John Henry Eveleth: early settler of Greenville

A lot of money was made, and a lot lost — JH Eveleth

 John Henry Eveleth was born in Monson in 1826, died in Greenville in 1899. He seemed to be a man of unbound energy throughout his lifetime. He found mostly successes in many businesses, with the key to his success apparently found in the diversification of that entrepreneurial spirit. At any given time, and often at the same time, he was a store owner, owner and investor in timberlands, a mill owner in a family-run operation, owner and stockholder of steamboats. For decades, he was the Greenville postmaster.

Eveleth began work as a youth in his father’s store in Monson. With his father’s encouragement, as a young man he opened his own store in Greenville, which was successful, but he did not like it. In 1849, he left his father in charge of the store and went to California to try mining. After two years, he returned to Greenville, and here he stayed for good.

In 1874, he bought half an interest in Frenchtown Township, quite possibly the other half was with Milton G. Shaw, another Greenville benefactor. Mr. Eveleth would eventually come to own most of Frenchtown. He purchased many other tracts of land. He saw potential in steamboats and became a stockholder of the Moosehead Lake Navigation Company. He also was the sole owner of three boats. He owned a number of houses.

96.07.09JPEGEveleth copy 2

John Henry Eveleth

Mr. Eveleth invested in many interests, near and far, from the American Waltham Watch Company in Boston to the Penobscot River Dam Improvement Company. He had large shareholding interests in a Monson slate vein and in the Bangor & Aroostook Railroad. He was a stockholder of a West Cove hotel, the Kineo Hotel, and of the Moosehead Inn, here in Greenville Junction. The Moosehead Inn was located across the street from what is now the Eveleth-Crafts-Sheridan Historical House. When his grand-daughter, Julia, acquired it, she eventually bequeathed it to the Town of Greenville, with the intention that it become a public park on the waterfront for all residents to enjoy. The land passed out of the Town of Greenville’s ownership. Today, it comprises the site of Weyerhaeuser offices and of Currier’s Flying Service.

According to an 1898 biography of leading Piscataquis County citizens, John H. Eveleth was Greenville postmaster for 21 years, was a selectman, town clerk, and town treasurer. His first wife and he had two children; she died in 1885. In 1888, he again married, though had no children in that union. He was Republican and on religious subjects his views were liberal.

In his waning years, he willed Frenchtown Township to his grandson, Oliver Crafts. His estate was willed to his daughter, Rebecca Crafts. Farm Island and his ownership of lands in Taunton & Raynham Academy Grant and Squaretown Township went to his grand-daughter, Julia Crafts.

When asked about the plethora of business adventures he, and many other men, tried in the height of the speculative 1800s, as an old man Mr. Eveleth said simply, “A lot of money was made, and a lot lost.”

One such venture centered on Deer Island. First purchased circa 1832 by one of the earliest speculators of the area, General Aaron Capen, the white pine was cut and sold, to great advantage. He also established Capen Hotel and Camps there. But, in a land deal gone bad, he lost over $30,000 buying Sugar Island from a Mr. E. Crehore. Capen decided to sell Deer Island in order to cover his losses.

Mr. Eveleth himself was not immune to losses. He was used to conducting business on a handshake and gentleman’s agreement. But he once lost the princely sum of $10,000 due him by two businessmen who never did pay him.– SA

Climate, Trees & Ecosystems

TreeBuds.jpgLong-term weather patterns, including day and night temperatures, precipitation, air pressures, and wind direction, that effect a change in climate is part of a program called “Climate, Trees & Ecosystems,” that is taking place on Thursday, Aug. 22, at 7 p.m. in The Center for Moosehead History, 6 Lakeview St., downtown Greenville.

The program provides a fascinating account of the physiological responses of northeastern forests to long-term weather patterns and an historical overview of the data that has been collected over decades of field research.

Jay Wason, assistant professor of Forest Ecosystem Physiology at the University of Maine, will present information about climate patterns in relation to forests and ecosystems. Sean Birkel, research assistant professor at the University of Maine and Maine State Climatologist, will provide an overview of Maine’s climate, general impacts, and what may be expected in the future.

Dr. Wason joined the University of Maine School of Forest Resources faculty in 2018. Prior to that, he was a post-doctoral research associate at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. His research centers on the physiological responses of northeastern forests to climate conditions. He is especially interested in spruce-fir forests.

Professor Birkel’s expertise is in climate and ice sheet modeling, with research including Pleistocene glaciation, Maine historical climatology, and today’s changes in the environment.

For more information, please contact the Moosehead Historical Society & Museums, 207-695-2909.  $5 suggested admission.


Maine Soldiers at Gettysburg

2008_39_0001A Civil War Veterans

Hold at Any Hazard is the telling about Maine soldiers in the Battle of Gettysburg by Civil War aficionado Scott Settlemire.  Hold comes to The Center of Moosehead History, 6 Lakeview St., downtown Greenville on Wednesday, Aug. 7, at 7 p.m. 

Mr. Settlemire has studied the Civil War for 40 years, reading primary sources and visiting most of the major battlefields. Many Maine soldiers fought at Gettysburg at critical times and places. On Wednesday, he takes the words of these Maine men from diaries, letters, and unit histories to describe their experiences in what became a major turning point in American military history. Maps and photographs help put the intimate stories of these Maine men into context.

Scott Settlemire is a chemical engineer. He grew up in Maine and began his career at the Rumford paper mill. He is married to Candace Ayer, daughter of Nancy Ayer of Rockwood. The Settlemires currently live in Ohio and often return to Moosehead Lake. 


FRIDAY, JULY 26, 2019

3:30 PM

Center for Moosehead History
6 Lakeview Street, Greenville

The Men Behind Early Timbering, 1836 Moosehead steamboat

Rare facts of early logging speculation and the making of the first steamboat on Moosehead Lake

Wednesday, July 3, at 6 pm
Shaw Public Library

Marilyn Sterling-Gondek

THE JUNCTION — There’s plenty of intrigue, including a mysterious disappearance and suspicion of murder, in the rare details unveiled in “The Men Behind the 1836 Moosehead.”

The little known facts behind the early logging ventures and first steamboat on Moosehead Lake is revealed by first-rate researcher and historian Marilyn Sterling-Gondek at Shaw Public Library, Wednesday, July 3, at 6:00 p.m. $3 suggested donation for the program.

As Gondek tells it, the steamship Moosehead was put into service in 1836 by a group of men that includes Moses Burnham and Samuel Fitzgerald. It was for them that the two ponds near Squaw Mountain (now Big Moose) were named. Burnham and Fitzgerald also founded The Moosehead Lake Steam Navigation Company, an important early business venture for logging on the lake.

Some of the men who pioneered the first efforts at large-scale logging in the Moosehead Lake Region are tied to The Forks, where logs were sluiced from the East Outlet down to the junction of the Dead and Kennebec rivers. Their stories are woven into the history of the great timber speculation of William Bingham’s Kennebec Purchase, the Moosehead Dam Company, and the Kennebec Log Driving Company. Gondek ties the efforts of these early timber speculators together on July 3, with as yet unseen images & maps.

Gondek is an historian from the Old Canada Road Historical Society in Bingham. Her specialty is primary source research. She holds degrees from Bowdoin and Harvard.

McEachern trucks, Atlas Plywood tractor moved Coburn Steamboat building to make American Legion’s permanent home

The Cecil R. Cole Post #94 American Legion on Pritham Avenue is the very same building that used to be the offices of the Coburn Steamboat Company in Greenville Junction. During the early boom years before roads were built, the Coburn offices at the Junction were used to conduct the business of transporting freight and passengers north from Greenville to Rockwood and Mt. Kineo. When the road between Greenville and Rockwood was completed in the mid-1930s, business subsided on the wharf. By 1944, the Coburn building was closed.

2010_34_0004 Am.Legion building being moved

The Coburn Steam Co. office was moved across the ice on Moosehead Lake from Greenville Jct. Wharf to Pritnam Ave.                             2010.34.0004                                    

For the sum of one dollar, historical records indicate that in 1947 the Coburn building was given to the American Legion by Louis Oakes, who rose to become a great benefactor of the Town of Greenville from his early days as a surveyor with the Hollingsworth & Whitney Company. Mr. Oakes had the brick school built and gave it to the Town of Greenville; it opened in 1935 and remains in operation today.

In the winter of 1947, Dominic Murray and Gerald Peachey supervised a crew of six men to maneuver the Coburn building from the Junction onto its lot on West Street, now known as Pritham Ave.

Four trucks owned by C.W. McEachern and a tractor owned by Atlas Plywood were used to move the building across the ice on Moosehead Lake to its permanent home.
2010_34_0006 Am. Legion building on ice

A bulldozer pushes while trucks pull the Coburn building across Moosehead Lake          2010.34.0006

The building, constructed of concrete, measuring 22 feet by 67 feet and weighing 70 tons, was hauled 900 feet up a 30-foot grade by three tractors. The land on West Street was offered by the Rev. Robert Mayhew, long-time pastor of the Union Evangelical Church in Greenville and founder of the Log Chapel in Rockwood. It wasn’t until the mid-1950s that the American Legion building was set on a cellar foundation. Over the years, many renovations to the building were made from the financial contributions of the Legion Auxiliary. The final payment on a mortgage was made August 2, 1960. Today, the Cecil R. Cole Post #94 continues to be an active part of the area’s communities.