Friday, September 24, 2010

More Interesting Epitaphs

In a blog post last month, I explored the many things the epitaphs of Pine Grove Cemetery can teach us about the lives, careers, families and--of course--deaths of those buried there. But there is more to be read into these epitaphs than what they tell us about the deceased--they also tell us about the culture in which they were produced.

One trend visible in these epitaphs indicates the process of the sentimentalization of death which I discussed in an earlier blog post about mourning scenes. The wife of James H. Alexander--who died on February 10, 1866 at the age of 29--had inscribed on her husband's gravestone:

"In memory of my husband
Earth has but one dear spot for me
And that is my husband's arms."

This romantic idea of death can be seen in the epitaph of another man who died in 1866, Algernon Hinkson. Hinkson was actually the widower of Julia Dennison (1826-1848), but he remarried after Julia's death and is buried next to his second wife, Sarah. When Hinkson died on July 15 at the age of 40, his family ordered a stone which reads:

"We have tearfully folded his cold white hands
Lovingly over his breast;
We have kissed the pale lips forevermore dead
And laid him down gently to rest."

In addition to these sentimental epitaphs, there are many traditional religious verses and quotations found on Pine Grove gravestones. For example, Francis Owen's grave (she died on May 21, 1865 at the age of 46) bears the simple epitaph "The Lord is my Shepherd." An interesting parallel can be seen in the use of religious themes in both the home and the graveyard. In his book Death in the Dining Room and Other Tales of Victorian Culture, Kenneth L. Ames notes that embroidered mottoes/needlepoint and epitaphs had much in common: "These texts echo some of the same sentiments, the same rhythms--and sometimes even the same words--thus linking house and cemetery, life and death, earthly home and heavenly home." (134) An excellent example of this can be found with the grave of Lida Williams Stone Holmes (1842-1897), whose gravestone reads "Simply to thy cross I cling." The same phrase can be found on a needlepoint at the Woolwich Historical Society.

Embroidered motto reading "Simply to thy [cross] I cling." From the Woolwich Historical Society, Woolwich, Maine.

The comparison of human lives as plants is another theme one can see in the epitaphs at Pine Grove, particularly among the young. Addison F. Swett died on January 19, 1847 at the age of 6 years, 6 months. On his tombstone is the epitaph "A lovely flower transplanted to richer sod and warmer climate." This idea of death as God "replanting" a soul from Earth into heaven is not isolated to the epitaph of one Pine Grove youth. Robert S. Skolfield (died October 5, 1872) lived only to be 6 months, 17 days old. His epitaph reads: "A bud snatched from earth, to blossom in heaven." But this idea of "replanting" is no more poetically put than in the epitaph of Sarah Hinkley, who died at the age of 3 years, 8 months, 21 days:

"The dearest rose begins to bloom,
and sheds its fragrance round.
The gardener gently takes it home
To thrive in richer ground."

Ames, Kenneth L. Death in the Dining Room and Other Tales of Victorian Culture. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992.
Cheetham, Donald & Mark. Pine Grove Cemetery, Bath Road, Brunswick, Maine, volumes 1 & 2 (Pejepscot Historical Society, acc# 2006.7.1 & 2006.7.2), 2005.

Special thanks to the Woolwich Historical Society!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Barrett Potter, Laywer & Politican

Reprinted below is the first portion of the obituary of Barrett Potter from the August 26, 1926 issue of The Brunswick Record. I have contributed additional information in brackets throughout.

"Distinguished Attorney Passes Away at Home Thursday Night

"Had Represented Town in Legislature, Served as State Senator, Was Secretary of Bowdoin College Trustees, and Head of Two Banks in Town. Wisdom and Learning Recognized by Prominent Men.

"Hon. Barrett Potter, able attorney, leader in town affairs, a man, whose wisdom and sound judgment has for many years been recognized in business and political circles throughout the State, died at his home on Maine street Thursday night, after a brief illness, following a heart attack. Mr. Potter was born in Readfield April 19, 1857, the son of Rev. Daniel F. Potter. His father was graduated from Bowdoin in ’41. His mother was before her marriage, Miss A.[lvina] A. Cram of Mt. Vernon.

