Dedicated to the memory of my brother, David Carleton Libbey, 1915–1990, who cherished his family heritage and did much to preserve it.
- The Libby Family in America 1602–1881. p.23
- Ibid, p.16.
- “The Last Mile, or, The First Journey to
‘Bey-‘Aven,” David C. Libbey, 1954.
- “History of ‘Bey-‘Aven,” by David C.
- Ibid., pp. 3 & 4.
- Copied from a sheet from Maine State Library (obviously from an
encyclopedia, p. 374)
- “History of ‘Bey-‘Aven,” David C.
Libbey, pp. 5 & 6.
- Christian Science Monitor, John Gould, n.p., n.d.
- “David Freeman Libbey, and His Family at
‘Bey-‘Aven. 1860–1885,” in “History
of ‘Bey-‘Aven,” David C. Libbey, pp. 9 &
- Somerset County Register, p. 102.
- Edna M. Libbey Title, Maine 2A395, p. 2 &3
- “History of ‘Bey-‘Aven,” David C.
Libbey, pp. 7 & 8.
- “Maine Central Railroad Co., and The System,”
Bangor Historical Magazine, I, May 1886, p. 192.
- “History of ‘Bey-‘Aven,” David C.
Libbey, pp. 10 - 12.
- Detroit, Maine, 1828–1978, Douglas Ira Fernald, 1977, p.
- “Local Universalist Church Has Had Long and Interesting
History,” The Pittsfield Advertiser, 25 June 1942, #26, Vol.
61, pp. 1 & 6.
- Ibid, p.6.
- Copied from David C. Libbey’s notes of 3/21/78
- The Pittsfield Advertiser, Vol. 1, #4, July 1882, p.2.
- Loda Linnette Libbey’s diary of 1884
- The Pittsfield Advertiser, Vol. 1, April 26, 1894, p.3.
- “Everett Ethelbert Libbey, A Brief Chronology for the
Years 1867–1915,” David C. Libbey, December 1962, p.
- Christian Science Monitor, Thomas W. DiBacco, 10/10.85.
- From a printed newspaper item found in a Universalist Ladies
Aid Society Minutes book, May 12, 1904 (Probably from The
- The Pittsfield Advertiser, Vol. 30, #40, 10/6/1910.
- The Valley Times (formerly The Pittsfield Advertiser), May 17,
Many autobiographical notes of Everett E. Libbey as told by him to Betsey E. Williams, May 16, 1951.
- Aaron Libby, 6A
- Betsey E. Williams holding Araon Lap Stone used in shoemaking,
- Old House with DFL and NML, p. 7A
- Old House with DFL family, p. 7B
- Glenn C. Williams in Everett E. Libbey’s dress, p.
- Everett E. Libbey, portrait, ab. 1872, p. 16B
- David F. Libbey Mason Certificate, 1869, p. ISA
- Old Universalist Church, p. 19A
- New Universalist Church, p. 19B
- Map of pews in Universalist Church, 1879, p. 20A
- MCI Class of 1881, p. 26A
- Perhaps Manson Prize Speaking Group, 1888, MCI, p. 30A
- Everett E. Libbey, 1889, p. SOB
- MCI diploma, Everett E. Libbey, p. 30C
- Everett and sisters, p. 18A
- Mary Ann Ross Bowman and family, ab. 1888, p. 28B
- Mary Ann Ross Bowman, 1809–1888, p. 28A
- David F. & Nancy and children, p. 18B
- Four Libbey girls, p. 26A
- David F. Libbey, P. 28A
- David and Nancy, p. 4€A 3$
- A school where Everett taught, p. ^K-
- David F.Libbey and jury, 1890, p. 44A. j&A
- Ashland High School where Everett Taught, i=*A
- Grace E. Libbey, Japanese Party, p. 42A
- Everett and rock picking 1909–1910, p. 40A
- Everett and Oakland, 1911, p. 42A
- Everett and Oakland, 1911, p. 42B
- Everett in sleigh on Easy Street, 1914–1915, p. 44B
- Everett and woodworking and carvings, 4/20/46, p. 46A
- Everett E. Libbey, ab. 1950, p. 46B
- Edna M. Libbey, ab. 1950, p. 46C
- Thanksgiving 1953, p. 46D
- 40th Wedding Anniversary, Aug. 6, 1955, p. 46E
- Everett and apple orchard, Oct. 1955, p. 46F
- Everett E. Libbey, 90th Birthday, 6 Oct. 1957, p. 46G
As I have contemplated writing my Dad’s life story and as I have collected relevant materials, it was difficult to separate Dad’s early life from that of his family. Then, going farther back in time, it was equally difficult to separate grandfather, David Freeman Libbey, from his parents. So this history of my Dad will begin with the Libby migration to Detroit, Maine. Five succeeding generations have at times lived in the Libby-Libbey homestead. These generations are so tightly linked they become one solid chain of family.
My forebears, whom I never knew personally, seem almost contemporary with the familiarity gained through my gleanings and the vignettes David Carleton Libbey has written of them. What we know of the family comes from family stories and a few journals that tell of the routines goings-on at home. The journals of Grace Evangeline Libbey and Loda Linnette Libbey may not be eloquent but they do tell of dreams and aspirations, their hopes and ambitions. They tell of the relatives and neighbors, the crops and harvest, the farm and livestock. They tell of their faith in a living God. In our lives so distracted by television and computers, we cannot fully understand how their lives were linked to surviving each day.
They are 19th century voices from an age that only vaguely resembles ours. Yet what these voices tell about the enduring dimensions of life - of work, hardship, self-reliance, truth and honesty, love, disappointment and loss - I want my children and grandchildren to know.
We have only glimpses into the life of my great grandfather, Aaron Libby, and even less in the lives of his father and grandfather, but from what we do know, the compiler of The Libby Family in America, 1602–1881 might have been writing of my father and grandfather when he wrote the following of John Libby, the immigrant. “…He took no part in the affairs of the province, and little, so far as is known in the management of the town…He used no tobacco and very little intoxicating drink of any sort, while nearly all of what he did use was wine. His name, except as constable, does not appear at all in the provincial court records, and that at a period when quarrels and litigations were the order of the day, and indictments were raised for the most trivial offences, and on most questionable testimony. That in point of morality he took a stand far above his class is very evident from a comparison between his accounts while on Richmond’s Islands and those of his fellow fishermen. He seemed to have practised that quiet, correct, peaceful mode of life which has always characterized his descendants.” (1)
In writing of characteristics in general of the Libby descendants, he continues: “With scarcely any exception, the members have been strikingly devoid of ambition for power, place, and wealth…The story of almost every
individual of the family is but one of quiet effort to make for himself a home. …As a family; they have been largely respected by their neighbors as men of sterling worth, and uprightness, and honesty of character. They have generally belonged to that law-abiding class which forms the bone and muscle of a nation, content to render the wise efforts of others effective by its hearty support and willing to concede all the glory to the leader. They are, as a family, very devout,…Even in Maine, where the family is so numerous. . .it has been remarked by many to the compiler of this volume, that they never knew of a criminal nor a pauper named Libby.” (2)
Betsey E. Williams 16 September 1996
THE LIBBY-LIBBEY FAMILY IN DETROIT, MAINE
“The hill out of Pittsfield Village has been a long drag for the oxen even though young David had rested them in the little level landing a quarter of the way up. They had stopped twice again at each successive rise in spite of all his efforts to urge them on. For hadn’t his father told him almost the last thing on starting out that the new home they were seeking was not so far from the village itself? In comparison to the distance he had already gone that day this last long mile would be short indeed unless, of course, his father had estimated it incorrectly when he had driven up with the horse and wagon only a few weeks before. But the oxen, sensing David’s anticipation and impatience, seemed all the more stubborn in their tracks.
“He had started out in late moon light of that morning and by this time he had exhausted the sunlight of another day - how warm it had been for the first of January. The trip from below Clinton Village, from the old home, had been long for the plodding oxen had measured every step of the way cautiously and deliberately. It was as if they realized they were going not to return again.
“The decision to move to the new home had not been taken without due deliberation in the family circle. Aaron had looked at his four sons growing up and realized that new opportunities for work which the old farm in Clinton did not provide might be sought in more wooded acres a little farther to the north. Emily, his wife, had agreed somewhat reluctantly. David’s best friend and playmate had left the spring before with his family for the West. Even his oldest brother had mentioned “going West” as though it were the proper thing to do. Opportunities there were aplenty but they seemed to be somewhere else. The urge to be on one’s way had been strong these past few years.
“As he reached the brow of the long hill of many steeps and little flats, he saw the woods and a few cleared places spread out before him in the young moonlight of the early evening. If it had not been for the new house on his right - which seemed to crown the hill - he would have thought the woods and the gently sloping roadway, what he could see of it - very lonely indeed. Only two more houses to go and the second one would be exactly opposite the high land his father had talked about as a possible building spot for their new home.
“It would not be long now before he would be in the new home - the new home-to-be - for the only shelter he could now expect was a log cabin built sometime ago. This would have to do until they could get the promised house built that summer. David had heard his father reassure his mother many times about the new home for she had been rather reluctant about the whole matter, being the last persuaded in the family discussions.
“The road now was all the more difficult, dusty as it was with the rough corduroy surface. This indication of past logging operations was now almost a mockery. For there would be little logging this winter with dust blowing about instead of snow. The oxen might have been quicker and surer footed - runners would have smoothed a snow-covered road far more than the heavy wheels could do for mud and corduroy. David had preferred to walk and the long trip had left him quite exhausted so that the expectation of a hot supper and uncertain bed was somewhat dulled.
“But the going was now down hill - at least, the constant urging necessary since they had passed through the town and up the long hill was no longer necessary. What a little village it had been with a few scattered houses along the street, and the mill beside the river - a saw mill where he supposed they might later be hauling some of their own lumber from the new farm, perhaps.
“The corduroy road was particularly rough at that marshy place with the heavy thick pines on the right. But the going commenced to get better as the hardwoods became thicker. Yes, there were a house and barn on the right with shingles already weathering but no cabin on the left. Of course, he remembered that there was still another house to come but he did remember now that that one faced the road and was painted red. Little would he see of them this evening however.
“David had been proud to think that he was allowed to take the oxen all by himself. The oxen were used to him for he had driven them and others almost as soon as he could walk. And he smiled as he thought of the young calves he had yoked last year to the sled his father had made him the year before that. His earnest entreaties had been listened to more carefully when his father had decided to drive through with the horses a few days earlier. With some of his brothers away from home and others needed to look after the animals on the old home place for the remainder of the winter, it was impossible to refuse.
“Just then he spotted lights ahead - first to the right, and then - to the left. He was home — again!” (3)
This was January 26 in the year 1841. The ground was bare and dry and the dust flew up as four oxen and one horse plodded along with two or three cows and sheep following loose behind the team. At the time they came to Pittsfield, there were only two houses in the village besides the Lancey Tavern. The other two were the Simon house (where Dr. Webber lived at the top of McCardy hill) and the Leighton residence moved to Lancey Street (now owned by Nimeon Karam) originally on the site of the Briggs house on Main Street. The log house which was their destination was “the darnedest old log house you ever saw” (as Everett said his father told it to him.) It was uninhabited and dilapidated. It was cold as there was not much plaster to fill the cracks between the logs. They mixed hay and dung to stop up the cracks. As it froze in place it helped keep out the north winds. This log house was situated a little in back of the present house. An old barn was there having been built by the previous owner the year before. The original land with barn and log house may have been purchased in 1840. It consisted of one hundred acres.
David C. Libbey researched deeds to the Libby homestead in Skowhegan, Maine. The following is a copy of one dated 5 November 1841 conveying land to Aaron Libby from Jacob Nutting - the earliest record of any purchase of land included in the bounds of ‘Bey-‘Aven. (‘Bey-‘Aven was the name David Carleton Libbey gave to the Libby-Libbey homestead.)
Know all men by these presents - that I, Jacob Nutting of Detroit, County of Somerset, State of Maine -in consideration of the sum of Five Hundred dollars paid by Aaron Libby of Clinton, County of Kennebec, State aforesaid - (the receipt whereof I do hereby acknowledge) do hereby give, grant, bargain, sell and convey, unto the said Aaron Libby, his heirs and assignees forever, a certain parcel of land situated in Detroit, bounded as follows, - Beginning on the north side of the road leading from Pittsfield to Newport on the Norris lot so-called thence Easterly on said Road Eighty-two rods, and half or there about to land owned by Samuel Ricker, thence North, on said Ricker’s line forty-eight rods, thence westerly twenty rods to lot No. thirty-three, thence Northerly on said line to the Palmyra road, thence westerly on said road to the Norris lot so-called thence south on said line to the first mentioned bound containing sixty acres more or less…
There was another deed dated 12 March 1844 conveying additional land to Aaron Libby from Pascal P. Nichols, as follows:
Know all men by these presents, That I Pascal P. Nichols of Detroit, County of Somerset, State of Maine, yeoman, In consideration of fifty dollars paid by Aaron Libby of Detroit, County of Somerset, Sate of Maine, yeoman, (the receipt whereof I do hereby acknowledge) do hereby give, grant, sell and convey unto the said Aaron Libby a certain parcel of land situated in Detroit aforesaid and bounded as follows: viz., Beginning at the northeast corner of lot No. 33 in the first range of lots agreeable to a plan made by Joseph Norris, Esq., Thence running south on the east line of Lot No. 33 eighty-four rods. Thence east twenty rods Thence North to the Haskel road so-called Thence west to the first mentioned bounds containing ten acres more or less…
“This ten acres north of the road, called the County Road, leading from Pittsfield to Newport was mostly wooded and covered with heavy growth of pine and hemlock, particularly, the latter. It could be cut for its bark which was sold to the tannery at Detroit for four dollars a cord delivered at the tannery. The trees were old and the bark would be as much as two inches thick. The peeled logs were then sold for timber which was rafted with the hard wood and driven down the river. (4)
The high point of the lot was a ridge bounded by two branches of the Sabbattus Brook and it was at this point that “Bey-“Aven was to be situated.
