Readfield, Maine Historical Society Newsletter Spring ~ Summer 2001
Readfield Historical Society Newsletter
Spring ~ Summer 2001
Readfield, Maine

RHS Elects New Officers

At the November 2000 meeting RHS members elected officers as follows:
Dale Marie Clark, President
Russ Walters, Vice President
Joanne Hunt, Treasurer
Evelyn Potter, Secretary/Curator
Our thanks to David Giroux, who served as president of RHS over the past several years.
Welcome to Joanne Hunt who has returned to our historical forces after nearly 30 years absence. Joanne and Eleanor Poray were the first to explore the “town father’s chests” where our old and valuable town records had been stored for 200 yrs. They revealed a treasure that few knew existed which made us realize that we are one of the fortunate towns in Maine to have all our historical records intact! Joanne has many wonderful stories to tell about those years of discovery.



Spring Program and Book Signing May 5, 2001

Please join us for our first public gathering of 2001 on Saturday, May 5 at 1:30pm. Attendees will enjoy a presentation by author Bill Dunham and Stephen Cowperthwaite, contributor of the book “Kents Hill Memories. Celebrating 175 Years of Educational Excellence 1824-1999.”  Autographed, hard cover copies   will be available for purchase at $35.00 each following the presentation. If you already own a copy, please bring it along for the signing!  All are welcome to join us at the RHS building on Main St. at “the Depot” for this time of camaraderie and refreshments.



Civil War Display at RHS this Summer

“Readfield during the Civil War” will be on display throughout the summer at RHS. Readfield resident, Marius Peladeau, has done extensive research on this topic for a Maine State Museum exhibit and has agreed to share his findings with us through a display. Watch the local newspaper and our web site for additional information.



Relief is Coming to Town!
Readfield Heritage Days
Visitors are welcome at RHS on
August 10-12, 2001 12noon ~ 5:00pm

On Saturday August 11th at 1:00pm join Relief Savage Gorden and friends on an informative and comical bus tour of Readfield. Hear stories from some of Readfield’s “old timahs” as they journey our highways and byways of long ago. We must have a minimum of 25 people so sign up today! Cost is $5.00 each or $12.00 for a family of three or more. Payment is due upon registration by check, cash or credit card. Call 685-3812 to register. No refunds unless event is canceled due to lack of interest.
Lunch and beverages will be available for purchase throughout Saturday afternoon at the RHS building. Proceeds from the weekend donations and activities will be used towards preservation of the building.


206 year old Relief Savage Gordon
will return by popular demand in August.
Make your reservations now to take an
informative and comical bus tour of Readfield with Relief and friends.

More Readfield Heritage Days…

An exhibit by local artists will be on display for the public’s enjoyment throughout the weekend. At press time we have secured artists Roger Williams, Beverly Newton and Olive Smith. Newton and Smith will have color prints of their artwork - suitable for framing - available for purchase. Many of the paintings will be of local scenes and houses.


From the Internet:

    While researching her family genealogy my wife found many of her early relatives were buried in the Readfield Corner cemetery. Descendants of Church Kittredge included a son named Charles Rodney Kittredge and a daughter named Mary Jane Kittredge, of six children.
      Mary Jane Kittredge is buried in the plot of her parents and has a headstone that, when read on both sides seems to pose a bit of a mystery.  She had married a gentleman named Oscar F. Haynes at some point and we couldn`t understand the rather cryptic inscription on the two sides of a fairly large stone.  Her side reads something like "Poor Broken heart, It was well when she died".  On the other side it reads something like "Father forgive him for he knew not what he had done."  After searching through some of the genealogy sites on the internet we found that a Mary Jane Kittredge had married an Oscar F. Haines in Brooklyn.  Thus, the variation in spelling the name "Hai(y)nes turned out to be one of those things researchers come up against all the while. We have no idea as to why the inscriptions read the way they do though we can speculate and come up with all sorts of ideas.  Do any of your readers have information on this family they would share?  Thank You!
Richard & Charlotte (Kittredge) Baker
376 Karr Valley Road ~ Almond NY 14804 ~ (607) 276-6465



RHS Members and Friends Highlights

Lonnie Gordon wrote: I was looking around on the internet for information on my family and came across the Readfield Historical Society web site. My Grandfather was Nelson D Gordon married to Emma . They had (4) children Nelson T, Lucille (Williams), Lawrence R and Rachel (Hurd.) I am the son of Lawrence. Granddad was a businessman and had a general store and lumber mill in Readfield Depot.
We were happy to hear from Victor McCormick who reports there was no damage to his family or property during the recent earthquake in Washington. Vic’s father, Hugh, used to operate the garage and filling station at Readfield Corner in the 1940-50’s.



Relief Savage Gorden greets youngster
Marion Davenport  at Readfield Heritage Days in 1998.
Davenport is 90 years young and still helps run the family dairy farm in Wayne.



