This Week in Lincolnville: Box C, Shelf 9
First things first. The Historical Society’s second monthly meal-to-go will be this Saturday, January 23. This month it’s beans. Baked beans, coleslaw, biscuit and cookie, pre-ordered and ready for you to pick up between 1 and 3 p.m. at the Beach Schoolhouse, 33 Beach Road. You can choose regular (with bacon) or vegetarian beans, regular or gluten free biscuit and cookie, $10 a meal. We’ll be holding a 50-50 raffle with tickets available when you pick up your meal, $3 for one ticket and $5 for three.
We expect to have extra cookies and will be selling those, too. If the weather is awful on Saturday, we’ll do it Sunday, same time and place. Order by this Wednesday, Jan. 20, either by email or phone: 585-261-4890.
It sure feels good to be posting an actual event. How long has it been since that happened? In the past year – a year! – there were a mere handful of community events: The Women’s Club had a yard sale, the LIA a blueberry bake sale, the UCC a remote, Strawberry-themed benefit. Christmas Eve Bayshore held their Candlelight service in person.
It may feel like nothing’s happening in town these days, but behind the scene, on our screens and on our phones, the Beach Schoolhouse Renovation Project is chugging along. Our busy Steering Committee is on Zoom, we send out letters, then thank you cards, pass money to each other at the door, masked and quick. It feels like something’s getting done. To date we’ve taken in some $12,000 (!) to go towards doing the repairs our old building needs.
A quick recap. When an assessment of the building that’s housed the town’s historical archive and museum for nearly 25 years came back with a price tag of $650,000 to bring it up to 21st century standards, the Selectmen said “no”. They couldn’t go to the taxpayers for that sum. In July the voters said “sell it”.
That brought out a groundswell of support to save the building. In December the LHS paid the town a dollar, signed the papers, and became owners of what I’m just learning is a 170-year-old building.
Town Office closed for Martin Luther King Jr. Day
WEDNESDAY, Jan. 20
Library book pickup, 3-6 p.m., Library
Deadline for ordering take-out meal for LHS (585-261-4890 or email
SATURDAY, Jan. 23
Library book pickup, 9 a.m.-noon, Library
Take-out Meal Pick-up, 1-3 p.m., Beach Schoolhouse, 33 Beach Road
SUNDAY, Jan. 24
Storm day for Saturday’s meal, same time and place
AA meetings, Tuesdays & Fridays at noon, Norton Pond/Breezemere Bandstand
Lincolnville Community Library, curbside pickup Wednesdays, 3-6 p.m. and Saturdays, 9 a.m.-noon. For information call 706-3896.
Soup Café, cancelled through the pandemic
Schoolhouse Museum open by appointment, 505-5101 or 789-5987
Bayshore Baptist Church, Sunday School for all ages, 9:30 a.m., Worship Service at 11 a.m., Atlantic Highway, In person and on Facebook
United Christian Church, Worship Service 9:30 a.m. via Zoom
Once again, it’s the paper, the documents that hold the town’s history that are the backbone of our collection. And because we’ve collected so much of it over the LHS’ 45-year history (Jackie Watts founded the Historical Society at a 1975 meeting in her living room) much of it has never even been read.
The other day, I went rummaging through our collection – no, not literally through boxes and boxes of random stuff – but searching our database for the original deed to the property. Both Connie Parker and I remember there was a deed. Connie, by the way, has been the other half, with me, the duo who catalogued literally a couple of thousand items since about 2003.
For many years Connie was the Museum attendant, opening it three afternoons a week, for four months each year. For the past couple of years, Jane Hardy and I share those three days with her. She’s also been our Treasurer and resident genealogist.
Whenever someone contacts us for family information (and sometimes they start at the Town Office and are promptly sent over to Connie) she does the research, finds the family photos, and sends them out.
Right off, the deed showed up as being in Box C on Shelf 9. What a treasure Box C was! It’s a testament to how much stuff we catalogued over the years, always with the thought of one day actually “doing” history, not just putting things in boxes. Right there in Box C, safely wrapped in one of the little muslin bags we’d sewn to hold old account books and the like, was a book, the minutes of the District 17 School Committee, 1851-1874. I’m ready now to read them.
The one-room schools, all 17 of them, were called by both their name – “Beach” – and their District number – 17 was the Beach School.
And there it is, on page one. April 10, 1851, Minot Crehore, Ephraim Fletcher and Moses Young, Selectmen of the Town, are calling a meeting to be held at the loft over Nathan Knight’s store. The purpose? To find land for a new schoolhouse, see what measures it will take to build the schoolhouse, how much it will cost and how the money will be raised. Bingo. The whole story of the building we just bought.