There was a logging road from Haskell’s Hill across the farm through what was later to be the long field and down through the woods to the river.
Not long after their arrival a big storm came up. When they went to bed at night the sky was clear and filled with stars. When they awoke in the morning snow had fallen to a depth reaching to the door latch. The snow fell so fast and to such a depth that David Freemen’s grandfather Woodsum, living in Clinton, had a whole flock of sheep smother in the storm.)
David Freeman was nine years old when he came with his father to Detroit, Maine. On the first day of March the snow was four feet deep. David went across the road and jumped from the fence top into the soft snow. The snow was so deep that when he tried to get up, he walked out of his boots. He came to the barn in his stocking feet to get a shovel to dig out his boots. The 9th day of May there came a foot of snow. All day long Aaron and David sledded logs with four oxen to Pittsfield to be sawed into lumber for the new house.
“The farm had many inhabitants or squatters living at every direction of the compass within the confines of the present boundaries. Near the site of the buildings was the log cabin in which Aaron’s family lived while the new home itself was being built. This log house which possessed only the bare earth for a floor was located in back of the present house in about the place where the cesspool is now located. It had been built at least ten or fifteen years before the family came and it consisted of one room and a loft.
“Another log cabin was situated south of the road about opposite the barn and just back of the break in the stone wall which is between fifty and seventy-five feet below the big pine tree.
“The foundation of the frame house of the Foss family directly opposite “Bey-“Aven was located on the site of another log house. Still farther to the east on a plot of ground between the depression that leads to the open water hole and drive leading to the place where the old barn was built across the road was a log house built by “Ding” Huston. His mother was the Mrs. Foss who owned the property at that time.
“On the Dogtown road was another group of these primitive dwellings. In the northwest corner of the farm and near to the present Central Maine Power Company’s right-of-way a squatter cut the logs and built a house before Aarom knew about it. This west lot was later cleared and used as a sheep pasture. Another squatter settled in the northeast corner very nearly opposite what is now the Berry House, and between these two extremes a third squatter built his cabin just a bit west of the bars in the present fence and diagonally across the Dogtown Road from the Klimene House”. (5)
They had their garden in a small cleared field on Lot 33 bounded by stone walls around the field in back of the barn up to the stone wall (E-W) which bounds the southern limit of the upper pasture over to the stone wall running N-S bounding the field in back of the garage.
The farm on the south side of the road was owned by man by the name of Foss who had bought the place soon after the Civil War. He died of cancer. Nancy Bowman Libbey remembered Mr. Foss’ heating corn on a shovel before the open fire in order to try out the oil from it to apply to the cancerous bunch on his face. Mr. Ricker bought the farm from the Foss heirs in the 1860?s. Mr. Ricker fought in the war (civil?), returned to his home place, and died of consumption (tuberculosis). His widow sold the farm to David Freeman. There was a small three-room red-shingled house and an old barn on the place. The house, which Grandfather used as a shop, burned in the night in the early 1870?s. (I can remember the cellar hole of the house where lilies of the valley grew. As a child, I used to pick the flowers each Memorial for a bouquet on Aunt Grace’s burial lot. She loved the flowers.) Mr. Foss had cultivated land down below what is now the pine knoll. He always had a good yoke of oxen in the barn.
We know little of Aaron from personal records but we can judge his personality from the things he did. Aaron was the third child of Sea Captain David Libby and Elizabeth McKinney. (Captain David Libby was buried at Chebeague Island, later his remains were removed to Munjoy Hill, Eastern Cemetery, in Portland, Maine.) Aaron was born in Saco, Maine, 7 October 1796. He married 4 April 1824 Emily Woodsom, daughter of Abner and Betsey (Berry) Woodsum, of Saco. Aaron was a farmer and millman working at home until his marriage. For a short time he lived in Hollis, Maine before moving to Clinton. They must have lived in Hollis only a couple of years as Orin, their first child, was born in Hollis in 1825, but Dyer, their second child, was born in Clinton in 1827.
Aaron and Emily had seven children. Aaron shoved his love and concern for his children, just as parents today, that they might be busily engaged in worthwhile pursuits. Such a concern influenced him to move his family to Detroit where there seemed to be greater opportunity for purposeful occupation. It is interesting that he chose David to accompany him. Two older sons, Orin and Dyer remained at home to care for their mother, a younger brother, George, and two little sisters, Lizzie and Emily until they, too, journeyed to Detroit after their new house was built. (A son, Simon, had died in infancy in 1830.) David, Orin and perhaps Dyer are said to have walked all the way from Clinton to Detroit driving their sheep and cattle before them on David’s second journey.
Clinton had been David’s birthplace. As a boy he went fishing in a brook that flowed by the farm. His pole was a sapling, his hook a bent pin, and his line home-spun from tow (linen). He dangled his hook in a little pool when he felt his very first bite. In his excitement he pulled so hard that he tossed the fish up fifty feet into the air. The shock of the fall from so great a height killed the fish as it landed in the road. It weighted about a pound - his very first catch!
My father, Everett Ethelbert, remembered hearing his father tell about seeing the soldiers return after the Aroostook War. This would have been when the family still lived below Clinton village. The Aroostook War was an undeclared bloodless Anglo-American “War” that occurred in 1839. The peace treaty of 1783 concluding the American Revolution had not satisfactorily determined the boundary between New Brunswick and what is now Maine. The boundary dispute worsened after Maine gained statehood in 1820 and, disregarding British claims, began granting land to settlers in the valley of the Aroostook River. The king of the Netherlands was asked to arbitrate the dispute, but the U. S. Senate rejected his award in 1832 although the British accepted it.
Canadian lumberjacks entered the Aroostook region to cut timber during the winter of 1838–1839, and in February they seized the American land agent who had been dispatched to expel them. The “war” was now under way. Maine and New Brunswick called out their militiamen, and Congress, at the instigation of Maine, authorized a force of 50,000 men and appropriated $10 million to meet the emergency. Maine actually sent 10,000 troops to the disputed area, President Van Buren dispatched Gen. Winfield Scott to the “war” zone, and Scott arranged an agreement (March 1839) between officials of Maine and New Brunswick that averted actual fighting. Britain agreed to refer the dispute to a boundary commission, and the matter was settled in 1842 by the Webster-Ashburton Treaty. (6)
Aaron must have played with his children and been sensitive to the needs and desires of children. David’s Dad gave him two calves of his very own and he had yoked them to the big red sled Aaron had made for him. David had driven oxen almost since he could walk.
As Aaron and David worked to construct the new house it was David who drove the oxen hauling timbers and foundation stones into place. As Tom Carver told Aaron, “Let David drive the oxen. They are used to him and he can handle them better than you.”
Aaron wanted to provide well materially for his family. Work on the house progressed laboriously by hand. Most of the cellar was built practically on top of the ground with rocks filled in and around the walls. The walls were stone split from boulders on the farm. Tom Carver, a stone mason, split and shaped the granite slabs with a wedge-shaped drill turning the drill a quarter of a turn with every blow of the sledge hammer. David drove the four-ox team down the roll-way hauling stones to the area where the stone arch was built. This massive stone arch with its keystone supported the chimney in that part of the house including two back-to-back fireplaces. (Another arch was built of logs to support the chimney in the east end of the house.) Two flues were originally built. (During my lifetime this original chimney and the flues have been preserved with very few alterations.) One fireplace, in the present living room side was approximately the same size as it is today but the crane and supporting frame rounded out into the room to make that fireplace seem deeper. The frame was of iron with an iron mantle above it with a second mantle of wood above that. The wooden mantle, about six inches wide, wrapped around three sides of the chimney. The present living room was the early kitchen. Here food was cooked in kettles hung from the crane. The second fireplace faced the area that was to become our pantry. The chimney was laid of home-made bricks shaped from blue clay dug on the farm. The clay was pounded to a fine powder, mixed with sand and water and molded in a wooden mold, then fired. Probably the fire was fueled with peat, also, dug on the farm. Mortar was powdered blue clay. The upper story of the house was not finished except for one room over the present living room. The house was of frame construction with hand-hewn timbers. Boards for the house were sawed in Pittsfield in an old-fashioned mill using an up-and-down saw. The mill was run by Going Hathorne. The house was roofed and sided with shingles shaved by hand. Those shingles lasted over forty years before being replaced. By now the house was far enough along for them to live in the next winter. The heavily wooded land provided plenty of building timber with a mixed growth of hemlock, pine, etc. Interestingly, the lofty maple tree on the front lawn was a withe in 1841. As earth was hauled out for excavation for the cellar and stone blocks hauled in for the walls, ox teams pulled their heavy loads over the very spot where the young tree grew but Aaron saw it and straightened it. It grew into a lovely shade tree.
“The main doorway for the house was copied from the one in the house built at the top of the hill and presently owned by the Luther Leightons.
“The house itself was thirty-four feet long and twenty-four and one half feet wide. It consisted of four rooms, a pantry, and a hallway with stairs leading to the attic above and the cellar below.
“The ell was built sometime after the main part of the house. It may have been as soon as three years after or it may have been as late as 1856, a whole decade after construction had begun. This included the kitchen, a shed and a woodshed which had a large door on the front permitting one to drive into it with a load of firewood to be unloaded there.” (7)
Aaron was industrious. He was, also, a man of position in his family and community since he was a shoemaker making shoes not only for his own family but for others in the community. Boots and shoes had no left or right in those days. After shoes were fashioned, the wearer put them on, wet them thoroughly and let them dry on his feet, thereby shrinking the leather to fit each foot individually. The soles and uppers were held together with wooden pegs. Aaron had his own shoemaker’s bench (which we have today). Aaron was a carpenter and cabinet maker. The captain’s chair he made still exists.
The farm certainly provided plenty of work for Aaron and his sons. Rocks, that “grew” in abundance had not seemed so plentiful until they cut the trees. Wide, high stone walls that surround every field are evidence of great industry. As they cut the timbers, bark was shaved and hauled to the tannery in Detroit owned by Fayette Shaw. The logs were hauled across Orin Libby’s farm to the river on the south Detroit road to the Sebasticook River where they were rafted or driven down stream into the Kennebec at Winslow and thence, to Gardiner or Bath, shipbuilding centers at that time. David Freeman was unusually proficient at rafting logs - that is, fastening several 1000? of logs together into one large raft. David guided them all the way to Bath. This was during the years 1841–1850. These logs were marked with their owner’s mark as recorded in the Town Clerk’s office.
“During the spring drives on the rivers of Maine everybody tumbled logs into the freshet for a free ride to the mill, and each man’s mark was stamped into the end grain of his lumber.
“Perhaps there was more chance for confusion in the rivers of Maine, because marks not only indicated an owner -they showed which chopper had delivered them, and often
There is some missing text here - Ben Mathews
mill, a ‘pen-pusher’ would take the scale from the sluiceways and credit the arriving lumber by marks to the proper categories.” (8)
At one occasion they hewed a ship’s keel of rock maple forty-six feet long by approximately two feet wide and one foot thick. This hard wood had to be rafted to keep it from sinking.
We do not know what Aaron’s lumber mark was but he did have sheep and cattle and we do know how Aaron’s flocks were marked. A swallow-tail in the right ear and top off the left ear was his mark as found in the Archives in the Augusta, Maine State Library and registered in Detroit, Maine. Aaron’s son, Orin’s, mark was swallow-tail in each ear.
“In those days fences were still to be built, and most farmers lived in their own clearings. If an animal wandered through the woods and came out in another clearing, ownership could be ascertained by a glance at the ear. …Here is the origin of the western cattleman’s brand. So many of the beginnings in the West were by Easterners, yet we tend to ignore this transition.” (9)
At one time Aaron had in his possession what was called a “Yankee Trap.” It was a big trap that required a hand spike to set it. The British were said to have shipped a whole shipload of these traps to the American coast trying to lure the Americans into them. David, Orin/ and Dyer knew about the traps and had seen them.
Aaron must have been very skilled in the use of tools, as crude as they were, since we have a Captain’s chair, with arms and plank seat that he made.
As a young man David Freeman had the idea that he might go to California. The lure of gold and riches were attractive. But he resisted the urge. A number of people from Pittsfield had gone taking the route across the Isthmus of Panama. David’s wife’s uncle, George Washington Bowman, with one of his sons, had gone to California hoping to make his fortune. (See a copy of his letter to his wife in Appendix) Even after his marriage the lure of the West was strong. In the 1870?s David Freeman had a fever to go to Nebraska to raise sheep. A Mr. Bran, a clerk in Bill Long’s Hardware and General Store, his wife and two daughters had been out to Nebraska. David became interested in going. Raising a flock of three thousand sheep intrigued him.
“One morning in the late Fall in 1851 Aaron said he heard a moose ‘blow’ or call but thought no more about it. David Freeman, then about twenty yours old, was attending the Brackett School (David attended school only during winter months as there was farming to do in Spring and Fall and in the Summer months he peeled hemlock bark.) when someone said he had seen a moose in the woods below the road. David and Alfonso Brackett went home at noon, got their rifles and went hunting.
