A pilgrimage through time

Tue, 08/17/2021 - 7:45am

    If you’re a history buff or just plain curious about landmarks and about centuries gone by, then this is your week. The Lincoln County Bicentennial Plus One Pilgrimage will take you on a journey through Westport Island, Wiscasset, Alna, Dresden, Southport Island, Jefferson and Bristol. The event is modeled after one in 1960. Lincoln County Historical Association and historical groups throughout the county have designed this week with you in mind.

    The Pilgrimage kicked off Sunday, Aug. 15 at Railway Village Museum in Boothbay with a History Fair. The week-long journey runs through Sunday, Aug. 22.

    Groups representing historical locations designed journeys through time. Groups included Southport Historical Society/Hendrick’s Hill Museum, Historic New England, LCHA and Westport Island History Committee and Friends of Westport Island History.

    Peggy Konitzky of Historic New England said historic homes are popular attractions because we’re all naturally curious about how people lived ‘back when.’ This organization’s properties included in the Pilgrimage are Castle Tucker and Nickels-Sortwell House in Wiscasset and Bowman House in Dresden.

    “First of all, the stories are great,” Konitzky said. “Castle Tucker’s story is such a surprise because it’s about people whose income went down over the years and how hard they worked to keep it. Women worked their fingers to the bone to hang on to it ... and that surprises people.”

    On Saturday, Aug. 21 and Sunday, Aug. 22, several events are happening at Bowman House including 18th century militia reenactments, demos of basketweaving, blacksmithing and rigging among them.

    Friends of Westport Island History representative Jeff Tarbox said the group is very excited about the Island’s riding tour featuring 11 historical markers. “We chose sites because of their accessibility and those whose property owners could give their permission. People will go all around the Island, seeing the historical sites, and the beautiful vistas,” Tarbox said.

    The 20-mile loop includes Hodgdon Mill, Heal’s Upper and Lower Mills, Dunton Family Settlements, Clough Point Settlements, and North End Chapel. Each site marker bears information, but because markers can’t hold all the history, they include QR codes for further information.

    Maps of the self-guided tour are available at Westport Island History Center (38 Ferry Road), the town office, or from the boxes on the informational signs at Ferry Landing near the Center, and Westport Community Church.

    “Part of the fun with this was for people on the Island who had never heard about some of the sites like the old mill or Squam Creek; or they heard about them, but had never visited,” said Tarbox.

    More fun can be had on Westport Island Saturday, Aug. 21 by participating in a scavenger hunt for families, similar to one held in May.

    A new exhibit just opened at the Center, “My Island Home – Recollections of Verlie May Colby Greenleaf.” Greenleaf (1891-1992) lived her entire life on the Island, those 100 years making her the Westport Island historian. She donated photos, letters and other personal items to the Center. Other historical information stems from a 1987 interview. The exhibit runs through the end of the year. The Center is open Sundays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

    LCHA’s Pownalborough Court House in Dresden and Old Jail Museum in Wiscasset are stops on the pilgrimage.

    Linda Pope of LCHA believes the draw to these historic sites is people wanting to be in touch with history. “You go back to a simpler time. And for me, it’s about putting children in touch with the history around them. In the ell of the old jail we have a collection of local rudiments used by the farming community. When the kids get in there and see what people used to live – tools, household items, like a two-child butter churn they can use, as well as the toys, like the hoop and stick … they get excited about it.”

    Visitors to the Old Jail are taken to the cells. Pope said the only cell that is somewhat scary is the solitary confinement cell due to the darkness and minimal “comforts.”

    Wiscasset’s Museum in the Streets, the permanent, self-guided walking tour, takes you through important dates and happenings in town history. Information about each site is mounted on a panel and tour maps are at each location and at local businesses.

    On Southport Island, the Pilgrimage takes you to Hendricks Hill Museum (419 Hendricks Hill Road). The former Cameron Family Homestead takes visitors on a journey through life on the island from the mid-1800s through the 1950s. Museum Director Bruce Joule said Hendricks Hill is pretty much an artifact museum preserving the home lives, and livelihoods of the families, particularly the island’s fishing and maritime history.

    Famous people who lived there are depicted including Rachel Carson and Margaret Hamilton. Of Hamilton Joule said, “You would not believe how many kids that come here have never seen the ‘Wizard of Oz’!”

    There’s an outstanding photo collection, Gus Pratt’s lunch counter and the original Newagen Post Office. All of the items in the museum were donated by families who called, and call, Southport home, except for a post office sign, found and bought in a Wiscasset antique store.

    “Everything in this pilgrimage is important to passing on history to the younger generation,” said Joule, echoing Pope. “Most of our trustees are in their 90s. When they pass on, the stories about what people did 50 years ago, 100 years ago are gone.”

    Pilgrimage Passport Booklets are available at all of the participating sites and at the Lincoln County Regional Planning Commission office on Route 1 in Wiscasset, next to Sea Basket restaurant. The booklet’s back page is your passport – at each location someone will stamp its “square.” Those who visit all of the locations will be entered into a raffle for historically themed prizes.

    The rest of the pilgrimage locations are the Alna Meetinghouse and Head Tide Church in Alna; Dresden Historical Society; Old Walpole Meetinghouse, Walpole Chapel, Centennial Hall; Thompson Ice House; S. Road (Roosevelt School) and Smokehouse; South Bristol Historical Society Museum, South Bristol Union Church; and Jefferson Historical Society.

    For complete information, visit www.lincolncounty2020.com