Rounded Rectangle:



January 3, 2009

1889 At A Glance


Maine’s legislature chartered both the Bethel Village Corporation and the Bethel WaterCompany. The Village Corporation’s first mission was water for fire protection; the Water Company was the organization to provide water for fire protection.  In 1889, Bethel’s link between its northern and southern sections, the “double barrel” covered bridge, built in 1869, became toll free. Village correspondents in Albany, Bethel, Gilead, and Newry were impressed throughout the year with the logging and shipping activity anchored to the rail depots; it was the most often reported news in ’89.  One reporter from Bethel is quoted as reporting, “Business is booming around Bethel depot.” 

Bethel: the charter for the toll bridge expired Dec 31, 1888.


“The first day of January the outside world rejoiced in the privilege of coming to Bethel Hill without being compelled to pay tribute.”.

Built in 1869, this  bridge was a master piece of covered bridge construction.  Tolls were collected for 20 years, thus its toll status ended with new year of 1869.

 Bethel’s new chair factory expanded operations to Rialto Hall on Main Street for its sales and finishing departments.  Good news for farmers: the Wyman’s, two brothers from Woburn, Mass., bought the corn canning plant in Bethel, located near the high dam on Mill Brook, from New Yorkers, Wolff and Reesing.  In September, lima beans made the news as a surprisingly profitable crop to sell to the Wyman’s canning factory. For this year anyway, steam powered water travel on the Androscoggin seemed the way to go.  Steam boats from Rumford tied up at Bethel’s Alder River dock in popular demonstrations of steam boat travel feasibility.  At a special town meeting in December, Bethel voters agreed to raise $2,500 for buying land and building a new corn canning factory building near the chair factory property in Bethel’s “rail depot industrial park”.  The Skillings brothers are putting up a telephone line from their mill (Bethel Steam Mill Company) to the Bethel depot.

 Bethel: “The steamer, North Star, built by the Androscoggin Steamboat Company, Charles L. Kimball of Rumford, Pres., J.B. Roberts of Hanover, Secretary and Treasurer, is lying at her pier at the mouth of the Alder River, Bethel.” The boat is 47 feet in length and 10 feet in beam and draws 13 inches of water. It is propelled by a steam wheel six feet in diameter driven by two non condensing engines, 13 horsepower.


Corn Canning News .


4/2/1889: J and E. A. Wyman of Woburn, Mass., have purchased the corn packing business in Bethel from Wolff and Reessing of New York and will carry it on for the present. Their agent, A. M. Carter, Esq., is now signing contracts with farmers for planting. 

12/10/1889: At a town meeting held Saturday, it was voted to appropriate $2500 to be used for buying a lot and building a new corn shop thereon. A lot of land has been bargained for of Eli Barker, northerly of the railroad but westerly of and near to the chair factory

Bethel: “The steamer, North Star, built by the Androscoggin Steamboat Company, Charles L. Kimball of Rumford, Pres., J.B. Roberts of Hanover, Secretary and Treasurer, is lying at her pier at the mouth of the Alder River, Bethel.” The boat is 47 feet in length and 10 feet in beam and draws 13 inches of water. It is propelled by a steam wheel six feet in diameter driven by two non condensing engines, 13 horsepower.”


The 1889 Journal



 Bethel: The Congregational and Methodist churches presented special Christmas time musical programs.  A warm rain has taken the snow away, “Wheels have come into general use.” W. E. Skillings (steam mill) has returned from a hunting trip in New Jersey. 

Albany: George Fernald is doing an excellent thing among horses and colts – filling extracting teeth.

 Newry:  Two more cases of scarlet fever one at J. A. Thurston, Newry Corner the other is the correspondent’s daughter. 



 Bethel: the charter for the toll bridge expired Dec 31, 1888. “The first day of January the outside world rejoiced in the privilege of coming to Bethel Hill without being compelled to pay tribute.” Warm weather - continued temperatures of 28 – 30; runners gave way to wheels; lumber is piling up in yards.