“They did not return to school that afternoon but went out the lower line of the farm where the railroad now is. They followed it for some distance crossing the town line into Pittsfield on Runnel’s property which is now Luther Leighton’s farm. There they came upon the moose unawares and not until he snorted did they realize he was so near. He ran off and across the county road near the farm house and onto the backside of Haskell’s Hill. As it began to grow dark, the boys gave up the chase.” (10)
A note on David Freeman’s name. He was given the name David by his parents along with his surname Libby. However, after the family moved to Detroit, they found there was another David Libby living up by the Charlie Deraps place in Dogtown. Consequently, as David grew older there was confusion as to which David was being addressed in the mails. David added the name Freeman as his middle name. In earlier days immigrants to America often came as indentured servants or under bondage to a more affluent person who sponsored them or they were under apprenticeship to that person until they had served a time sufficient to pay for their passage. At the end of that time when they were free of bondage, they often wrote “Freeman” after their name to indicate they were no longer beholden to anyone. Why David chose “Freeman” for his middle name, we do not know. It was, also, David Freeman who changed the spelling of Libby by adding an “e” before the “y” - Libbey. (Personally, I think the name looks more balanced with the change! BEW)
Aaron Libby was active in civic affairs. He was elected 2nd Selectman for the Town of Detroit in 1854. (11) In 1856 he was 3rd Selectmans and in 1858 he served as 2nd Selectman again. These were probably for two-year terms. We do not seem to have many references to Aaron after about 1858. David still lived on the home place while his brothers and sisters married and lived elsewhere. In 1860 Aaron gave up ownership of the farm buildings and the rest of the property of Lot 33 and one other lot in a warranty deed dated March 17, 1860. Tradition has it that George, the youngest son, was to have looked after his parents when they reached the age of disability but when the actual arrangements were made, it was David Freeman who shouldered the responsibility. (George was one who went to California later returning to settle in Colton, New York where he ran a tannery.) Since David’s marriage to Nancy Bowman he had made his home with his parents. At the same time David and Nancy signed a mortgage deed for the consideration of one thousand dollars. “This mortgage was given to secure the maintenance of said Aaron and his wife, Emily Libby, mother and father of said D.F. Libby.” (12)
“Very little is known of the intervening years before their deaths. It is said that David remarked that it cost him a dollar a week to keep his father and mother supplied with pipe tobacco - a large amount even for those times.
“Nancy B. Libbey is said to have remarked that her mother-in-law (Emily W. Libby) was always saying that the young folks don’t know anything. (Times don’t seem to change!)
My Dad often told the story that in Sydney, Maine (where Nancy Bowman and parents had lived) there lived four David Bowmans on one road within two miles of each other. To distinguish between them they were called David, the first; David, the second; Big Button Dave; and Little Dave.
“Aaron died in 1866, his seventieth year on September 25. The day before his death he had walked over to Jonathan Galusha’s in Dogtown - a distance of a little over a mile each way. At midnight he had a shock and died early the next day. Emily was to survive her husband by less than a year for she passed away the next August 3, 1867.” (13)
Probably the single most significant development in the first twenty years of the Libby family in Detroit was the building of the railroad. A deed granting land to the Penobscot and Kennebec Railroad Company was drawn up on the 16th of June 1854. (Vol. 80, page 207, Recorded 10 September 1855)
The Androscoggin and Kennebec Railroad Company was incorporated 28 March 1845 to build a road from Danville Junction to Waterville - fifty-five miles. The road was completed 27 November and opened for business 23 December 1849.
“The Penobscot and Kennebec Railroad Company was incorporated April 7, 1845 to build a road from Waterville to Bangor - fifty-six miles; the road was completed September 1, 1855, and opened for business the same month.” (14)
“The year that the railroad was built through Detroit David Freeman helped lay the rails, working about two months. Some of the ties used in the building were cut on the farm. One day David left work at six in the evening although the foreman wanted him to stay on. David refused as he said he had already put in a day’s work. So the next day he did not go to work but the foreman sent for him and told him he wanted him to come back. He probably didn’t work over two months in all on this job.” (15)
Fuel later was cut from the farm to supply the wood-burning locomotives first used on the railroad. David cut 300 - 500 cords of wood for the railroad each year stacking it by the tracks on the Isaac Gordon (Lin Hopkins) place. He sold 1500 rails to the railroad for the fences beside the railroad right-of-ways. David Freeman may have helped clear the right-of-way. The farm is almost the only farm in the area that the railroad did not cut in two. It just happened that the railroad was surveyed that way. The railroad in the southwest corner of the farm runs at the very corner of the farm but at the southeast corner the railroad cut off a piece just the width of the right-of-way - four rods wide.
Aaron Libby owned stock in the railroad but all he ever got out of it was a free train ride to the stockholders’ meeting in Bangor.
In Grace’s diary of 1904–1906, she deplored the fact that public transportation was so meager. She wrote,” Pittsfield and Newport ought to be connected by an electric road. More should our state be traversed by railroads for it is very difficult to reach some places and long hard stage drives have to be taken.”
David Freeman did many kinds of work in several different places before he was married and settled down on the home place in 1857 at the age of twenty-six. As has already been written, he worked on the Sebasticook River rafting logs in the Spring for several years before he was married.
“Logs were cut the full length of the tree, yarded to the river bank and driven down the Kennebec River to Gardiner where a great shipbuilding industry was located. These logs were either cut in the “Bey-‘Aven” woods or on other land the family owned. The logs were sold at the river bank.
“For a while David Freeman worked in a lumber camp in Hermon, Maine for a Mr. Blake (Orin Libby’s first wife’s father). They cut Concasy Pine into logs. This pine was rotten-hearted, hence its name. (Note: I wonder if that word might have been spelled “Concavy” as “concave” can mean “hollow.” (BEW) Mr. Blake told his crew to drive a dead branch into the hole in the center so that the people who bought the pine would not be looking for a rotten-hearted tree.
“While David Freeman was working here, he with seven or eight other men had a camp which had neither a door nor a chimney but only a smoke hole to let out the smoke. As they were preparing to go to sleep one night, two of the men who had gone out on the roof to close the smoke hole - it was made by raising two boards of the roof - were surprised by a horrible screech which they thought was made by a catamount (mountain lion or loupservier) . The men jumped from the roof and sought shelter in the camp on the instant. The other members of the crew hurriedly piled the doorway full of wood. Hod Hale tied himself to the wall of the cabin and
David Freeman slept with his ax within arms reach. Next day they made a door for the cabin. Also, in the crew was David Hale, a brother of Hod. The brothers were neighbors of David Freeman for they lived in a house that was built on the site of Harry Brackett’s house in Dogtown. The men got about fifteen or sixteen dollars a month for their labors.
“At another time David Freeman worked in a slaughter house in Portland, Maine. It is thought that he worked for his uncle there. A check of the family entries in the Libby family genealogy does not confirm this. However, his cousin, Arthur Albion Libby, was in the beef packing firm of his uncle, John L. Hancock, and continued the business for himself after the uncle had gone to Chicago. It was this cousin who later came to found the firm of Libby, McNeill, and Libby in Chicago after he followed his uncle there.
“David Freeman worked for Going (Gowen) Hathorne to help harvest wheat in a field located beyond the present Pittsfield Town Park and in the area between the Maine Central Railroad and Somerset Avenue. He used a sickle to cut the wheat. A man who wanted to get a job for his own son told Mr. Hathorne that this young man could do twice as much as that David Libby. Whereupon Mr. Hathorne replied that he would be doing too much!
“David Freeman and George, his younger brother, bought a lumber lot in about 1850. It consisted of two hundred acres. They cut the hemlock, peeled the logs, hauled the bark to Detroit to the tannery and floated the logs in the river to Bath. This lot was north of where Linwood Hopkins now lives. Three or four years after they bought it, they divided it because of a disagreement.” (16)
Everett E. Libbey remembered when there were the remains of three charcoal burners on the farm. There were one or two on the knoll next to the woods in the upper pasture and one or two were in the west portion south of the road. There was still another in the upper pasture next to the west line.
Hard wood - rock maple, birch and beech - were used to make the charcoal. Wood was cut in six foot lengths and stood up on end in the pits. Someone had to sit up all night to tend the fires. Since the wood had to be thoroughly charred through and burned slowly, it was covered with turf. When the wood was reduced to coals, the coals were raked onto the dirt and the fire put out to keep the charcoal from burning to ashes. Probably ten cords of wood were put in a single charcoal burner. Where the charcoal burners had been was marked by a large smooth place, rocks having been taken out. Charcoal sold for 6 cents a bushel. Probably blacksmiths and others who had need of a very hot fire were buyers of charcoal. Here at the end of the twentieth century we are so conscious of conserving our wood supply and the high price of lumber. Wood was plentiful and cheap one hundred and fifty years ago and what would our environmentalists have to say about the impact of smoke pollution on the atmosphere?
When the Robert Dobson Company enlarged the Pioneer Woolen mill in Pittsfield, it bought granite for the foundations from David F. Libby. It probably was about 1881. Five or six stone cutters worked at drilling and splitting the rocks. One piece was over twenty feet long. It was too large so they split it lengthwise. Robert Dobson looked at it and remarked that it was as nice as marble.
So we see that the 200+ acres of land in Lot 33 produced clay for bricks, granite for building foundations, lumber for building houses and ships, wood for charcoal and firewood, bark for tanning leather and I (BEW) remember hearing my Dad tell about digging peat - another source of fuel.
Nancy Marie Bowman had not come to Detroit with her family when the Bowmans moved here in the Spring of the year probably in 1854 or 1855. She was born in Sydney, Kennebec County, Maine, 31 May 1836. Before Nancy was married she had worked in the cotton mills in West Waterville (now Oakland) as a weaver probably for five to ten years. The factory opened at 4:00 AM and people worked two hours before breakfast. She worked fourteen hours a day.
Nancy and David Freeman were married 16 November 1857. She was the second child of six, a daughter of Thomas Jefferson and Mary Ann Ross Bowman. We have few records of Nancy. In later life she was a large woman weighting about 200 pounds. She was five feet five inches in height. She was said to be very superstitious and had a sign for everything. David Freeman would see the new moon over his right shoulder. He would come in to tell Nancy and she would go out and look at the moon over her right shoulder.
Thomas Jefferson Bowman used to drink when he was a young man. He would sell lumber in Augusta and take the money to buy rum so he would have spent all of his money before he reached home. When his sons got old enough to realize what he was doing, they put a stop to it.
“A tragedy which grew out of the Civil War was the massacre at Peltoma in 1863.” (17) Ike Grant, of Paymyra, was a deserter from the U. S. Army and an officer was searching for him and his two companions. They were found at the Forks of the Sebasticook River one-half mile up from the Peltoma Bridge. Grant was shot in the back but got away and went to a camp by the Sebasticook River. (Solomon Maloon is said to have supplied the fugitives with food.) A posse of three men from Detroit - Bill Jenkins, Joe Myrick, and Miles Hurd - were engaged by a sheriff to join the search. They went to scout them out along the lowlands of the river when suddenly the desperadoes arose from the cattails at Peltoma. A fight ensued. There are several accounts of what happened. One said that Grant was shot from ear to ear and still fought like a lion. A bullet cut through the lobe of one ear of Grant, through his head, and cut off the lobe of the other ear without touching a vital part! Bill Jenkins had joined the posse in the first place on the premise that his taxes would be abated but he was killed in the encounter. Bodies of Grant and Knowles were brought to the Brackett School. Dr. Porter, who tended Grant showed bones taken from Grant’s head. David Freeman told the doctor that if Grant had been his relative, he would not have wanted his bones to be shown around. A few years later it was Grant’s son, “Will, who attended the Brackett School when Everett was a student there. Everett said he was treated poorly by his schoolmates because his father had been a deserter.
During the Civil War Everett said he understood their farm was part of the “Underground Railroad” for fugitive slaves. Deep under the rubble in the old shop Dean found an old gun that Everett felt may have been planted there for fleeing slaves.
The Libbey family had been staunch Democrats through many years. When President Abraham Lincoln was shot in 1865, the Republicans in the neighborhood came around to see that everyone hung out a black cloth or flag to signify mourning. Nancy Libbey said she was going to put a bonnet on a pole and stick it up through the chimney!
Nancy had false teeth at a rather young age, (She was about forty-seven years old.) David Freeman was very upset but when she showed him how decayed her teeth were, he said no more. She is said to have impressed her family with her desire that she wear her false teeth when she was buried as she said she looked so much better wearing them! Nancy was a quiet, unassuming woman who loved her home and family.
A little over a year after their marriage their first child was born, Alice Emma, 23 November 1858. She was followed by Annie Mae (Mame), 12 November 1860; Loda Linnette (Linn), 26 January 1863; Everett Ethelbert, 6 October 1867; and Grace Evangeline, 4 August 1869. Everett was born in what was called “Grasshopper Year.” They had had little rain and we can assume grasshoppers flourished. Aaron’s wife and Everett’s grandmother, Emily Woodsum Libby, had died two months earlier at the age of seventy years.
It was in 1867 that David Freeman dug a well beside the brook that flows across the road in back of the barn. He feared all the other wells would go dry. That year they harvested only one and one-half tons of hay on the farm.