Summer 2001 Schedule
Opening Weekend May 26 & 27 10am – 2pm
with Evelyn (Adell) Potter & Beverly (Norton) Newton.
We hope to additionally open the RHS building on the following days this summer from 10am-2pm and are seeking volunteers to make that a reality. If you are able to help, please let us know as soon as possible. Call Evelyn Potter at 685-3812 with questions or to sign up. Once confirmed the hours will be posted at RHS building.
Proposed dates are:
June 5, 7, 16, 19, 21
July 1, 4, 10, 12, 17, 19, 24, 26, 31
August 2, 21, 23 and help with Heritage Days 10-12th
September 1, 2


Wish List and Gratitudes
Our thanks to:


Wishes:



Old Settler Series ~ Dudley
by Dale Potter Clark

    As you drive through East Readfield and ascend the hill where the Jesse Lee Methodist Meeting House sits guard you will see a sign that reads “Plains Road.” Those who have lived in Readfield for many years will tell you that road used to be known as “Dudley Plains Road,” and after reading this issue’s ‘Old Settler Series’ you will better understand why. Many surnames are familiar to older residents in Readfield, but I doubt there is any as prolific in our annals as Dudley.
    The Dudley family of Readfield descends from Thomas Dudley, who was elected Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony four times between 1635 and 1650.  He had the distinction of being the first Governor selected by representatives of the people in this new country. By his two wives he fathered eight children. The eldest, Samuel, married thrice – first to Mary Winthrop, daughter of Massachusetts Bay Colony’s Governor Winthrop, second to Mary Byley, and third to Elizabeth _?_. Samuel’s three wives bore five, five and eight children respectively. His twelfth child, Stephen, married to Sarah, daughter of the honorable John Gilman of Exeter, NH.  Stephen and Sarah’s third of twelve children, James, married to Mercy Folsom, daughter of Deacon John Folsom of Exeter, NH. Of their eight children, four sons – James, Samuel, John and Joseph - sent shoots to Mt. Vernon and Readfield, Maine.
    James son, Stephen, came to Hallowell  c1770 and followed spotted trees through the woods to Readfield. Stackpole, in his “History of Winthrop,” describes the landscape our original settlers saw as they rode or walked into Readfield – then still a part of Winthrop. “No clearing had been made nor any attempt to fit the soil for cultivation… The ground, with the exception of the meadows, was completely covered with heavy growth, while beneath the tree-tops were thickly scattered boulders, largely granite, of various sizes from the smallest pebble to those of many tons in weight… Roots of huge trees were threading the ground in every direction… There was little undergrowth, the trees running up tall and straight, not crowded, and with limbs so high that the early settler could ride his horse or drive yoked oxen beneath with little interference by the growth.”    Stephen Dudley, as many men did in those early days, chose a beautiful spot in which to live and built his road afterwards. He settled Lot#52 in Mt. Vernon near the Readfield town line and this part of town came to be known as “Dudley Plains.” County records tell us that in 1774 a road was extended from Sandy River Road (route 17) to the Dudley’s and John Stain. Stephen’s wife was an invalid and according to the Dean Dudley genealogy she “did not stand or walk for over forty years, but outlived her husband.” They had one child, Eliphalet, who married, had nine children and lived on the homestead with his parents. His sons Samuel, Stephen, John and Henry carried on the family name in this area.


Sylvia Dudley Welch with her children
Daisy m. Adams; Robert; Virginia m. Adell; Alice m. Holland.
This family descends from:  Loren O, George E., Stephen, Eliphalet, Stephen.
George E. and family were living in the house on route 17 directly across from Stanley Road before 1856.
That home  stayed in the family for generations until sold by Harold and Virginia Adell in the 1960’s.

    I spoke earlier of James three brothers Samuel, John and Joseph who also sent shoots to central Maine. John’s son, John, married to Susanna Smith and settled in Mt Vernon where he served on their first board of selectmen and lived in that town for forty years. He is said to have been a highly respected citizen by townspeople there. Some of his five children moved on to Norridgewock and Kingfield.
    Among Joseph’s nine children were two sons, Daniel and Joseph, who spent a short time in this area. After living in Raymond, NH for several years Joseph II moved his wife and two children to Readfield around 1778. In July of 1780 twins were born, and his wife died soon after. Joseph then became discontented and returned his family to Raymond where he remarried. Joseph’s son, Benjamin, returned to Mt.Vernon before 1796, where he was a blacksmith. It was his son, Rev. Thomas Jefferson Dudley, who married Louinda Fifield.


According to town records Dudley Plains Cemetery was established in 1789
though Deborah Dudley, wife of Joseph, was buried here as early as 1780.
Two years after they settled on ‘the Plains” Deborah died giving birth to twins at the age of 24.
Joseph Dudley returned to Raymond, NH soon after.
He never returned to Readfield but years later his son Benjamin did and his descendants live in Readfield to this day.