"He is survived by two sisters, Miss Caroline Potter and Miss May Potter, both of Brunswick. [None of the siblings, Barrett included, ever married. They lived together at their 240 Maine Street home, built for them by John Calvin Stevens from 1893-1894.]

Photo of Barrett Potter which was printed with his obituary in the August 26, 1926 issue of The Brunswick Record.

"After graduating from the Brunswick High school Mr. Potter finished preparatory studies at Phillips-Exeter Academy, entered Bowdoin College and was graduated in the class of 1878, receiving his A.B. degree in 1878 and his A.M. degree in 1881. He was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa, was managing editor of the Bowdoin Orient from 1876 to 1877 and the Bugle in 1878; received ex tempore Essay prize in 1877; 1st Essay prize in 1878; was class orator in 1878 and also salutatorian. He was appointed to deliver the English oration at commencement in 1881.

"He was a fine athlete and always took an interest in college sports. He has kept in touch with athletic affairs of his own college as well as of others and had a personal acquaintance with many of the athletic instructors in larger institutions. Mike Murphy, famous trainer of the University of Pennsylvania, was one of his personal friends.

"In the Spring following his graduation Mr. Potter became principal of Calais High school and held that position for three years, from 1879-1882. He was instructor in rhetoric and history at Bowdoin College from 1883 to 1885, at the same time pursuing his study of law with Weston Thompson. He was admitted to the Cumberland bar in 1886 and has since occupied an office in Brunswick.

"Mr. Potter was in the Maine Legislature from 1903-1904; a member of the Senate from 1905-1906; secretary of Board of Trustees and ex-officio Overseer of Bowdoin College from 1894 until his death.

[Barrett Potter was also a member of several Brunswick organizations. In addition to being a member of "The Club", he was also a charter member of the Pejepscot Historical Society, founded in 1888.]

"At the time of his death Mr. Potter was President of the Union National Bank and of the Brunswick Savings Institution.

"Mr. Potter had always been active in advocating the rights of the municipality. He was a notable case for the town in the suit of the Brunswick Gas Light Company vs. The Brunswick Village Corporation. The company alleged the destruction of its pipes in the streets when the sewer was laid. The case went to the Law court twice and the final decision was a victory for Mr. Potter who defended the village corporation.

"In the legislature Mr. Potter was a member of the judiciary committee and made a name for himself there by the able way in which he handled the Brunswick water bill and defended the interests of the town in the Bull Rock bridge matter. He took part in many of the more important measure brought before the House and gained the reputation of being one of the most convincing and forceful debaters in that body.

"While a State Senator the Augusta correspondent of the Lewiston Journal complimented him as follows: ‘Over in the Senate they like to hear Senator Barrett Potter of Brunswick. At once a joy and terror to the hearts of reporters is he, for he is easily the premier of the Senate spell binders. His methods are different from those of all the others. He stands up in his seat, seldom taking a step, usually with his glasses in his right hand and some paper or something like it in his left. Occasionally he varies this by resting the left hand on his desk throughout the entire speech, but this is seldom. Every gesture which he makes is with his right finger and every point appears to be made emphatic by those glasses. Mr. Potter is not a rapid speaker, though he is not slow. But he talks steadily and evenly. His speed is uniform from beginning to end. His voice is full, at the same time pleasant and his enunciation is perfect. It is in this respect that his is the joy of the reporters. There is not an easier speaker to report than Mr. Potter. But there is one thing about him which makes him the terror of these same newspaper men. It is the abundance of figures which he always has at his tongue’s end and which he is constantly using. They are what they dread, for no matter how carefully the speaker may utter them, there is more danger in getting twisted reporting two sets of numbers made in a speech than in handling five hundred words of ordinary matter.’

"At the 3rd annual meeting of the Maine State League of Loan and Building Association held in Augusta, January 22, 1903, Hon. Barrett Potter ably presented a paper on a most important matter regarding ‘The Interest paid Loan and Building Association.’

"On March 15, 1906, he wrote a letter to the Press Agent of the Maine Referendum League giving his reasons for voting against initiative and referendum. This letter was replied to by Senator E.S. Clark who was for the initiative and referendum. Both letters were published at the time. He later made an important speech in regard to the resolve in favor of a referendum. In 1907 he was called to address the committee on education on the University of Maine question as to whether the University should serve the economical needs of the State of not. Mr. Potter believed in the affirmative.