When Everett was small, he slept in a trundle bed in his father’s and mother’s bedroom in what became the present dining room. As he grew older his room was the open chamber upstairs. Often he would wake up to find snow on the foot of his bed. The only finished room on the second floor was that over the present living room. This was where the girls slept. The present north bedroom on the first floor; used to be two rooms.
Children in the 1800?s were dressed differently than they are today. Little boys wore dresses until about the age of five years. A dress of Everett’s was in existence for many years. In May 31, 1952 Glenn posed for a picture in his Grandfather’s dress. It was short-sleeved, off the shoulder, fitted bodice style with full pleated skirt. The fabric was fairly heavy, beige background with tiny print. Grace wrote in her diary that “Mrs. Spear was working on a petticoat for her little boy. It was white flannel. There was no turned hem but into the edge she crocheted a single crochet and on that a single row of shells which made a very simple and effective finish. (GEL diary, 1904–1906)
On the 4th of July 1872 when Everett was four years old, David Freeman took him and his three older sisters down to their Uncle Orin’s on the lower road. Orin had a bateau and gave the children a ride upstream on the Sebasticook River. On the way they saw the Martin boys who lived on the other side of the river. They had firecrackers - the first Everett had ever seen or heard.
When Grace Evangeline was a baby ( less than a year old) she had epileptic seizures. Dr. Manson told her parents that if she lived she would not be normal. On his advice, her parents got a puppy for her - a coach dog puppy. The puppy took the fits and Grace got well.
In commemoration of one hundred years since the Revolutionary War, in 1875 Nancy M. Bowman Libbey or Everett planted an acorn across the road from the house. This grew to be a beautiful red oak tree - A Centennial Oak. (See picture from The Valley Times, August 12, 1976, Vol. 94, #32, page 4)
When Everett was about seven or eight years old his uncle, Thomas Bowman, who was visiting, gave him a 10* script. In his excitement to show his sisters, he ran around in back of the house where they were. As he did so, his bare feet stepped on a long black-headed shawl pin in his path. The pin went straight up through his foot lifting the skin on top like an umbrella. He sat down and pulled out the pin, never did anything to prevent infection, and never had any further difficulties.
It was in the Fall of the year about 1875 Everett was sitting in the open barn doorway while his mother was milking when a meteor fell in the south. It looked as big as a load of hay and it lighted the whole barn. One of the cows jumped right over Nancy in its fright. (At the time David Freeman was picking apples at the Aretus Haskell place - Stanley farm.)
Mr. Aretus Haskell lived on the Dogtown Road. As a young man he had been a school teacher. David Freeman was one of his scholars. Aretus was a formidable man with stern character. When the line between Palmyra and Detroit was surveyed, the surveyor feared Aretus to such a degree that he ran a line with a crook in it so the line ran one or two rods onto the Libbey Farm as it extends the length of the northern portion of the farm. Dogtown road is now one or two rods into Palmyra when originally it was right on the line of the earlier survey. At another encounter with Mr. Haskell, David and Aretus had combined their four-oxen teams making a strong team of eight animals. They were “turnpiking” the Dodtown Road - they plowed the road and then scraped it with a scraper of planks. They would plow two strips about eight feet wide (or ten furrows) and then scrape the loose dirt into the center for the road bed. It took two men to hold the scraper and one man to drive the team. They moved the turfs from the two edges into the center with the dirt side up leaving loose dirt on the plowed strips to be scraped into the center with the plank scraper. With the oxen hitched in tandem, first the yoke pin of David’s ox yoke pulled out. Aretus said that was all right but when Mr. Haskell’s yoke pin was next pulled out, Aretus said David should pay for it. Mr. Haskell was considered a hard man in all his business dealings. David paid $275 for a pair of oxen.
David was for many years (as early as 1845) road surveyor or highway surveyor. He had charge of a district which comprised the road in front of ‘Bey-‘Aven from the town line to the corner next to Cecil McLaggan’s (Dogtown Road or Button Road as it is now called), and, also, the road from the corner up to the Palmyra line. Usually they worked on the roads in the Spring after planting was done -perhaps for not more than two days. Sometimes mud would be a foot deep. Traffic might consist of six to ten teams a day. In winter David cared for the roads by packing the snow with a drag. When the surface froze it became hard and smooth.
It was about 1875 that Tom Thumb and his wife visited Pittsfield. They gave an exhibition at the Lancey Hall built as an annex to the hotel.
David Freeman could be said to have foreseen the coming of the telephone by a little demonstration. When he and Everett were sawing (wood) rails, he scratched on one end with a knife and one could hear the scratch just as plainly at the other end. He was not as prophetic about airplanes as he said man would never be able to fly.
When Everett was about ten years old he had a balloon and blew it up. He let go of the string and lost his balloon into the air. That prompted his father to say that man would never fly!
Everett told of his first memory of fireflies. His father had taken him and his sisters to a Fourth of July fireworks display at Pittsfield. On the way home it seemed as if the whole atmosphere was filled with fireflies.
At one time David was an agent for his brother-in-law, Thomas W. Bowman, who ran a nursery. He tried to sell young trees to Alanson Noble but another man got the order when he convinced Alanson that he should buy crab apples. The order was for 500 trees. David was so disappointed not to get the order that he sent the nursery catalog back.
In 1858 David Freeman planted the elm tree that graced the front lawn. The tree was a young sapling about four years old at the time that David carried it on his shoulder for transplanting. (I assume he found it growing elsewhere on the farm. BEW)
We are fortunate to have acquired diaries of Linnette and Grace Evangeline that provide intimate glimpses into family life for limited periods of time. On the 8th of November 1991 Dean and I received a letter from Arlene Walker Huff, a schoolmate through all the grades in Pittsfield, Maine. She enclosed a clipping from the Waterville Morning Sentinel newspaper. The headlines were “Linnette’s Diary is a Haunting Tale’ followed by excerpts from her diary. Names and dates clinched the fact that it was my Aunt Linnette. Arlene said she vaguely remembered the name “Linnette” as being in the family so she felt I might be interested. I called her immediately and learned that Mr. Edward Hershey of Reedfield, Maine wrote a weekly column in the Sentinel and that these particular excerpts were garnered from nine diaries he purchased earlier in Portland, Maine. I wrote him a letter asking if I could purchase the nine diaries.
Since we were about to depart on our trip to China, it was sometime before I heard from Mr. Hershey. He was reluctant to part with the diaries as apparently he is a collector of old diaries. However, after several appeals by telephone, he agreed to sell them to me for $50.00. On January 22, 1992 the diaries arrived - eight belonging to Grace Evangeline and one to Loda Linnette. Since then I have read and reread them gleaning valuable family history with glimpses into their personal and family lives mirroring their hopes, ambitions, dreams, and the drudgeries of every day living.
From Linnette’s and Grace’s diaries we gain an impression of the family’s devotion to God. She mentioned her father’s reading to them from the Scriptures. Church-going played an important part in their lives. It fulfilled spiritual and social needs.
By the early 1860?s Pittsfield was becoming a bustling community with the advent of two woolen mills, a spool bed turning mill, and supporting industries. The Libbey farm situated as it was in the northwest corner of the town of Detroit, was in closer proximity to Pittsfield and it was here that the family turned for trade and social activities.
Even before Everett was born David Freeman had joined the Universalist Church. Primarily the history of the Universalist Church is closely identified with the history and development of the town itself. The vestry of the present church was the first meeting house erected in Pittsfield in 1857. It was known as the “East Pittsfield Union Meeting House.”
“The first successful movement for a parish organization of the Universalists of Pittsfield and vicinity was begun in May 1867 and was perfected at a meeting called for the purpose and held May 27, 1867 in the Union Meeting House which stood at the site of the present new Universalist Church.” (18)
At that parish organizational meeting a preamble to the constitution of the Universalist Society was drawn up. The Preamble follows:
We, whose names are affixed to this instrument, believing that the cause of “Liberal Christianity” in this town depends greatly upon a better organization and a higher bond of union, that we may, by our; united energies, more effectually serve the purposes of religion and of truth, do, therefore most cheerfully adopt, ordain and subscribe to the following constitution as the basis of our government.
At this meeting forty-two signed the Constitution Preamble. David Freeman became a member of the new organization 30 June 1867. The Constitution itself was adopted 27 January 1882 and David was one of the signers.
“Many of those who became members of the society at its organization in 1867, had for many years prior to the autumn of 1866 united with individuals of other faiths in supporting preachers of every denomination.
“In 1866, however, Rev. James M.H. Smith was engaged by the Universalists to preach on alternate Sundays and continued to do so until 1868.” (19)
At the annual meetings in 1869. 1870. and 1872 there are records showing that David F. Libbey was elected a member of the standing committee for the ensuing years.
“The Sunday School was organized at the beginning of the history of the church for records tell of a picnic in 1870 at which time Mr. Hathorn, the superintendent, planned for a special train to transport the picnickers to Belfast. However, the number appearing exceeded expectations and the train, crowded to the limit, pulled out leaving a hundred or more disappointed folks on the station platform. This is indicative of the popularity of the school, for it seems that the sessions have been continuously held from that time to the present.” (20)
“…One of the outstanding services of the school was a library, well chosen and well stocked with books which served as a town library, also. Mr. David Libbey was the faithful custodian and librarian for about thirty years. He was followed by his son, Everett Libbey. The Library filled a big need in the lives of young and old as is attested by gifts to Mr. Libbey from the grateful readers of those days.” (21)
“In 1894 a printed catalog was issued (see copy in appendix) listing all the books in the library at the time. This was arranged in a very general classified order with general books first followed by those for young people and a section devoted to juveniles. Many of the books were of moral and religious nature chosen as an influence in forming intellectual as well as moral character.” (22)
David Freeman was given gifts in recognition of his work. Once he was presented with a copy of The Life of Napoleon. The membership gave Grandfather David a surprise party and came up home. Everett was about four years old. While the guests all played games, Everett became sleepy and lay down on the floor by the bedroom door. He went to sleep and his father came and put Everett in his trundle bed. At another time Everett was given a “what-not,” or corner bookshelf, and on another occasion Grandfather was gifted with an oil lamp. A subscription list exists which gives the names of the contributors to one or another of the gifts described above. (See appendix)
“The library was continued until the new Pittsfield Public Library came into being at which time the books were transferred there under the promptings of Rev. Leroy Coons. (23)
In 1871 the pew owners’ interests in the Union Meeting House were bought up, those not already owned by the Universalists, who decided that a church home of their own was necessary in order to disseminate their faith in Universal Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man. The meeting house was remodelled and rebuilt by loyal members. In order to defray expenses, members were encouraged to “subscribe” or purchase a pew and were assigned a pew position according to the appraised value of said pew. According to the plan of the audience room January 2, 1872, David Freeman owned a pew, #52, on the left side facing the pulpit for which he was assessed $135.00 annually. (Although it is not shown on the plan, my father said they had two pews - the other being #4 in the back. Mother said if it were in her day of meager income, they would have to take camp chairs to sit on! BEW) See copy of pew plan in appendix.
We have today (1996) one of the original pews of the early church - a 10? deacon’s bench. In 1949 when Dean was building our house in Lynnfield, Massachusetts, Betsey, Sharon, and Linnette went to Maine to live with Grandpa and Grandma Everett and Edna Libbey since the family was evicted from our rented house in Marblehead, Massachusetts. At that time we learned that the old pews in the Universalist Church were being burned in the church furnace as they were no longer needed. Betsey and her father went down to the church and salvaged two of the deacon’s benches for the taking. Thereafter, no more pews were burned. They had become a desirable product! Dad cut down one of the benches to about 4?, scalloping the top according to Betsey’s desires and fashioning one arm piece. Then she painted and stencilled the bench. This left a small bench about 3? long for which Dad fashioned another arm and this, too, Betsey painted and stencilled. The pew, or deacon’s bench, left intact, was painted grey to blend with the house trim in Lynnfield and then another time it was painted blue. Since it graced the open front breeze-way, it suffered from the weather. In the 1980?s Betsey stripped the paint from the bench and returned it to its original natural finish. Embossed in the plank seat is probably the manufacturer’s name.
As caretaker at the Universalist Church, David was not paid. When Everett took over the duties in about 1885 during his years as student at Maine Central Institute until he left home to teach school, he was paid $30.00 a month for his services. The difference was that David Freeman had served as librarian only.
School was an important social outlet for the Libbey children. Children started school at the age of four years. Everett first went to school at the Brackett Schoolhouse that stood on the site of Lin Hopkin’s shop. It was an old, old school building. Even David Freeman had gone to school there. It was a square building about 20 feet each way. It originally had been painted red but the building was so old the paint had about worn off the shaved shingle siding. There were about seven windows and no entry way. A stove in front of the benches heated the room. Part of the inside was plastered and the blackboard was painted plaster. There were rows of three-foot benches on each side of a center aisle with an aisle on each side. The benches were made of 2? pine planks which had lain for two years so they were filled with worm holes. The seats were, also, of planks and formed the support of the desk in back. A cedar broom was used to sweep the floor and a long-handled dipper hung by the water pail for community use. Each pupil had to bring his own books. The town raised so much for school money according to the number of scholars. Those schools with more pupils got more money. There were two terms in the school - the summer term of eight weeks and fall term of twelve weeks. Everett walked to school with his sisters. Alice was one of his teachers at one time.
“Leaving Off” was the daily recitation in spelling. A class would stand up in front of the room as the teacher gave out words. If a scholar misspelled a word, the one next to him would try to spell it. If he spelled it correctly, he stepped above the one who missed it. If the second scholar missed it, then the person who spelled the word correctly stood above all those who had missed. When the spelling lesson was finished, the person who stood at the head went to the foot to work up again at the next day’s class.
