Sanders Store to Northwoods Outfitters in continual operation for the past 163 years

David Tildon Sanders was born in Bath, Maine in 1836 and moved with his brothers to a farm in Sangerville. D.T. did not like farming, so asked his parents to allow him to apprentice with a man who owned a store in Greenville. That man turned out to be John H. Eveleth, an indefatigable pioneer of the Moosehead region, with a diverse interest in businesses. Mr. Eveleth gave the boy a job, $50 a year, and room and board.

He was only 14 years of age when he apprenticed with Eveleth, but he expected that after some years of learning the trade, he would become his partner. That offer was never made. Nearing the age of 21, another competitive businessman, Milton G. Shaw, offered the young man a partnership in his store, Shaw & Barton, which ran everything from the town waterworks to lumber camps. D.T. readily agreed. Shaw & Barton eventually split, with one-half the assets going to D.T. Sanders.

He worked seven days and nights a week. Over the years there were four generations of Sanders who operated what eventually became D.T. Sanders & Son. Descendants described him as a short, wiry man with an abundance of energy.

D.T. earned the reputation of being a smart businessman. During the 1880s, there was a financial panic and money was scarce. So in place of money, the logging companies used to issue scrip, which was a type of IOU with, for example, Great North Paper Company’s name on it. Another reason scrip was used was because that it held logging crews long enough to complete the drives and get logs down to the East Outlet and into the Kennebec River. The scrip had dates, which meant it could only be cashed in on a certain day — after the drives were completed.

When the loggers came off the boats, D.T. would meet the them and buy the scrip for so much on the dollar. Then, the loggers would off on a bender in town with the cash and D.T. would hold the scrip until its date, cash in on it, and make a bundle. It wasn’t illegal, but companies weren’t happy about it because they’d have a heck of a time getting their crews back to finish the drives. D.T. also supplied the loggers’ food and “wangan,” all the necessities of life, including blankets, clothes, and tobacco.

By the 1880s, the Bangor & Aroostook Railroad was being built. It stopped in Greenville Junction and tied into the Canadian-Pacific Railroad. At the time, there were many nationalities coming in to work on the railroad: Chinese, Irish, Poles, and Finns. One of D.T.’s great grandsons recalled in an interview that D.T. said Greenville was a rough and tumble place, with all these men ready for a fight. He said, “There’s three places in the whole United States which are the worst places to be. The White River Junction in Vermont; the Silver Dollar in Galveston, Texas; and the Push and Pull Saloon in Greenville Junction.” Harry Sanders III, the fourth generation to run Sanders Store, remembers his father saying that hardly a night went by over the near Push and Pull that somebody wasn’t killed — hit over the head for his poke by the locals — all kinds of brawls — and no law, where the Long Branch Bar in the Junction used to be.

Sanders & Son shipped loggers supplies of all type from his store, by horse drawn tote team in the winter and by boat in the summer. These helped create way stations in Lily Bay, Kokadjo, Twenty Mile, Grant Farm, and Chesuncook.

Sanders III recalled that at the turn of the last century, the Allagash River canoe trip began in East Cove, across from the store, employing many Indian guides who lived around Mt. Kineo and the Rockwood area, “These guides would often be hired by city slickers for a whole summer to show sports around.”

D.T. Sanders Store carried every imaginable item, from wood supplies to ties and business suits. The Sanders family outfitted visitors on the spot, from a canoe, the hire of a guide, mapping out a trip, putting them in the lake and picking them up in Fort Kent. The Sanders family outfitted many famous individuals, from Henry David Thoreau to Sir Harry Oakes and Chief Justice Douglas.

In 1981 Harry Sanders III sold the store to Melbourne Sanborn, who had been managing it, and to Roy F. Williams Jr., himself a retired store owner who had in recent years moved to Moosehead. It was still called Sanders Store.

In 1995, Mike Boutin purchased it, made it his own, painted the storefront green, and named it Northwoods Outfitters. For the last quarter of a century, he has been running it much the same way — an outfitting service, with a modern twist. Today, walk into the shop, and you’ll find the kind of gear you need to hike summer and, now, climb winter mountains, fish, camp, and wildlife watch. You can still hire a guide, get expert advice on mapping a trip, or rent snowmobiles. They also offer free Wi-Fi and a darned good cup of coffee and a sweet.

