Readfield, Maine Historical Society Newsletter Spring ~ Summer 2001
Readfield Historical Society Newsletter
Spring ~ Summer 2002
Readfield, Maine

From the President

As the executive committee made plans for this coming year’s activities we could not help but reflect on the successes of the past year.  We extend heartfelt thanks to our members, friends and financial supporters for making it all possible. As you read this newsletter we hope you will make note of future programs we have planned. We look forward to sharing some special historical moments with you in 2002.

Factory Square  at May 4th RHS Meeting

Readfield once had an industrial center called Factory Square that included a gristmill, woolen factory, sawmill, carriage shop, brickyard and a tannery. Also there were scythe, sash, barrel, box and cheese factories operating here at various times. People often referred to this part of town as “Little Brittany” because of its volume of industry.
Saturday, May 4, 2002 at Gile Hall
1:00pm RHS business meeting
2:00pm Factory Square Program.  Historical and slide show presentation of Factory Square by Marius Peladeau and John Knox. If you have stories, pictures or articles reminiscent of Factory Square please bring them to share. Refreshments will be served following the program.

Historical Bus Tour 2002

 Saturday August 10th will find us riding the back “ruds” of Readfield with some popular old town characters.  Relief Savage Gordon and Friends will return this year to escort us back through time on the South & Stanley Roads.  Here we will learn stories about the very early days of Readfield. In addition there will be some history of camps that line the east shore of Maranacook Lake.
Please plan to join us Saturday, August 10th. The tour will begin at 1:00pm at the RHS building. Tickets are $5.00 each or $12.00 for a nucleus family of three or more. The bus will fill quickly so we suggest you make reservations by calling 685-3812. Lunch and baked goods will be sold at the RHS building starting at 11:00am.

RHS Members and Friends Highlights

Our heartfelt sympathy goes to Ginger Adell upon learning of the death of her special friend Ernie. Also to Gerald Adell, whose wife Marie died in January, Ernest Bracy whose wife Phyllis passed this winter and to Steven Cowperthwaite whose brother Frank died in February.

Wish List and Gratitudes

Our thanks to:
Roger Bruce Williams for the painting of “Harry Mills barn.”
Thanks to John Knox who has agreed to research and write grants for RHS.

Two sturdy porch rockers.
Electric Stair Lift for handicap access to second floor

Kennebec Historical Society

The KHS is gathering a complete collection of town reports from all Kennebec County towns and would appreciate donations of Readfield reports. Call 622-7718 or email
KHS hours are 10am-2pm Tu-We-Sat and 6-8pm Th.

First ‘Show and Tell’ a Great Success!

On a sunny afternoon in January thirty folks gathered at Gile Hall for our first annual Show and Tell. Attendees enjoyed seeing and hearing about various artifacts, collections, art, quilts, crafts and genealogy. There was also much historical information shared through picture postcards, letters, documents, books and diaries. After the program all enjoyed a variety of delicious homemade desserts. January 25, 2003 is our next “Show and Tell” so plan on joining us.

RHS Summer 2002 Open House

First Sunday of each month May - October
10:00am - 2:00pm
Also open by appointment.
Call (207) 685-3812 to make arrangements.