Once in class Everett was given the word “shoe” to spell. He spelled it “shue.” The person next to him misspelled it. Then it was his sister Grace’s turn. She spelled it correctly and stepped above Everett!
The Brackett school was succeeded by one built in the corner of Charles (sister to Nancy) Bowman’s property. Everett went to school there one or two terms. It was here that one of his teachers was Anna Littlefield. She had graduated from a Boston school of elocution. She was hired by David Freeman who was school agent at the time. She boarded at “Bey-‘Aven.
At one time Charlie Pray and Bert Brackett were fighting. Bert knocked Charlie down and Charlie took off into the woods crying. Miss Littlefield sent Everett and Llewelyn Delano to hunt for Charlie. Dad (Everett) said took their time hunting in the woods! Boys who were Everett’s age at school were Charlie Libby/ Russell Phinney, Bert Brackett, Ned Burton, Will Grant, Walter Prince, and Hallie Prince.
Linnette later taught school in this school and Grace went to school there. According to her brother, Grace would meander home slowly after school was out! Everett, also, attended the Dogtown school when Mame was a teacher there. Records show that at least one teacher was paid $2.00 a week.
Teachers expressed their approval of a student’s behavior and scholastic improvement by handing out Reward of Merit cards. One of Everett’s had this verse:
“For conduct and lessons learned,
Your teacher can commend.
Good scholarship has richly earned
This tribute from your friend.”
from L. E. Perkins, (one of his teachers)
Although we have only a few vignettes of their early childhood, Mancy’s and David’s children must have been encouraged to read as a library of books and magazines were provided for their pleasure and learning in their home. Especially, they were knowledgeable of the lives and works of the great writers of the eighteenth century. There were many books at home and they enjoyed many activities associated with books. At one time a picture-and-card game existed which they had made themselves. It was sort of a forerunner of “Jeopardy” with clues given of an author and his works with the questions to identify the author or particular writing. The Youth’s Companion was a periodical they read from cover to cover, according to the accounts of my Dad.
In Linnette’s diary of 1884 she wrote in early March that the family organized a club to meet every week. “We have organized a club which we call The Improvement Club. We had the first meeting last night. We all took part. I will tell you our programme. 1st - Quotations from Whittier. My quotation was this:
‘We shape for ourselves the joy or fear
With which our coming life is made
And fills our nature’s atmosphere
With sunshine or with shade.’
From the poem “Raphael”
Mother’s quotation was, ‘Alas, the evil which we fain would shun, we do, and leave the wished for good undone,’ from the poem ‘Rewards.’ Father’s was from ‘My Palms,’ ‘All as God wills, who wisely heeds to give or withhold, and knoweth more of all my needs, Than all my prayers have told.’ Alice’s was from ‘The Well of Loch Marie,’ …I can’t repeat Everett’s and Grace’s quotations but will try and do so next time. 2nd - Mother read the poem ‘James’ Daughter’ by N.P. Willis… 3rd - Alice read a sketch of Whittier’s life. .. Father read a chapter in the Bible. He did not name the chapter so I am ashamed to say I can’t. Everett read a selection from Longfellow. As Longfellow is our poet for next week, I will not say anything about him until next time. We had a question box. I will give the questions and answers all I can remember. 1st - In what year did William Cullen Bryant die? Answer. In the year 1878. 2nd - What port did Columbus sail from when he started on his voyage of discovery? Answer. Palos, Spain. 3rd - Who was the author of ‘Tales of a Wayside Inn’ Answer. Longfellow, etc. Grace recited ‘John Maynard.’ She did very well indeed. I was critic. I noticed a few mistakes but on the whole everything was very well rendered.”
Grace and her cousin, Vernon Bowman, collaborated at an early age to publish in 1883, December 28, The North Road Gazette. (Grace was fourteen years old.) There may have been two issues. It probably was assembled in association with school assignments but it was quite a masterful undertaking. The original compilation was held together with ribbons. There were editorials, quips about their classmates, advertisements, prophetic imaginings, poetry, riddles, alphabetical rhymes naming each student, etc. (See appendix)
We have today (1996) an iron bullet 1? in diameter brought back from the Civil War by Frank White. He picked it up from the battlefield at Vicksburg. Everett and Grace as children used to sit on the living room floor and roll it back and forth to each other on rainy days for amusement. When Everett was a little boy his Uncle Orin gave him a pup. When David Freeman was working at a timber lot he owned in Palmyra, Everett and Nero stayed at camp with him.
Even horse and buggy days had their times of excitement. One afternoon a terrible thunderstorm came up. Two girls came by in a wagon and stopped to wait out the rain. Everett was impressed that in their fright they took off their rings and earrings and threw them across the room. They asked if their watches would draw lightning, too!
At camp meeting time on Grove Hill there usually were a lot to teams that went by the house. One time about 1877 a man came running up the road shouting, “Turn out! Turn out!” The hold-back on the harness had broken and his horse was running away. He tipped over several wagons and one woman was injured and brought into the Libbey house. Only Everett, Linnette, and Grace were at home at the time. The man steered his horse into the open shed at the end of what later became the piazza.
Everett remembered that when he was a boy, he went with his father to Detroit to deliver three or four bushels of apples to Mr. Shaw. At that time his father took him in to see the tannery. The tannery was moved to Hartland before 1890 because there was no more bark available in the Detroit area.
At one time in Everett’s youth he and his father trapped pigeons with a net snare down in the woods. They shipped the birds to Boston until there were no more pigeons in the state.
When Earle Bowman was about sixteen years of age he went two terms to Maine Central Institute boarding with his aunt and uncle, Nancy and David. (Everett would have been about eleven years old and at a very impressionable age.) Earle became very friendly with Frank Noble, who owned race horses and bet on them. He was considered a rather wild young man. Nancy did not approve of this friendship and wrote Earle’s father, Thomas Wentworth Bowman. Earle was summoned home on the spot!!
Probably the family had their first Christmas tree about 1883, the year before Mame died. They may not have had any decorations on the tree. They hung the presents directly on the tree without wrapping them. They always hung their stockings using some of their Mother’s long stockings. Everett remembered they got a stick of candy, an orange and maybe a pair of mittens or wristers (tightly knit bands to go on one’s wrists to keep out the cold. At one Christmas David and Nancy bought small pails of two- or three-quart size for each and hung them on the tree. Everett got his first and Grace tried to take it away from him. He told her to wait and perhaps she would get one, too. When she got hers, she wanted to keep them both! There used to be a Christmas tree at the Universalist Church.
A popular sport in summer time was playing croquet. Leon Libby, cousin, came up from Pittsfield Village and two other cousins, Bert and Susy Brackett, might be joined by Everett’s neighbors, Vinnie Lou and Lill Haskell. During one game Vinnie hit Leon over the head with his mallet and Leon cried and said he was “not coming again when anyone else is there!” David Freeman and his hired men used to play “Encore.” Everett and Grace played “Slap” with cards and the whole family joined to play “Authors.”
Actual money was scarce during the early years of their married life. Food staples were often purchased by “trade and barter,” That is, David would pay for fifty pounds of sugar with an appropriate amount of wood, etc. Everett remembered when his parents (about 1875) sold eggs for 10* a dozen and butter for 10 cents a pound. Nancy Libbey supplied the Lancey House hotel with butter from about 1881 - 1885. Every fall David killed a pig and the first thing the family had to eat from it was fried pork liver. According to Everett’s records in 1900 a pair of rubbers cost $.90 and overshoes $2.25. Shirts were $3.00. Three pounds of sugar could be bought for $.18 and a gallon of molasses cost $.30. The family sold strawberries for 7* a quart, seven boxes of gooseberries for $.25, and blackberries at $.10 a quart box. It cost 10 - 50* to shoe a horse. Everett bought a suit for $11.00 and a straw hat for $.25. A haircut might cost 15–25 cents, a necktie and collar each 25 cents, a shirt $.50-$1.00.
About the year 1885 was the first year the family put up ice. It was stored in the old barn across the road. It was sawed in the Mill Pond in Pittsfield. Milk was kept in a Cooley Creamery which needed ice. This cooler had been bought at that time.
Since the Town of Detroit had no high school, those desiring further education had to go elsewhere. Maine Central Institute, a boarding secondary school in Pittsfield was practically equivalent to college in those days. There were four courses of study offered - College Preparatory, Classical, which included Latin and Greek; Normal, and Scientific. Alice and Linnette both graduated in June 1882. They had wanted Everett to go to school with them during their last year so he actually attended MCI during the winter term (which began in December and continued for ten to twelve weeks) when he was fourteen years old. He studied algebra and quadratic equations. He did not go to MCI again until he was seventeen. At that time there were four terms a year.
At the 14th Anniversary exercises for graduates in 1882 “the graduating class numbered twenty-two, consisting of eight gentlemen and fourteen ladies. Seven graduates from the College Preparatory course, seven from the Classical, six from the Normal and two from the Scientific.” (24) On the programme L. Linnette spoke on “Idols” and Alice’s declaration was “The End Crowns the Work.” She had taken the four-year course (either Classical or Scientific) and Linnette completed the two-year Normal course.. Linnette was always sorry she had not taken the four-year Classical course. We have no record of when Mame graduated but assume it was in 1880 as she won the Hanson Anniversary Prize for excellence in original essay and speaking. A lot of students would not compete when they learned that Annie Mae was going to try for the prize. She was very brilliant. All the family went to hear her speak.
Mame taught school in Dogtown. Everett went there to school for a few days but Joe Sedgwick, who was school agent, did not want Everett attending his sister’s school as he said it could create strong feeling in the community. Everett, also, went to school with Alice as his teacher. He did not dare misbehave for his sister would tell his father and he would “straighten him out.”
Mame taught a term in North Union between Pittsfield and Palmyra. Here she had an exhibition. (I assume an “exhibition” was a program in which all the students took part, maybe speaking pieces.) Nancy and David, with the children, Everett and Grace, took the old sleigh and went there in the coldest of weather probably the last of December (or sometime through the first of February). It was extremely cold weather. The snowy roads were not plowed and where there were drifts, there were steep “Yes, Ma’mas”(up and downs) in the roads.
The following term Mame was teaching at Hartland Academy when she became very ill. The people with whom she boarded, the Frenches, wrote Nancy and David. They went to Hartland and brought Mame home. She lived for three weeks. Dr. Manson attended her as she suffered with typhoid fever, passing away 26 May 1881. She had been planning to go back to school at MCI. Prof. Bachellor, a teacher at MCI, managed her funeral.
Apparently, Mame had been asked to participate in the occasion to honor a retiring minister in Palmyra. For this he had written a poem but had either already died or was too ill to present it so her sister, Grace, read it in her stead.
Of her sister, Mame, Linnette wrote the following in her diary: “Three years ago we laid darling Mame away to rest. The world will never seem the same as it did before she died. Last Monday was the anniversary of her death. Three years have gone past and I have not seen my darling sister. Oh, it makes me almost wild to think of it..The time seems very long. I wonder how many more dreary years will pass before I shall see her. Oh, may my feet be so guided that I shall walk only in the path or virtue and truth. I want to live so that I shall not be ashamed to meet God and my sister. I know not how quick my summons will come therefore I shall endeavor to keep my heart pure and be prepared to go whenever I hear the call ‘come’.”(25)
It was during the early 1880?s that David, with his children, Alice, Grace, and Everett, went blue berrying on the David Martin bog by the Horseback in Pittsfield. The bog had been burned over two years previously. They picked four ten-quart pails full of berries in an hour. Someone said 50,000 bushels were picked there that year.
We have a picture taken of David Freeman along with other members of the jury when he served on the Somerset County Court Traverse jury in Skowhegan in the Spring of 1880. He was gone from home for sixteen days.
At one time David Freeman Invested a considerable sum of money in an oil company organized by Jim Connor. Mr. Connor went to Canada and came back telling that oil had been discovered there. He persuaded people to give him money to invest in the oil company that was organized. David borrowed money to buy the stock. The venture fell through and David was always in debt ever after. The investors even hired a lawyer in a vain attempt to recover their losses.
Sometime before Dad graduated from MCI his father bought a meadow on the East Branch of the Sebasticook River the far side of the river or the left bank not quite opposite the Big Meadow. He bought an area of about ten acres probably for the meadow hay. When they bore, they used to harvest as many as two hundred bushels of cranberries. These were dried on the second floor of the old stable and the floor of the chambers before they were put in flour and sugar barrels in the cellar. (Cranberries are picked when they are just turning pink. Spreading them out on he floor in a dark area helps them to ripen and turn red.__ David Freeman sold them in town and in Bangor, Hartland, and Clinton. Once while they were picking cranberries with Leone Brown and John Coffin, a huge flock of migrating ducks flew overhead ( probably in late September). Various ones estimated the number to be between one thousand and ten thousand ducks. David sold the meadow after Everett left home to teach school.
It was in 1883 that Thomas Jefferson Bowman died killed by a train as he was crossing the New York Central railroad tracks in Rochester, New York. He and Mary Ann were visiting their son, Thomas, who ran a nursery business there. Charles Bowman received word of his father’s death and came up the road to tell Nancy. Everett and David Freeman were loading logs at the time. From Linnette’s diary of 1884 we read her entries of March 21–30. “ March 21 - I hardly know how to write. We all feel very sad today. This morning we received the sad intelligence of Grandpa Bowman’s death. He was killed by the cars (railroad) in Rochester, N.Y.. 0. how much sadness and grief there is in this world, One by one our friends gathered home. Those that are left have all the sorrow. It is our loss and their gain. If we might only catch a glimpse of the joys that await them we should be more reconciled. But we only know we hear no more.