"Mr. Potter was a member of the Brunswick Golf club and was frequently seen on the links. In golf as in all matters of life he exhibited his good sportsmanship. He was a genial, likable companion, and while a man whose natural dignity of bearing tended to make him appear austere, he was found by those who enjoyed his acquaintanceship, to be most sociable and his courtesy was admirable indeed.

"Mr. Potter was always a staunch republican. His religious preferences were those of a Congregationalist and he was a member of the parish of the Congregational church [the First Parish Church].

Barrett Potter's grave in Pine Grove Cemetery, located in the third row from the right.

"The funeral was held from the residence Sunday afternoon, very impressive service being conducted by Chauncey W. Goodrich, D.D., a former pastor of the First Congregational church. Interment was at Pine Grove cemetery. The bearers were Dr. Oscar Davies of Augusta, Hon. Frederick A. Fisher of Lowell, Mass., Hartley C. Baxter, Dr. Charles S.F. Lincoln, Thomas H. Riley, Robert D. Perry, G. Allen Howe and Samuel A. Melcher...[Barrett himself was actually a pallbearer at the funeral of Joshua L. Chamberlain in 1914.]"

Many thanks to Ann Frey, who helped research Barrett Potter for this project.

Cleaveland, Nehemiah. History of Bowdoin College, with Biographical Sketches of its Graduates. Boston: James Ripley Osgood & Company, 1882.
"Death of Honorable Barrett Potter." The Brunswick Record. 26 August 1926.
"The Final Arrangements." Daily Eastern Argus. 27 February 1914. From website "To the Limits of the Soul's Ideal: Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain's Funeral."
General Catalogue of Bowdoin College and the Medical School of Maine, 1794-1912.
Brunswick: Bowdoin College, 1912.

Historic Preservation Survey of 240 Maine Street. Pejepscot Historical Society.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Victorian Women & Death

Looking at the statistics, it is no surprise that during the Victorian* era, women were more associated with death than men. In every single year of the Victorian era in America, the majority of women did not live long enough to see all their children grow up. In fact, it was not until 1920 when more than half of women were able to complete what we now consider a normal life cycle. Thanks primarily to the dangers of childbirth, in 1830 less than a quarter of the women in the U.S. lived long enough to see their children grow up (Green, 166). Women became associated with death not only because it seemed to target them more than men, but also because of their spiritual, emotional and domestic roles in society.

A statue of a mourning woman sits atop the monument to Captain John and Harriet S. Johnson Bishop in Pine Grove Cemetery. This grave is located near the front of the ninth row from the right.

Since colonial America, women have made up the bulk of churchgoers. By the 1870s--though priests and pastors and reverends were all men--women were the ones filling the pews and "engag[ing] in religious introspection" (Corbett, 165). Additionally, religious rhetoric increasingly posed the commercial against the religious. Because men (who held jobs as bankers and businessmen) embodied the commercial, it is no surprise that women, almost by default, became the symbol of religion. Because death was such a religious issue, the more women became associated with religion, they more they became associated with death.

In addition to religion, women were associated with emotions. Women were the major consumers of romantic and emotional literature (Corbett, 165). Because death was, and of course still is, a very emotional experience, women once again were connected to death. This association even affected mourning art. As we have already seen, mourning scenes commonly featured weeping women. In Pine Grove Cemetery, statuary featuring mourning women are among the most striking funerary art found there.

Another statue of a mourning woman in Pine Grove Cemetery. This gorgeous example is at the monument dedicated to the Williams family, located near the end of the ninth row from the right.

Victorian American women were also defined by their domesticity. A stroll through any old cemetery can reveal this. As Katharine T. Corbett points out, the graves of women refer to them as "wife of" and "mother of", whereas their male children and husbands were rarely identified in relation to women, such as "husband of" or "son of". Though the epitaphs of men would praise their business acumen, bravery or accomplishments, those of women focused on their domestic skills, labeling them good, kind mothers and wives.

But how does this female cult of domesticity relate to death? Long before the advent of funeral parlors, death was very much a domestic issue. When a loved one died, their body was cleaned, dressed and prepared by the family. The funeral itself usually took place at home, not in a church or funeral home. For example, after the 1895 death of prominent Brunswick resident Alfred Skolfield (of the Skolfield-Whittier House) the family held his funeral in the formal parlor of their home. It was not until late in the 1800s that the utilization of a funeral parlor became common among the bereaved.

The Woodside family plot, located in Pine Grove Cemetery in the front of the second row from the right.

In her article titled "Called Home: Finding Women's History in Nineteenth-Century Cemeteries", Katharine T. Corbett argues that women's domestic roles extended into death. After all, she points out, what are cemeteries but "cities of the dead", filled with family plots that are arranged like houses upon a street? The Woodside family plot pictured above serves as an excellent example of the similarities between the home and the family cemetery plot. There are "walls" marking the edge of the plot--there are even front steps leading into it, just as there are front steps leading to a home. In both life and death, women found their role to be situated in the home.

*The Victorian era is defined as lasting from 1837 to 1901, when the Queen for whom the era is named ruled England.

Corbett, Katharine T. "Called Home: Finding Women's History in Nineteenth-Century Cemeteries." From Her Past Around Us: Interpreting Sites For Women's History. Malabar, Florida: Krieger Publishing Company, 2003.
Green, Harvey. The Light of the Hone: An Intimate View of the Lives of Women in Victorian America. New York: Pantheon Books, 1983.
Pejepscot Historical Society. Skolfield-Whittier House tour manual. 2009.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Mary G. Gilman, the Librarian

The woman who would permanently change the Brunswick library was born in town on July 11, 1865 to Charles J. Gilman (1824-1901) and Alice McKeen Dunlap (1827-1905). Mary G. Gilman had a lot to live up to in her parents. Her mother was a granddaughter of Rev. Joseph McKeen, the first president of Bowdoin College, and her father served as a U.S. Representative. Considering all this, it is no surprise that Mary later developed a keen interest and passion for history.

A colored postcard of the Curtis Memorial Library, circa 1925. From the Pejepscot Historical Society, acc# 1984.45.f.

Mary appears to have been a very bright girl, graduating from Brunswick High School in 1884. After this, she studied to become a librarian under Professor George T. Little at the Bowdoin College Library. At Bowdoin, Mary learned the essentials of librarianship, including cataloging skills. After the first librarian of the Brunswick Public Library, Lyman Smith, decided to move on in 1895, Mary was hired to replace him with a starting salary of $6 per week. Almost immediately, Mary went to work transforming the library into a thriving local resource.

Mary G. Gilman (seated on the right, holding a book) reading to the Wildflower Club, a group of local children. Photograph from Helmreich's A History of the Public Library in Brunswick, Maine.

Among Mary's many innovative ideas for the library were those focused on teachers and children. She encouraged local teachers to utilize the library's resources and even established a separate department within the library for education. For children, she had a completely new room created within the library, which became extremely popular with the local youth.

But Mary Gilman did not stop at teachers and children--she wanted the library to be accessible to all Brunswick residents. She took out books on travel, history and essays and placed them on a librarian's table so visitors would have easy access to them. She also created a "traveling library", where batches of 50 books at a time were sent to outlying areas of Brunswick (like Mere Point). This way, those who could not or did not go into town often had a chance to check out a book. For the same reason, she opened up the library late on Saturdays, so that those who did live far out had plenty of time to get to the library. And responding to the increase in Franco-Americans in the area, Mary also had several hundred books in French purchased for the library.

But Mary Gilman had passions outside of her beloved library. She was a member of the First Parish Church and secretary of the Pejepscot Historical Society. As the "last surviving member of one of the town's oldest families", Mary had a true passion for history ("Miss Gilman, Last of Family, Dies"). Many letters, to and from Gilman, in the collection of the Pejepscot Historical Society attest to this fact. Mary was always eager to research the questions of locals and visitors alike. Louise R. Helmreich's book A History of the Public Library in Brunswick, Maine relates a story about what happened when Gilman heard that a Brunswick High School reading list recommended Gone With The Wind as a historical novel. Gilman apparently thought the book inappropriate for high schoolers, and the book was removed from the reading list after she had "a very definite conversation with the Principal."(Helmreich, 45)

The grave of Mary G. Gilman, located in third row from the right. Gilman died on October 7, 1940 "after a short illness" at her home at 14 Union Street ("Miss Gilman, Last of Family, Dies"). She was 75 years old.