Old handwriting is often hard to read, but by scanning the page and then enlarging it on the screen it’s easier. I’ve done 12 pages so far, writing a summary of each rather than a word-for-word transcription. Meeting minutes I’ve found are formulaic with certain phrases repeated, much as deeds and other legal documents are written. Once it’s all scanned, I’ll post it on our LHS website along with my summary. Then you can read it for yourself.
The discussion started in early April, 1851, and the school committee (each district had its own committee) met in Nathan’s loft each week through May. Before long they were disagreeing. Three lots were proposed as possible schoolhouse lots; they wanted a quarter of an acre. P. French offered a lot for $50, while, presumably his brothers, E. French and Z.J.H. French, each wanted $15 for theirs.
Just when they seemed settled on Zadock’s lot (he of the multiple initials) Thomas Frohock popped in and moved that Nathan Knight had a lot he’d apparently give as a “present”. As in free. They voted, 13 yays to 11 nays, to take Nathan’s. This was Lincolnville, after all.
And, this being Lincolnville, they promptly reconsidered. Sounds like some Town Meetings I’ve sat through. I left off reading with the vote to reconsider to take Zadock’s after all, for $18 with 13 yays and 12 nays.
I love this stuff. But it’s pretty frustrating, since the written report is awfully dry. You’re left to try and figure out what was going on. What stake did Thomas have in changing lots? Was Nathan Knight his brother-in-law? Did he owe him money? Would his kids have a shorter walk to school? Did Nathan have something on him?
Figuring out the truth, trying to make sense of what happened. For that matter, remembering what happened. Memories, apparently, are notoriously inaccurate; we often change things around to suit our own narrative. Many years ago, I asked Laura Pendleton how she, how the town, reacted to a particularly awful fire in the 1950s. A house on the shore, actually just over the town line, directly across from today’s Point Lookout and Ginley Hall, burned one cold December night. Four children and the two people who were staying with them died; their mother was in Boston having a baby at the time.
I was surprised that Laura had no recollection of it. “I was too busy raising children,” she told me. And yes, Laura had 11 children. And yes, when I look back, there are many things I’ve forgotten or maybe never knew from my own days as a stressed-out, worn out Mom. My mere three sons are constantly recalling things from their childhood that I swear never happened, things their dad did, things their cousins did during our often-raucous family reunions.
As to figuring out why things happen, look no further than today. Our Capitol overrun by an angry mob of hundreds, maybe thousands? Our Congress hustled into secret hiding places? We think we know some of the immediate sparks to the violence, but what’s the history of the anger that’s clearly been smoldering for a long time?
Like many of us, I read everything I can find on the subject. Of course, as the last few years have taught us, what we choose to read has a lot to do with what we come to believe. We’ve learned about algorithms, and how the sites we frequent end up being self-prophesizing. If Mr. Google sees that I read “liberal” articles, he’ll see that only “liberal” sites pop up for me.
So, there’s that. But the anger in our country precedes the Internet. Remember Ruby Ridge? Waco? Remember the various stock market crashes that took the savings of so many? Remember Vietnam? Remember the top one percent?
What happened to presenting both sides of an issue in the public forum? As on the airwaves, on the Internet? It’s possible these days to only hear what you already believe to be true; it’s also possible to propagate lies so many times that to many people, the lies become the truth.
I’d much rather be focusing on raising the money to fix our old building, getting it done, and then spending the rest of my days reading the musty old documents carefully squirreled away in boxes on the shelves of the Lincolnville Historical Society. And telling everyone what I learned.
The Town Office is closed today in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.
Time’s ticking away to the end of January when dog licenses must be renewed. There’s a $25 state-mandated fine for not doing it. Go to the Town Office with your dog’s rabies certificate or take it online. I just made Fritz legal; took about three minutes.
A Changing of the Guard
Long-time proprietors of the Whales Tooth Pub, Dorothee and Rob Newcombe, have moved up the road a short way and settling into retirement. Lots of good times have been had in that building, and those two helped make it even more fun. They raised their family right upstairs, with Kirk and Jodi going to LCS and then on to the high school. They’ve been great neighbors.
Welcome to the new owners, Chris and Martha Nickerson! I haven’t met them yet; they’ll be reopening Jan. 27. Best to them, and let’s all hope for a very near future of restaurant dining, social mingling and seeing each other’s smiling faces. Meanwhile, as many of us are not eating-in, but rather taking out, we can continue to support our favorite restaurants by ordering meals to take home. My upstairs neighbors do it every Friday night, choosing a different place each week.