“March 22 - Another day has dawned. Springtime has come. Soon the birds will cheer us with their sweet melody. We have had a long dreary winter and I am glad that Spring has arrived for I know the snow cannot stay with us long. Before many days the brown earth will make its appearance and the snow will silently steal away. Father and Mother are gone to Uncle Charles Bowman’s. What a sad journey Grandma will have and how differently will be the coming of Grandpa than the going. We expect them tonight. How sad will be our greeting. I presume Uncle Thomas will come, too. How mysterious death is. One breath and we are gone. Oh, if our friends could only speak to us back across the river and tell us the glories of the other world. But I suppose God knows that if such a thing were possible, the friends on this side would long, ay, would go at once. When our fancies to think of the workings of God we can but say with humble adoration, ‘Truly thou art wonderful and mighty.’
“March 30th - I have not written since Saturday and so I will try to relate what has happened since that time. Uncle David Morrison and Eunice arrived soon after I stopped writing. They got here about two o’clock. They drove from Oakland. Grandma and Uncle Thomas did not arrive Saturday night as we expected. Uncle Charles received a telegram Sat. evening saying that they would not get to Pittsfield till Sunday morning. Uncle Charles, Father and Mother and Vernie went to the station Sat. night. Aunt Deborah Sawtelle and Martha Hersam came in on the train. They went down to Uncle Charle’. Uncle David and Eunice stayed here. Aunt Susan Whittier and Sarah Case arrived in Detroit Sat. night on the nine o’clock train. They stayed at Aunt May’s. Sunday morning Uncle Charles, Uncle Roscoe and Father went to the station to meet Grandma, Uncle Thomas and all that was left on earth of Grandpa. …It was a sad sad meeting for us all. The funeral service was holden in the afternoon. Mr. Wharff preached the sermon. He did not preach consoling in the least. I am thankful that my belief is not like his. If it were, I should (be) most miserable. I believe God is love and that he loves and cares for all and that at least we shall all be saved and share in the joys of Heaven. There was a large circle of friends and relatives present. Elias Bowman and Uncle David Bowman arrived at Uncle Charles’ about noon Sunday. Grandma looks very lonely. I could hardly keep the tears back when 1 looked at her. …” (26) A fence was built between David F. Libbey and Adams and Brackett on the east line below the road. An agreement for such was signed 28th day of November 1883. The distance given was 224 rods.
In 1884 Everett (hereafter referred to as my Dad - it seems more personal and easier to write) enrolled at Maine Central Institute in the Scientific course at the age of seventeen. About this same time Dad took over from his father the duties of Sunday School Librarian at the universalist Church in addition to serving as janitor. He continued in these positions until graduation from MCI in 1889. As janitor, he built fires, swept the floors, and ushered in Church. Each Sunday morning he had to get up very early to walk to town in order to have the Church warm by meeting time. At that time they used 4? cord wood in the huge furnace for heating the Church. One snowy morning Dad wore his Mother’s high boots to keep his feet dry in wading the deep drifts. His Dad was to bring his shoes later but he forgot them so Dad had to usher wearing his high boots. Dad received $30.00 a month for his services and was gifted with the five-shelf corner what-not (we still have) as librarian. On the 23rd of July 1885 President Ulysses S. Grant died. On the day of his funeral Dad (at the request of the Church people) tolled the Church bell 63 times - one toll each minute for each year of Grant’s life. All the GAR (Grand Army of the Republic) members turned out for a memorial service.
After a long illness, Linnette died of consumption (tuberculosis) 4 April 1886. She had had such great ambitions for her life and confided them in her diary three years earlier. “I said I would tell this time what profession I wished to follow. It is that of physician. Sometimes when I felt as I do today, I am afraid I shall never be able to accomplish this purpose. I have lately read an article in the Youth’s Companion written by William Hammond in which he said many sensible things. He says that unless the student is naturally of good mind and robust physical health and sufficiently imbued with a love for the profession, it is useless for him to think of this profession for his life work, but had better renounce his intention and do something that does not require an average mental development, sound body and a certain degree of enthusiasm. Of course, it is not for me to say whether I am of good mind or not, but I certainly hope I am. I suppose others should be judge of that for a person is quite likely to have a good opinion of himself. I know that I am not the owner of a sound body, but that is not a thing which is impossible and I sincerely hope it will not be long before I am strong and robust. I think I am imbued with all the enthusiasm necessary for me to become a skillful physician. …If it were possible, a doctor should have a complete college education. If a collegiate education is impossible of attainment then the student should have a thorough knowledge of all the English branches - reading, spelling, geography, arithmetic, and grammar. If to these he can add something of natural history, chemistry, geology, astronomy, Latin and Greek so much the better for him and his future patients. …instead of going to a medical college at once he should become a student of some good physician and remain with him at least a year reading anatomy material, medicine, chemistry and physics. A country practitioner who dispenses his own medicine will be much better for the student to study with than a city practitioner who does not dispense his own medicine. For with a country physician a student becomes familiar with the appearance and physical properties of medicine especially if he be required to put up prescriptions which he should be. It seems …it will be a considerable while before I shall be competent to study medicine for I do not know anything of Latin, Greek, French, or German and I certainly want to stand high in my profession. Well, I must not be discouraged. Someone writes:
Still our place is kept and it will wait
Ready for us to fill it soon or late,
No star is lost we once have seen,
We always may be what we might have been.
Of course, while I am sick there is no way for me to get money but if I try and do the best I can I think there will be no trouble in getting a situation as soon as I regain my health. I know it will take many long years of patient toil and probably I shall see many dark days when the clouds hang so heavily that it would seem as though the sun would never break through, but I must remember that the sun and stars shine just beyond the clouds and if I persevere all will be right in the end. ‘God works in a mysterious way his wonders to perform’ and one of the mysteries is that we can become great and good without the first pass through the valley of trial and disappointment, suffering and tribulation which is marked by the bleeding feet of Jesus. There is another thing I have omitted. It is this. If I ever should attain the object I have in mind I shall have to study just the same as before for no person can be successful who does not learn something each day. I shall have to study all through my life for one cannot become adept in anything unless he puts his whole mind upon it and spends his whole life in trying to gain knowledge.” (27)
Grace was attending MCI during these years with her brother. In Dad’s junior year, 1888, he and Grace both tried for the Manson Prize. Dad had gone to school only half a term that Spring but passed in his written address to Miss Angie Hanson. She asked him to read even though he was not enrolled at the time. He spent three days writing his part - not doing any farm work for those three days. The subject assigned for the men to develop was “Genius.” Neither Grace nor Dad got a prize but Professor Parsons is said to have remarked, “It would be kind of funny of Grace and Everett both got the prize.” (A copy of Dad’s “Genius” is included in the appendix)
Dad was quite a gifted writer and speaker. He spoke at some declamation at MCI “Tousant L’Ouvature” on which he had had elocution lessons with Anna Littlefield. At another time Dad built an instrument to demonstrate some problem in class. Prof. Nickerson was so impressed that he mentioned it in a talk he gave outside of school.
In Dad’s beautiful handwriting of the time on MCI letterhead, we have a “resolution” he made while at Maine Central Institute, dated July 1, 1888.
“I, Everett E. Libbey, in order to enjoy the blessings of sound health and gain popular esteem find it necessary to restrict myself to certain resolutions. Therefore, I henceforth resolve, that I will so far as lies in my power expel all thoughts from my mind that are detrimental to health and degrading to morale, that I will develop my mental endowment and inform myself upon all passing topics as much as my time permits.”
As Dad remembered, he voted for president for the first time when he was twenty-one. Grover Cleveland was his choice of candidate.
When Dad graduated from MCI, June 18, 1889, it was the custom for parents and family to present the graduates with flowers. His Mother filled a little basket with pansies and ushers presented it to Dad on the stage. We still have that basket.) There were ten chosen to speak. The subject of Dad’s graduation address was “Outcast Russia.” (A copy of “Outcast Russia” is in the appendix.)
In the “Home News and Gossip” column of the Pittsfield Advertiser, for April 26, 1894 it reads “D.F. Libby’s children were all away teaching high school now - Alice at Cape Neddick, Maine, Grace at Milan, New Hampshire; and Everett at Windham, Maine. (Mame and Lin now both deceased had both been school teachers, also) (28)
Dad followed the profession of all his sisters. He became a school teacher. Teaching school was quite different in the 1800?s from what it is today. There were usually four terms of varying lengths during the year including a summer term. Consequently, we find that Dad might, for instance, teach a Summer or Fall term and then stay at home for the Winter term to work in the woods. David and I quizzed Dad at various times attempting to put together in chronological order a listing of the schools where he taught as far as Dad could recall in later years.
Dad’s first school was at Brockways Mills in 1889–1890. He got the job by writing to the Maine Teachers Agency which suggested this position. While teaching at Brockways Mills Everett boarded with John Wesley Bishop who lived in the house where Hiram Maxim, the inventor of the machine gun, was born. Mr. Bishop said that Maxim was not much of a scholar but was always drawing something on his slate.
Other schools where he taught high school were in Sangerville Village, at the Gale in Palmyra, the high school at the “El” in Palmyra, Canaan Village in the Fall term, Burnham Fall and Winter, North Windham, Ashland 1897–1900, and Frederick Robie High School in Gorham, Maine. He taught Greek, Latin, advanced math. One summer at home he studied his way through Greenleaf’s Beginner’s Algebra and Wentworth’s Advanced Algebra. White he was at Brockways Mills he studied on his own and taught quadratic equations. Several summers he went to summer school for three-week terms at MCI. One of his teachers taught about birds and another, music.
When Dad was teaching at Clinton Village, he bought his father a fur coat for $26.00.
One winter (1895) when Dad stayed at home he cut one hundred cords of wood. His father paid him a dollar a cord.
Dad did carpentry work helping to build a house on Washington Street in Pittsfield. He cut every timber for the house after it was sawed. He earned a dollar a day and boarded at home.
“In August of 1893 Dad attended the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago (or the Chicago World’s Fair) for three week - one of the most memorable events of his life and one he never ceased to talk about in later years.” (29) This was to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ coming to America. “It was the best World’s Fair ever. It was also the biggest. It was so big that it opened not in 1892 but on May 1, 1893. It’s fair grounds were three times as big as any previous World’s Fair. It’s buildings - more than 150 - were so big and impressive as to be called the White City, made as they were of huge amounts of Plaster of Paris and jute. Admission to the Chicago Fair was hefty 50 cent but that didn’t dissuade visitors, some 27.5 million,coming in its six-months period of existence. The year 1893 saw the biggest depression in American history up to that point, but the exposition turned a profit, although its cost was an enormous $31 million.” (30)
The trip of three weeks cost Dad $115.00. He paid $33.00 for his round-trip train ticket and paid $1.50 a night extra for his berth. He took $125 with him and came back with $10. Expenditures included his ticket. On the way to Chicago he rode with Allan Hackett who told how he had lost his money in New York, so Dad took his money out of his pocket and put it in an envelope inside his stocking. He could feel it as he walked.
One day he was sick from eating green peaches. At a drug store a clerk gave him some medicine and took him into a back room where he could lie down. He remained there all night. When he got up the next morning there was a new clerk on duty. He did not feel too well but he went to Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show in the city. Annie Oakley was considered by some to be a better shot than Buffalo Bill. Dad stayed on the outskirts of the city about five miles from the Fair grounds. There were four ways he could go to the fair - by elevated, railway, horse cars or cable cars. One morning when going to breakfast he counted 26 teams -some two-horse and some four-horse - loaded with empty barrels to load up for the day. All this as he went a half a mile.
The first thing Dad did at the Fair was to ride the Ferris Wheel. “The biggest attraction at the Fair was the Ferris wheel, introduced by George W. G. Ferris. It was so gigantic that it could carry 2,160 people and was powered by a 2,000-horsepower engine. “Great as are the achievements of engineering in the exposition buildings in Jackson Park, one observer wrote, ‘they sink into insignificance when compared with the Ferris Wheel. It has been favorably compared with the Eiffel Tower.’” (31)
Dad went down the Midway and stopped at the Lappland Village. He thought the animals were not reindeer but caribou which he had seen and that he had been “stung.” Later he checked and found that caribou and reindeer are the same thing. He saw the Eskimo Village and the Dahomeny Village (“You bet your life they were black.” EEL)
While he was in the city, he visited the Libby, McNeill and Libby Meat Packing firm. The Libbys were cousins of his father. They suggested that he stay in the West and offered him a job. Referring to his declining the offer Dad has often said, “Oh, what a fool I was.”
Dad returned home by way of Niagara Falls where he made a stop, then came through the Thousand Islands after a stop at Kingston, Ontario, then Montreal to Portland, Maine, thence to Detroit, Maine.
He saw only one person he knew at the Fair -Rev. Mr. Aldrich, of Sangerville, who was conducting tours at the Fair.
After he came home from the Fair, Dad sold books for a time and one was Shep’s illustrated volume of the Chicago World’s Fair.
On his return from Chicago Dad taught the Fall term in the high school in Gorham, Maine. In winter he taught at Cambridge Village. Then he taught grammar school with pupils from nine to eighteen years of age and taught such subjects as arithmetic, algebra, reading, spelling, geography, history and grammar.