Excerpts of this article were from an interview of Harry Sanders III by William Pohl, Downeast Magazine, July 1980

 

 

Masterman Farm’s Elisabeth Damon Odiorne

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Mrs. Elisabeth Damon Odiorne

This is the third and final part in a series we have been running about Mrs. Odiorne. The first two stories ran in the October and January Insights. Her log entries span from the 1940s to the 1980s

Elisabeth Odiorne was born in 1902, the daughter of Cornelius John “CJ” Damon and Mary Ann Masterman. She died in 1988. She was the granddaughter of Edward Goff Masterman of Masterman Farm in Sandbar Tract, on the shore of Moosehead Lake, located between Greenville and Rockwood. Her family were well known guides, hunters, trappers, and farmed their land.

Her grandfather, Edward Masterman

Mrs. Odiorne wrote many journal entries about her life on Moosehead Lake. In the first issue we told about the love story of a young Elisabeth and her suitor Joe; they had an unusually long, formal courtship and a long marriage, which began only after he completed medical school. In the second issue, Elisabeth details a great storm that hit Moosehead Lake and the destruction left behind. This final segment follows daily entries. In them, she describes how they passed the days on Moosehead Lake. Similar to today, their days at camp were routinely spent repairing or maintaining the buildings, picking berries, watching wildlife, and socializing with close friends.

July 1950 — Joe painted porch and trim on house. He puttied and painted all the windows. An heroic task, facilitated by a warm, dry season. Worked on small bedroom floor.

July 1951 — We paddled to E. Outlet, took bus to Moose River to get boat, but the most important part was missing — the coil! Returned by bus and walked in from highway. Search followed, but no coil. Ben Swett loaned us one from an engine no longer in use, and we returned for boat. Charles Nelson loaned us an old coil to overcome the “sinking spells” experienced by the one loaned us by Ben Swett. Joe ordered one from Sears as well. During the second week of our stay, we went to E. Outlet to see the Ryders.

Joe roofed the shed. Raspberries are plentiful. Rafted timbers for operation “cellar sill.” Towed them one lowery afternoon. The boat went ashore in heavy south wind. The ancient chain parted and boat and buoy came in on rocks in swale. Fortunately, Mastermans were leaving to go to E. Outlet and discovered it. The Neptune came by near shore with horn blowing! Joe raced along the shore and waded out to boat just as Lyman arrived. They were able to throw a rope from the Neptune and towed it up to the wharf. Missing coil was discovered in the tin box where matches are kept! Ordinarily the first place one would open when one arrived.

1952 — Neptune out of commission. Got boat at E. Outlet and brought dunnage over. Beautiful night when we took boat back and paddled home. Went for boat via canoe and bus, found it sunk. Pumped it out, and with several pumping, managed to get to Masterman’s wharf, where we found it sunk next a.m. When it was pulled out difficulty was found. Eastman had bored several holes to let out bilge, but last one had not been plugged! Joe tore down front steps and built new. Salvaged old shingles to use behind them. Great task. Pained three bedroom floors. Built covering for boat, and hauled it out on Edwina’s land.

1975 — [We] had two nice boat rides with the Dicksons. The one late in August was around Sandbar and Hogback Islands, up in the cove and down to Poplar Point — to see all the camps. Also to see the new one on the Little Masterman Island, which is ingenious and clever in design.

The second ride was delightful. We went to Sand Bar. The level of the water in the lake was the lowest in many, many years. The water gauge read 56 inches. The Bar was well exposed and we spent some time there walking across it, picking up the satin smooth pebbles, admiring them in the clear, limpid water, and taking pictures. The day was beautiful, with only an occasional light breeze, and temperature at 66 degrees at 1:00 p.m. (Sept. 29). We found tracks of a good sized moose in the gravel on the Bar.

Then we went to the old dock area of Camp Wildwood. Kerr wanted to walk up to the old camp which meant a hike thru deep woods but his woods experience stood him in good stead and he lead us directly to it. The walls and roof had long since collapsed but the fireplace and chimney, built on ledge, were still standing in excellent shape. In the area above the slate mantel pebbles like those we had just collected on the Bar were set in cement between the field stones. It was a melancholy place now lost in the woods and small birches growing in its midst. The path we found was also overgrown but large birches, one at the edge of the cleared area, now old and dying, marked the way.

