The Bethel Journals

1897 Journal

Chapter Two

West Bethel Union Church Dedication

July 1897

Gould Academy:  Frank E. Hanscom, late principal of Oxford High School has been elected principal of Gould’s Academy for the coming year. Mr. Hanscom will come to us with a wide experience as teacher, which together with his marked intellectual qualifications will insure the students of the Academy superior instructions for the coming year.

In July 1897 The Bethel News continued to print the serial of columns written by Dr. Gehring titled “The World of the Infinitely Small”. One column contained this paragraph which seemed to explain the purpose of his series.  “The terms “Bacteria, Disease germs, Spores, Bacilli, Micro-Organisms,” are every-day words in the newspapers and on the tongues of people – yet they are generally but vaguely understood.  Gehring’ articles discussed meanings, substance and dangers of tiny organisms.

The Bethel News printed a blocked notice on the front page of its July 7, 1897, edition listing new advertisers: S.N. Buck, G.P. Bean, L.C. Hall, Edward King, Ira C. Jordan, Farwell & Flint, E.E. Burnham, Herrick & Park, D. J.G. Gehring, H.B. Foster, Norway, Central Cycle Manufacturing Co., Eastman Bros. & Bancroft and Noyes and Andrews, Norway.

A county newspaper correspondent had commented in 1884 that Bethel village probably had more general stores per acre than any other town of similar size in the State.  This advertisement from Ceylon Rowe, a prominent Bethel store keeper gives an example of what could be found in such a store: dry and fancy goods including a new suit of clothes, a new pair of shoes or anything in Ladies or Gents Furnishings, groceries, flour, crockery, glass or stoneware, trunks, bags, wall papers, window shades, draperies, umbrellas and Macintoshes.

July 97 Ceylon Rowe Adv.JPGDr. Gehring’s Business Card type of advertisement read:

  Dr. J. G. Gehring - Physician and Surgeon - Bethel, Maine - Office at residence on Broad St

From Gilead, J. F. Guptill (who had started a pulp wood drive down the Androscoggin in May) has returned (here) having got to Jay much sooner this year than last, with Hastings’ pulp.

The Pomona Grange at West Bethel, July 3, 1897 - About 270 Grangers assembled at West Bethel.  Some came by a special car attached to a freight train and others later came on the regular passenger train.  Many also came by carriages from various directions. A.S. Bean’s “capacious and elegant hall” was well filled.

At the Bethel News, Mr. and Mrs. Wilfred Bowler and daughter Edna of Palermo arrived in town Saturday. Mr. Bowler has been engaged at the News office and began his work here Tuesday morning.  The Bethel Chorus will meet for rehearsal on Thursday evening as usual. A full attendance is requested. Ernest Walker has secured a position with Byron Goodnough of Portland as travelling salesman. Mrs. W.E. Skillings of Boston is in town visiting friends and relatives.

Mr. Charles Valentine (N W Bethel road) and Mr. Chamberlain (Mayville) are filling their houses with boarders. It is very pleasant for Bethel people to see the faces of those who have become familiar by their stay among us from year to year.  John Philbrook went to Brighton with a carload of cows and veals.  Marshall Hastings is clerking for Hastings Bros.  Mrs. W. R. Chapman attended the Maine Musical Festival concert in Rockland this month.

August 16-21 the New England Fair will be at Rigby Park, Portland. Plans will be made to have the largest exhibit of livestock even seen at Rigby. Efforts are being made to increase the attractions.  The Secretary of the Navy has assured the fair management that the North Atlantic Squadron will rendezvous in Portland harbor during the fair.  (Later—note that the Bethel Creamery received awards at the fair.)

Some good horses are being trained at Riverside Park. Frank R. Merrill has five or six in his care, among which is a fast pacer owned by William R. Chapman, also the fast pacing mare “Gold Dust”, owned by M. Barnes of Andover. Dr. Fernald is working “Owoissa” and think he will be able to step close to 2:20 before the season is over.

Messrs. Bowler and French have made the trip to Augusta and Palermo by bicycle, a distance of 110 miles in about 14 hours, making the first 52 miles in six hours.

At South Bethel, R.J. Virgin is sawing and fitting lumber for his new house at Rumford Falls.

In North Newry, there were forty boarders at the Club House (Poplar Tavern).  Prof. (W.W.) Kilgore has returned to Red Wing, Minn., and his family will remain until the latter part of the summer with his parents.  (In a few years, Prof. Kilgore would buy the Poplar Tavern.)

