World War I’s Cecil Cole

Post #94 American Legion named for him
The first soldier to enlist from Greenville, last to return

Cecil Ray Cole, son of Charles D. and Dorothy (Bowker) Cole, was the first soldier to enlist in World War I from Greenville, and the last to return. The American Legion Post #94 on Pritham Avenue in Greenville was named in his honor.

2011_81_0006 Cole, Cecil RJPEG

Cecil R. Cole 2011.81.0006

He enlisted in the Navy on April 7, 1917, soon after war was declared by the United States. Because of his eyesight he was at first rejected for duty, but he re-enlisted on June 7 in the Rhode Island Coast Artillery. On the call for volunteers for engineers, at his own request he was transferred to the 101st Co. E U.S. Engineers on August 1, whereby he entered training at the Wentworth Institute in Boston. In late September he sailed to France, where he received intensive troop training. He was killed in action in his first battle, at Chateau Thierry, July 19, 1918.

He was buried at Lucy-le-Bocage Aisne, France and, according to a news article, his body was returned to Greenville two years later. Townspeople turned out in appreciation of his sacrifice in a memorial service held at the Union Church, with an address given by the Rev. Harry C. Vrooman and special readings by Mrs. Fred D. Bigney and Mrs. Squires.

Cecil Cole was born in Webster Plantation (near Springfield, Maine) on May 28, 1896. The family moved to Kingman and by 1911 had moved to Greenville, where they remained. He was educated in public schools in Kingman and Greenville.


A Poem From France

One day I got to feeling queer
And took a funny notion.
I got the idea in my head
That I wanted to cross the ocean.
That funny idea worked on my brain
And things got all twisted,
And never was I satisfied
Until I had enlisted.
And then one day the order came
That we would have to start,
For in the mighty struggle
Uncle Sam had taken part.
So we crossed the mighty Atlantic
Where the Kaiser’s U-Boats roam,
And we landed here in Sunny France
Five thousand miles from home.
They call it Sunny France at home,
But that is the wrong name,
For to tell the truth,
It hasn’t shone ten minutes since we came.
But some day we are going back
To give you all three cheers;
To brighten up your faces
And drive away your tears.
And when we see the sundowns
In good old USA,
We will put up with most anything
And be satisfied to stay.
And when they mention France to us
We’ll simply let them pass,
And if they do not like it,
They better not give us any sass.

This poem was included in a letter written to
his brother the day before Cecil died.


Atlas Plywood: The Greenville Connection

Marsh family, Moosehead mill managers straddle two worlds (Part II)

By Bruce Marsh

Lumbering in all its manifestations was deeply ingrained in all aspects of the Marsh Family existence. Although in the summers Grandfather Marsh (William D. Marsh, 1888-1949) was a highly successful fly fishing guide, leading canoe trips sometimes upwards of 200 miles, in the winter he had his own logging operation, cutting hardwood logs for plywood at Rainbow Lake, Prong Pond Mountain, and several other locations. He employed as many as 30 men and was unusually keen on judging the best timber, laying out roads, and doing most of the cooking. He taught all his sons (Dad, and Carl, Norm, Cobe, Clair, and Lee Roberts) how to scale logs for board feet and also how to carefully and quickly analyze the quality or grade of a log.

After meeting with all the Greenville people, Dad was taken through the mill, which was now up and running at near maximum capacity. They ended up at the log-receiving end of the mill out in the log yard, where there was a man they wanted him to meet. From a distance Dad observed the log-grader and scaler who surprisingly more often than not after looking a log over simply just wrote down the grade and board footage without even using the scale stick or rule, giving a receipt to the logger. Dad’s Dad could do this with accuracy, but he had never known of another man to be able to do this. When he asked about this man’s accuracy, Doug Cowie said: “He’s perfect. Spot on. Let me introduce you to him.”

This was Gordon “Earl” Steinhoff, a man who would forever change Dad’s life, becoming his fast friend, his father-in-law, and our grandfather (1899-1983). The Steinhoffs were also loyalists, having come here from Germany to pair up with General Burgoyne’s Hessian mercenaries fiercely fighting against, oddly enough, the Marsh Family at Saratoga in the autumn of 1777. After the war they set up shop near Niagara-on-the-Lake, later slowly making their way westward to southwestern Ontario.