This was a “sentimental journey” for me. Each autumn in my childhood, my father and mother took a boat trip to Sand Bar. A glorious Sunday afternoon was chosen and we collected our baskets and went over to the Farm where we picked apples from the ancient trees. Afterward we walked up to Camp Wildwood to admire the expansive view of lake and mountains while standing on the porch. Then, we always went over and walked across the Bar.

June 1977 — on my native heath once more. 58 degrees outside. A light shower fell soon after we got the car unloaded, developing into a steady rain. It seemed smoky from the forest fire still smoldering at Moxie. The Gazette contained Orville Harvey’s obituary. He died May 16 at age 85. He will be greatly missed in the town of Greenville. He was largely responsible for the town’s excellent cemetery.

There were several changes in real estate on the Western Shore. Scott Paper sold three lots in the north end to a man from North Dakota. Dick Mank put his camp up for sale. Sam Gray sold his camp to the Rosenblatts from NY (?).

The summer was rainy and cool. There were very few days we didn’t have a fire in the Clarion. The wind persisted in blowing hard from the southeast. Also if blew from the northeast more than usual. There were a great many bad thunder showers. A violent one in the middle of July ended in a Big fire at Katahdin.

 

What we hope to offer this summer, but who knows?

The world, even here on Moosehead Lake, changes by the minute. As of this writing in March, except for Indian Hill grocery store, Harris Drug, and a couple of take-out places, the town is shuttered down. Everyone in our community is practicing social distancing in order to “flatten the curve” to people’s exposure to the highly contagious Corvid-19 virus. How will this effect our summer, so dependent upon the tourism business? Just now, who knows. Reports indicate this care for one another could run the better part of 2020.

This time of year we usually offer members a preview of our summer programs. We’re going to do that, still. It provides a measure of some normalcy during this eerily quiet time and, at the very least, some reading fodder. Here’s what we’re planning. But, we’re also flying by the seat of our pants.

 Moosehead Past, Present, and Future

A glimpse of MHS’s 2020 Bicentennial Summer & Fall?

We’re planning to open June 25th with a Moosehead version of 1950s Mocktails & Tales, a play off of our docent’s main exhibit that will feature 1950s attire in the Eveleth-Crafts-Sheridan House. If possible, come party down to Elvis and a documentary slideshow about how life was lived here on Moosehead Lake during the ’50s.

In July, we have four programs planned along the Bicentennial theme “Moosehead: Past, Present, and Future” that focus on our region’s history and that coincide with featured exhibits displayed throughout MHS museums. Those include Logging Towboats and Boom Jumpers, presented at the Moosehead Lake Yacht Club Boat Show; B-52 Final Mission: The North Woods, a program and book signing by author Joseph Wax, in partnership with Shaw Public Library; and the 14th Annual Thoreau Wabanaki Trail Festival.  These may also be visited at the Moosehead Lumbermen’s Museum, and at The Center for Moosehead History, with permanent exhibits of the logging era, B-52 Crash, and Native-American stories and collections.

The Thoreau Wabanaki Festival is set to offer a truly exciting, educational array of programs, including All About Moose, Penobscot Sense of Place, Islands of Moosehead Lake, and Dark Skies, Bright Stars — in special arrangement with Lily Bay State Park for a 10 pm to midnight star gazing party, presented by Dark Sky Maine co-founder Colin Caissie. Also offered for the first time is Last Leg of Thoreau’s Trip with Penobscot Guides, a two-and-a-half day canoe/camping/cultural immersion activities program in partnership with the Penobscot Nation.

August is set to bring in Forest Heritage Days, another of Moosehead’s historic mainstays. Also in August is Cookbook Creations from Yesteryear, a special offering by our docents, and A Small Woman in a Large Wilderness: A Tale of Three Family Estates, by our resident member historian Bruce Marsh.

During September’s International Seaplane Fly-In, MHS will offer the Moosehead Aviation Museum & B-52 Crash (with some new items added to the exhibit). These turned out to offer a wonderful respite, too, last year, when Fly-In weather turned raw and cold. Visitors warmed up and could take their time browsing local history.