Alice married Everett Hilton Wessenger in 1896 and moved to Ashland. While in Ashland he taught the high school. There he bought his first bicycle for $50.00. Dad, and later he and Grace, travelled far and wide on their bicycles.
Before Dad secured his teaching position in Sangerville, he went to see the Superintendent of School, Mrs. Leland, for an examination for his certificate. As one part of his test, she gave Dad a poem to read aloud - “The Sculptor Boy.” It so happened that Dad had previously had elocution lessons on that very piece so he made quite an impression. Dad taught one year in Sangerville. As previously mentioned, when Dad was at the Chicago World’s Fair he met the Universalist minister from Sangerville. Later Mr. Aldrich came to visit the Libbey family in Detroit. Nancy made lemonade for the family from the one lemon she had. Mr. Aldrich fingered his glass and said, “Lemonade always was my favorite beverage!”
Dad was principal of the Frederick Robie High School in Gorham in 1893.
One summer Dad stayed at home and helped his father plant a crop of cabbage to feed the cows.
Dad was, also, principal of the high school in Ashland. He went hunting one day in Haystack Mountain. It was so steep on the descent he sat down and slid down the mountain.
During his first year in Ashland, David Freeman harvested a big crop of apples but they were only bringing 50 cents a barrel locally. So he picked the apples and sent them to Dad in Ashland where he sold about 100 bushel for $2.00 a barrel. He had borrowed money to pay the $50.00 freight but sold the apples and returned the borrowed money the same day.
In Ashland Dad taught Latin, literature, geometry, physics, algebra, history, civil government, English and Greek with about sixty recitations a day. He asked the superintendent for help and was given an assistant.
About 1897 Dad went to commercial school in Houlton for ten weeks were he studied bookkeeping. Dad liked to tell this story on himself. In this school he sat next to the window. Another man sat next to him. Dad had occasion to leave the room and when he came back, he found the man in his seat. Dad picked him up - chair and all - and sat him out of the way. The teacher agreed it had been Dad’s place. The other students got a “kick” out of it!
As Dad finished his term of teaching in Ashland, the Spanish-American War broke out. He considered volunteering for the Army. On the 16th of February 1898 “The Battleship ‘Maine’ has been sunk in the port of Havana. This was the immediate cause of the Spanish-American War. Two hundred and sixty men were hurled into eternity at the explosion. No official verdict has yet been offered, yet interestingly we grasp the idea that it was due to some agency outside the authority of Uncle Sam. The blood tingles with indignation when we think of the possibility of the Spaniards dealing such a deadly blow. Be it so, there are noble men who will throw themselves upon the altar of sacrifice for the good of their country… Oh, Spain, 0 how could a thought burdened with so much of misery and woe ever find lodgement in the brains of your country men…” (GEL diary) Then another entry- “We do not want the Philippine Islands with all their inhabitants - a race of people that as yet have not advanced to a degree of civilization of the breech cloth. The centuries required to civilize (them) will be a record of war and bloodshed. The country itself may be a valuable one but it is so far from us and the transportation rates would counter-balance the gain in the obtaining of tropical fruits and precious minerals. Let them alone.”
In 1898 Dad was Treasurer for the Town of Detroit and he was a local correspondent for a Bangor newspaper -probably the Daily Commercial.
From 1898 - 1900 Dad taught the Clinton High School for two years of four terms each. He was paid sixty dollars a month and his board and room at the Clinton hotel which was three dollars a week. He went home Friday nights. The Superintendent of Schools for the Town of Clinton issued the following Teacher’s Certificate for Everett dated August 12, 1899. “This certifies that the bearer, Everett E. Libbey, known as a person of good moral character, and having passed a satisfactory examination in the following branches with the annexed results, is recommended and authorized to teach the Summer term of school, Town of Clinton.” (signed) G. W. Higgins, Supt. of Schools, Town of Clinton (Subjects and grades left blank)
When Dad was teaching in Clinton he loaned $25 to a man in Palmyra who, in turn, sold his pulpwood to Dad. Dad then sold the pulpwood to the S.D. Warren Paper Company. That was the beginning of Dad’s association with this company for the next 23 years. Dad was paid a commission of 50 cents for every cord of pulpwood he bought for the company. Dad bought large acreages of land for the pulpwood. In Cambridge he built a lumber camp on the Big Ferguson River. He hired a cook and drivers with four horses as well as the lumber crew. The two big iron kettles we have were used for cooking beans and stews for the crews.
Also, about this time Dad bought a wooden cistern for the cellar and put a pump in the sink in the pantry. In the late 1800?s Dad must have taken an interest in Sorrento or fretwork as we have many shelf brackets, letter holders, and magazine racks that Dad constructed. We have some of the original patterns and the pattern order sheets.
In July 1900 according to an entry in one of his record books, Dad bought their first horse-drawn mowing machine, a Deering, for $41 of David Martin Parks for use on the farm. Up to this time all the hay had been cut by hand with sickle or scythe and raked with the wooden rake - six feet wide with 10? teeth. (We have that rake today)
About 1900 Dad ran a fence on the southwest side of the property all the way to the railroad. Before that David Freeman had had to go occasionally to Harry Johnson’s on the lower road when cows strayed. Dad hired a man for $1.00 a day to drive rails and string barbed wire.
Family life had not been easy for Dad. He had already lost two of his sisters. Like his father before him, he felt a responsibility to care for his aging parents and the lumber business allowed him to be at home more often. The end of the nineteenth century seemed to be the end of his teaching career. In the first decade of the twentieth century Dad was Superintendent of Schools for several years, in Canaan, I believe, and in Detroit. There used to be many samples of school books sent to him by publishers and agents in hopes of his incorporating them into his schools. It was Dad who hired Aunt Bessie Maloon to teach in the Maloon District school after her graduation from MCI in 1908. Aunty liked to tell it her way! Dad interviewed her on the porch of the Haines house where Aunty was rooming with her sister, Edna. (Edna was housekeeper for the Haines family.) Later, according to Aunty, when Dad, as Superintendent, came to visit her school, he slept in the back of the room! According to Dad, her classes were so dull he could not stay awake! This feud of words took place regularly for years after Dad became Aunt Bessie’s brother-in-law!
Relating to Dad’s position as School Superintendent, Grace wrote in her diary (1904–1906) “Everett went to the village and got Josephine Plumstead, of Wiscasset, and Eva D. Lament, of Enfield, and carried them to their respective boarding places in the school districts where they are to teach.”
Another year of bumper apple crop and Dad sold 80 barrels of apples for $1,75 a barrel after paying $40 for those picked on the Stanley farm.
From Grace’s diary (1904–1906) we know that the family had a telephone. In various entries in her diary she reveals the novelty of it. On one occasion she wrote, “We have had two telephone messages today. I like to have many calls by telephone. It relieves the monotony of the day” Again, “The telephone has rung only once for us today. I like to have it ring a great number of times.” “Burt Fogg wanted to telephone his sister in Waterville (so he came to visit.) What a wonderful thing is a telephone when one can stand in one’s own home and converse with those in towns and cities many miles distance.”
“February, 1903 I have felt that my cold today was worse…I called Dr. Philbrick over the telephone and asked for a little advice. I had never called up the Central Office before and I wondered if I could do it all right. My fears were groundless. It was not a hard task after all. When one is not able to go out, it is very pleasant to be called over the wires - even if it is a begging appeal.” (GEL diary, 1902–1904)
In the early part of the twentieth century post card collecting and exchange were very popular. We have several post card albums from both sides of the family. Grace noted “I had a beautiful post card from Jennie French today. I love the picture of Judge’s Cave (of particular interest to me, BEW, because that cave was very near to where my brother, David, lived in New Haven, Connecticut). She is getting a collection and knows that I am, and realizes how nice it is to get the cards from away.” (GEL diary 1904–1906) As of October 1905 Grace noted that she had 163 cards and as she received more she occasionally made note of how her collection was growing. (To those who may read this, post cards of actual places - photographs - may be valuable. They are collectors items today - 1996 - in a different sense - not cents, even dollars!)
It is interesting to read Grace’s reflections on spiritual concerns as her thoughts may be reflective of those of her family. “How I would like to be a Christian. I feel every day how unworthy I am to be called a child of God. To be worthy of the love of the world we must be capable of loving!
“Several women in our club (the prestigious Tuesday Club) are prospective mothers. Someone remarked that they could not see how a person could go to the Club and work upon her baby trousseau. Must one remain hidden as if maternity was a disgrace? Oh, no. God is giving her part of His mission to fulfill and if we read the story of Christ and think it as allegory, we can see the beauty of the lesson, that this life was given us to show that the miracle of birth is through God’s creative power - that the advent of babyhood and life is in accordance with divinity and a mother having the care of infant should feel that she is performing God’s holiest work…
“It is now Lent, and can people stop long enough in their busy lives to listen to the voice of God. He speaks as plainly as he did in former times but in this strenuous age - midst the whir of electric vehicles, the rapid rush of the steam cars, the gong of the factory, the people’s ears have been deafened and they cannot so readily distinguish the Divine message.” (GEL 1904–1906 diary)
For us as Latter-day Saints it is interesting that Grace made this notation in her diary, “Mrs. Philbrick said today that there was a Mormon settlement in Washburn, Maine and one at Grand Menon Island in Province Waters. I had never heard of this before. How much one can learn from other people. Life is a school and we are constantly learning if we keep our eyes and ears wide open.” (GEL diary, 1904–1906)
In 1907 Dad was certified as an agent for the Oxford County Patrons of Husbandry Mutual Fire Insurance Company of South Paris, Maine. This certificate was issued 1 July 1907 by the Office of Insurance Commissioner of the State of Maine. This gave Dad the responsibility and position of transacting the business of fire insurance. Dad acted in this position for many years. During my youth many times I have been with Dad as he assessed fire damage to farm buildings. It was not entirely a pleasant task. We surveyed many places completely devastated. If lightning struck any farm building, all buildings were likely to be destroyed as fire protection was practically mil in the country.
Dad was taking an active part in organizations in town in addition to his church and Sunday School obligations. He was Master of the Grange 1900–1901. As the need was felt for a meeting building of their own, the Grangers chose Dad as a member of the building committee. He had been a member of the Sebasticook Encampment of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows since April 1893. Since his days at MCI he had been a member of the IO of GT - Independent Order of Good Templars which was a temperance organization. Everett belonged in several places - in Burnham, at Canaan, etc. Dad was, also, a member of the Masons, Rebekahs, and Eastern Star.
Apparently the sled referred to as the one Aaron made for David Freeman, was not the one we have today. In a letter Dad wrote to Ina Lancaster, a friend, in February 7, 1899, he wrote the following; “I would like to go to a sledding party. I haven’t been to one for two years. I have seen lots of sliding though. When I get rich I am going to go sliding. I will have a little negro boy to steer me down or perhaps they will have a sled that will steer itself. Such a contrivance would be a great convenience at any rate. But i don’t think that for real comfort or perhaps pleasure any improvement can be made on the old hand sled. I have my old sled now. Father had it made for me. It was a nice one for those times and I think it would be better than most of them mow. I don’t remember what Father paid for it but it was a good sum…” (This must be the red sled to which Dad refers.)
Dad and Aunt Grace shared many interests. They knew and loved the wild flowers. They knew where the hepaticas bloomed in early Spring on a knoll by the brook on the south-side of the road. They sought the first lady slippers of late May in the mossy darkness of the north woods. They roamed the fields and woodlands to discover and identify the many varieties of flowers and ferns growing there. They studied the birds and identified them by their songs and manner of flights. They built a personal library of books on nature. Grace kept a “bird” book in which she recorded Latin names, the dates, place, song, and circumstances when found concerning a certain bird, describing it in detail. In 1915 Grace wrote, “It was while Mother lay upon her bed during her last fatal illness and I told her that the oriole had come, she remarked, “They will be company for you, Grace.” Yet they failed to bring cheer during those dark days when the clouds of death settled round our home darkening and shadowing all the home - yet now as I look back I can see the deep mother-love which permeated her whole being and she thought and grieved over her loved child’s loneliness and thought that the love of birds and flowers might in time bring a calm and peaceful serenity of soul.” (GEL diary 1905)
Dad built bird houses and his father enjoyed watching the six pairs of martins that occupied one of the houses. He observed that the martins arrived in the village before they came out to the farm. July 8, 1903 Grace wrote that “Everett found the nest of a whip-poor-will. It was not more than two rods from the highway in an old wood road. It was only a little depression in the brown leaves with no attempt to bring any twigs, grasses to decorate or make it nest-like. Two eggs were in the nest, roundish white spotted with heavy brownish spots…On approaching the male who was near nest fluttered away. The female flew from nest and hovered over a place not far away, then lighted on a twig. The eggs were at the foot of a tiny elm sapling and the marsh fern with their beautiful fronds added a touch of beauty to the scene. All though near the road the retiring habits of the night loving bird, I think it is very rare that their nests are found.”
Of the Savannah sparrow, Grace wrote, “My first introduction to this bird was in the middle of July. For months I had searched for him and had given up and he came to my window as if he knew I would not seek him further and he came and found me. Close by he pruned his feathers in the sunlight which took upon them the color of a golden brown.” Again she observed, “Everett saw a lot of Red Poll linnets down on the Peltoma road in January and another time he found the young of the woodcock in June.’
