The historical society is pleased to announce the hire of Suzanne AuClair as its new executive director. AuClair brings extensive experience to the position in producing, writing, editing, and operations. The Rockwood resident has written about the Moosehead Lake region over the past 22 years, with a specific interest in writing for historical context. She has received numerous awards from the Maine Press Assn. and the New England Outdoor Writers Assn. for her news analyses and feature stories. Her chronicling of the life and times of the Moosehead Lake region has been featured in state and national journals. She is a long-time columnist with the Northwoods Sporting Journal, Maine’s premiere sportsmen’s magazine.
“There’s an unending amount to learn and write about. I’ve always considered it a real privilege to tell the stories about the people, events, and times of our region. My hope is to be able to continually capture the essence and spirit of a given time; here, through our historical exhibits and programs. I’m really thrilled to be part of such a great organization,” said AuClair, who has contributed to many area organizations and served on a number of boards, including the International Seaplane Fly-In and the Natural Resource Education Center.
An avid outdoorswoman, she is passionate about her Maine heritage and about collecting regional historical and cultural stories. She holds a B.A. in English from the University of Maine, with graduate courses in literature from the University of New Hampshire and Harvard University. Prior to moving back to Maine in the mid-1990s, she was Director of Operations for Chamber Theatre Productions, Inc., Boston, Ma., which produces national tours of classic literature and the Elliot Norton Awards, Boston’s version of the Tony’s. At Moosehead, she was a long-time writer and community liaison for the former regional newspaper, Moosehead Messenger. Most recently, she initiated and produced the State of Maine’s first fisheries management reference anthology, “The Origin, Formation & History of Maine’s Inland Fisheries Division.”
About the new appointment, AuClair said, “For me, every day is a gift and an adventure, so that’s how I see this position. As your new director, my top goal is to be an excellent steward of Moosehead’s history. I also hope to bring a lot of energy and fun to many future projects, and to expand on the ties made within our community and the fine archival system built during Candy’s and Everett’s tenure.”
The Moosehead Historical Society began with a few dedicated residents in 1962. Today, it is described as one of the finest small town museums in New England by William Cook, past president of Maine Archives and Museums.
Anyone who has lived in the Moosehead region for any length of time likely has heard of Henrietta Bigney. She was a very well known nurse who worked with Dr. Fred Pritham, but she was also an active participant in the local scene. In her youth, she was known as a good athlete, and was Maine’s canoeing champion.
Henrietta died on February 11, 1987. Molly Benjamin wrote a tribute, which was published in the Bangor Daily News on February 24, 1987. Here is a transcription of that article:
“A former woman’s canoeing champion of the great state of Maine died last week. Named Henrietta at birth, she was always called “Thomie,” a name that sprang from her position as the family tomboy. This nickname occurred in a family where “Charles” was always called Charles, and the women had names like Mabel, Marion and Alice. No contractions there.
Being the only one with a nickname, she was also the only spinster. The two events are possibly unrelated. Thomie was my great-aunt and I loved her very much.
She became Maine’s woman canoeing champion because a race had been scheduled, and some stolid Yankee realized all the entrants were “from away.” In all likelihood, the other entrants were probably all rich as well, but this is but an inferred truth. So my aunt was asked to compete “in order to make a race of it,” as she told the story. She did, and, of course, she won. My aunt was capable of awesome determination.
In high school, she was named to the all-state girls’ basketball team. Basketball in Maine is probably like football in Texas. It is something everyone does. The high school state championship tourney, held yearly in Bangor, holds more importance to Mainers than anything that ever appears on Page One.
Back when Provincetown was a big basketball town, they tell me someone literally had to check to see that enough people would be left in town to operate the fire, postal and police departments. Basketball is like that in Maine, and my aunt was good. Tall and rugged and quick, I bet she was.
Few Maine basketball players ever become stars, a f
act that holds a certain curiosity in a state where everyone plays. Perhaps understanding is found embodied in my aunt, who believed you do your best, you do a very good job at everything you do, but you never, ever expect or take applause for doing what is merely the right thing in the first place.
