, George Frederick Root, who composed a slew of famous Civil War songs including “Battle Cry of Freedom” (Fanny’s adoptive mother, Sarah Ann Folsom, died in 1850, and Rev. George married Helen Root in 1851). Fanny even relocated briefly to Milledgeville, Georgia, where she taught voice at school for girls, played the organ at a Presbyterian church and gave piano lessons.

Fanny's Brunswick home on Maine Street, pictured here circa 1871-1876. Photo by A.O. Reed. From the Pejepscot Historical Society, acc# 1978.10.b.
After Chamberlain’s graduation from Bangor Theological Seminary in 1855, Fanny and Joshua were married at the First Parish Church on December 7, 1855 by Rev. George Adams. Beginning in 1857, the couple lived in what is now the Joshua L. Chamberlain Museum at 226 Maine Street in Brunswick, the home they shared for more than 50 years. On October 16, 1856 Fanny gave birth to the couple’s first child, Grace “Daisy” Dupee Chamberlain. The couple would go on to have 4 more children: an unnamed infant son born 3 months premature who lived just a few hours after being born on November 19, 1857; Harold Wyllys, born October 10, 1858; Emily Stelle, born sometime in May, 1860 and died at age 4 months on September 23; Gertrude Loraine, born on January 16, 1865 and died on August 17 at the age of 7 months. All of Fanny & Joshua’s children are buried with them in Pine Grove Cemetery, though their unnamed son has no grave marker.

Footstone of Emily & Gertrude, the two young Chamberlain daughters who did not live to see their first birthday.
Fanny’s relationship with Joshua had many ups and downs over their 50-year marriage. By 1868, long absences were straining their marriage as Chamberlain worked in Augusta as the governor while Fanny maintained the Brunswick home. On November 20, 1868, Joshua wrote an angry letter to Fanny, complaining that she had been telling people he abused her and that she was seeking a divorce. Interestingly, the letter seems to suggest that Joshua was more upset that Fanny was telling people that he was abusing her than by the actual allegation: “Mr[.] Johnson says this is doing immense harm, whether the fact is so or not, & the bitter enemies who now assail me on public grounds, will soon get hold of this & will ruin me.” (Joshua L. Chamberlain, quoted in Smith, 195). In the letter, Joshua suggested a separation, and the couple lived apart for several months. By the time Chamberlain became president of Bowdoin College in 1871, Fanny & Joshua had reconciled, and with Chamberlain spending more time at home the couple began sharing their lives together again.
Fanny's gravestone, featuring her epitaph and date of death. Joshua's (not pictured) is directly beside it on the left.

By 1893, Fanny—who had always suffered from eye pains—had gone completely blind in her right eye. Six years later, Fanny had completely lost her sight and her health quickly began deteriorating. She died on the night of October 18, 1905 at home, her husband rushing to her side from Portland. After a service held at her Maine Street home attended by friends and family, Fanny was buried on October 21 in Pine Grove Cemetery with her three pre-deceased children. Her gravestone bears the simple epitaph “Unveiled”.

"Death of Mrs. Chamberlain". The Brunswick Record. 20 October 1905.
Smith, Diane Monroe. Fanny & Joshua: The Enigmatic Lives of Frances Caroline Adams and Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. Gettysburg: Thomas Publications, 1999.
"Tributes to Mrs. Chamberlain, Brunswick, Me." Lewiston Daily Evening Journal. 23 October 1905.
Trulock, Alice Rains. In the Hands of Providence: Joshua L. Chamberlain & the American Civil War. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1992.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Joshua L. Chamberlain: Pine Grove's Most Famous Resident

The cemetery lot just past the grave of Alpheus Spring Packard belongs to the family of Joshua L. Chamberlain. Chamberlain’s grave is undoubtedly the most famous (and the most visited) grave in Pine Grove. People from all over the globe travel here to pay their respects to the Civil War hero, and often leave a memento behind. Pennies, which bear the silhouette of the “Great Emancipator” Abraham Lincoln, are often left on Chamberlain’s grave in appreciation of his heroism.