Earl was one of six boys and a couple of girls, immigrating to Northern Michigan with his mother Catherine (Robbins) Steinhoff (1855-1920) and two older brothers when he was about five. The Steinhoffs were all highly talented, playing most any musical instrument, making violins, rebuilding complex engines, inventing all sorts of devices, and were generally pious, sober, and much revered. Earl was no exception. He had worked at various millwright jobs, built a beautiful cabin cruiser in his backyard in 1936, and had worked extensively in logging camps as a timber grader, scaler, and bookkeeper. By this time, now 41, he was bored with the whole lot of grading timber, and his real interests were in the genetics of breeding and raising mink. It was all the mill supervisors could do to keep him interested, as he was apt to go off for trapping season, and in mid-winter leave for the outer islands on Lake Superior to catch lake trout. The scene and conditions were ripe for Dad to take over Earl’s job handling log procurement for the Atlas Plywood.

Earl took a real liking to Dad. He had sons Dad’s age, and he immediately took him home to dinner where he met Earl and Roberta’s daughter Audrey, who within a year he married. Audrey was determined not to marry but to gather funds enough to go to nursing school, but Dad’s Maine persona won her over. She was very much in the fashion of Dad’s sisters, fun loving, athletic, and intellectual. Although as the relationship became serious, Grandmother Marsh cautioned him to, “Be careful, before making a decision, come back to Greenville and breathe some fresh Maine air.” But the die was cast; Dad would spend the rest of his life in the Northern Michigan woods with summer trips back to Greenville. A new corridor of shuttle diplomacy opened to and from Greenville, where Dad’s parents and sisters, Etta and Virginia, came off and on to Munising and Mother’s brother Bill Steinhoff went to Maine to experience the Allagash Country with Grandfather Marsh.

The fit between our New England father and his new family in Michigan was tailor made. Mother’s family was large, loaded with aunts, uncles, and cousins, with a family life that revolved around woods and waters for both livelihood and recreation; in fact, there was really no boundary between the two. Both sides of Ma’s family came from Canada around 1900 following the booming lumber economy of the Upper Great Lakes — a response to the ravenous housing market in cities of the lower Great Lakes — and they were all well versed in the lumber business in some fashion.

Not long after joining the Atlas Plywood, Dad took over Gramp’s job as log scaler when Gramp moved on to mink, and in this role Dad distinguished himself, not only in buying and evaluating timber but in managing rough and tumble men, the lumberjacks, truck drivers, sawyers and all the others who kept the log and lumber system running. His keen skills were no secret among the other mills in town, and in 1956, when the Atlas Plywood closed down, Dad went to work in the forestry division of the Kimberley Clark Paper Company, the principal employer in the county. This job brought him even deeper into woods operations where he honed his skills and expanded his range of operation over several counties, always with a transcendental curiosity about the lands he covered.

He loved the woods with an affection deeper than can be described. At its root was an eternal fascination with forested landscapes. No matter what their character, he found them endlessly interesting, even the mosquito-infested swamps, and this fascination included the people who lived and worked in the woods as well, where they came from, how they lived, and how they thought about things. In the 60 years he devoted to the Northern Michigan woods, he never forgot a single place, section corner, person, logging operation, or related event.

A particular day spent cruising timber in, say, mid-January 1968, he might recall 20 years later with uncanny clarity and detail translating into a candid, modest story stretching on to an hour or more. The central section of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, an area of some 5,000 square miles, became his backyard, and he knew it so well that he moved through its most remote parts with an intuitive sense of direction and distance equal to any of the great explorers.

After World War II, the global market for plywood became highly competitive with foreign producers coming into the picture. By the mid-1950s Atlas had 33 plants, but their leadership had become troubled and to enhance revenues a number of plants, including the one in Munising, were liquidated by selling off equipment to other companies as far off as Texas. By this time most of the original Greenville people had retreated back to Maine except for Fred and Elaine Boucher who Dad continued to visit, sharing news on Maine and mutual friends. Dad’s strong Maine accent always stood out to others as my friends sometimes said, “Your Dad talks funny.” And it was then that I realized I had become bilingual, often translating a word or two of Dad’s to the local Lake Superior dialect, which all added to his universally recognized Maine charm.

Our connection to Greenville now took on a new dimension in the form of periodic summer vacation trips to Grandmother’s farm now under the guidance of Uncle Lee Roberts, which became a high point in our lives, traversing Route 17 across Canada and staying at all sorts of quaint cabins along the way, eagerly spending our allowances on odd items in odd gift shops and all the time trying to save some for the Indian Store. Riding horses, milking cows, delivering milk around Greenville, fly fishing, listening to stories, and bathing in swarms of Maine relatives made Greenville forever special to us.