Mary G. Gilman managed the Brunswick Public Library during some of the organization's most important years. During her tenure from 1895 to 1940, she oversaw the library change names from the Brunswick Public Library to Curtis Memorial Library in 1904; personally instituted the Dewey Decimal system in 1936; and watched as her hard work took a one-room library in the town hall building and move it to a building of its own on Pleasant Street. It is not surprising, then, that in her history of the library Louise Helmreich states that "Many individuals through the years had helped to make the Brunswick library a part of the community. None have contributed more to this end than Miss Mary Gilman. She was not only herself a vital part of the library, but she made the library a vital part of the town." (47)

Helmriech, Louise R. A History of the Public Library in Brunswick, Maine. Brunswick: J.G. French & Son, 1976.
"Miss Gilman, Last of Family, Dies." The Brunswick Record. 10 October 1940.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Clockmaker: James Cary, Jr.

Not long after the Revolutionary War, James Cary, Sr. and his wife moved from Boston to Brunswick. There James Cary, Sr. became the town's first gunsmith--a vital role in the young town. He and his wife lived in a house at the corner of Maine and Mason Streets, where their son, James Cary, Jr., was born on July 22, 1790.

James Cary, Jr. photographed at the age of 72 in 1862. From the Pejepscot Historical Society, acc# OH 1726.15.b.

In 1805, when he was just 15 year old, James Jr. served as an apprentice to Robert Eastman in Belfast, Maine. With Eastman, and possibly another clock-maker named Bisbee, Cary learned the trade of making clocks. A year later, Eastman moved to Brunswick and there Cary later became his partner, forming the business Eastman & Cary. Wheeler & Wheeler states that in 1809, when Cary was just 19, he bought out Eastman's share of the business and owned the clock-making enterprise outright. Interestingly, at first Cary ran his Brunswick business out of the same house he was born in, at the corner of Maine and Mason Streets. He remained at this location even after the building burned down in 1853, rebuilding on the site and working there until his death in 1865.

The face of a grandfather clock made by James Cary, now in the collection of the Pejepscot Historical Society (acc# OH 620). Above the number "6" on the dial you can see Cary's signature (click the photo to see a larger image).

On July 16, 1816, Cary married Mary Oakman, from Pittston, Maine. Around 1826 the couple had a house built at 11 Federal Street. Though Mary and James had 3 daughters and 2 sons together, only 2 daughters--Mary Ann & Hannah Elizabeth--survived to adulthood.

Outside of Brunswick, James Cary Jr.'s fame stemmed from one of his students--Aaron L. Dennison. In 1830, Dennison (1812-1895), the son of Col. Andrew Dennison, studied clock-making under Cary and was later extremely successful as a jeweler in Boston. Dennison invented machines to standardize the production of gears and introduced the idea of interchangeable parts to pocket watches, earning him the title "father of American mass-production watch-making."

A pocket watch (right) and accompanying case (left) made by James Cary, Jr. from the Pejepscot Historical Society collection (acc# OH 729). Inside the watch case is James Cary's label--click the image for a larger view.

Cary, however, should not be defined by his role in Aaron Dennison's life. Indeed, Cary was one of Brunswick's most prominent citizens. In business, he never limited himself to clock-making, and also took on the titles gunsmith (like his father), goldsmith and silversmith. Cary even sold medicine out of his shop. He was also very involved in the local community, serving as a member of the local Masonic fraternity and as vice-president of both the Nucleus Club and the Brunswick & Topsham Athenaeum. Cary attended the First Parish Church with his wife and was, like many of his neighbors, at first a Whig and later a Republican.

The grave of James Cary, Jr. in Pine Grove Cemetery, located in the second row from the right.

James Cary, Jr. died in Brunswick on August 25, 1865 at the age of 75. Though his obituary does not list a cause of death, it does state that "for a man of his years, borne down by disease, he was one of the most remarkable we ever knew." Clearly, James Cary left a mark on Brunswick that ran far beyond any of the accomplishments of Aaron Dennison.