In December, for the first time in a long while, we will be offering a Victorian Tea with Jolene Staruch, in a festively, traditionally decorated Eveleth-Crafts-Sheridan House.

May we all remain safe and well.  

The Mastermans: pioneers, early guides in region

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A young Edward Goff Masterman in Sandbar Tract, Moosehead Lake. 2011.79.0043

The Moosehead region has for many years attracted eccentric, strong-willed individuals who preferred living in the remote woodlands. Generations ago, the title “hermit” had a different connotation than it does today. Now it is used more to denote “strange” people who have problems living in society. In a bygone era, “hermit” was used for those people who preferred nature and had decided to live by themselves, and the more remote the setting, the better.

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Edward Goff Masterman (1842-1933) lived to be 91 years of age. 2011.79.0014

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Mary Dall Masterman (1854-1903), Edward’s 2nd wife, from Lac Lemiscoulala, Quebec, Canada. They married a year after his first wife, age 24, died some months after their fifth child was born. Mary and Edward had one son.  2011.79.0042

Early guides around the Moosehead Lake region and to the north were sometimes hermits, sometimes eccentric, but always dedicated to their own individualistic way of life. For some, guiding sportsmen was a way of earning a living and providing the necessities they couldn’t provide for themselves in the woods.

Two of the well known guides of the late 1800s and early 1900s were Edward Masterman and his son, Richard. Edward was one of the early settlers in the region, taking up a track of forest a dozen miles north of Greenville and clearing it for a farm. His father, John Masterman, had earlier purchased Sandbar Tract, which is located between the East and West Outlets on the west side of Moosehead Lake.

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Richard Masterman, with hat, with Edwin McKeen. 2016.02.0001

Long before Richard was born, Edward Masterman was famed as a hunter, trapper, guide, and almost as soon as he could walk, Richard went into the woods with his father, learning at an early age the habits and characteristics of the wild animals that inhabited the area. He became an expert with the canoe, a crack shot with the rifle, and few could equal his prowess as a trapper. He started guiding at age 17. He was once quoted in a newspaper article as saying when he started guiding, his equipment consisted of a canoe, tent, paddles, pole, and cooking kit. It cost him $40 to get into the business. In those days, Masterman found that guiding wasn’t a good way of making money, especially when he started work at 4 a.m. and frequently did not retire until 9 or 10 p.m.

“When I started guiding, my work had to do mostly with real sportsmen who went into the woods for the sole purpose of catching fish or shooting game. We would pick out a location deep in the woods and remain there for a couple of weeks. The hunters would live mostly on the fish they caught or the game they shot, and get a thrill from eating their own kills,” Masterman said in a 1936 newspaper article by Henry Buxton.

The Mastermans represent three generations of guiding in the North Woods. Richard Vaughn Masterman was born in Sandbar Tract in 1870. He died in 1945 and is buried in Greenville Cemetery.

 

Seboomook’s Prisoner of War Camp

By Everett L. Parker

Note: Because we had so much interest this summer about Seboomook’s WWII POW camp that held young German men, we’re running a short series about it, as detailed in Everett Parker’s book. He was the first director of the Moosehead Historical Society & Museums and is now a Director Emeritus. He laid the foundation of the accessioning system which now houses tens of thousands of items telling the stories of the Moosehead Lake Region’s people and places. During his time as director, Dr. Parker also wrote a series of books based on his research about the area. These popular books are available for purchase in the Carriage House office.

 

Few people who venture into the Seboomook area today, and particularly to the Seboomook Wilderness Campground, realize that a World War II prisoner of war camp was located on the site during the 1940s. It is almost as if the veil of secrecy, which was necessary during the war years, continues to this day. Even decades after the camp closed and the buildings were bulldozed, it is difficult to find pictures of the facilities, or the military personnel who were stationed there. There were four prisoners of war camps in Maine during and after World War II: Hobbstown (Township 4, Range 6, BKP WKR in Somerset County); Houlton (Aroostook County), Princeton (Washington County), and Seboomook in Somerset County.

It was not on a whim that prisoner of war camps were set up in remote areas of Maine. The reason was the need for paper products. The war effort called for a dramatic increase in the amount of paper production, which in turn required increased production of wood for the mills.