Chamberlain's footstone in October 1994, covered with pennies. This footstone was added long after Chamberlain's death to commemorate his Medal of Honor.
Much more has been written about Chamberlain’s life than can ever be covered in a blog post, but here is a brief biography. Chamberlain was born in Brewer, Maine on September 8, 1828. He attended Bowdoin College and served as the choir conductor of the First Parish Church, where he met the pastor’s adopted daughter, Frances “Fanny” Caroline Adams. The two courted while Chamberlain graduated from Bowdoin in 1852 and then studied at the Bangor Theological Seminary. In 1855, after completing his studies, Chamberlain and Fanny were married at the First Parish Church on December 7th. He and Fanny would have 5 children, though only Grace (“Daisy”) and Harold would survive to adulthood. While living in what is now a museum dedicated to him, Chamberlain took a position as professor of rhetoric and oratory at Bowdoin in 1856.

Joshua L. Chamberlain wearing the uniform of a Brigadier General, which dates the photo to sometime between June 18, 1864 and March 29, 1865. From the Pejepscot Historical Society, acc# 1992.41.1.
In August of 1862 he became Lt. Colonel of the 20th Maine Infantry and in July 1863 famously fought and defended Little Round Top at the Battle of Gettysburg—actions for which he received the Medal of Honor 30 years later. Due to his bravery in the Civil War, Chamberlain was made a Major General. After returning home, he became Governor of Maine for 4 consecutive 1-year terms. Interestingly, Chamberlain and the other Maine governor buried in Pine Grove (Robert P. Dunlap) both served a record 4 terms, exceeded only by Albion K. Parris’ 5 terms as Maine governor. After his governorship, Chamberlain served as president of Bowdoin College from 1871 to 1883. In 1900 he was appointed by President William McKinley as the Surveyor of Customs for the port of Portland. He died in his Portland home at age 85 on February 24, 1914, just after 9:30 am with his beloved daughter by his side.
Chamberlain is often referred to as the last person to die of wounds inflicted during the Civil War. Chamberlain was severely wounded at the Siege of Petersburg on June 18, 1864—so badly so that many (including Chamberlain himself, who wrote a deeply moving “goodbye” letter to Fanny from what he thought was his deathbed) believed he would die. He did recover, but the wound plagued him for the rest of his life. Not long before his death, he contracted a cold which local newspapers cite as aggravating his condition.

Photos of Chamberlain's Portland funeral procession from the Portland Evening Press. The top image shows the procession leaving City Hall, and the bottom image shows the procession enterting downtown Portland.
Because he died in Portland, Chamberlain received two funerals. The first was held at the Portland City Hall on Friday, February 27 at 10 am and attended by 2,000-5,000 people (accounts differ). After a brief service “in accordance with the well-known principles of Gen. Chamberlain who hated all ostentation” (Portland Daily Press, 26 February 1914), Chamberlain’s body lay in state for a period, his sword resting on the coffin, and then a military escort brought the flag-draped casket to the train station. Ralph Owen Brewster served as an usher during the Portland service and among the pallbearers was Chamberlain’s long-time doctor & friend Abner O. Shaw, who tended Chamberlain’s Petersburg wound during the battle.
When Chamberlain’s body arrived in Brunswick on a special train the next day, the entire Bowdoin student body escorted it to the First Parish Church. When they arrived, the Bowdoin students went into the church first, followed by members of the local GAR post, who “formed an aisle thru which the flag-draped casket was carried” (Lewiston Evening Journal, 29 February 1914). Out of respect for the dead, Brunswick businesses closed and Bowdoin cancelled all classes and events. During the service, Sue Winchell played a cell solo of “If With All Your Hearts” and “Largo” and Inez Perry Turner sang “Abide With Me” and “Nearer My God to Thee.” Bowdoin President William DeWitt Hyde delivered the eulogy, at one point quoting Chamberlain’s famous words spoken at the dedication of the 20th Maine monument at Gettysburg: “In great deeds, something abides. On great fields something stays. Forms change and pass; bodies disappear; but spirits linger…”

Chamberlain had requested a simple gravestone, which bears only his name and the years of his birth and death. Note that the pennies on top of this grave have been arranged to spell out "20th", the famous Maine regiment Chamberlain led.