Elias Gove an “Old Character“
by Dale Potter Clark

    Elias Gove, once described as  “the most picturesque man in Maine” was a well known character in Lewiston and Auburn for the last 20 of his 85 years, but his notoriety began in his hometown – Readfield. By the time he died in March 1894 he had been long termed “Immanuel, Prince of Peace.” According to a Lewiston Evening Journal news article following Gove’s death he was known for his “strange garb and peculiar but harmless and kindly idiosyncrasy. Few people who ever came to Lewiston had failed to catch a glimpse of him”
    Elias Gove was born to Elias and Betsey Johnson Gove on July 8, 1809. Gove Sr. was born in New Hampshire in 1775 and came to Readfield where he operated a farm. Other children born to this couple included:
1. Polly b.1801 m. Samuel Melvin Jr. of Readfield
2. Betsy Johnson b.1803 m. Henry White of Readfield
3. Jonathan b.1805 m. Selina Bean of Readfield 1831
4. Harriet b.1810
5. Dorothy Jane b.1812
6. Moses Johnson b.1815
7. Samuel Melvin b.1817 m. Sarah Greeley d/o Henry &  Mehitable Melvin Greeley. Married at the Kents Hill Meetinghouse August 1, 1840.
8. George Washington Shepard b.1821
    Reportedly, as a young, energetic and capable young man Gove worked on his father's farm. He described his father’s farm as 140 acres - most of it under cultivation - and the best in Readfield. He further claimed that when a young man working on his father's farm his blood became overheated and he was unable to do hard work after that for three years. One wonders if this was the beginning of Gove’s eccentricity.
    According to the news article “One of Gove’s first speeches in public was at Kent's Hill, while still a young man. He was attending some sort of entertainment in the village and suddenly rose to address the audience. The speech he gave was characteristic for him during which he proclaimed himself to be “Emanuel, the Prince of Peace.” He was apparently well received for it is said he was heard in public frequently after that. During those years Gove, who was a Methodist, is said to have had acquaintance with many clergymen and missionaries.
    In reading the transcription of a nineteenth century diary by Mary Davis Dyar I found two entries in which she referred to Mr. Gove. In August of 1865 Mary traveled here from Massachusetts to visit her Davis cousins on Sturtevant Hill Road. On August 10th she wrote “After we left the supper table a strange man came to the door. His name was Gove (cousin Benjamin was acquainted with him.) He came for his supper I suppose. So after we got up from the table they fixed it for him. He said grace aloud, and as he sat there I had a good chance to look at him. He had a little pinched face… and piercing, crazy looking eyes. His reddish brown beard reached down as far as it would grow, halfway down his shirt bosom, if he had one on. His hair was his crowning glory – of a reddish black color, it rose shaggily above his forehead, and hung in long masses down his neck and shoulders. His body was small, and his legs rather spindly, covered with what seemed to be silk pants. He had a white cambric handkerchief folded across his breast, and an embroidered handkerchief stuck within…He was either crazy or half-witted, and by his talk he made me laugh… In his conversation he would ramble off and on about the second-coming and Universalism.” As he spoke he “looked around the room at each one of us and nodding his head weighed down his hairy load…” On August 25th Mary returned to her home in Massachusetts via the train. Upon her arrival at Readfield Depot she saw Gove and again made mention of him in her diary. Gove’s behavior and appearance impressed Mary enough that she gave more space to him in her journal than many other Readfield folks with whom she had far more encounters.
    Mr. Gove removed to Turner, Maine, where in 1837 he married Miss Betsey Bradford, daughter of Asa Bradford, Esq, Elias and Betsey Gove lived together more than twenty years on a little farm near the Asa Bradford homestead. They had a son who died as a young adult and it is said the Goves separated soon after due to Mr. Gove's declining mental stability. Mrs. Gove returned to her father's home. It is not known where Gove resided between the late 1850’s and 1874, but we do know that in August of 1865 he was in Readfield. Perhaps he returned to his father’s homestead as well. According to the previously mentioned news article Gove first appeared in Lewiston about 1874. Reportedly he continued – until his death - to be very peculiar, wore unusual clothing, and was easily excitable but harmless. He was additionally described as being “very kindly at heart.”

Editor’s Note: Elias Gove was rediscovered by Maine historian and author David Colby Young who revived an old Lewiston newspaper article and a 1969 radio broadcast that gave lively accounts of the old man. Luckily David shared his find with me. Soon after, I read the Mary Davis Dyar diaries and a new piece was added to the puzzle. The self-proclaimed ‘Emanuel, Prince of Peace” has suddenly regained new life over 100 years after his death. According to some sources Gove proclaimed for years that he would never die. He never said in what form his immortality would exist, but perhaps now we know.

Androscoggin County Historical Society Web Site:
Diary of Mary Eleanor Davis Dyar transcribed and self published by Susan Davis Hanson
Town of Readfield Vital Records

by Dale Potter Clark

The Original Seed

    Greeley is a name seen in the annals of Readfield since the early settlers arrived here – two men from this family signed the petition to incorporate Winthrop in 1770. At one time Torsey Pond was actually named Greeley Pond. But as I digested the Greeley family history I soon saw that more than one of their branches have graced this town – though all descend from the original seed Andrew.
    Twenty-three year old Andrew first appeared in Salisbury (the part later known as Seabrook, NH) in 1640. His trade was blacksmith upon arrival and he later built a tide mill for grinding corn and still later ran another mill in Haverhill, Mass. Of his six children two sons, Andrew and Joseph, sent shoots to Readfield.