In the end, it turns out that Greenville and Munising have much more in common than simply similar timber. Each is a small town at almost the exact same latitude near the Canadian border, on large bodies of water, with readily accessible beautiful bays and islands, and a rich heritage. The biggest differences are the lack of real mountains in Michigan, the huge integrated network of rivers and lakes in Maine, and the general relative preponderance of high, swamp-free land in Maine. On the other hand, Lake Superior being 650 by 150 miles in size and almost 2,000 feet deep in places is a body of water to be reckoned with. No sane person ever used a canoe on Lake Superior where, with miles of large picturesque sandstone cliffs, there is no place to hide and waves can get to 15 feet, occasionally breaking in half 750 foot ore carriers. Above all, each terrain furnished our Maine and Michigan families with an incredibly rich playground to explore, fish, hunt, log, and learn the ways of bygone days.

These similarities are also seen in many others regardless of their original heritage. In a recent conversation with Becky and John Dobbin, I asked how they ended up coming from Florida and establishing a summer home at Harfords Point. It seems they looked all over and narrowed it down to two beautiful places. The other place, they said, is also picturesque and charming, but was a place I would never have heard of. “Try me,” I responded, and John said, “Munising, Michigan.”

Dr. Bruce Marsh is Professor Emeritus in the
Department of Earth & Planetary Science at
John Hopkins University


The Telos Cut and Lock Dam

ChamberlainAreaMap copy

Map of Chamberlain Lake area. Telos is at bottom right.

In the Oct. issue of Insight, we featured the Eagle Lake Tramway, a great feat of northern entrepreneurial engineering that connected two great river systems, the St. John and the Penobscot, to move logs from the deep interior of Maine to market via river systems. Today, the tramway remnants are a curiosity to wayside travelers.

Member Paul Johnson wrote in to clarify a mention of what is popularly known as The Telos Cut. In the tramway story, it was noted that “as early as 1840 a lock dam had been built at the Telos Cut in the St. John and a canal dug from there to Webster Lake, which emptied into the East Branch of the Penobscot.”

Johnson writes that, in 1841, a dam was constructed on the natural outlet of Chamberlain Lake through which water flowed down to Big Eagle Lake, from there to Churchill Lake, and then on down the Allagash River to the St. John River.

Chamberlain Dam, as it was called, diverted the upper reaches of the Allagash River drainage into the East Branch of the Penobscot River drainage through a ravine at the east end of Telos Lake, which became the new outlet of Chamberlain Lake.


Telos Cut copy

An early aerial view shows the Telos Dam and Cutoff between Webster and Telos Lakes.

At the same time, another dam, Telos Dam, was constructed just a short distance from the east end of Telos Lake, at the head of the ravine that led down into Webster Lake. A canal, known as the Telos Cut, was dug upstream from the Telos Dam to increase the amount of water that could flow through the dam to facilitate the passage of long logs down the Penobscot on their way to Bangor. Writer Lew Dietz in The Allagash provides a detailed account of how the Telos Cut came to be and the “war” that ensued over its use.

In 1847, a third dam was constructed on the original outlet of Chamberlain Lake, about a quarter of a mile downstream from Chamberlain Dam. That year, yet another dam constructed on the outlet of Churchill Lake backed water up into the area behind the new dam below Chamberlain. Logs harvested from the area around Big Eagle and Churchill lakes were towed to the area behind the new dam, which acted like a lock when its gates were closed. The rise of water behind this Lock Dam allowed the logs to be floated into Chamberlain Lake, and from there down to Bangor.

This Lock Dam operated for a number of years before it ceased functioning. In 1857, writer Henry David Thoreau reported a dam below Chamberlain Dam, but in 1881, Lucius L. Hubbard observed “The second or lower dam is now in ruins”. Today, what was once called Chamberlain Dam is now referred to as Lock Dam, though, in reality, it is not the real one. The vestiges of the real Lock Dam are still evident between Chamberlain and Big Eagle lakes.


The “Hermit of Moose Island” honored with grave marker

CusackGraveStonePhilMatthews10.30.18 copyPhil Matthews stands next to John Cusack’s new gravestone. Cusack, the popular “Hermit of Moose Island” featured in the October 2018 issue of Insight, is finally honored with a marker at Greenville Cemetery, Lot 159. Matthews approached the museum director last fall with an offer to match any donations raised to honor Mr. Cusack, who died December 5, 1904, when he punched through the ice in his snowshoes while crossing the narrows from Harfords Point. He could not release the bindings and died standing up in the shallow freezing water. He was found the next day, his dog pacing next to him. Thank you to MHS members Charlie and Barbara Adams and to Peter and Guy Thorpe for generous donations toward the stone.