    Joseph Jr.’s brother, Daniel, responded much differently when his wife died at a young age. Daniel’s wife, Susan Glidden of Exeter NH, was said to be a good woman who helped him make a decent living. Their five children were all born in Mt Vernon between 1794 and 1804, but then Susan died. Daniel, who was a “devotee of rum,” left his children scattered among strangers in Maine and returned to New Hampshire where he became poverty stricken. His children, who ended up living in Vienna, Corinth, Bangor and Wilton, never saw their father again.
    The third brother, Samuel, had sons, Jeremiah, Micajah, and Samuel who settled or spent some time in central Maine. Micajah arrived in Readfield in 1775 or earlier. He became a minister of the Society of Friends in 1795 and later died in China, Maine. Jeremiah was a Revolutionary War veteran and served at Fort Ticonderoga and Crown Point under Colonel Arnold. He marched to Quebec with Benedict Arnold in 1775 and suffered from rheumatism in later years, which he attributed to that march. Near the end of the war, about 1782, he came to Readfield where he stayed for a short time before moving on to Pittston then Bangor, and eventually went west to New York with his family in 1813. While in Bangor he was the first to build a sawmill on the Kenduskeag River. There is little known about Jeremiah’s brother, Samuel II, except what I stumbled on to in “Methodism in Maine” by Allen & Pillsbury, which gives the following account of a visit by Rev Jesse Lee to this area. “On December 12, 1794 Lee was in Readfield where he served eight people with the first celebration of the Lord’s Supper by Methodists in Maine. On Tuesday December 16, he rode with Samuel Dudley to “the Hook” (Hallowell) and crossed the Kennebec River on unsafe ice. The horses broke through 10 or 15 feet from the east shore but got out safely. Lee and Samuel Dudley then rode to Pittston Meeting House and called on Major Colburn, then went on to Eastern River and dined. At this point Rev. Lee went on alone to Alna.” It is recorded in the family history that Samuel Dudley drowned in the Sheepscot River in 1795. One must assume that this Samuel Dudley never made it home to Readfield after guiding Rev Lee to the Eastern River.
There are many houses on Dudley Plains that have at one time or another been occupied by members of this family, but the one I will mention here is, I believe, one of the oldest existing houses (see picture below) on that road. On June 21, 1793 130 acres, part of lot #130, was sold to 49 year old Samuel Brown of Gilmantown, New Hampshire. At that time Samuel had nine children aged 6 to 25 years. Brown’s daughter Sarah who was born in 1768, is the oldest birth recorded in our Readfield town records. Brown was licensed as an inn holder on the Plains Road in Readfield from 1796 to 1799. He died in 1822 at the age of 78 years. Brown’s granddaughter, Polly, married Eliphalet Dudley’s grandson, John, and they lived in this house built by Samuel Brown. It remained in the Brown / Dudley family for generations.
    When you look at an 1856 or 1879 map of Readfield you will see the name Dudley all along the Plains Road and on several adjacent roads. Though the Dudley name is not evident in current town rolls, you can still find them in the old family burial ground est. 1789. Many of the other earliest Readfield settlers who helped settle Dudley Plains are buried in this cemetery also.  There are many descendants in this area who do not bear the Dudley surname, but who still share in their legacy. I am one – perhaps you are too?


View from Dudley Cemetery.


Samuel Brown house c1793 on Dudley Plains Road.
In the mid 1900’s the barn on this property was “Three Pines Dance Hall.”



Descendant of Old Families Shares Pictures

    Father Scott Mower from Orono, Maine recently gifted us with pictures of some old homes in Readfield where his ancestors once lived. The captions below are the inscriptions he has written on back of the pictures. He is especially interested in learning where the first house is located.  Anyone have any ideas?


Seth Gage Merrow standing in front of the home
of his daughter, Viola Merrow Gay, in Readfield, Maine.

    According to town records Seth Merrow was born in 1833 and a soldier in the Civil War. His property was on route 135 and purchased by Augusta Water District then moved or destroyed - with several other homes – in the early 1920’s. But where did his daughter Viola Merrow Gay reside?


Taken c1907 of Mrs. Leander J. Crooker (Nell Luce) with her sister
Mrs. Lewis W. Merrow, Sr. (Hittie Luce) with Merrow children Nellie, Viola, Lewis Jr., and Baby Thelma.
Thelma Merrow (later Mrs. Merton Cram) was born in this house.


Building Repair Fund Drive 2001 a Success!

We wish to thank the following people whose generosity helped us reach a goal of $5,000.00 this past winter! With the  $5,690.00 raised we will now be able to bring new life to the exterior of our building with paint and some much needed repairs! Stop by to visit this summer and to watch our progress!


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(c) 2001 Dale Potter Clark All Rights Reserved