Booker, Ira P. "James Cary." Collections of the Pejepscot Historical Society, vol. 1, part 1. Lewiston: Journal Office, 1889.
"Constitution, Rules and Orders, By-Laws and Library regulations of the Nucleus Club." Brunswick: Griffin, 1830. From the Pejepscot Historical Society, acc# 2009.343.
"Dennison, Aaron Lufkin." National Association of Watch & Clock Collectors, Inc. website.
Historic Preservation Survey card for 11 Federal Street. Pejepscot Historical Society.
Morgan, Calvin E. "James Cary Jr." Revised 2007. From the Pejepscot Historical Society collection, acc# 2009.233.
Tenney, A.G. Obituary of James Cary, Jr. Brunswick Telegraph. 1 September 1865.
Wheeler, George Augustus & Henry Warren. History of Brunswick, Topsham, and Harpswell, Maine, Including the Ancient Territory Known as Pejepscot. Boston: Alfred Mudge & Son, 1878.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Dr. Edward Beecher Mason

Below is the full obituary of Edward Beecher Mason, D.D., published in the October 4, 1907 issue of The Brunswick Record. In brackets, I have added information about Dr. Mason, who led the First Parish Church from 1890 to 1903.

Undated photograph of Dr. Edward Beecher Mason by Brunswick photographer A.O. Reed. From the Pejepscot Historical Society, acc# 1979.36.27.

Widely Known, Much Beloved Clergyman, Was Former Pastor of First Parish Church"

"Dr. Edward Beecher Mason, formerly pastor of the First Parish church, died on Tuesday morning at his home on College street in this town, after a long illness. His death was due to a disease of the larynx from which he had suffered for about five years. His voice was impaired to such an extent that he gave up his pastorate and preaching in 1902. During the past year his general health became seriously affected, and last spring he submitted to a surgical operation. This gave him little relief but served to prolong his life through the summer. For many weeks he knew that his life was nearing its end, and although voiceless and weakened by his illness he was sustained by a wonderful courage even to the end.

"Few men have ever lived in Brunswick who were more beloved than Dr. Mason.

"The funeral was held yesterday afternoon, brief services at the home at 2:30 o’clock and another service at the First Parish church at 3:00 o’clock, both being conducted by the pastor, Rev. Herbert A. Jump. During the half hour from 2:30 to 3:00 the church bell was tolled 69 strokes, one for each year of his age.

"In the church, the pastor read portions of Scripture and a part of Browning’s poem, Abt Vogler. Miss Mary Ward at the organ played selections which had been favorites of Dr. Mason, the Pastoral Interlude and Come Unto Me, from Handel’s Messiah, and a Chorale from Bach. The bearers were Prof. William A. Houghton, Prof. Henry Johnson, Prof. George T. Little and Prof. F.E. Woodruff. Ushers were chosen from the deacons of the church.

"Brief services were held at the grave. Interment was in a portion of what has been known as the Abbott lot in Pine Grove cemetery.

"Dr. Mason was born in Cincinnati on March 7, 1838. His father, Timothy B. Mason, was a life-long friend of Dr. Lyman Beecher, having charge of his choir when he lived in Boston and in 1835 accompanied this noted preacher to Cincinnati where Dr. Beecher was president of Lane Seminary. [His mother was Abigail (Hall) Mason.]

"The Mason family, descendants of Robert Mason, a member of John Winthrop’s company who settled the town of Roxbury, Mass., in 1630, is one of the most distinguished in New England.

"Dr. Lowell Mason, whose fame as a composer is widely known, was Dr. Mason’s uncle, and William Mason, the eminent New York pianist, is his cousin. Members of the same family were pioneers in the manufacture of pianos and organ in New England. [Ashby's History of the First Parish Church mentions that Mason and his family had a gift for music: "They had the knack of playing almost every musical instrument. They were particularly interested in singing..."(360) Dr. Mason himself was very interested in hymns, and one of his first projects upon arriving at First Parish Church was to choose and purchase a new hymnal (Ashby, 374-375).]

"Although born in Ohio Dr. Mason was virtually a New Englander. His father and four generations before him were born in the town of Medfield, Mass., and the family still holds property there. A previous ancestor was one of the original landholders in Dedham, Mass.

Undated photograph of the First Parish Church taken from across Maine Street, where Dr. Mason preached from 1890 to 1903. Note that the streets are unpaved. From the Pejepscot Historical Society, acc# 1993.22.70.836.

