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








May 25, 1944


The planer mill, lumber yard, office and home of Leslie E. Davis on the Middle Interval Road were destroyed  by a fire
Saturday afternoon which spread to the woods in the most spectacular catastrophe in this section for many years and threatened to burn several other nearby homes. Losses: Davis’s two and one-half story house which contained his office and their home, a large truck garage with an upstairs rent, and 60 by 120 foot lumber sheds plus between seven and eight hundred thousand feet of lumber belonging to the Burritt Lumber Sales Company of Bridgeport, Conn., which was to be shipped for government use. Mr. Davis estimated the loss to be about $50,000.

Several hundred dollars worth of lumber belonging to Ernest Blake and Charles Merrill was also lost.

Help came from Rumford and Bryant Pond fire departments and from the State Forestry Department crews and equipment came from West Paris and Lovell.

P.H. Chadbourne & Co sent a bulldozer to make a swarth in the woods back of Fred Bean’s field. Back fires were also started.

State Guard Reserve men were on duty at the fire. They were 4th Company of Bethel, 3d Company of Locke Mills—Bryant Pond and 6th Company of West Paris.  3d and 4th Companies were on fire watch all night and companies as far as Mechanic Falls were alerted. Two trucks of equipment came from the White Mountain National Forest at Gorham.

As the woods fire spread it headed toward the road to Locke Mills and threatened the homes of Howard Gunther, Harry Brown, Mrs. Marie Wilson, and Fred Bean.  As the fire first began to spread it threatened the homes of Richard Davis, Ernest Blake, Clyde Brooks and Arnol Brown and the summer home of Irene Foster.

The Bethel Canteen had its first real test after a long inactive period but had hot coffee, sandwiches and doughnuts on the scene in an hour and a half after they had begun work.


Read the June 8 news item about Davis planer mill developments.



May 25, 1944


The Specialty Shop of Norway will open  a store in Bethel about June 1 in the  building last occupied by the post office across Main Street from Bosserman’s drug store. It is understood that a complete line of ladies, children’s and infant’s apparel will be carried and perhaps men’s furnishing.




May 25, 1944


Applicants may receive up to 10 pounds of sugar for home canning for each member of the family during the first period from June 1 to July 31. During the second period, August 1 through October 31, they may receive an additional allotment sufficient to make a total of 20 pounds for the two periods.

This announcement was made by Joseph F. Chadbourne District Food Rationing Officer.



New Village Traffic Regulations May
Be Adopted at Meeting

May 4, 1944


Parking in Bethel village streets is administered by the Bethel Village Corporation. A committee created to draw up parking ordinances for consideration  consisted of Gerry Brooks, Gard Brown, Arthur Fogg, Edward Hanscom, Syl LeClair, Lloyd Luxton, and Eugene Van. Proposed ordinances aimed at preventing accidents and removal of conditions that would hinder work of the fire department.  Streets involved where parking prohibitions were proposed were Chapman, Church, Elm, High, Mechanic and Philbrook.


Care in Use of Corporation Dump Urged.

The Bethel Village Corporation dump was closed for two days for a general cleanup of untidiness. The dump rules are—all rubbish be dumped over the bank, no loose paper or dead animals be deposited on the dump and no fires  be started. (The dump was located at the mouth of Alder River where it flowed into the Androscoggin.)




State Closes Forests Until Drouth Ends; Care Urged

June 1, 1944


Extreme fire danger resulting from continued Drouth and drying winds has caused Forest Commissioner Raymond E. Randall to declare a closure of the forests effective at sunrise Friday morning, June 2, until weather changes relieve the situation. 

Utmost care in smoking was urged and public cooperation in staying out of the woods.


Chadbourne Planer Mill Threatened by Fire

June 1, 1944


An overheated motor at the Chadbourne planer mill in South Bethel  caused a blaze. Fire alarm was sounded but the mill crew handled the incident. Only damage was the motor.


Gilead Fire Held to Cut Over Area

June 8, 1944


Some 75 acres of cut-over woodland on the north side of the Androscoggin River were burned during Friday and Saturday.  Woodland was Burnham property.  Volunteers, White Mountain National Forest and Bethel Fire Departments were on hand as well as the crew of the Chadbourne Mill of South Bethel with their equipment. A portable mill in the fire area was dismantled before the flames reached it. And then the building was saved. Bethel’s pumper was stationed at the river bank and supplied water through a 1300 foot hose. Chadbourne’s crew used a small pump and the company bulldozer.




June 8, 1944


L. E. Davis has leased part of the building of F. J. Tyler which was originally part of the corn shop property and will soon install a planer and resaw and other equipment. The new mill will replace the one burned on May 20, 1944 and will have added advantage of providing direct delivery from the machines to the (railroad) cars on the nearby siding. Mr. Davis is fortunate in securing this location which already has the electrical connections for large motors and in finding new and rebuilt machinery so soon after the great fire.