Newry: Bear River is clear of ice nearly the whole length.


Bethel: the snow has all but disappeared from the streets of Bethel – a severe rain storm Wednesday night all but finished the sledding.  Lyman Russell, Jessie Wentworth and Gayton Abbott have organized a company known as the Russell Manufacturing Co. for the making of cribs, cradles, bedsteads and croquet sets at Walkers Mills, Bethel. St. John Hastings has teams operating

 in Albany where they will put in a steam mill then haul their manufactured lumber to Bethel and take it to market over the Grand Trunk Railroad.

 West Bethel:  Flat land near the village school house is flooded a foot deep over the road for several rods. The Pleasant River Literary Club has formed to meet weekly.

 Wilsons Mills: In the area of the upper Magalloway through Wilsons Mills to Parmachenee Lake there are 43 logging camps of the average of five teams per camp, about 600 men in all – nearly all the timber is being hauled to for the Berlin Mills.



Bethel: Snow is plenty and business is lively: Some days ten to a dozen cars are sent from Bethel depot loaded with oak, hogshead shook, long lumber and spool stock. Bethel Chair Factory has hired Rialto Hall and is having it finished for a store and sales room.

 Newry: Mr. Thurston is handling a great deal of grain which he grinds in his own mill. Potatoes have dropped to 35 cents in Bethel. Farmers are not very happy.

Wilsons Mills: John Olson fell on a stump breaking two ribs.

West Bethel: The literary club is prospering – two questions recently decided – the U. S. government is going to be perpetual – a voter to be eligible must know how to read and write. Ten cars are seen on the West Bethel siding at one time loading with different kinds of freight and lumber.



 Maine News: The committee in charge of the centennial celebration of Washington’s inauguration – to be held April 30th in New York – hope to have Maine largely represented as possible in the parade.

Bethel: The musical talent of Bethel has formed an organization; Deacon E. P. Grover is President. Mrs. Dr. Gehring is vice president for mutual improvement and recreation – about 40 members. They have hired a room at the Elms, heated and lighted, and meet weekly. Mrs. Gehring is director. Bethel Chair Factory has moved into their new hall (Rialto Hall): ground floor for offices and sales, 2d floor for finishing; 3rd floor for a store room.

East Bethel: A representative from the Sagadahoc Fertilizer Company was in town to canvass the Grange and vicinity.

 Gilead: Rob Hastings is doing a large business at his mill in “Niggertown”. He is sawing out nearly two car loads of lumber a day. It is loaded onto the cars here (Gilead station) thus giving employment to a large crew of men and teams. Also, a room is being fitted over the town hall for oyster suppers, etc

Newry: The steam mill started Monday; enough snow now.



“The Bethel Water Company was chartered by the Legislature, February sixteenth, eighteen hundred and eighty-nine. A leading object was to enable the Village Corporation to carry out its pur­poses in relation to a fire department. The corporators were William E. Skillings, Addison E. Herrick, Enoch Foster, Samuel D. Phil­brook, Enoch W. Woodbury, Gideon A. Hastings, Gilman P. Bean and Ceylon Rowe. Its object as stated in the charter is to supply the village of Bethel Hill with pure water. By its charter the company was authorized to take, detain and use the water of Chapman brook and all streams tributary thereto or running therefrom in the towns of Bethel and Newry, subject to certain conditions, such as liability for damage on account of flowage, etc. The organization of the company was completed February eighteenth, eighteen hun­dred and ninety, by the election of the following officers President, Enoch Foster; Secretary, Addison E. Herrick; Directors, Ceylon Rowe, Gideon A. Hastings, Wm. E. Skillings, Enoch W. Wood-bury and Henry N. Bearce. The works were begun and completed in eighteen hundred and ninety, the water beginning to flow November first. No contract was made, but all labor and material were procured directly by the company. The enterprise is a complete success, and the people of the village wonder how they ever got along without it. The water is abundant and of superior quality. The main pipe is four and one-half miles in length from Common, and the water comes from Chapman brook, away up the moun­tain side above all impurities, the reservoir being one hundred and eighty-five feet above the level of the Common. The analysis of the water by the Secretary of the State Board of Health shows it to be practically pure, and equal to any supply in the State.”