The First Branch

    Andrew’s son Joseph was also a mill operator in Haverhill and his children numbered ten.  Joseph’s son Moses, who was born in Haverhill in 1711, married to Mehitable Page and they were parents to eight children – three of them sons. Moses - the middle son - was accidentally shot by his brother Seth at a young age. The other two migrated to Maine with their father. Their sisters 29 yo Mary (married Joseph Brown), 26 yo Mehitable (married Nathaniel Davis), 13 yo Susanna (m1 Joseph Davenport m2. Capt. Perkins Allen) and 20 yo Judith (married John Huston) also came.  In 1761 Moses, 24 year old Seth and 11 year old Joseph, came to Fort Western (now Augusta.) By the spring of 1762 they had built a cabin on the east- side of the Kennebec River, and in 1765 Moses received a grant for the 250 acre Lot#24, adjoining the Fort. Sometime before 1770 they removed to Winthrop (then called Pondtown) where Moses and Joseph signed the petition to incorporate in December of that year. Seth purchased Lot#10 on the west shore of Cobbossee. Joseph and Moses settled on Lot #135 on the east shore of Maranacook, (in the part of Winthrop that later became Readfield.)  This country was so newly settled there were no churches here at that time and according to the Greeley family history Moses was a religious man. He often could be found preaching a sermon when people assembled. He also liked to entertain folks with his singing, reading and performances on the bass violin. In 1783 Moses moved on again – this time to Sandy River where he married his second wife at age 85. Moses lived in Phillips until his death at 95 years of age. It is said he was well cared for by his son who lived nearby.  His daughters Mary, Mehitable, Judith and Susanna all moved with their husbands and children to Sandy River also. Son Seth went west to Ohio in 1818 where he died. Joseph returned to this area and died in Belgrade in 1824. I can think of no truer pioneer spirit than this family must have had.

The Second Branch

     Progenitor Andrew’ s son Andrew was born 1646 in Salisbury, Massachusetts where he married Sarah Brown in 1673. They bore nine children. Their son Joseph, born 1683, was the fifth child and only son to live beyond 19 years of age. He resided in Kingston, NH where he blacksmithed. He and wife Elizabeth Gilman parented six children. Their son Joseph, according to the Greeley family history, was born in Gloucester, Mass in 1715. Joseph married to Elizabeth Dudley in Brentwood, NH in 1722. Elizabeth was the daughter of Jonathan and Doriah (Bean) Dudley. Of their ten children we can trace three sons (Noah, Joseph and Samuel) to this area.
    Noah Greeley was born at Kingston, NH in 1760 and at sixteen years of age he enlisted in the Revolutionary War as a private in Capt. Brown’s Co. He served with General George Washington and spent that famous winter at Valley Forge. He married to Hannah Morrill in 1783 at Kingston. Noah Greeley appears in Winthrop on the 1790 census as a family of six,but by 1810 he and Hannah were the parents of thirteen. He moved on to West Mount Vernon where he built a large home that still stands on the corner of route 41 and Ithial Gordon Road. Greeley built the dam at West Mt Vernon and also the one at the head of Torsey Pond – thus Torsey Pond was at one time called Greeley Pond. Noah is buried behind his homestead.
    Joseph was born in Kingston, NH in 1765. By 1787 Joseph had moved to Readfield and was married to Sarah Wyman, a daughter of Henry Wyman. Wyman settled lot # 99 near Beaver Brook and the east shore of Maranacook Lake. According to Stackpole’s History of Winthrop the road was relaid from Beaver Brook past Henry Wyman’s house and to Waugh’s Landing in 1775. In 1776 the town voted to hold public worship at the house of Wyman. In May of 1790 a town meeting was held at the home of Henry Wyman to decide if the people would vote to break away from Winthrop. Henry Wyman was the only man there to vote nay against the separation.

The Joseph Greeley homestead on South Road from the Depot.
This is near the site where the town meetingwas held (at Henry Wyman's in May of 1790)
to decide on Readfield’s separation from Winthrop.
Faith Wills Rourke now owns this very old farmhouse.