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POWs quartered at Seboomook were used on logging operations in Burbank Township shown above loading wood.    1976.1.31

At the time, the Hollingsworth & Whitney Company, a precursor to Scott Paper Company, was the only company in the United States producing “tabulating card stock,” which was in great demand by the U.S. armed forces. Since there was a critical labor shortage because of the war, the need for increased wood production, particularly in pulpwood, could be met, some believed, by importing German prisoners of war to work in the woods. There would be obvious advantages, too, in the remote locations; if prisoners escaped, as some did, there would be virtually nowhere to go, and wintertime escapes could be deadly to the escapee.

Less in known about the Seboomook POW camp than any of the other three in Maine. It is known that Great Northern Paper Company contracted with the U.S. Government in late 1943 or early 1944 to use POWs in its woods operation on the northern end of Moosehead Lake. By June of 1944, the first two POW camps in Maine were operating – Seboomook and Princeton, the latter being near the U.S. – Canada border in Washington County. Surprisingly, the POW camp at Houlton was constructed within feet of the Canadian border.

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The barracks at the Seboomook camp was said to have housed most of the 250 prisoners, all from Rommel’s Africa Korps. A guard tower is situated on the left.    2002.49.0005

The Seboomook operation would eventually house 250 prisoners, although the camp was built to house 300. GNP constructed the camp to U.S. Army specifications at the Seboomook Farm, and only a short distance from the Seboomook House. The large horse barn, part of the farm, was enlarged and converted into living quarters for the prisoners, with toilet and laundry facilities in the basement. The potato house, near the barn, was converted into a mess hall, with the kitchen in the lower level and the dining area upstairs. The carriage house was made into a recreation room, and the blacksmith shop was converted into an infirmary on the first floor and quarters for medical personnel on the second floor. Other buildings were constructed to house military personnel and guards. Officers were housed in the farmhouse building outside the compound. It is reported that some soldiers and their wives rented rooms during the summer months at the Seboomook House.

 

Summer 2019 …… a glance back

THANK YOU to all MHS members and donors for making this a remarkable year! You made “Treasure in Our Own Backyard” a great success!

Every year, we work hard to create a fresh, fun, and informative exchange about the stories of the Moosehead Lake region and our people, past and present. This year was super busy and a high success, both in the number of programs we offered and for the number of visitors who saw them. This year the docents’ theme was “Treasure in Our Own Back Yard.” All our tours and programs endeavored to show that.

Toward that end, a first in our region’s history — and to rave reviews — The Moosehead Outdoor Heritage Museum was unveiled in June. Very sincere thanks go to the wonderful financial support from Bob Hirshberg, Telford Allen III, Jock Moore and Cathy Sweetser, and Charlie and Barbara Adams, without whom this year-long project in the making could not have been created.  It is a testament to the commitment to our culture and heritage, and speaks volumes about the good all of our members.  Special thanks, too, to all of our volunteers and to members and trustees who helped bring programs alive, including Bob Cowan, Eric Ward, Bruce Marsh, and Rocky Rockwell.

In addition to the professionally guided tours at the Eveleth-Crafts-Sheridan Historical House, the Moosehead Lumbermen’s and Outdoor Heritage museums, we offered 14 programs, seven of them off grounds, within our greater community. We partnered with many local organizations, including the Natural Resource Education Center, Shaw Public Library, the Moosehead Marine Museum, The Depot, Dean Hospital & Nursing Home, and Forest Heritage Days.

In keeping with our mission, we also partnered with the Penobscot Nation, the Abbe Museum, Maine Archives & Museums, Maine Woods Forever, the University of Maine, and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife. Also for the first time, the historical society hosted a professional workshop as part of the annual Thoreau-Wabanaki Festival, which found wide appeal and great interest for next year.

Here are a few photographs in a glance back over the summer.

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Retired Forester Rocky Rockwell tells a logging story during Forest Heritage Days at the Moosehead Lumbermen’s Museum.

 

 

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Colleen Moureux of Chewonki’s Traveling Natural History Program educates children and adults during the Live Owls! afternoon at The Center for Moosehead History.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Called “truly treasures in our backyard,” women from the Knights of Columbus group tour said they were fascinated by all of the exhibits. Here, MHS President Bob Cowan tells the story behind brick tea used in lumber camps.