Fresh out of high school, my aunt taught school l for a time, crossing a frozen lake in the winter mornings by means of a moose sled. She quickly tired of that profession, it seems, and moved on to take her nurse’s training. For some reason, the nurses in my family — and they are legion — never went to university or got their schooling or any of those verbs usually employed around the attainment of higher education. Our nurses always took their training.
For quite a long time, Thomie and a pint-sized doctor, who also played horn in the high school band, were the sole medical outfit for Maine’s big woods. She would usually spare me the blood-and-guts details of those days, but just listening to the transportation they used to get where they had to go was spellbinding.
Great Northern Paper Company would lend them teams and a buckboard, the B&M would stop trains for them, and there were dogsleds here and there. They most certainly walked and snow shoed, and there are stories of hiking miles up the railroad tracks with two hard biscuits in a pocket for energy.
She went on to run hospitals, for that was one of the few professions open to women in the early part of this century, a century that opened without telephones, televisions and motors.
My favorite medical story was about delivering a particular baby back in the woods. Getting there required one of those take-the-train-to-the-buckboard-and-then-snowshoe affairs. The expectant mother’s mother was the region’s midwife, and not at all pleased that my aunt had been called in by her daughter.
Ordered out of the room, the elderly mother sat herself in a rocker on the line at the bedroom doorway and laid a shotgun on her lap. Just how the shotgun could have aided in the birthing was never made clear, but she held it at the ready.
The baby came out all right, and the elderly mother wanted to plunge the child into a pot of cold and then warm water. My aunt was horrified and snatched the child away, as she said, and I bet she did just that. She later admitted the system was a workable one and every bit as effective as patting the kid on the butt to get it to breathing, but at the time, my aunt did not know this.
Aunt Thomie went deer hunting but she never especially loved partridge shooting. There were pictures of her wearing what must have been a fashionable hat at the time, holding up a nice brace of birds. She would fish, but not well. She was not patient with fishing.
Later in life she took up cards, and was incredibly good. She was one of those people who could remember an entire bridge hand, how all the cards were played, and what was still out. They don’t make memories like that anymore.
Hundreds of times, Aunt Thomie and I watched the Red Sox on a television so snowy we often could not make out the ball until a fielder came up with the throw.
We sat together in our camp in the big woods to see Nixon talk on the telephone with the astronauts on the moon. I will never forget that, for the camp had only recently been wired for electricity, and here we were, watching guys walk on the moon.
The former Maine women’s canoeing champion died last week. I will miss her very much.”
Finally, but certainly not least in measure or stature, we come to Mr. Charles D. Shaw who was born in Greenville, in April 1852, the son of early settlers Milton Gilman Shaw and Eunice Hinkley Shaw.
Early in his life he became active in the lumber business with his father and brothers, his energy and enterprise having contributed largely to the success of M. G. Shaw and Sons, the company of which he was a member. Not to be constrained by a single business focus, his interests also included banking, real estate, and public utilities.
In 1874, Charles married Clara Norcross and had four children, unfortunately only one, Henry M. Shaw, survived to manhood. Clara passed away in 1925, and Charles married Nettie Barbour in 1926.
He served his town as a member of the Board of Selectmen, and with his brothers, William and Albert, developed electric and telephone service, and the water company. During his business life he was Vice President of the Guilford Trust Company, and a director of the Moosehead Telephone and Telegraph Company. And although it was reported that he had no particular church affiliations, he was a staunch supporter of Greenville’s Union Evangelical Church.
In 1925, Mr. Shaw had a $25,000 building constructed which he presented to the town and which was ultimately dedicated, in grateful appreciation, as the Shaw Public Library. Mr. Shaw’s death came shortly thereafter, in January 1930, but his legacy lives to this day.