Moosehead summer resident Joseph Kovacs honors Historical Museums with philanthropic gift

Renowned violinist and concertmaster Joseph Kovacs died April 27, 2017. He was a summer resident of Beaver Cove for almost 50 years, where he and his wife, Dorothy, lived simply until her death in 2007. After he died, we received a surprise call from his attorney in New Jersey, saying that Mr. Kovacs’s love of our community was translated into philanthropic gifts, with four local non-profit organizations to benefit generously from his estate. The Moosehead Historical Society & Museums was one of them. Past Director Everett Parker remembers Mr. Kovacs coming into the Carriage House to chat quite often and, at one time, said he wanted to support the work we do within our community and that he planned to remember us. He did!

Joseph Kovacs

This made me think of philanthropy in general, and the great good it can do, especially in a small, isolated place. It also made me think of this generous man, whom I never met.

Who was he? What was he thinking? Then last summer I had the pleasure of spending some time with his close friend, Rogers Woolston, who said that Joseph was passionate about our community and about Moosehead Lake. Mr. Kovacs’s story is as remarkable as his philanthropy.

He himself was born in a small town May 20, 1924, near Budapest, Hungary to Joseph and Katalin Hair Kovacs. He began playing the violin as a young boy under his father’s tutelage and later won a scholarship to the Franz Liszt Royal Hungarian Academy of Music, where his teachers included internationally known composer, linguist, and philosopher Zoltán Kodály and composer Béla Bartók , considered one of the most important composers of the 20th century. There, Mr. Kovacs earned the prestigious Hubay prize. At 18, he was offered a job as a concertmaster in Germany, where he fled on foot to avoid being shipped off to Russia to fight. He crossed through Austria and Czechoslovakia into Germany and stayed near the Denmark border, where he played violin under famous conductors. He remembered the strife of war and of having to line his worn-out shoes with cardboard to prolong their usefulness.

In 1948, he was invited to move to New Jersey by relatives. His life as a musician and humanitarian blossomed. He became concertmaster of the original Princeton Symphony Orchestra in the 1950s and eventually taught violin and earned a degree in conducting at Westminster Choir College. He founded the Collegium Musicum of Princeton in 1972, a small chamber group that gave concerts for more than 25 years in Princeton churches. He offered serious classical music, like Bach, Beethoven and Schoenberg, as well as lighter pieces to charm and touch the spirit of his listeners. Mr. Woolston remembers how his friend eventually acquired a very rare violin that he cherished. Mr. Kovacs never let the violin out of his sight, carrying it with him wherever he went.

He retired as professor emeritus from the Mason Gross School the Arts at Rutgers University. In 1960, he met flutist Dorothy Stritsky. They married in 1961 and spent summers thereafter on Moosehead Lake until she passed. They had no children but left behind many devoted students. True to his word, Mr. Kovacs did remember the Moosehead Lake region’s organizations that were important to him.

This gifted man’s gift to a community he so cherished makes me think of philanthropy, and what exactly that means. The dictionary defines philanthropy as an active effort to promote humanitarian purposes; the desire to promote the welfare of others, expressed especially by the generous donation of money to socially useful purposes. The word comes from Greek, meaning “loving people” in the sense of caring, nourishing, developing and enhancing what it is to be human. In other words, supporting those human things that make a community a community.

The Love Story of A.P. Faye and the Indian Store

Tourists adored Greenville’s Shaw Block Shop

He adored his wife, family & business

Albert P. Faye had a knack for knowing what made life tick, for him and for his store. Records indicate he was born in Van Buren, Maine, in 1902, but arrived in Greenville in 1922 from California.


Mr. & Mrs. Faye in the early years when they sold baskets out of a section of the Shaw Block. 2018.40.0007

As a young man he worked in the woods, then as a clerk at the popular Sander’s General Store, which is just across the street from The Shaw Block – then, as now — the architectural center of the downtown. In the 1930s, A.P. Faye rented a room there in which to sell his wife Molly Tomer’s Indian baskets. By 1946, the dapper young man on the move owned the Block.

Nothing seemed to faze A.P. Faye. If he had a mind to do a thing, he did it, apparently with great joy and flair. When he clerked at Sander’s Store, which catered to hundreds of sportsmen, he saw that customers also liked buying souvenirs and handcrafted items, so he and Molly opened an Indian craft store in their home on Main St. and erected a totem pole in the front yard.