    After this we know nothing more of Wyman. One source says he left Readfield after 1790. Another says he died in Readfield about that time. He does not appear in Maine on the 1790 census so perhaps that is the case. What we do know is that he was against Readfield separating from Winthrop so perhaps he did decide to leave. I believe that seems unlikely since he obviously had a great deal already invested in building a house large enough to hold public worship and town meetings, and his family was here. We know that Henry Wyman had three children - all females - and his daughter Sarah was the eldest. By 1791 she was married to Joseph Greeley and they had two sons and a third child on the way.
    Joseph and Sarah Greeley parented eleven children between 1787 and 1809. According to family history about 1812 Joseph headed to Bath, Maine to enlist in the War and was never heard from again. None of the children were married at this time and seven were under the age of seventeen. Following Joseph’s disappearance the second child, Henry, carried on the Greeley family homestead and raised his family of seven children there. Henry’s daughter Sarah married to Elias Gove and they carried on this farm after Henry.
    A short distance north of the original Joseph Greeley homestead Samuel (Joseph’s eldest child) settled on part of the Robert Page Esq. farm. Samuel married in 1821 to Nancy Taylor of Mt. Vernon and they had six children. Their son Samuel spent eight years in Boston where he married Harriet Haley in 1850.  Sometime in the 1850’s Samuel and Harriet returned to his father’s Readfield place where they farmed and lived the rest of their lives. This couple was childless so in 1859 took in five-year old Fred Brown who they raised as their own son. Fred inherited the farm and later his son C. Willis “Bill” Brown gained ownership. Bill lived here with his wife Mildred throughout their married life. They had no children and following Bill’s death the house was sold and its contents auctioned.

On to Readfield Greeleys in the Twenty-First Century
1. Andrew 2. Andrew 3. Joseph  4.Joseph 5. Samuel
6. Samuel 7. Issac  8. Charles Prescott  9. Arthur B.
10. Charles Judson 11. Douglas 12. David

    As mentioned earlier Joseph in the fourth generation sent three branches to Readfield, but it was not until the eighth generation that this branch found its way here. Samuel 5 remained in New Hampshire where he operated a sawmill in Gilmanton. Samuel 6 was the first of this branch to come to Maine where he settled in Hallowell before 1797. His son Issac was born there in 1808 and remained in that town where he married and had one child, Charles Prescott. Charles P. was born in Hallowell in 1839 and his wife Delia Giles in Belgrade the same year. She was the daughter of Mark and Lucy Giles. Charles and Delia married in Readfield in 1863 and made this their home. In 1862 Charles P. purchased the tannery which (in 1815) had been built on the fourth dam on Factory Square below the grist mill.  Charles tanned sheepskins here and was sole proprietor until the close of the Civil War, then went into partnership with Abram Bachelder. The partners added a large building to the operation and did extensive work here until they sold the business in 1872. Charles and his family then left Readfield to live in Framingham, Massachusetts. They later returned to Readfield where he engaged in farming and lived in school district #5.  Charles P. died tragically at age 59 in 1898 and Delia lived for ten years longer. Both are buried at Readfield Corner Cemetery.
    Charles eldest child Arthur was born in Readfield in 1864, was one of three children and the only son. In 1889 Arthur was listed as a resident of Framingham when he married here to Cora E. Mace - a Readfield native. Cora and her twin sister were born  in 1864 - the daughters of Adoniram Judson Mace. The Greeleys made their home in Framingham for some years and then returned to this town where Arthur farmed. Their children were Bernice and Charles Judson. Arthur and Cora died in 1922 and 1918 respectively. They are also buried in Readfield Corner cemetery.
    Charles Judson was born in Framingham in 1895, and probably returned to Readfield with his parents and grandparents before 1898 when his grandfather died here. Charles J. married to Rangeley native Beatrice Tibbetts in 1918. Their three children were Caroline, Douglas and Clayton. Charles J. was a carpenter, and lived in the house on the corner of Old Kents Hill and Giles Roads. His son Clayton and grandson David reside in Readfield to this day.
    Two hundred thirty two years have passed since the first Greeley arrived here and though there has been some changing of the guard the name continues to hold steadfast in this little corner of the world.

Greeley Genealogy, Maine State Library
History of Kennebec County
Readfield, Maine Vital Records
ME Families 1790, ME Genealogical Society, Vols. 5 & 6
Marriage Notices from Maine Farmer 1833-1852 by Young
History of Winthrop by Everett Stackpole, 1923
1790 Maine Census
Interviews C. Willis Brown and Douglas & Helen Greeley

RHS Raffles 2001 and 2002

Winners of our 2001 Raffle were as follows:
First Prize: – Mary Gruber
1st and 2nd volumes of 1790 Families of Maine by MEGS
Second Prize: Lou Bourque
Handmade baby quilt
Third Prize: Joanne Hunt
Painting of the old home atop Nickerson Hill
2nd & 3rd prizes made by Beverly Norton Newton
Our raffle items for 2002 to be announced at the May meeting!

 Return to RHS Home
Return to RHS Information Page

(c) 2001-2002 Dale Potter Clark All Rights Reserved