The Oxford County Medical Association met at the Mason’s hall in Norway. The meeting was called to order by the president, Dr. C. D. Hill of Bethel. Dr. J.G. Gehring also attended from Bethel. Other physicians represented Waterford, Berlin, N.H., Dixfield, Gorham, N.H., Rumford Falls and Mechanic Falls.

Albany’s largest taxpayers, those who pay more than $25: Tax, showed Elliott & Bartlett,  to have paid the highest tax, $141.45; A.S. Bean of West Bethel  paid  $112.03 followed by H.L. Burnham at $91.67; Austin Hutchinson at $49.75; C.G. & G.W. Beckler at $45.75; John F. Lord at $49.25 and Eben Kilborn of Bethel with $45.43.  In all, there were 22 taxpayers who paid more than $25.00.

At West Bethel boarders have begun to arrive at the Maple Lane house.

Rumford Falls: At the annual meeting of the Rumford Falls Power Co. it was voted to complete the filling of the masonry at the head gates on the middle dam; also to complete the dam on the lower canal at the railroad bridge, rear of the Chemical mill. The followed individuals were elected Directors: George N. Fletcher, Hugh J. Chisholm, Charles D. Brown, Allan M. Fletcher, Charles A. Brown, F.E. Richards, Payson Tucker, Waldo Pettingill, and George D. Bisbee.

From Milton Plantation: The prospect brightens for a railroad through this section of the country. Surveyors have been busily engaged laying out the route and soon our quiet valley will assume a more lively aspect.

Locke’s Mills: Dudley Cottage is rapidly filling with summer boarders.  Some fifteen or twenty guests are at the Mountain View House – the Wells family from New Haven, CT; S.R. Dunham of Hyde Park, Mass., and Miss Fairchild of Canada.

The list of Newry taxpayers billed for more than $25 include a number of non-resident owners.  L.L. Mason’s bill is $106.04; Androscoggin Water Power Co, $85.10, Bear River Club (Poplar Tavern), $51.68; and Reuben Foster, $26.95 plus four other parties. Some well known resident taxpayers included Richard M. Williamson, J.A. Thurston, Orin Foster, H.S. Hastings, J.F. Eames (the highest resident taxpayer at $53.59 and seven others were in the above $25. Category.

At the July 5th Riverside Park races a lively day was enjoyed.  C.C. Merrill’s May Day won the 3 minute class.  Purse was $75.  In the 2.35 class, Barnes Brothers’ Lady Gold Dust won. Purse was $100.

At Grover Hill two school teachers are taking a break, Ida Haselton who taught at the Songo District and Maude Ava Bartlett who taught at Milton.   In farming, A.J. Peaslee has a new mowing machine which he bought of Hastings Bros.

From Sunday River: Mr. and Mrs. Frank Williamson went to Errol, NH, last week. Mr. and Mrs. A. Thurston are visiting at T.J. Sargent’s. Celdon B. Foster and family of Everett, Mass., are expected this week to spend the summer.  Lewis and James Spinney are peeling hemlock and poplar for J.A. Thurston.

 August 1897

The Oxford Central Railroad:  The Maine Railroad Commissioners held a meeting in Norway with the petitioners for the proposed railroad who seek authority to build the 21 and one-half miles of electric railroad as laid out from Norway to East Stoneham and South Waterford. The meeting opened at Beal’s Hotel then adjourned to the office of the company treasurer, Judge Seward S. Stearns. Those present included the company’s officers, Norway selectmen and representatives from Waterford and the Waterford Manufacturing Co.  Some adjustments were submitted for the path of the line in Norway and at the Waterford Manufacturing Co.  After the meeting was over the commissioners and others toured the proposed route by horse and carriage.  The company now has approval for the railroad.

On Saturday two car loads, about 125 Italians, arrived at the Norway depot; they immediately proceeded to their camp near Norway Center.  Many loads of equipment were moved from the Norway depot to the camp. On Monday work began at Rufus Morrill’s land and continued toward Norway Lake.

A concert put on by the Maine Musical Festival choruses of Norway and Bethel was held in the Norway Congregational Church during the second week of August under the direction of William Rogers Chapman.  Homer Chase of Auburn who is the festival’s overall general manager was at the concert.