These four gentlemen, Mr. Arthur A. Crafts, Mr. Charles A. Dean, Mr. Louis Oakes and Mr. Charles D. Shaw, through their abiding interest in, and concern for, the town of Greenville and the Moosehead Lake region, each made enduring contributions that have served the community for decades and will continue to do so as future todays become tomorrows.
In part three of “Remembering our Early Benefactors”, we’ll briefly examine the enduring contributions of Mr. Louis Oakes whose name is familiar to residents and frequent visitors alike.
Louis Oakes (1871 – 1964) was born in Sangerville – Maine, that is – and moved to Greenville in 1907 where he maintained his residence for the remainder of his days. He attended Foxcroft Academy and the University of Maine where, evidently, he developed a particular interest in surveying and forestry. In 1898 he married Eva Dunham and had one daughter, Edith, who in turn married C. M. Hilton. During his early years, and reflecting his commitment to forestry, he was appointed the first Chief Fire Warden by the Maine Forestry District upon its inception circa 1900.
Of particular significance, Mr. Oakes financed exploration efforts conducted by his brother, the famed Sir Harry Oakes, who ultimately discovered what turned out to be a $250 million gold mine in Ontario. Louis shared in his brother’s wealth, much of which he invested in his local community for the benefit of its residents. Over the years he acquired large timberland holdings and served as director of two paper companies, including Hollingsworth and Whitney where he served as superintendent until his retirement in 1951.
One of his most cherished undertakings was the $500,000 Greenville Consolidate School which he gave to the town in 1935. He further established an $80,000 trust fund with the income to be used for certain school departments and repairs. Mr. Oakes was also intimately connected with the Squaw Mountain ski area, believing in the great recreational possibilities of ski development, especially for young people.
He was named one of the Outstanding Citizens of Piscataquis County in recognition of, among other contributions, his commitment to the community which included terms of service as trustee of the Guilford Trust Company, C. A. Dean Hospital, and the Shaw Public Library. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Law degree from the University of Maine in 1953, and in 1954 an honorary degree from Colby College.
When he passed away in November 1964, his obituary in the Piscataquis Observer read simply, yet eloquently, “Louis Oakes: Builder. If you seek his monuments, look around you.” His beneficiaries included his grandson, the late Louis Hilton – one of Greenville’s most respected philanthropic citizens, and Foxcroft Academy to which he left a bequeath of $450,000.
We turn now to Charles Augustus Dean. Mr. Dean was born in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts on June 15, 1844. When the Civil War broke out, he ran away to join the army, specifically Company H, 8th Vermont Voluntary Infantry. After being mustered out in 1864, he settled upon employment in the fledgling paper manufacturing industry, first in Cincinnati, Ohio, and then Rochester, New York. In 1875 he married Minnie Palmer in Woodstock, Connecticut and moved to Boston where he became manager for Hollingsworth & Whitney.
He advanced to the position of Vice President of the company and served in that capacity from 1882 to 1892 whereupon he became President. Under his direction the company increased its capital by nearly tenfold and its annual production by twenty fold to become the largest manufacturer of Manila paper and paper bags in the United States. In 1911, he retired from the Hollingsworth & Whitney presidency but continued to serve as director of the company.
The Deans spent winters in Captiva, Florida, and in 1903 they bought an eighty foot steam yacht that they christened “Aroostook.” Such was Mr. Dean’s love of salt water fishing. In the summers they retreated to a rustic camp on Moosehead Lake where, it was reported, Mr. Dean went “to get away from everything.” Perhaps not entirely surprising the camp was located at Kokadjo where Hollingsworth & Whitney had its lumbering operation.
During his tenure with Hollingsworth & Whitney, Mr. Dean, and his company, financed the construction of both a YMCA and a hospital. He donated $250,000 to build and endow the hospital and $150,000 to build the YMCA. Interestingly, it has been reported and recorded that these facilities were built for the benefit of his employees although they also greatly benefited the entire town and outlying villages. The hospital, which now bears his name, was formally presented to the town of Greenville on August 1, 1917, and continues to serve the community faithfully to this day. The YMCA which was once located on what we know as the Junction Wharf is but a fading memory and the subject of a collection of black and white photographs in the archives of the Moosehead Historical Society.