Chamberlain historian Alice Trulock describes the events as the procession left the church for Chamberlain's final resting place: "The casket was then borne from the church to the sound of the organ playing Chopin's 'Funeral March.' Out the Bath Road the great, sad procession wended its way easterly the short distance to Pine Grove Cemetery. There the mourners stood with uncovered heads as the National Guard escort fired a suite of three volleys. Then the body of Maine's great hero was consigned to the earth a few yards from a stand of stately pine trees behind Bowdoin College." (Trulock, 379).

“Chamberlain Association”. The Colonial. March 1914. Pejepscot Historical Society, acc# OH 1707.
"Every Honor Accorded Maine’s Dead Soldier, Statesman, Scholar”. Lewiston Evening Journal, 29 February 1914.
“The Final Arrangements.” The Daily Eastern Argus. 27 February 1914.
“Funeral Gen. Chamberlain”. Portland Daily Press. 26 February 1914.
“Simple Services”. The Daily Eastern Argus. 26 February 1914.
Trulock, Alice Rains. In The Hands of Providence: Joshua L. Chamberlain & the American Civil War. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1992.
“Was Notable Gathering”. Portland Daily Press. 28 February 1914.

To learn more, follow the links for transcribed newspaper articles about Chamberlain's death and funeral.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Alpheus Spring Packard, A True Son of Bowdoin

Crayon portrait of Alpheus Spring Packard by M. Crawford, 1884.
From the Pejepscot Historical Society, acc# OH 2183.

Alpheus Spring Packard sets the bar for involvement in one’s alma mater. Named after his maternal grandfather, Packard was born on December 23, 1798 in Chelmsford, Massachusetts to Rev. Hezekiah Packard and Mary Spring. Alpheus certainly had much to live up to in his father, who was a 1787 graduate of Harvard and classmate and friend of the 6th president of the United States, John Quincy Adams. In a June 21, 1843 letter (now in the collection of the Pejepscot Historical Society, acc# OH 1767.1) from John Quincy Adams to Alpheus, Adams writes that “I should not hesitate to accept the invitation” to visit Brunswick “by the cheering promise of meeting once more, and under your hospitable roof, taking again by the hand by long honoured and ever cherished classmate and brother of the [Phi Beta Kappa] Society your venerable father.” Unfortunately, Adams’ health prevented him from making the journey. Hezekiah Packard was also a Revolutionary War veteran who fought in the Battle of Bunker Hill (you can read Hezekiah’s memoir, which was published by Alpheus and his siblings, here). In 1802 the family moved from Massachusetts to Wiscasset, Maine, where Hezekiah preached until 1830.

As a young man, Alpheus was reportedly no slacker. According to his father, at the age of 10 Alpheus only spent about 30 minutes a week playing. The rest of his time was spent studying and reading, especially the Classic languages of Greek and Latin. Bowdoin College historian Louis C. Hatch writes that not only was Alpheus’s father well-read, but that his mother, Mary, “used to put a copy of Pope’s Odyssey at the end of her wool-carding machine and read a line when she reached the book as she paced back and forth winding the wool” (51). Alpheus’s studious nature gained him easy admission to Bowdoin College, where he and all 5 of his brothers went to school. Undoubtedly, their father’s membership on the Bowdoin Governing Board had something to do with this.

Alpheus earned his Bachelor’s degree in 1816 and Master’s degree from Bowdoin in 1819, then spent the next 3 years teaching in several Maine towns using the skills he had picked up as a language and math tutor at Bowdoin. In 1824 he finally joined the faculty as a professor of Latin & Greek, but would go on to teach rhetoric & oratory, literature and religion. Apparently not content with just teaching at Bowdoin, Alpheus also served as the college librarian from 1869 to 1881 and as acting president from 1883-1884 after Joshua L. Chamberlain resigned and before William DeWitt Hyde was hired in 1885.

Packard's two leather fire buckets, used to carry sand to put out oil fires. Note that each are individually numbered and labeled with his name. From the Pejepscot Historical Society collection, acc# OH 1314 & 1315.

