Bethel Maine History—The Bethel Journals 1944—Part II—News Summary


October 19, 1944


Thurston Dowel Mill Destroyed in Wednesday Morning Fire


The Dowell mill of H F Thurston & Son was destroyed Wednesday forenoon by a fire which was spreading from the boiler room when discovered abut 10:30. Before the arrival of the fire department a few minutes later that end of the building was ablaze to the second floor windows, and soon after 11 o’clock help was called from Rumford.

A truck load of glue pins and the office records and furnishings were saved. About $8,000 worth of dowels, ready for shipment were lost, beside the building and machinery valued at $125,000.

There was partial insurance. Fire which spread to the piles of birch and hardwood was extinguished with light damage, and a large amount of stock drying outdoors was unharmed.

The building was originally built for the Bethel Manufacturing Co., for the manufacture of chairs, shingles, lumber, etc. It was 40 by 125 feet, with additions for boiler room, dry house and extra machines. For the past 25 years it has been used by the Thurstons as a dowel mill. Large quantities of glue pins were also made here. The mill employed about 20 men and women.

The prevailing wind helped to keep the fire from spreading to other buildings, although the nearby house on the Locke Mills road occupied by Maurice Brooks was in danger for a while. Fires were started in the leaves on the banks of Alder River, a quarter of a mile distant.

Since the death of Howard F. Thurston in 1930, the business has been managed by  his son, Hugh D. Thurston. Mr. Thurston said yesterday he had no plans for re-building.





February 24, 1944

On Tuesday, Feb. 29, at 10 a. m. an open public meeting will be held in the YMCA Building, Hammond Street, Bangor, for the purpose of considering pulpwood ceiling prices. The meeting to be conducted by the OPA, provides an opportunity for the industry,  farmer producers and, in fact, any person to be heard on the subject of price ceilings on pulpwood. OPA will be interested primarily in facts, i. e., definite figures on the cost of producing  pulpwood.

Person attending the meeting should, insofar as possible, come prepared to present actual records on production costs. OPA will not give much credit to mere opinion and general observation.




Bethel to Change Meeting Hours; Raise Pay; Extend Street; Discontinue School

March 9, 1944


With perfect March weather and contests on the ballot, 119 of Bethel’s 1300 voters registered their choice of two officers last Monday. The business session in the afternoon attracted only about 80 when matters of some importance were discussed and money was raised to carry the town through 1944.

New officers elected were Rodney Howe of East Bethel as selectman and Elmer Bennett of Mayville on the school committee. Mr. Howe succeeds his father, whose death occurred last fall which serving his seventeenth year on the board. His grandfather, the late Fred B. Howe, served as selectman from 1915 to  1925 and before that time was tax collector several years.

Mr. Bennett succeeds F. E. Russell as school committee member. Mr. Russell has served in this position since 1935 and was superintendent of this school union 1920-1930.


The officers elected are:

Moderator—Fred B. Merrill

Clerk—Alice J. Brooks

Selectmen– Ernest F. Bisbee, Carroll E. Abbott, Rodney K. Howe

Treasurer– John M. Harrington

School Committee– three years—Elmer E. Bennett

Tax Collector— Walter E. Bartlett

Road Commissioner—Euberto P. Brown


More Pay


Business was handled without delay at the afternoon meeting although all who wished evidently expressed opinions, and in general followed the conclusions of the budget committee.

The rates of pay for the collector were fixed at 19 ad 15 cents apiece for excise tax receipts, and the selectmen will receive $5.00 a day both same as last year. The road commissioner will receive $6.00 a day this year, a dollar more than before.

The treasurer gets a 50%  boost to $300 a year. The  town’s share of the school superintendent’s salary is upped to $741.65 from $600.00.

The voters followed the budget committee’s advice in passing over the matter of raising money for school lunches and advertising the town’s good features. The lunch money appropriation was proposed in order to reduce in part some of the continual soliciting, especially in the village, for various projects.


Discontinue School


It was decided to discontinue the Northwest Bethel school. During this year pupils have been conveyed from there to Bethel, and the vote authorized a continued closing of the school. Superintendent Carrie Wight and Mr. Russell spoke.

The increase in pay for road commissioner moved Eugene Van to suggest a like increase for the selectmen, assuming that the head of an enterprise should have a reward equal at least to any other official. However, Mr. Bisbee stated that members of the board were not asking for an increase and no action was taken.

The amount for town officer’s bills was however raised $200 to $4,000, hoping to allow for increases granted the road commissioner and treasurer.