"In his career as a clergyman Dr. Mason was a pastor of only five churches, and had he chosen he could have remained a life time in his first pastorate. He was educated at Knox College, Gambia, O.H., and at Farmers College in Cincinnati, graduating from the latter in 1858 with the highest honors. Farmers College is no longer in existence, but its alumni included such men as Murat Halstead and [President] Benjamin Harrison. Three years later, in the summer of 1861, Dr. Mason graduated from Andover Theological Seminary.

"He went from Andover to Ravenna, Ohio, where he remained 12 years. The people of Ravenna became strongly attached to the young pastor, and when he was called by the Fourth Presbyterian church of Indianapolis, the people of the church and town made every effort to retain him. They offered to make a life contract to keep him in Ravenna. The pastors of the Methodist church, the Catholic church, the Disciples church and the Episcopal church signed a note expressing their assurance of high personal esteem and requesting, if consistent with his sense of duty, that he should not separate from them. Two hundred women marched to his house and read a paper protesting against his going away, and a meeting of citizens expressed the same sentiment. Twenty years later they asked him to return.

"Dr. Mason delayed his answer to the call from Indianapolis, but in March, 1873, decided to accept. He had known Garfield in Ravenna, and in Indianapolis, as a member of the literary club, he was associated with such men as Benjamin Harrison and Thomas A. Hendricks.

"In the spring on 1878 Dr. Mason was called to Detroit where he became pastor of the Jefferson Avenue Presbyterian church. This was a very large and wealthy church, and greatly interested in philanthropic work and missions.

"Mr. Mason received the degree of D.D., from Miami University while he was in Detroit, it being the result of a commencement address delivered before the student sin the summer of 1881.

"Having remained in Detroit about four years Dr. Mason had a desire to return to New England, and receiving a call from the Congregational church at Arlington, Mass., he accepted that pastorate. There he worked hard for six years, until his health broke down. Among other things he rebuilt the church at Arlington, and it may be mentioned that he wrote a hymn which was sung at the dedication to music which he composed.

"In 1888 on account of shattered health Dr. Mason was given a leave of absence, but seeing little prospect of being able to resume the work at Arlington, he resigned in February 1889. As a member of the Monday club in Boston, Dr. Mason had contributed forty sermons to their published series.

"The call that brought Dr. Mason to Brunswick was extended to him on February 26, 1890. He accepted on April 4, and began his work here on May 4th of that year. At his installation the sermon was preached by Rd. Alexander McKenzie of Cambridge.

"His work in Brunswick during a pastorate of 13 years gave him the same pleasure that he found in Ravenna, and his usefulness and influence here has been far-reaching. In the physical up-building of the First Parish church it will be remembered that he built the chapel, and the room back of the pulpit at a cost of about $6000, and the memorial winds that beautify the walls of the church were put in while he was pastor. Among them is one which bears the inscriptions 'The Sunday School; to Its Founders and Promoters. 1812-1898.'

"Among the most notable addresses he has given are: 'A Memorial to Garfield,' delivered in Detroit; five Lenten addresses before the three Congregational churches in Bangor; and a memorial sermon on Rev. Edward G. Guild, a man greatly beloved in this town, who died Nov. 6, 1899. Dr. Mason is the author of a volume of sermons entitled 'The Ten Laws' published by Anson D.F. Randolph of New York.

The tablet gravestone of Dr. Edward Beecher Mason, who is buried with his wife, Myra, and their daughter, Maud. His grave is located near the end of the second row from the right.

"He was married on July 15, 1863 to Miss Myra Campbell [1838-1916], who is a member of the distinguished family known as the Cherry Valley Campbells of New York. He is survived also by a son, Edward C., who graduated from Harvard and now practices law in Boston; and a daughter, Miss Maud [1868-1962], who lives in Brunswick. [The Masons lived at the home they built in 1903-1904 at 24 College Street (Ashby, 378). According to Ashby, Mason died at his home 5 years to the day after he formally resigned from First Parish Church.]"

Ashby, Thompson Eldridge. A History of the First Parish Church in Brunswick, Maine. Brunswick: J.H. French and Son, 1969.
"Death of Dr. Edward B. Mason." The Brunswick Record. 4 October 1907.
"Edward Beecher Mason." From the Pejepscot Historical Society, acc# OH 1737.5 (pamphlet 361).