Alpheus did not limit himself to the college, however. He could boast involvement in Brunswick’s First Parish Church, the Brunswick School Committee, and the town’s temperance movement. He was also involved in Brunswick’s Washington Fire Club, a precursor to the fire department. In addition to his membership in the historical societies of England and New York, in 1828 Packard became a member of the then-6-year-old Maine Historical Society, later serving as the organization’s secretary. Alpheus also was involved in the anti-slavery movement, particularly the New England Emigrant Aid Company, an organization dedicated to ensuring the new state of Kansas would be a free one. The 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act allowed the citizens of Kansas to vote for themselves whether or not to allow slavery within their borders. Thus, the New England Emigrant Aid Company was formed to relocate thousands of free-staters to Kansas, tipping the vote in their favor. Thanks in part to the efforts of Alpheus, 728 Mainers moved to Kansas by 1860 and it became a free state.

In 1827, Alpheus married Frances E. Appleton, the daughter of Bowdoin president Jesse Appleton. Later, Alpheus would publish two volumes of Jesse Appleton’s collected sermons and other works. Alpheus and his wife would have 4 sons and one daughter (including Alpheus Spring, Jr., a noted entomologist & paleontologist) before Frances died in 1839. In 1844 Alpheus married again, this time to the widow Mrs. Caroline W. McLellan of Portland. Together, they had one son. He was lifelong friend of fellow Bowdoin professor William Smyth, with whom he grew up with in Wiscasset. The pair, who were both married in 1827, built the Smyth-Packard house together at 6-8 College Street, living as neighbors for many years.

The Smyth-Packard House at 6-8 College St., now the Russwurm African-American Center. Form the Pejepscot Historical Society, acc# 1978.10a.

Despite his lasting legacy with many other interests and causes, Alpheus Spring Packard will forever be most strongly linked to his alma mater. In 1860 he received the honorary degree of D.D. from the college. Nine years later he celebrated his 50th year as a Bowdoin alumni with a dinner thrown by some of his famous students, including former U.S. President Franklin Pierce. At this dinner he was presented with a sum of $1,220, which is approximately $20,000 today. Many historians cite Packard as the longest-serving faculty member of Bowdoin, and possibly of any American college, with a total of 64 years. At the 1875 Bowdoin Commencement, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow mentioned Packard, Longfellow’s only living Bowdoin professor, in his famous poem “Morituri Salutamus”:

“Not so the teachers who in earlier days
Led our bewildered feet through learning's maze;
They answer us--alas! what have I said?
What greetings come there from the voiceless dead?
What salutation, welcome, or reply?
What pressure from the hands that lifeless lie?
They are no longer here; they all are gone
Into the land of shadows,--all save one.
Honor and reverence, and the good repute
That follows faithful service as its fruit,
Be unto him, whom living we salute.”

Packard's grave in Pine Grove Cemetery. The symbols next to the years of his birth & death are alpha and omega, the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet.

Just one week after resigning his office as the college president, Alpheus traveled to Squirrel Island, Maine to hear a friend of his speak. He suffered a heart attack there on July 13, 1884 and died not long after. He was buried in Pine Grove Cemetery, just south of his father-in-law, Jesse Appleton. At his funeral, former student Joshua L. Chamberlain read a poem by Samuel V. Cole dedicated to Packard, which begins:

“Ah! But yesterday we saw him in the old familiar place
Where he welcomed all as children with his old-time country grace;
But we knew not it was Heaven that was shining on his face.

Light was nearer than we thought it, for today we come and find
He has passed beyond the shadow that had made our eyes so blind
And his more than fourscore summers are a golden trail behind.”

Adams, John Quincy letter to Alpheus S. Packard. 21 June 1843. Pejepscot Historical Society, acc# 1767.1.
Ashby, Thompson Eldridge. A History of the First Parish Church in Brunswick, Maine. Brunswick: J.H. French and Son, 1969.
Bowdoin College. Agency History/Biographical Note. George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives website.
Calhoun, Charles C. A Small College in Maine: Two Hundred Years of Bowdoin. Brunswick: Bowdoin College, 1993.
Cheetham, Mark. Facts and Legends Concerning the Underground Railroad in Topsham and Brunswick Maine website.
Cleaveland, Nehemiah. History of Bowdoin College, with Biographical Sketches of its Graduates. Boston: James Ripley Osgood & Company, 1882.
Cole, Samuel V. Poem read at Alpheus S. Packard’s funeral. Pejepscot Historical Society, acc# 2000.17a.
General Catalogue of Bowdoin College and the Medical School of Maine, 1794-1912. Brunswick: Bowdoin College, 1912.
Hatch, Louis C. The History of Bowdoin College. Portland, Maine: Loring, Short & Harmon, 1927.
“Hezekiah Packard”. Virtual American Biographies website.
Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth. “Morituri Salutamus”.
Wheeler, George Augustus & Henry Warren. History of Brunswick, Topsham, and Harpswell, Maine, Including the Ancient Territory Known as Pejepscot. Boston: Alfred Mudge & Son, 1878.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Rev. Jesse & Elizabeth Appleton: Parents of a First Lady

