1892 News Summary
Bursts of construction activity at Rumford Falls, a new Bethel creamery for area farmers and possibility of more taxes to pay for new county buildings topped the 1892 news items. Two Bethel men planned a mill on Swift River (just north of Rumford Falls) hoping to cash in on the logging and building boom.
January - Warm rain, river freshet and little snow started year that impeded regular logging activity.
February – Honest voting, the Australian ballot introduction began and widespread, almost an epidemic, “La grippe” illness.
March – Town meeting month; canvassing of farmers to support a Bethel butter factory underway. At an unusual special town meeting, voters repealed an earlier vote to pay Gould Academy tuition of town students. Bethel’ supervisor of schools urges building a new larger school in Bethel Hill village and reducing the number of small schools in the town.
April – Dry spring weather slowed logging drives; Cole Block fully rented; Garland Memorial Chapel dedicated. The Bethel selectmen were able to rent an office in the front of the Cole Bloc’s second floor (above the Bethel Savings Bank office). This is the first permanent office for the town government since incorporation in 1796.
During April and May, the Bethel Village Corp. purchased space in the Kimball Block for the Bethel Hose Company (fire department) . Double doors were added and a tower to hold a fire alarm bell was started.
May – Godwin brothers acquired Poplar Hotel in Newry; dedication of Cole Bros. hall; fire station alterations– new doors and bell tower. The Cole’s Hall name lasted only a few months before it was renamed Odeon Hall.
During the summer, all of the local spool mills that in 1890 had been combined into what was locally known as the syndicate of American Bobbin, Spool and Shuttle, were leased for the most part by original owners as the syndicate had become defunct.
June – Rumford Falls: railway into Falls from Mechanic Falls and Buckfield neared completion; Bethel: work underway at Riverside Trotting Park.
July – A new grandstand, seating 2000 was built at the Riverside fair grounds; new paper mill building construction started at Rumford Falls.
August – Rumford Falls passenger train service began; Bethel Dairying Association bought a Church Street lot for the new butter factory; Nelson the Harness Racing Hall of Fame trotter visits Bethel. The town’s new auditorium/theater/meeting hall may have received its name of Odeon Hall from a suggestion of the wife of selectman Eben Kilborn.
September – fall elections using Australian ballot favorably handled; the second Bethel Fair - very popular, Rumford Falls grows; Bethel creamery/ butter factory takes shape.
October - The second annual Bethel Fair was acclaimed; fall elections under Australian ballot publicly accepted; special Columbus Day celebration was observed; Rumford Falls’ boom has gained statewide notice.
November - Presidential election – many voted for Harrison but Democrat Grover Cleveland won. The new butter factory opened; it soon received many favorable comments from farmers and correspondents.
December - News comments from most of the villages concerned petitions and discussion about moving Oxford County’s seat to South Paris and the expenses such a move would entail. Rumford’s new Sulphite mill was nearly ready to operate.
THE BETHEL JOURNALS
January 1, 2009
MAJOR NEWS STORIES
· Rumford Falls: new paper mill, dam, power plant, railroad terminal and a new business complex was going up literally over night.
· Bethel: development of a farmers’ cooperative—export sale income from a new butter factory located on lower Church Street.
· Oxford County government joined the political fray by proposing a new county seat to be located in South Paris.
Timothy A Chapman of Milwaukee, Wisconsin died in March 1892.
Bethel’s Butter Factory opened in November 1892.
Voters used the Australian ballot system for the first time in September elections.
Pinckney Burnham died in December.
Garland Memorial Chapel dedicated April 28th by the Congregational church society.
Cole’s Hall dedicated May 18th.
The Bethel Journals
Donald G. Bennett
PO Box 763
Bethel, ME 04217