Historian presentation: A South Thomaston Utopia
SOUTH THOMASTON — "A South Thomaston Utopia: The Remarkable Saga of Reverend Samuel Baker" is the topic for an illustrated talk and round table engagement at the Wessaweskeag Historical Society's meeting room behind the Public Library, 8 Dublin Road, on Thursday, February 22, beginning at 7 p.m. Admission is free, and the public is invited.
According to a news release, last summer, Charles Jacobs, a local historian, author, retired museum curator, and aspiring archaeologist, stumbled upon an amazing archival treasure, an 1858 proposal for a 700-acre,16-plus structures planned community — a Christian Society, a City Upon a Hill — within the Weskeag basin. Its architect was one Samuel Baker, a seasoned evangelist, a divinity scholar, and according to one contemporary cleric, "a genuine pattern crank of the most obnoxious sort."
During this past autumn and winter, Jacobs, tapping into a variety of archival resources, was able to ferret out and synthesize something of a biography for Reverend Baker. He encountered factoids at every research turn, from Sam's linkage with a zealot who spent his last years confined in a wooden cage to a father-in-law named Peter Parker (probably not the Amazing Spider-Man, however!); from an Augusta boarding house that ultimately morphed into the Maine Wesleyan Seminary to a wave of Spiritualism that swept over New England. These and other Believe-It-or-Not!®-class anecdotes are woven into a vibrant tapestry of mid-19th century Mid Coast culture for the evening's presentation.
After Jacobs' talk, the audience is invited to participate in a short seminar. The host is hopeful that "Utopia" will provide the springboard for a four-part, four-season Cittie Upon a Hill Circle series. He has proposed the following format for the balance of the programs:
Session #2 (spring): "Reliable & Religious," Rev. Baker and his fellow War of 1812 chaplains; South Thomaston fights Madison's Second War for Independence.
Session #3 (summer): "Heaven on Earth," South Thomaston's planned community in the context of 19th century New England's utopianism.
Session #4 (autumn): "Past is Prologue," the potential lessons and "lights" of Rev. Baker's schemes and dreams, how such an idealism might serve as a tonic for troubled times.
For additional information or questions regarding the February 22 program, the public is invited to contact the presenter at his email, email@example.com.
See the Pen Bay Pilot’s previous article: