The Bethel Journals  Donald G. Bennett, PO Box 763, Bethel, Maine 04217


The Bethel Journals

Bethel Maine History

September 21, 2015








Bethel area history  - an online collection of  publications and photos










Maine Mineral and Gem Museum

How Bethel’s Newest Institution Started











After considering various alternatives Dr. Lawrence Stifler and Mary McFadden made a decision to establish a  Maine Mineral and Gem Museum in Bethel.


Acquiring the 21st Century Kennett Realty building on Main Street was the first step. A year later the 19th Century Odd Fellows Hall became available and was added to the museum plan. The final museum plan was approved in 2012 by the Bethel Planning Board.











Mason Park and Mason Street—Abial Chandler’s Story


For his November 2 1889 Bethel column in the Oxford Democrat Abial Chandler wrote: “The street laid out a few weeks ago (by the town) connecting Chapman and Broad Streets has been named Mason Street.  Many think that it should have been named Chandler Street on account of the untiring efforts of Abial Chandler, Jr., to obtain its location.” 


Summer Boarders

 The Locke Mountain House





Poplar Tavern








1854 TO 1980

 “ The Maine Register for 1854 listed Ithiel Smith’s Tavern as ‘Popple Tree House’. It is noted as Ithiel Smith’s Hotel on the 1858 map.  Charles Bartlett was being taxed for the property as late as 1873. It was Charles Bartlett who changed the name to

“Poplar Hotel”. He operated the hotel for some 26 years prior to moving out of town to Greenwood.”


Poplar Tavern was a convenient lodging place for travelers on horseback and in early autos who were vacationers exploring the White Mountains and western Maine. For more reading..




Poplar Tavern 1895—club house being built.

In 1893 Rumford was installing street wiring and electric generating equipment. In 1897 Norway was holding railroad commission hearings on a proposed 21 mile electric railroad. Bethel residents wanted electric lights for their convenience and to keep up with its neighbors.

Read more..

Ellen Locke kept her boarders busy with mountain climbing trips, picnic excursions and sunset picnics as well as helping boarders with their own ideas for things to do.  One of the summer program’s activities was to climb Barker Mountain.  As we learn later, the climb followed much the same route as was chosen in 1959 to be the area’s first commercial ski slope.


Text Box:

The Eddy a new private middle school opened at Newry  Corner. Matthew Ruby named Gould Head of School. John Carter built a huge new barn at Middle Intervale and David and Ann Carter built a beautiful addition to their cross country ski center at Middle Interval.

For many years Riley Plantation has been dear to my heart, and now that it is rapidly passing out of existence, I feel that some record of it should be made while there are people left who have known about it. My ancestors were pioneers in the Sunday River Valley, where they changed the wooded land into productive farms...,

Sunday River Sketches


Martha Fifield Wilkins


Church meetings at Bethel Hill created added inconvenience and more grumbling by members living north of the river who

petitioned the church body in September 1848 for permission to organize their own church. A church council called to consider the request met in February 1849 and granted approval for a new church.

The little hamlet now known as South Bethel was

begun in 1803 by David Blake, who built mills there. The mills passed from the Blake family to Jonathan Abbot and from him to James Walker.  Walker built the carding and fulling and cloth dressing mills.

John Gould, editor of the Lisbon Enterprise, a weekly newspaper, and author of “The Farmer Takes a Wife,” will speak at the Oxford County Field Day

For Bethel there was never anything quite like it. Not only would Bethel people have a chance to perform in a statewide musical concert- and  with William Rogers Chapman as  the overall director.  Homer Chase of Auburn would be the festival’s general manager. 

The Bethel Chorus of thirty who made the trip to Norway were  ….

Clark S. Edwards - unique place in Bethel history: organized a volunteer Bethel Rifle Company as the Civil War erupted in 1861; was promoted to Colonel—commanded the 5th Maine Volunteer Regiment

committed in the Battle of Gettysburg; promoted to Brevet Brigadier General he was mustered out in 1864; he was appointed by the Governor to the Maine Gettysburg Commission.

From Bethel to a Library of Congress Career

Born on the St. John Hastings farm in North Bethel,  in 1895 he began library service as assistant at the University of Chicago History Group

Library. He held this position for five years before being accepted into the Library of Congress Catalog Division.  Only a few years later, after demonstrating unusual  abilities, he was put in charge of the new Card Division

Three brothers, Benjamin, Jesse and Jonathan became the first three settlers in Sunday River

“The Andover Connection”,  Howard Kaepplein tells the story of their challenges and journey from Methuen, Massachusetts to Fryeburg in the District of Maine and then to Sunday River.





       In 1966, the Bethel Historical Society was established to collect, organize,  interpret and publish all forms of historical material dealing with not only the Town of Bethel but the surrounding region.

      Due to continuing widespread support and interest it has grown to  be one of the most respected institutions devoted to history in Maine.

Garland Chapel

Dedicated to Rev. David Garland—most honored and respected in the rolls of Bethel’s faithful workers

Church in Bethel.  In 1890 the 2d Congregational Church dissolved and its members reunited with the First Church.  Plans for a memorial chapel began summer of 1890.

On October 16, 1887, at age 72, Rev. Garland died in the pulpit of the First Congregational

Mahoosuc Community Band plays at Molly Ockett Day—July 18, 2008

On Top of Old Spec by  Eric Wight


GASPING for breath, the unseasoned climber will ask,

"How much further to the top?"

Gehring and Upton

1890 School Report


The condition of the school houses, as we found them, was, and still is deplorable.

The past committees have had but inadequate or no appropriations for their repairs, and the buildings, in fully half the districts .

Your committee has made, in their judgment, as wise an expenditure of the appropriation for the past year as the amount appropriated would ...


Hastings, Maine


Randall H. Bennett

Although Ira Kimball goes down in history as one of Bethel’s most successful traders, Kimball

Park is today’s most visible reminder of his accomplishments in the growth of Bethel village.

 They struggled with a lack of a suitable field, using the meadows on Vernon Street or the Intervale Road until the fall of 1930,

when Clarence Bennett provided a location in West Bethel and by 1931 the first hangar was under construction.  The flying field was marked WB in white sand, and Bethel was written on the roof of Crockett's garage in the village. 

Mollyockett’s grave in Andover Cemetery

A Maine Indian, Samoset, appeared before the Mayflower settlers at Ply-mouth in March 1621 to formally welcome the English people to the his country.

1913 -The new Bethel Inn will be open to the public for inspection on Saturday, July 12th between the hours of 2 and 6 in the afternoon—7:30 to 10 in the evening. A cordial invitation is extended to all. Refreshments will be served. 

The name of the first Post-master that can be recalled by the oldest inhabitants is that of Mark Kilgore, who lived a few rods above Poplar Tavern. And Robert Davis retires by Amy Hanscom.

Four short articles about

William Fuller


Maple Lane Farm

Town of Bethel Safe


Text Box: ”

  Ruel Swain who graduated from Gould in 1944 said that lots of wheel barrow and shovel work was needed to turn the slope into a ski jump, landing and giant slalom course for high school competition

Ski Jumping at Swan’s Corner


Names in the News


Stephen Spurgeon (S.S.) Abbot, John Barker , Jarvis C. (J.C.) Billings, Calvin BisbeeSamuel A. BrockJames H. Barrows,  Alpheus S. (A.S.) Bean, Gilman P. Bean,  Nathaniel F. Brown, (1843-1917). Abial Chandler, Jr., (1837 – 1898),  T.A. (Timothy Appleton) Chapman , Timothy H. ChapmanWilliam Rogers Chapman , Col Clark S. Edwards, William Russell (W.R.) Eames, Col Clark S. Edwards,  Henry Farwell , Hon. Enoch Foster, 1839-1913








Old Part


New Part


 Mt. Will


Grover Hill/



Sunday River





























Special Edition






1944 Serving in WWII







1964 First Living Nativity







Enoch Foster, Jr. (1839-1913)


Goodwin R. Wiley (1846-1911)


John George Gehring (1857-1932)


William Bingham II 1879-1955


William Rogers Chapman


Marshall Hastings (1892-1958)


 Eben Kilborn (1846-1940)


William E. Bosserman



West Bethel Union Church dedication












A photo tour of Bonnema Potters scenic tile artistry

Nine intrepid diggers and their leader set out each week from Bethel, bound for an excavation site along Mill Brook just outside of town. Once the location of an old stone dam

and sawmill built by Eleazer Twitchell in 1774, the site is now owned by the Bethel Inn.

Telstar Opens;

Zoning Abolished;

 Henry Hastings Dies Unexpectedly;

Van Telephone Sold; Grand Trunk Station Service Ends

Bethel Station closed and was torn down

The vote at a special town meeting on May 14, 1968 abolished all zoning in Bethel and dissolved the Zoning Board of Appeals

Operation Sidewalk is about how Albert W. Grover took on the task of building a 2700 foot concrete sidewalk along

Main Street in Bethel from the Grand Trunk station to the post office. Work began September 23, 1895. 912 yards of concrete used.

Honor  Roll  Dedicated—November 11, 1944

233 Bethel and Mason Men and Women Honored

The Honor Roll which was erected this fall beside the soldiers monument was dedicated Saturday afternoon, November 11, 1944. , with a special dedication program.

1958  Headline News Wildcat Ski Area opens—Sunday River Skiway Corp created—Barker Mt trails laid out—skating rink at Crescent Park school—Bethel Furniture Stock opens  Bethel Area Development Corp formed

1940, Hanover Co. Buys Stowell Mill

February 1, 1940


The Hanover Dowel Co. deal follows some two months negotiations following the destruction of the company’s mill at Hanover by fire on the afternoon of Nov. 25.


Bethel Savings Bank

And  Some of the Bankers



Bethel Savings Bank was established in 1872. Oliver H. Mason (1830-1891)was the  bank’s first president. He was a nephew of Moses Mason (BHS museum). Oliver was a successful business man and storekeeper who had been town treasurer. 

Enoch Foster, Jr. was the treasurer and the  bank was located in his law office located next to Foster’s house on lower Main Street.

June 1964—Academy trustees announced start of what would be for Bethel a major change in its school system.

n In 1863  David N. Skillings of Winchester, Mass began construction of an advanced type of steam mill just  west of Bethel Hill

Known by hikers and travelers today for its location on a small plain at the junction of Evans

Brook and the unpredictable waters of Wild River, the “town” of Hastings was unique for its twenty-mile logging railroad and for the fact that it was entirely located in Maine—in territory purchased as early as 1912 for what would soon become known as the White Mountain National Forest. 

Bethel Historical Society photo above shows the Hastings store

Josiah Purington (1847-1921) was well known in Bethel business circles during the last quarter of the 19th Century.  In 1872 he was one of three partners in a co-partnership with Robert A. Chapman and E. W. Woodbury (1818-1899). 

 In 1884 the business had moved from upper Main Street and occupied new larger quarters next to the Grand Trunk Railroad tracks at the foot of Main Street.  Read more..

village. This mill was the first of its kind to be run by steam, as in those days all wood turning mills were on streams and run by water power. At the time it was an innovation and the curious drove for miles by horse and buggy and ox carts to view it.