Bethel Maine History – The Bethel Journals – Clark S. Edwards


 

 

 

Clark S. Edwards  (1824-1903) has a unique place in Bethel history: he organized a volunteer Bethel Rifle Company as the Civil War opened in 1861; he was promoted to Colonel and commanded the 5th Maine Volunteer Regiment which was committed in the Battle of Gettysburg; promoted to Brevet Brigadier General he was mustered out in 1864; he was appointed by the Governor to the Maine Gettysburg Commission and to the Columbia Exposition Commission (World Fair of 1893 in Chicago) and in 1886 was  the Maine Democratic Party’s candidate for governor.

 

Read: History of the 5th Maine Volunteer Regiment

 

Clark Swett Edwards was the youngest son of Enoch and Abigail (McLellan) Edwards born at Otisfield, Maine, March 26, 1824. In 1848 he came to Bethel. With Edward Eastman the two men bought out the trading business of Kimball and Pattee. The store stood where the Ceylon Rowe once stood on the northwest corner of the Common. A year later they moved another building up in line with their store and that of John Harris and finished the three stores into a block under one roof. This string of buildings burned during the Civil War and was later rebuilt.

Edwards later built a store near the railroad, on the spot of the store of Woodbury and Purington (in 2010 site of the Bethel Ambulance service building) and Edwards traded with Charles Mason.

Mr. Edwards sold out to Mason and built a store near the “foot of Vernon Street where he traded until 1858 when he sold out.” During these years he also built several houses in various parts of the Bethel Hill village and “in various ways contributed to the growth and prosperity of Bethel Hill”.

When the Civil War broke out,  “Mr. Edwards took out recruiting papers and was chosen Captain of the first company organized under his call in the county.” His company, Bethel Rifle Guards, reported to Portland and became Company I, 5th Maine Volunteer Regiment. While the regiment was assigned to the Army of the Potomac, Edwards was promoted to become regimental commander with the rank of colonel. Later he was promoted to Brevet Brigadier General. Clark Edwards’ term of service ended in 1864 but the regiment went on to serve many major engagements including the Wilderness campaign and was in the siege of Petersburg.

Back in Bethel at his Vernon Street home, he cleared a large tract of land along Alder River. In 1874 he build a large barn which he used for hay storage, about one hundred tons a season.

1887- Governor appointed Edwards to Maine battlefield monuments commission; Edwards has a large lumber contract; 1889 – at the Edwards house a chimney fire occurs as he departs for Gettysburg, that year he was one of Bethel’s top taxpayers: $101; 1891 – appointed to Columbia Exposition Commission, Col. Edwards hosts a reunion of Bethel Company; Edwards pays an official visit to World’s Fair in Chicago. Edwards returned from Gettysburg in July 1891 after visiting sites for Maine soldiers’ monument. His trip to Chicago was as a member of the official Columbian Exposition Commission.

In March 1892, a Bethel Village Corporation committee of J.H. Barrows, Ceylon Rowe and C.S. Edwards was chosen to investigate changing street lights from kerosene to electricity.

April, 1893 news:  Col. C S Edwards will start for Chicago this week to attend the meeting of the National Board of Managers of the World‘s Columbian Exposition on April 25th. The party from Maine will start from Portland and go by the Mountain Division of the Maine Central and the C.P.R.

From  1895 news:  Col. C. S. Edwards attended the second dedication of the State of Maine building at Poland Springs and centennial anniversary of Ricker family July 1. The first dedication of the Maine building was at Chicago at the World’s Fair and the Rickers took it down stone for stone, all numbered and have reproduced the Maine building  at Poland Springs. On this occasion, the Rickers generously dined more than 500 persons.

 

Transporting the building from Chicago to Poland Springs required 16 railroad freight cars. Read more about the buildings move.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

 

Text Box: Clark S Edwards

Brigadier General Clark Edwards—photo  published in the 5th Maine Museum Website.

June 10, 1896 Bethel celebrated its Centennial with a grand parade.  Col Edwards hosted a lawn party shown above on this occasion.  In this photo Edwards stands on the porch’s second floor balcony.

Photo from Bethel History Society collection

For the town’s 1896 Centennial celebration Col. Edwards was a member of the Processions Committee.

Clark Edwards died in May, 1903. His son Fred, born in Bethel in 1865, had assumed complete oversight of the Edwards’ properties and business operations.

 

Sources: William Lapham, “History of Bethel, Maine” , Oxford County and Bethel weekly newspapers. Bethel Historical Society collections.

 

The Bethel Journals

PO Box 763

Bethel, Maine 04217

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In 2012 the Edwards house shown in its today’s appearance. In 2014 the home is owned by

Mrs. John Head

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