Harry F. Carter


Harry F. Carter (1873-1944) died on June 1. He was the son of Timothy C. and Ella C. Carter. He had been employed in the Woods Department  of the Brown Company, Berlin, N.H., for 46 years. He was survived by three daughters, Miss Eleanor Carter, Mrs. Helen Champlain and Mrs. Margaret Beane; three sisters: the Misses Grace Carter and Frances Carter; Mrs.. Edward Lyon; two brothers: Howard and John Carter and four grandchildren. Funeral service was held at the home of Grace Carter; interment was at Middle Intervale Cemetery.


After-War Problems Discussed by C. of C.

June 8, 1944


The Bethel Chamber of Commerce met at the American Legion rooms (on Main Street). Dr. Gerald L. Kneeland spoke on the topic “You Can Defend America.” His talk stressed the duties and opportunities of those who have remained at home in the process of rehabilitation of returning service men. A discussion of local problems followed the talk.


Annual Gould Academy Gym Exhibition

June 8, 1944


The annual Physical Education Exhibition was presented by the Gould Academy boys under the direction of Richmond Roderick at the William Bingham Gymnasium. The program included rope skipping, tumbling, giant volley ball, pyramids, mock baseball game, apparatus, fencing, wrestling match and statuary.


Razing Gould Academy’s First Dormitory

July 27, 1944


Gould Academy’s first Holden Hall, which was opened as dormitory for boys and girls in 1909, is soon to be torn down. Work has been started in removing doors and fixtures by L. E. Davis, who recently purchased the building of the Academy trustees.


The old structure was formerly the home of Goodwin R. Wiley who went to Oklahoma in 1908 and sold the property to E. C. Bowler. Liberty E. Holden of Cleveland purchased the place of Mr. Bowler and remodeled it to become a much needed dormitory.


The building served for both boys and girls until the fall of 1924 when the Marian True Gehring Student’s Home was opened for girl students. The old building was then adapted for use of the boys entirely and so used until the completion of the New Holden Hall in 1939. Since then it has been unoccupied.



July 27, 1944


Joe L. Spinney died at the Bellows Falls Hospital, Bellows Falls, Vt., Friday, July 21, after a long illness.


He was born in Horton, N.S., Nov. 5,1977, the youngest son of George and Eliza Spinney. In 1895 he came to Newry where he since made his home. In September, 1922, he married Miss Mildred Peacock of Haverhill, Mass., who died in May 1943. Since that time he made his home with a nephew and wife, Dr. and Mrs. Anson H. Kendall, Walpole, N.H.

He is survived by two sisters, Mrs. Fred Mundt, Bethel, and Mrs. Almon R. Grover of Gorham and several nieces and nephews.

Funeral services were held at the Greenleaf Funeral Home, Sunday afternoon with Rev. Johyn Foster officiating. Interment was in the Mt. Will Cemetery.



June 8, 1944


Floyd Verrill, son Ernest, and three other men of Concord, Mass., are in town building a camp.

June 29, 1944

Mrs. Clifton Jackson and two children of Hartford, Conn., are visiting at Mr. and Mrs. Martin Jacksons.

Mr. and Mrs. Roger Reynolds and two children spent the week at Ramsey Reynolds’s camp while working on their house at Swan’s Corner.


Chadbourne Planer Mill Escapes Damage in Tuesday Night Fire

August 3, 1944


The planer mill of P. H. Chadbourne & Co. at South Bethel was undamaged in a fire Tuesday evening which destroyed the adjoining building which house the shavings bailing machinery. The blaze was probably caused by a heavy freight training passing by. Several streams of water from Alder River brought the fire under control.


Several (railroad) cars of lumber were removed from the loading platform by a bulldozer. Two other cars were badly burned, one was loaded with shavings.


The planer mill was only two years old at the time of the fire. It is one of the most up-to-date and efficient plants in this part of the country. Since the planer mill of L. E. Davis burned in May, the Chadbourne mill has also planed the Davis lumber, and it is had been destroyed would have been a serious blow to the local lumber industry.


Alarm calling the fire department crews came from a new compressed air whistle which sounded a series of short blasts.


Paul Thurston Loses Barn and Guernsey Herd in Night Fire

Oct 26, 1944


The residence of Paul Thurston in Mayville was saved last night when fire destroyed the barn and connecting carriage house with a loss estimated at $30,000. Included in the damage were 32 Guernsey cows, including registered purebreds, about 60 tons of hay and two automobiles.


On arrival of the fire department shortly before 10 o’clock the barn was all ablaze and volunteers were removing the furnishings from the house. The pumper was stationed at a small pool in the woods nearby and several streams were soon on the blaze with apparently little effect. Practically everything was cleared from the house before it became apparent that the fire was halted before great damage was done to the house itself.


After the source of water was exhausted the pumper was transferred to the river bank and connections made about 12 o’clock. At about this time a pumper arrive from Rumford and set up at the brook near E. E. Bennett’s, remaining there until daylight.


The office of the J.A. Thurston Co. and two apartments across the road were not threatened at any time during the night’s fire. The home buildings were build in 1900 by the late J.A. Thurston following a fire in May of that year.


More Reading:


The Chair Factory—early history of Hugh Thurston’s dowel mill.


Bethel and Newry Service Men and Women in the war in 1944


1940—Hanover Dowel comes to Bethel




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