A.P. Faye, who dressed in a shirt and tie, became known as “The Basketman” and began selling the intricate handcraft out of his car. Eventually, he traveled throughout New England, then throughout the U.S., often on Indian reservations, to buy handcrafted items directly from Natives that he thought would sell in Greenville. He was right. After purchasing the Shaw Block, he lined it from


Husband and wife Albert Faye and Molly Tomer relax at camp.  2018.40.0001

floor to ceiling with thousands of novelty items that tourists, especially those driving by motorcar in the 1930s through 1950s, found fun to take home. The Indian Store expanded to include the Dairy Chief and a rock collection. The birch bark canoe, built in the traditional way by Old Town Indians, bound by spruce and fir pitch, hung in the center of a room and became a major attraction, as did his tall straw men and wooden Indian carving near the entrance.


Two women pose for the camera in front of The Indian Store, circa 1950s.  2018.40.0003

The walls and floors were a kaleidoscope of colorful knickknacks, from authentic Skookum dolls to knives, tiny plastic horses and drums to grandma teacups and leather belts. If an item sold, it was immediately replaced with another. Generations of tourists flocked there. It was a must stop for anyone traveling the Moosehead region. Mr. Faye died in 1972. The store, run by his second wife, Ida, closed its doors in 1997.


Albert Faye and Molly Tomer front the thousands of items sold in their gift shop.  2018.40.0006

A.P. Faye was not only successful in business but also in his family life. He adored his wife Molly, an Abenaki, whose father was a guide in Rockwood. Together they traveled for the store. Together they worked the store. He loved children and, while they could not have any of their own, they lovingly adopted Native children from Indian Island in Old Town and made an adventurous home for them. When he traveled, his family went with him.

Recently, two of his adopted daughters, Sally Tomer Boryszweski and Patricia Sapiel Lizotte, were reunited here at the Carriage House. Boxes of their family pictures were left abandoned in a house in Monson that was to be torn down in the Main St. re-make by the Libra Foundation.


The Fayes in California.  They traveled throughout the U.S., buying items, ofter on Indian reservations, to sell at the Greenville Store.  2018.40.0002

Last summer we acquired the old boxes filled with family pictures and gave them back. Both of his adopted daughters say he was a great Dad who taught them well.

When The Indian Store closed, his niece Cathy Craft remembered him much the same way. She said that Faye had an abiding love of children and some of her fondest memories was of visiting him.

“My most vivid memory was of going to camp in Rockwood and he used to push my cousins and me on a huge swing tree. He always had a jar of white and pink mints, and a ton of old cars. When he got tired, he’s send us out to pick berries,” said Craft.

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The Indian Store, in the Shaw Block, owned by A.P. Faye, was downtown Greenville’s famous tourist stop “back in the days.”  2015.0066

Tribute to Rockwood’s Joe Munster

Joe Munster died suddenly on December 5, at 51 years of age. We lost one of the Moosehead region’s best people. He was from the Munster family in Rockwood. He lived for hunting, fishing, and trapping, was a Maine guide, and a great teacher of hunter safety to young kids coming up. He lived large, was larger than life, and could fill a room just by his sheer personality. He could rub some adults the wrong way because he was outspoken and told it just like he saw it. No kid was beyond his reach. He inspired them with his knowledge and pride about their homeland and his wicked sense of humor that gave even the shyest kid something to laugh over and latch onto. He calling card was “Half Man; Half Amazing!” Or, as I like to remember him: Half Cat and All Wild. We knew each other and could talk over just about anything. He was hilarious. He was a terrible tease and he knew some outrageous stories. jmunster2The mold broke when he was made. He was a force to be reckoned with, and ran with a big heart. He will surely be missed here. He always made sure I left his company with a smile on my face and a light step in my feet.

In tribute to Joe, a hunting story he might’ve liked goes like this. This one hunter up in the north country came across a button buck and took a shot. It ended up not to be a kill shot and wounded it in the shoulder. He followed the blood trail until the trail ran out, then lost the track. The hunter and his friends never found the deer. About a week later, another hunter was out. It was the last day of the season. It was nearing dark. The hunter was walking some bush, looked up, and happened to see some movement out through a clearing at a nearby lake. It was a deer, doing an odd thing. The deer was lying butt end in the shallows of the lake just beyond the trees, its hind legs were sunk in, head crouched low, peering outward from the water, searching toward the trees. The hunter raised his gun and shot the deer dead. Turns out, the shot scared off a pack of coyotes that had been chasing the deer. His shot put an end to that hunt. The man hunter went to the deer and saw that it was the one that had been wounded the week before by the first hunter. The wound had turned gangrene, weakening the young buck, making him a prime target for the coyote kill. The man hunter cut the shoulder off the button buck, and brought the rest of the meat home.

~ Suzanne M. AuClair, MHS executive director