By Shelagh Talbot
GREENVILLE— More and more people are interested in their family history as evidenced by the many genealogical websites that have popped up in recent years. Folks may not realize it, but right here in Greenville we have our own gem of genealogical information, the organization known as the Moosehead Historical Society and Museums. It was described by William Cook, past President of Maine Archives and Museums as one of the finest small town museums in Maine, if not all of New England. The Carriage House, where the office is located on the Pritham Ave. campus, holds a treasure trove of archival information about the area as well as the people who lived here.
It all started on a summer evening 50 years ago this July, when a group of dedicated residents thought something should be done to preserve the rich history of this unique part of the world. Activities in those early days focused on collecting ephemera and artifacts of historic interest and finding them an appropriate home. Early meetings were held in the Greenville Town Hall and exhibits were scattered about town at places including the Shaw Public Library, Bangor Savings Bank and the Northeastern Bank.
One of their most popular fundraising events at the time was the Silver Tea celebration, held at the Shaw Public Library and hosted by Mrs. Julia Sheridan, whose beneficence to the society resulted in their acquiring the Eveleth-Crafts-Sheridan house. Businessman John Eveleth built this elegant Victorian home in the early 1890s as a wedding gift to his daughter Rebecca. Rebecca and her husband Arthur loved their home and filled it with the latest in technological advances for the time as well as the finest in furnishings and amenities. Julia Sheridan made it her home also after her parents passed away. When she died, she made provisions in her will that her home be given to the historical society as her lasting memorial. And what a gift it was! At first, a great deal of time was spent on repairs and needed safety-related improvements, but it wasn’t long before the Eveleth-Crafts-Sheridan Historical House was opened on a limited basis for guided tours. When Julia’s husband Phillip died 20 years ago, the Moosehead Historical Society became the benefactor of a trustee-managed investment endowment, which helps to maintain the museum.
Since 1981 the three executive directors, Elliot Levey, Dr. Everett Parker and current Director Candy Canders Russell have worked tirelessly to bring the Moosehead Historical Society and Museums to the point they are now. The most difficult tasks of artifact accessioning, accountability and preservation have allowed for the astounding collection of files in addition to the extraordinary items and artifacts on display.
The Carriage House, with its distinctive cupola, provides people with an ideal place to go for research about families and history of the Moosehead region. A wealth of information about so many subjects is there for your discovery. Perhaps you are looking for information about your own family history in the area. Perhaps you want to know more about Moosehead Lake’s first residents, the Native Americans. Maybe you want to know more about the logging industry and how it shaped Maine as well the United States in the early days. So many of these fascinating tidbits await your discovery at the Carriage House, which is open all year. Volunteers are glad to help you with your questions and offer direction when you are seeking information. There are also numerous books, CDs and videotapes available to enhance your own library. You might also find the perfect gift for someone special at the same time.
The Eveleth-Crafts-Sheridan house is open for tours Wed. through Friday until early October from 1 to 4 p.m. As mentioned earlier, the Carriage House, which also houses the Lumberman’s Museum, is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tues. through Fri. all year. You will also enjoy the Center for Moosehead History at 6 Lakeview St. the Center is open Thurs. – Sunday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. and it houses the Aviation Museum as well as an extensive exhibit of Native American artifacts. Visit these museums on line at mooseheadhistory.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also call them at 207-695-2909.