The Bethel Chorus of thirty people made the trip to Norway.  Bennett C. Snyder is the Bethel chorus director.  Members are: Edgar Barker, Clyde Bartlett, F.F. Bean and wife, J.C. Billings and wife, Minnie Capen, Barbara Carter, Fannie Carter, George Farnsworth, Mrs. Ava Finney, Mrs. C.O. Foster, Nellie Frost, R.W. Glidden, Archie Grover, Laura Hall, Mrs. Ira Jordan, Durward Mason, Alice Purington, Ethel Richardson, Joan Stearns, Mrs. Sadie Tuell, C.E. Valentine and wife, Lillian Vance, W.S. Wight and wife, Bertha Wiley, and Mrs. G.R. Wiley.

Sunday River news:  A large party from Sunday River attended the dance at North Newry.  Timothy Stowe and Charles Atherton are the first to finish haying.  Frank Williamson and Charles Ellis went to Ketchum fishing and caught over one hundred trout.

More about the Maine Music Festival:  Opera star Nordica who is a Maine native has expressed great interest in singing at the festival.  Her improving health should allow her to attend.

John M. Philbrook went to Brighton, Mass., with a car load of stock consisting eighteen cows and thirty calves.  This summer he is making similar trips nearly every week.

News from Milton included a list of ten town taxpayers whose bill is $25 or more.  Mt. Zircon Spring Company was highest at $92.50; second was L.M. Mann at $64.75 and third, A.J. Woodward, $37.94.

Another railway project report: The Oxford County Railway. News comes from Rumford Falls. There is now anyway an optimistic outlook on this connection being built.  Engineers from Hill & Fenn of Portland have finished a preliminary survey.  The plan is to start from a Y in Bryant’s Pond, go through Milton to Rumford Center and Rumford Falls, crossing the Androscoggin by a bridge at Rumford Center.  Also a branch to Andover and North Rumford is being considered.  If possible the promoters hope to build it before next year.

The Bethel Festival Chorus gave a concert at the Universalist church in Bryant’s Pond on the 17th of August.  Employees of the Rumford Falls and Rangeley Lakes R.R. were treated to a rail excursion to Bemis and then by steamer to Pleasant Island for a picnic.

Mr. Frank Hanscom has announced that he has engaged Ernest Pratt of Pishon’s Ferry as his first assistant for the coming year at Gould’s Academy.  Mr. Pratt has been principal of the Springfield Normal School and is a graduate of Colby University.

The projectoscope, one of Edison’s latest inventions, was shown at Odeon Hall.  This “wonderful invention” showed life sized scenes moving on canvas.  Bethel’s Volunteer Hose Company sponsored the show. It was advertised in all of the villages and towns surrounding Bethel.

 September 1897

BETHEL FAIR- Riverside Park the Scene of a Good Fair opening on Tuesday (of the second week in September) – Some Great Racing. This is the seventh annual meeting of Riverside Park and Bethel Agricultural Fair. Officers in charge are: President, J.A Twaddle; Vice President, H.P. Elliott; Secretary-Treasurer, H.S. Hastings; Trustees, G. P. Bean, H.S. Hastings, J.M. Philbrook, C.M. Wormell, and J.A. Twaddle.  Fred L. Edwards was superintendent of stock; H.S. Hastings was superintendent of horses, and superintendents of the exhibit hall were Dr. F B. Tuell and Mrs. Arvilla Clough.

The largest and best herd exhibited was that of Fred Edwards, one of the leading farmers in Bethel. Charles E. Valentine showed five fine Jersey cows and heifers. He has an advantage over other farmers as he lives so near the fair grounds he can take his stock home at night. Orrin Foster of Newry had the largest and best display of apples, he showed 44 varieties.

The Universalist society served lunches at their Pavilion during the fair. During fair week there was a grand cattle show ball at Odeon Hall.

The corn shop started up in the second week of this month.  Hot weather has brought the corn along very well.

Several have asked if the Chit Chat column written by Mrs. Gehring will appear again and the answer is, yes. She has had to give it up recently due to ill health. About fifty people from Bethel attended the state fair at Lewiston. John M. Philbrook purchased William F. Walkers house on Summer Street.

icehouse.jpgThe Advertiser printed an American Gardening article about building a proper ice house.  Ice storage was a very important factor for homes and farmers in the late Nineteenth century. An icehouse should be built above ground and near two large trees.  An illustration of an attractive icehouse was part of the article.

Augustus M. Carter is now employed by the Berlin Mills Lumber Co. and spends much of his time in the woods. He has maps of all the many townships, tract and lots of wild land owned by this company, amounting to about two hundred and fifty thousand acres.  Mr. Carter runs lines, looks up timber and locates lumbering jobs.