William B. Lapham, History of Bethel, page 414, 1891 and 1981



 Bethel: Samuel D. Philbrook is foreman of the jury of the current session the Superior Judicial Court in South Paris – the other 11 members are all from different county towns except Paris which has two men from that town on the board. Dr. J. G. Gehring gave a lecture on the subject of “Something About Insects” to a large audience in the vestry of the Congregational Church. Dr. Gehring is married to a daughter of Dr. N. T. True – he is stopping in Bethel for his health; he is connected with a hospital in Cleveland. The Second Congregational Church has lost one of its most valuable members with the dearth of Mrs. S. B. Twitchell, aged 55. Bethel Chair factory has such a large business that its saws are run until 9 PM.

 Gilead: Good winter weather – temperature was 20 below. John Bennett has nearly 2,000 cords of wood still in the woods.



Newry: the school in the Corner district was closed by the health officer on account of scarlet fever.

 Mason: A. S. Bean’s steam mill is sawing some five thousand feet of spool stock a day. He has put in an elevator so as to run his sawdust in his engine as fuel and prevent having to take it to the river.

Bethel: Hastings and Thomas sold 20 Norway pine trees to Simpson of Portland for masts.  Gould Academy closed the winter term with examinations on Wednesday and Thursday and a reunion at Ideal Hall on Friday. School District 15 closed last Friday.  Sixty students and teachers enjoyed a sociable at Brackett’s Hall. Dexter Cummings of Albany is loading a car a day at Bethel depot with pulp hauled from Albany by six teams. E. S. Kilborn is sending pine boards from Bethel to Lewiston by railroad.

Gilead: John W. Bennett received a car load of oats bought over a month ago.



Newry: Very cold - wild day Saturday. At town meeting next Monday two very important articles for this year: (1) Empower the supervisor of schools to employ the teachers and (2) to see if the town will adopt the town system of schools.

West Bethel: The literary club is holding very interesting meetings every Friday. The teams are hauling hundred loads of timber per day, of all kinds, to the depot and A. S. Bean’s steam mill. In the month of February there were 70 car loads of freight that went from West Bethel station, the largest showing ever from this station.

Locke Mills: The drama “Among the Breakers” was presented successfully by the town club – many attended from surrounding areas. 

South Bethel:  The lyceums are nearly through for the winter and everyone agrees that they have been more instructive and entertaining than ever before. There is a larger amount of lumber at Virgin’s saw mill than there has been for years.  Gilead:  Now that the crow bill has passed let the boys get out their muskets and go for them when they arrive.



 Front page: reports on the inauguration of President Benjamin Harrison and Vice President Levi P. Morton. In other front age columns the paper printed short biographies of all members of the new presidential cabinet. James Gillespie Blaine, the new Secretary of State, originally from West Brownsville, Pennsylvania, moved to Augusta, Maine in 1854 “where he has since made his name”.

General news: Rain and melting have stopped all log hauling and roads are posted - crossing the river on ice is suspended.

South Bethel: The floats in the water wheel of the furniture factory broke out last Friday and the factory shut down for two days.

Bethel town meeting results reported by the West Bethel correspondent: It was a pleasant day and business was disposed of promptly. W. E. Skillings was elected moderator. O’N. W. R. Hastings was elected to the school committee for three years. 1. Voted to continue the money system in repairing highways for another year. 2. Voted to build a lock-up and to tax dogs. 3. Voted to open two short pieces of road as laid out by the county commissioners.

Bethel: Gould Academy opened its spring term Tuesday with 100 scholars – in charge of Professors Dresser and Linscott and Miss Wingate.

 Albany: For the first time Albany’s town meeting appointed a truant officer.


The Bethel Journals compiled by Donald G Bennett

PO Box 763

Bethel, Maine 04217

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1889 Summary

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