Continuing past the grave of the Bowdoin’s first president, Joseph McKeen, a visitor to Pine Grove Cemetery comes upon several members of the Appleton family. The Appletons—Rev. Jesse, his wife Elizabeth, and their children—would have a long and lasting impression upon the college, beginning with Jesse’s inauguration as the second president after McKeen’s death in 1807.

Engraving of Rev. Jesse Appleton from Wheeler & Wheeler's History of Brunswick.

Jesse was born in New Ipswich, New Hampshire, on November 17, 1772, the son of a farmer. Thanks to the help of a brother, Jesse was able to pay his way through school, eventually graduating—like Joseph McKeen did—from Dartmouth, in 1792. Then, like McKeen, he spent several years both teaching and studying theology before ultimately settling in Hampton, New Hampshire as the pastor of the local Congregational Church, where he was ordained in February of 1797. Jesse’s initial salary included 90£, the keep of his horse, and 20£ worth of food. In 1800 he married Elizabeth Means (born 1799) of Amherst, New Hampshire, the daughter of the wealthy Colonel Robert and Mary (McGregor). The couple would go on to have six children who survived to adulthood.

Jesse spent ten years preaching in Hampton, publishing frequently and garnering quite a reputation as a theologian. He was particularly involved in the Second Great Awakening and believed that anyone could achieve salvation. After Joseph McKeen’s death in July, Jesse was elected in September, 1807 as the college’s next president, and was inaugurated in December.

Jesse’s presidency is characterized by his strict work ethic, which some historians argue is directly responsible for his death. Jesse would often stay up late into the night and then awake at 4 a.m., gaining only 3 or 4 hours of sleep. A tall, thin man, he would also regularly skip meals, so as to have more time to complete his work. Opinions on the effectiveness of Appleton’s presidency seem mixed; some argue that he was quite successful at alleviating the college’s financial issues, while others, such as Louis C. Hatch, complain that Jesse was “anxious over-much” (Hatch, 38) and was too negative and fearful. Despite these accusations, Jesse’s reported final words are full of hope: “God has taken care of the college, and God will take care of the college” (quoted in Hatch, 41). Jesse Appleton died on November 12, 1819, probably of tuberculosis, just 5 days short of his 47th birthday.

Jesse Appleton's grave. The Latin inscription is very worn; an English translation can be found here.

The college, once again, paid for the burial of their president. As another memorial to Jesse, Appleton Hall was named after him in 1847. After her husband’s death, Elizabeth moved her family back to New Hampshire and lived with her brother, Robert. Frances, her second eldest, would eventually marry Bowdon College professor Alpheus Spring Packard in 1827 before her early death in June 1839 at age 25—she, too, is laid to rest in Pine Grove. The most famous of the Appleton children—Jane, the third eldest—would later marry Franklin Pierce on November 19, 1834. Coincidentally, the couple met in New Hampshire though Pierce entered Bowdoin College the year after the Appleton family left it. Franklin Pierce would later go on to become the 14th President of the United States, apparently much to Jane’s chagrin.

Elizabeth Means Appleton's grave. Jesse's grave can be seen directly to its left.

Elizabeth died on October 29, 1844 and was laid to rest next to her husband. Her monument is a gorgeous urn, a common symbol for death. Inscribed on the south side of the base is Revelation 14:13: “I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.”