Gould Academy:  Prof. Hanscom instructs a class in Parliamentary Law once a week this term. Another new feature is twice daily exercises in calisthenics. All students who are physically able to do the exercises take them and the exercises were conducted to piano music. The object of this program is to develop a “sound mind in a sound body”.

South Bethel:  Bad news for this week.  Rufus J. Virgin has had to shut down his mill for lack of water due to the building of a new dam at Locke’s Mills.  Frost has damaged some of the corn and potatoes are rotting badly.


Clubs and events:

Brown Post 84 invited the Relief Corps to a ride and picnic supper at Woodsum’s Camp in Locke’s Mills. A party of 22 rode to camp and enjoyed eating, singing, telling stories, boating and trying to keep cool.

The ladies of the Methodist Episcopal Society held their annual supper at Odeon Hall, supper from 5-7 followed by entertainment. The Columbian Club held its first meeting of the season at Mrs. John M. Philbrook’s.

Edwin Gehring escorted his sister, Miss Alma Gehring, from Cleveland to  Bethel where she will be staying with her uncle , Dr. J. G. Gehring.

At Middle Interval, Baptist Green held the last in his series of meetings at Russell’s grove.

Miss Cora Hastings (St. John Hastings family) left for Chicago where she will remain for the winter.


October 1897

Union Church Dedication at West BethelWB union church 003.JPG                         The new Union Church at West Bethel was dedicated on October 16, 1897, at 10:30 A.M.  Rev. F. E. Barton, minister of the Bethel Universalist Church was master of ceremonies. The choir consisted of Mr. Payson Grover, Mr. and Mrs. Valentine and Miss Alice Purington. Miss Addie Gordon was the organist. Others in the program were Rev. I.A. Bean, South Paris, Rev. Henry Farrar of Gilead, Mrs. C.C. Libby of Gorham, N.H., and Rev. Sampson Nichols, Gorham, N.H., preached the dedicatory sermon. A.S. Twitchell of Gorham made the presentation address. Miss Cora Mason of the Chapel Aid Society gave the response. Rev. A. Hamilton gave the dedicatory prayer. After the church service program, the ladies of the Chapel Aid Society welcomed the church friends to refreshments in the basement of the church.  The dedication meeting resumed at 2 P.M. Rev. Mr. Wheeler of West Paris offered a prayer; Rev. Barton spoke on the influence and object of the Christian church in the community; Rev. Hamilton spoke on the general object of the Christian church. Rev Bean spoke on the special object of the church in West Bethel. Judge Enoch Woodbury gave the final remarks. Donations to the Chapel Aid Society decided the successful outcome of the movement to create a village church.  First was the donation valued at $7,000 by A. S. Bean.  (Photo above – source Illustrated History of Bethel, 1991, Randall Bennett)

Eben S. Kilborn donated the pulpit furniture, two elegant chandeliers by Mrs. Milton Holt and the church bell was donated by Milton Holt. T.J. Murphy donated the clock and Mrs. A. S. Bean donated the elegant mantel above the fireplace. James H. Barrows donated the parlor table. Friends donated about one hundred dollars during the day leaving a only a balance of about three-hundred dollars to be raised.  Finally Payson Grover’s brother, Rev. N.W. Grover of Center Ossipee, NH, who happened to  be visiting offered to supply the pulpit for the next day’s service.

image002.gifAlpheus Bean’s large contribution to the Chapel Aid Society carried the condition that the new church must be a strictly Union Church and that people of all Christian denominations must be accepted.  Two months later, the news reported that the church members were seeking an “undenominational” minister for their church.

Bethel Hill:

Recent improvements at the Bethel House include widening the verandas, making interior changes, and improving the hotel grounds. The Bethel Water Company has completed its extension of its water pipe line from Mill Hill along the Albany Road and has added several new takers to its list; an additional hydrant has been put in near Hodgdon’s mill.

The Bethel telephone exchange of the New England Telephone Company has been nearly abandoned by its patrons and many of the instruments taken out.  People say that cannot afford them. There is a move afoot to form a local corporation for the purpose of putting in an exchange.


Bethel Day at the Maine Music Festival – Tuesday, October 19

The day’s program included solos by Madame Nordica, Lillian Blauvelt, Evan Williams and other well known singers.  Tickets were sold at Wiley’s Drug Store for $1.00, $1.50 and $2.00.  Below is the “official” photo of Nordica and the festival’s program.  (Both photos – courtesy of the Bethel Historical Society)