 

 

 

 

 

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James E. Francis, Penobscot Nation Tribal Historian, presents “Penobscot Sense of Place” in the professional workshop offered during the Thoreau Wabanaki Festival in July.

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Trustee Eric Ward demonstrates moose calling during the popular All About Moose program, with moose expert Lee Kantar of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife.

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During the Games of Logging competition, a logger shaves the tension off a spring pole, Forest Heritage Days.

 

 

Masterman Farm’s Elisabeth Damon Odiorne

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Elizabeth Damon Odiorne    2017.72.0005

Some years ago we were given a trove of personal letters, correspondence, and photographs between Elisabeth Odiorne and her husband and various other family members. In them is a wonderful, important link to our past. She was a fine writer, providing first-account description about her days, months, and years as a member of the Masterman family living on Moosehead Lake. In the coming newsletters to our members, we will be publishing a series about her and what captured her imagination about life here on the lake.

We thank Christopher Livesay for submitting these to the Moosehead Historical Society’s archives. They will be forever saved for public enjoyment and research. Thank you also to Keith Smith, who donated a diary of Mrs. Odiorne’s he found at the West Paris dump and thought enough to send it to the Moosehead Historical Society for safekeeping. These provide many items of historic, cultural interest pertaining to Moosehead Lake and the Mastermans.   — SA

 

Elisabeth Damon Odiorne was born in 1902, the daughter of Cornelius John “CJ” Damon (1858-1941) and Mary Ann Masterman (1869-1947). She was the grand-daughter of Edward Goff Masterman of Masterman Farm in Sandbar Tract, on the shore of Moosehead Lake located between Greenville and Rockwood. She was courted by and eventually married Joseph Odiorne (1904-1983). Elisabeth died in 1988.

Her story begins with her family. Anyone driving to Rockwood from Greenville will see the Masterman Farm sign on Rt. 15. Edward Masterman, George Masterman, John Masterman, and CJ Damon were well known hunters, trappers, guides, and farmers.

Her grandfather, Edward Goff Masterman, was born in Sangerville in 1842; her grandmother, Betsey Ella Cousens, was born in Dexter, 1851. They had four children. One — Elisabeth’s mother, Mary Ann — was born in Kingsbury. The other three were all born at Sandbar Tract.

From an early age, Elisabeth and Joe began a correspondence that would span a lifetime. They started out as pals during their teens, which soon turned into a true courtship, with many letters exchanged over many years before they were united into marriage. By today’s standards their romance might be considered quaint. Their letters are full of the pronouncement of budding love, though guided by the social keeping of the turn of the last century. He was much more demonstrative in his letters, while she in the early years demurred, in apparent no rush to union. There were certain accommodations that had to be met before marriage was even considered, a societal construct understood and accepted by both of them.

After graduating high school, Elisabeth (fondly referred to as “dear Bette” by Joseph), became a teacher. Joe wasn’t sure what he wanted to do at first and was completely smitten with Bette. Letters were traded back and forth as he attended first Bowdoin College, then Harvard for medical school. In 1925, he writes, “Mother asked me when we planned to be married. Of course I said ‘Not until I am through at Harvard’ but I made a mental reservation to the effect that it was not from choice and that I’d ask you to marry me tomorrow if it were possible or perhaps, better, practical.”

In another letter, he writes, “I’ve known you nearly 6 years and loved you more than 5! … and before long you will have worn the ring a year. I shall never forget the excitement of buying it and keeping it a secret,” and later that summer, “I am hoping that you will be as happy as possible at Kineo.”

The letters also spark with youthful fun and full awareness of the social mores of the time. That fall, freshly back at college, Joe quotes to Bette from the French novelist Honoré de Balzac’s Physiology of Marriage, “Between two beings susceptible of love, the duration of passion is in proportion to the original resistance of the woman or to the obstacles which the accidents of social life put in the way of your happiness,” to which Joe comments, “Those should be encouraging, especially the last, when you think that by 1928 we will have experienced 8 years of obstacles.”

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Elizabeth Damon is flanked by her brother (left) and an unknown man, posed after a hunt, circa 1915.    2008.90.0001