Charles A. Dean died on March 30, 1921 while cruising his favorite fishing waters off the coast of Florida aboard the “Aroostook” yet he continues to live in the hearts and minds of those who are familiar with, and appreciate, the rich history of the Moosehead Lake region.
Bob Cowan, President
Board of Trustees
By Bob Cowan / MHS Board President
Last spring during the process of developing displays and exhibits for the 2015 summer guided tour season, your exhibits committee, while discussing our very popular “Be Our Guest” room in the Eveleth-Crafts-Sheridan Historical House, decided to showcase not one individual or family, but four. Each of the four individuals – Arthur A. Crafts, Charles A. Dean, Louis Oakes, and Charles D. Shaw – cast a large shadow upon the area, in a very positive sense, and left a legacy worthy of recalling and appreciating. The following paragraph will briefly examine the life and contributions of the first gentleman, Arthur Crafts. Charles Dean, Louis Oakes and Charles Shaw have generously agreed, in absentia, to wait until the next blog postings. Before continuing however, I should assure you that these memorable and philanthropic gentlemen are being considered not according to the magnitude of their contributions but merely alphabetically. It is certainly not meant as an affront to any one of these gentlemen; it represents nothing more than a convenient approach.
Having set the stage, let us begin with Arthur A. Crafts, prominent businessman, hotelier, legislator and public benefactor. Although his contributions to the community were legion, he perhaps may be best remembered as the donor of the Masonic Temple in Greenville, a landmark which to this day makes its impressive presence known on Pritham Avenue. Presented and dedicated in 1929, contemporary newspapers described the building as being valued at $50,000 – a substantial sum even today. Years before, Mr. Crafts acquired the distinction of becoming the fourth Master Mason in the Columbia Lodge, after the lodge was established in July 1894, but long before the Temple had been constructed and donated.
Mr. Crafts (1867 – 1940) was born in Auburn, Ohio and came to Greenville as a young man although it is not certain precisely why he did so. Not long after establishing himself in the community, he was married to Rebecca Eveleth, daughter of John H. Eveleth, at Mount Kineo on September 19, 1889. They had two children, Oliver Eveleth Crafts who died at an early age, and Julia Ellen who married Rennie Philip Sheridan.
In 1899 Mr. Crafts established a large sporting goods store in Greenville, actually in the Junction, and successfully operated it for 26 years before selling the business. In 1916 he purchased the local sanatorium and converted it into a quality hotel he named The Squaw Mountain Inn. The enterprise was officially managed by his son-in-law Philip Sheridan, although as time passed it is not beyond the realm of possibility that, in reality, his wife and formidable business woman, Julia had a firm hand on business matters. It rapidly became both a prominent local landmark and very popular destination. Additionally, from 1934 until his death he was a director of the C. A. Dean hospital. However, despite his Greenville holdings and businesses, Mr. Crafts’ principal business enterprise was located in Boston, Massachusetts which served as headquarters for Arthur A. Crafts and Company, importers of diamonds, manufacturer of diamond cutting instruments and of cutting diamonds for industrial purposes. It was from this enterprise that Mr. Crafts derived his wealth and afforded him the ability to generously support a substantial array of philanthropic endeavors.
As a state legislator he was author of the act which resulted in construction of the Greenville Road connecting Greenville, Rockwood, and Jackman with greater Maine and Canada. On his passing in 1940, Governor Lewis O. Barrows memorialized Mr. Crafts as follows, “Mr. Crafts’ death is a tremendous loss to the state of Maine and a personal one to me. I am proud to have been included in his legion of friends and admirers. A pioneer in the development of the state of Maine as a recreational center, a keen businessman and an ardent supporter of efforts to develop the state, his loss will be felt greatly.”