Bowdoin College. "Agency History/Biographical Note". George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives website.
Calhoun, Charles C. A Small College in Maine: Two Hundred Years of Bowdoin. Brunswick: Bowdoin College, 1993.
Cleaveland, Nehemiah. History of Bowdoin College, with Biographical Sketches of its Graduates. Boston: James Ripley Osgood & Company, 1882.
Hatch, Louis C. The History of Bowdoin College. Portland, Maine: Loring, Short & Harmon, 1927.
Johnson, Allen ed. “Rev. Jesse Appleton: Nov. 17, 1772 - Nov. 12, 1819” Dictionary of American Biography. 1928.
Tardiff, Olive. “Jane Appleton Pierce.” Lane Memorial Library website. 11 June 2009.
Venzke, Jane Walter & Craig Paul. “The President’s Wife, Jane Means Appleton Pierce: A Woman of Her Time.” Historical New Hampshire website.
Wheeler, George Augustus & Henry Warren. History of Brunswick, Topsham, and Harpswell, Maine, Including the Ancient Territory Known as Pejepscot. Boston: Alfred Mudge & Son, 1878.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Mourning Art: Hair Wreaths

In the library on the second floor of the Skolfield-Whittier House, hanging on a wall above the fireplace, is a shadow box. It contains a horseshoe-shaped wreath. As you get closer to it, you see that the wreath is composed of many small flowers—some gold, some white, some brown, and others silver. But this wreath isn’t made of flowers—it is made of human hair.

Hair wreath on display at the Skolfield-Whittier House,
probably made by Eugenie Skolfield Whittier or her sister Augusta Marie Skolfield.

Hair wreaths, which were primarily created between 1850 and 1880, were made by Victorian women. These women tended to be middle and upper-class, as they had more time on their hands than did their lower-class counterparts to make crafts. Usually, hair wreaths took the same shape as the one at the museum—that of a horseshoe. And, just like horseshoes, these wreaths were also hung with the open top facing up, facing heavenward.

Hair wreath made by famed botanist Kate Furbish, who is buried in Pine Grove Cemetery. From the Pejepscot Historical Society collection, acc# 1992.75.19.

Why was it important that these wreaths faced heavenward? Often, hair wreaths were created as memorials to the dead. When someone in a family died, some of their hair was collected and incorporated into the hair wreath. To make a wreath, Victorian women would start with a simply wire, horseshoe-shaped frame. Next, they would wrap the deceased’s hair around a piece of thin wire, and then shape the wire into flowers. Sometimes they would cut the hair to create tufts, simulating flower petals. Magazines like Godey’s Lady Book printed instructions on how to create these wreaths.

The first flowers to be added to the metal frame would be at the bottom, center. When another member of the family died, the older flowers would be moved up and outward, while the newer hair would take its place in the bottom center position. But hair wreaths were not always made as memorials to the dead. Sometimes, hair was collected from entire schools, churches or communities and woven into one wreath. Because hair wreaths were usually a personal celebration of a family or other group there is little evidence that they were ever created for commercial or solely decorative purposes.

A particularly elaborate hair wreath, made by Mrs. Clara B. Kennedy in 1868. From the Pejepscot Historical Society collection, acc# OH 186.

Indeed, hair was often used as a deeply personal memento of a loved one who had passed away, but it was not exclusively used in hair wreaths. In the time before photographs were widely available or affordable, hair allowed people to carry a piece of a friend or family member around with them. Often, this hair was woven into jewelry, such as bracelets or brooches, and was often worn during the mourning period following a death in the family. Yet hair was not used exclusively by those in mourning. Victorian women often had a hair receiver on their dressing table, in which they would deposit the loose strands from their hairbrush. This hair was then used to fill pincushions—the pins would be coated with the natural oil from the hair, allowing them to move through fabric much easier.

A hair receiver, from the Pejepscot Historical Society collection, acc# 1978.79.

In Victorian America, women utilized their own creativity to create elaborate and beautiful memorials to loved ones using hair. Today, hair wreaths live on as elaborate creations produced from one of the simplest mediums.

Green, Harvey. The Light of the Home: An Intimate View of the Lives of Women in Victorian America. New York: Pantheon Books, 1983.
Hair Art: Jewelry to Be Worn Close to the Heart website.
Harran, Susan & Jim. “Remembering a Loved One With Mourning Jewelery”. Antique Week, December 1997.
Rombeck, Terry. “Museum Tangled in History of Hair”. website, 9 October 2005.