Change in Annual Meetings


After a discussion in which Messrs. Bisbee, john Irvine, Fritz Tyler, Robert Hastings and Fred Edwards, Mrs. Irvine and Miss Cleo Russell took part, it was decided to open the annual business meeting of the town at 9 a. m. to be followed by the balloting. This is done in an attempt to attract larger audience. Since adoption of the Australian ballot a few years ago, interest has dropped alarmingly.


To Build a Street


Fritz Tyler spoke in favor of extending Tyler Street to Vernon Street and was supported by Ralph Berry, who lives on Tyler Street. The movement was opposed by Charles Bryant, owner of the former Spearrin property through which the street will pass.


Chadbourne, F. L. Edwards, Adrian Grover, Elmer Allen, Elmer Trask.

A record for serving on the committee seems to be held by Mr. Bean who has been appointed each year since the first committee was named in 1917.



Edmund Smith Named  Outstanding Farmer At Farm-Home Week 


March 9, 1944

Edmund Smith of West Bethel was honored at the University of Maine by receiving a certificate from President Arthur A. Hauck designating him as a Maine Outstanding Farmer.

President Hauck noted how Mr. Smith had come to Maine from New York City and a student at Columbia University to the small town of Mason. You built up an excellent herd of Guernseys and then turned to beef cattle now one of the best herds of Herefords in his vicinity.

Mr. Smith’s other farming accomplishments included growing forage and much of his grain, raising potatoes and garden vegetables plus an excellent young orchard of McIntosh and Cortland apple trees and one of the leaders in his area for woodland improvement.

He was first selectman in the town of Mason from 1918 until 1935 when Mason surrendered it organization (town charter) after the Federal Government had bought most of the taxable woodland as an addition to the White Mountain National Forest.





March 16, 1944


Bethel Village Corporation annual meeting—fair sized attendance. Articles: money for tree trimming due to November storm damage; appoint a committee to make recommendations on traffic and parking regulations; and decide repairs on the Corporation’s “lower building”.

Only excitement—Fritz Tyler and Fred Clark opposing repairing the old building—but a decisive majority voted repairs to provide space for two old hose carts with some 500 feet of hose on each.

Assessors were authorized to sell the time clock and station  boxes formerly used by the night police.




March 23, 1944


Mr. and Mrs. Edward P. Lyon of Bethel announce the engagement of their daughter, Barbara Augusta, to Ensign Harry Kuzyk of New York City.

Miss Lyon is a graduate of Gould Academy, Bethel, and Northeastern Business College in Portland. She holds a secretarial position in Connecticut.

Mr. Kuzyk, the son of Mr. and Mrs. George Kuzyk of New York, was educated in New York and for the past year has served as a radio technician in the Merchant Marine. He was recently commissioned an Ensign in the United States Maritime Service.

They were married May 17 in a ceremony held at the home of the bride’s aunt, Miss Grace Carter.



March 23, 1944


Since last December 7th, the pupils of Bethel Grammar School have purchased over $2,000 work of War Stamps and
Bonds. Previously they had bought enough
Stamps and Bonds to pay for several jeeps. Last fall they were awarded the Minute Man flag for 90% pupil participation in Stamp sales.

In a paper drive earlier this winter, the older boys, assigned different streets, collected newspapers, magazines and cardboards to the amount of $38.40 paid to the school by the Paper Salvage Committee in Rumford.





April 27, 1944


Milton Plantation surrendered its charter on March 30, 1944 and like the former towns of Mason and Albany, is under the administration of the State. At a special town meeting in December, 1943, it was voted to give up the charter.

Miss Clara Jackson, former town clerk, has been appointed agent, and Ernest Billings will be road agent.




April 27, 1944


Maine vacationists at least will be no worse off than last year so far as gasoline for motorboats and leisure driving is concerned according to Prescott H. Vose, Director of Maine OPA.

“One thing we have to be thankful for is that it probably will not by necessary to establish a pleasure driving ban, as we did last summer.”




April 20, 1944


Mr. and Mrs. Ramsey Reynolds and children,, George and Julie of South Portland were week end guests of J. W. Reynolds.

Those attending the Circle supper at Fred Wight’s were Mr. and Mrs. James Reynolds and Mr. and Mrs. R. M. Fleet.


April 27, 1944


J. W. (Jim) Reynolds and Will Walker are working on Roger Reynolds house at Swans Corner.

Mrs. Rena Powers left Sunday for New Mexico where she will be near her husband, Bernard Powers, who is in an Army camp there.

Mr. and Mrs. Walter Doughty of South Paris were in town shoeing horses.










Beside the War, Drought, Fires, Wartime Administration