“I worked on a shirtwaist for myself and finished a crocheted doily for the winter holidays and hemstitched a little. I have much sewing to do before the summer days are upon us. I want to get it all done before June and I must for then I want to have all leisure time to spend in the woods and fields. (GEL diary, 1904–1906)
Aunt Grace was very active in the Tuesday Club. She served in various offices as well as Program Chairman and compiler of a birthday calendar. The Tuesday Club was a literary organization and Grace read many original papers. Aunt Grace wrote poetry and many of her poems were published in various periodicals for which she received a monetary return.
Grace wrote of a severe storm. “The thirteenth day of November 1904 a terrible snowstorm began just as night was shutting down. The telephone and telegraph lines were badly used upon and from our home to Perley Noble only two posts of the Commercial Union telegraph were standing in the morning. Huge telephone posts more than a foot in diameter snapped like pipe stems. The arms on the poles were twisted in every direction. The lines were down in the road making it quite dangerous to get along. Such a sight is rarely seen by anyone during a lifetime.
Another dramatic event took place earlier that year, March 21, 1904. “A little before one o’clock in the beginning of the day we were all awake in the house and we heard a humming noise, then at one end of the house we began to feel the jar of the house. It seemed to be felt first in my bedroom and then went the whole length of the house. Every window pane rattled and the bed in which I was lying was shaken. Mother was very much frightened. There were three shocks felt in Detroit.” The next day “everyone today is asking about the earthquake, so Everett says.” GEL diary, 1904–1906)
Nancy Marie, Dad’s Mother, died in 1904. She had suffered greatly with cancer of the stomach. Grace, who had cared for her, wrote touchingly this first-hand account. “At twenty minutes of twelve Sunday night, May 29, 1904 darling Mother entered the Beautiful Country from whence no traveller e’er returns. A few hours before she looked up, as if a stranger had entered her presence and called ‘Thomas.’ (Her father, Thomas Jefferson Bowman or her brother, Thomas?) I verily believe he came to meet her and to accompany her to that other country.
“We placed the worn out tired form to rest the first day of June. The pall bearers were members of her Church -Dr. Griffin, Orin Haskell, Abel David, and Charles Vickery.
“Mother was robed in her silk waist and black skirt that was Grandma’s (Mary Ann Ross Bowman). A white chiffon front and collar was placed at the waist and in her hand was a little cluster of lily of the valley from her garden. Mr. L.M. Coons preached the funeral sermon.” (GEL diary 2–18–04)
The Universalist Ladies Aid paid their respects with a letter of resolution: “The following resolutions upon the death of Mrs. Nancy M. Libbey were written by Mrs. Helen M. Jenkins and passed by the Universalist Ladies Aid Society, June 16, 1904:
“Whereas Mrs. Nancy M. Libbey, wife of David F. Libbey, has passed from this earth life to the glory and blessedness of a brighter, better world, therefore
‘Resolved, that we mourn the loss of a beloved and honored member of our Church and a faithful worker in our Ladies Aid Society. She is revered by all who knew her for her true Christian life and for the noble qualities which made her a model wife, mother and friend. She loved everything beautiful and always looked for the bright side to everything - the silver lining to every cloud.
‘Resolved, that we extend our tenderest sympathy to the bereaved husband and children who feel their loss most deeply. May God bless and comfort them is our heartfelt prayer.”
Nancy Marie, my Grandmother, also, was a member of the Grange.
“Those who knew Mrs. Libbey intimately knew her as a cheerful, patient, helpful soul. She sought not the praise of the world. She was not in the eye of others. But in the sacred precincts of her own home she reigned in love. Before her family she went in and out as a guide and example in all that was beautiful and good.” (32)
In 1906 Dad bought a thousand acres of stumpage or woodland (known as the Lancey Lot) for $2000.00 in West Hartland. He cut off enough lumber to pay for it and then sold the lot for three thousand dollars. He had bought it mainly for the poplar which he cut for pulpwood and shipped to the S.D. Warren Paper Company. He, also, cut hemlock logs, cord wood and white ash. In about 1910 he began working for the Oxford Paper company, as well/ and continued with them for about ten years. During these years he bought thousands of acres of land in Cambridge, Mainstream, Wellington, West Hartland, Palmyra, Burnham, Canaan, Unity Plantation, Sibley Pond, Kingsbury Plantation, etc. He lumbered and sold spruce, poplar, white pine, hemlock, white birch, and cedar. These woods were used for cedar posts, telephone poles (poplar), pulp (paper), and toothpicks (white birch). When the First World War broke out, Dad sold all his holdings.
Automobiles were beginning to appear on the scene in Maine. David Freeman took Everett to Bert Brackett’s to buy a cow. Dad led the cow home while his father came home with the horse and wagon. He drove into the yard just as a car came by and remarked, “Wasn’t I lucky to get home when I did.”
David Freeman died of a shock (cerebral apoplexy) 18 June 1909. Dad had been shearing sheep the day before and Grace had gone to graduation exercises at MCI. Everett had gotten dinner for his father and Madison Burns, a hired man who lived with the family for about six years. Grace came home and told Everett she had not seen her father for some time. Everett went outside and found his father in the closet (toilet or outhouse) with the door closed. He could hear his heavy breathing. Everett and Madison brought grandfather into the house and called Dr. Philbrick. He died June 18 about 8:00AM.
In 1910 Central Maine Power Company was given a right-of-way across the northwest corner of the farm for a pole line.
Dad was always ready to accept a good challenge whether at croquet, or checkers, or horse pulling. On the 6th of October 1910 (Dad’s 43rd birthday) he was at the Exeter Fair for a great pulling contest. Apparently there was a money purse for the man whose span of horses could out pull the famous pair of greys owned by George A. Daley, of Bangor. Ten pairs of fine horses in turn hitched to a drag loaded with 3 1/2 tons or stone tried to out pull Daley’s pull of 100 feet in the five minutes allotted. No whips were allowed. “E. E. Libbey, of Pittsfield, came up to show Daley’s team what real pulling was about.” (33) Dad’s team came in third with a distance of 22 feet 8 inches. For many people this was the biggest event of the Exeter Fair. It took place on the track in front of the grandstand.
There was excitement, anticipation, anxiety, and even a little fear as in May 1910 the earth was scheduled to pass through the tail of Haley’s comet. Imagination was given full reign as superstition and myths abounded. This was a time of celestial omens - the fall of empires, the birth of heroes, floods, famine, and unexplained pestilence. And there were nervous jokes. People rushed out to buy putty for their windows to seal out the poisonous gases thought to pervade the atmosphere. Dad was excited to have seen the comet in all its glory.
Dad enjoyed good stories and could make them up, too! Whenever he seemed to want to “escape” or change from an unpleasant situation, he would say almost yearningly, “Oh, them days on Red Hoss Mountain, when the skies were clear and blue and the money flowed like liquor and the folks was brave and true.” (From Eugene Field) Such musing prompted many tall stories over the years that we wish we had recorded. He liked to tell of tramping the woods as he surveyed standing pulp-wood for S.D. Warren Paper Company. He carried a can of sardines and crackers for lunch and a revolver to protect himself from wild animals. On one occasion he looked up the path to see a bear coming straight for him with mouth open and bared teeth. Dad met him head on and just as they met, Dad thrust his hand and arm into the bear’s mouth all the way to his tail, grabbed the tail and pulled the bear wrong side out!
In the early days of the railroad, conductors on the passenger cars would walk through the cars calling out the next station. As they approached Burnham Junction, the conductor called out, “Burnham, Burnham, Take all your umbrellas and parcels. Burnham, Burnham!” Then there was a stop farther north in Maine called Great Works. A young couple had been “smooching” together in a seat just ahead of an old lady. The conductor came through calling out, “Great works, Great works.” The little old lady piped up, “I’ll say it is. Those two haven’t stopped kissing and making out all the way!” Dad had competition with Ed Fuller of Hartland. He had a fast horse. He said it began to sprinkle as he drove out of Skowhegan but all the way to Hartland his seat stayed dry but it rained in the back of his Concord Wagon!
Dad had his first automobile in 1911. There probably were not more than half a dozen other automobiles in town. (Other owners were Grace Rogers - David’s and my first piano teacher, Dr. Drake, Frank Shaw, Ed Shaw, John Martin, Harry Coolidge, and Fred Mayo). It was an Oakland Roadster “Runabout” which he bought second-hand from Blin Page for $800.00. It had brass trimmings, a very wide windshield, no doors and one seat. The gear shift was on the outside. Dad stored the car in the shop until in the summer of 1912 he built the garage from lumber left over from the shop. During those early years automobiles were driven only during the warm months and in winter they were put up on jacks under cover. Dad liked to tell the story of Ed Shaw who had his garage down a hill near the river. By mistake he stepped on the accelerator instead of the brake and drove into the river with his wife. They came up to the surface -safely! Dad was to own two other cars in his life time. In 1918 he traded the Oakland for a Studebaker “special 6? which he kept for thirteen years. In 1934 he bought a Ford pick-up for $700.00
In a newspaper article entitled “Francis Noble Remembers Simpler Times” Francis (a life-long neighbor) reminisces that the coming of the auto brought a drastic change. Everett Libbey, Superintendent of Schools at the time, was one of the first men in town to have an auto and Frances remembers that sometimes he would pick up children on their way to school, which was quite a treat…”and made (those of) us (who got a ride) feel very important.” (34)
1913 Was a tragic year for Dad. His sister, Grace Evangeline, died of cancer the 28th day of October. Alice (Wessenger) died two months later in Ashland of pneumonia in the 8th of December.
Dad loved Christmas with all the decorations, tree, and festivities. The first Christmas he was alone (1913) he had a Christmas tree and he bought himself the three-piece bone-handled carving set, with sterling silver ferrules. He Christmas wrapped it so that he would have a gift under the tree.
Dad was alone. He must have been very lonesome. However, he took an active part in the organizations to which he belonged and probably it was thus that he became acquainted with Mother. Also, Mother and Aunt Bessie were rooming at Leon and Vera Libby’s. No doubt Leon saw to it that his cousin met the eligible young ladies. There was a very active social group in Pittsfield - Leon and Vera, Florence and Horace Buxton, Harry and Tina condon, the Coolidges, Oscar and Kate Givens and others with Mother, Aunt Bessie and Dad among them. They had many good times together.
Dad cut quite a dapper figure according to some of the pictures we have. In winter he had a beautiful red plush upholstered two-seater pung driven by a high spirited trotting horse. Aunt Bessie tells of the time he turned the corner of Easy Street in Pittsfield at high speed and the pung went over burying them in a snow drift. (I rode in that same pung for many years with deep-furred buffalo robes to keep me warm. ) Dad would not be out done by many in Pittsfield with his sporty automobile. He dressed in style and wore a moustache and a toupee since his hair was thinning.
Apparently Dad must have begun serious consideration of finding himself a wife as we have a bundle of letters written to him by a girl to whom he was engaged at the time he became interested in Mother. She mentions returning a ring of three fire opals that he had given her and which ring Dad had in the safe until later in my life. When I was eighteen Dad had a topaz and moonstone ring fitted to my finger. According to Mother, she felt this may have been another returned engagement ring or else it belonged to Aunt Linnette. However it may be, we gave this ring to our daughter, Linnette, on her eighteenth birthday.
Cousin Grace Wessenger (Alice’s younger daughter) tells an interesting anecdote in a letter to us written probably in the 1960?s. Grace had been visiting her Uncle Everett in about 1914. “The next day Mrs. Sadie Atkins came up to your house to do some cleaning and Madison Burns was the hired man. Well, during the course of their conversation Madison said, ‘I was alone last nite. Grace and Everett went to Pittsfield to the movie’ Then Mrs. Atkins said, ‘What was the movie and I had to say we didn’t go because Uncle Everett forgot to take a blanket to put over the horse and it was frosty out.’ I then like a kid blurted out, ‘We went up to a house to call.’ I said there was a pretty girl they called Bessie and another woman Florence (Buxton).’ There were smiles on the faces of Mrs. Atkins and Madison and one of them added, ‘ And a woman called Edna? ‘ I said, ‘I can’t remember.’ However, I guess I had given them enough information I shouldn’t have and being like a fresh kid told it all. However, I never forgot how stunning looking Bessie was and especially her green stockings and black patent leather pumps.”
Mother’s and Dad’s stories of their courtship are amusing. Mother said Dad came to see her a few times and she asked him why he came. Dad said he was lonesome so she told him to stay away. Dad saw her off and on and she appeared friendly enough so she asked him to marry her - so says Dad! As early as 1912 Dad had invited Mother to have Thanksgiving with him but we have her curt little note in which she politely told Dad she would be spending Thanksgiving with her family! However it was, Mother and Dad were married August 4, 1915. Dad was 47 years old and Mother was thirty-two.
The marriage ceremony took place at Mother’s and Aunt Bessie’s apartment at the home of R.H. Berry on Easy Street. Rev. Walker performed the marriage ceremony and Leon and Vera Libby were the only other guests. It was apparent they intended to be married but no one knew just when. A few weeks previous (July 27, Mother had been tended a bridal shower at which she received many lovely linens. Following their wedding Dad and Mother went directly up home to Dad’s house. They had retired for the night when a crowd of well-wishers arrived on the scene and had a jolly good time serenading them noisly.
With marriage a very different life began for both of them - a new life. Dad seemed to have gained a new confidence in himself and he was free to make decisions. Dad had become a man for himself and head of a household. It sees as if the house took on new life, too. Dad had the old house almost rebuilt. The old ell was torn down and a new one built. The main part of the house was dramatically changed. Dormers were added over the kitchen and the north east bedroom. The room over the living room became a gable. A bay window was added to the living room. The kitchen was wainscoted in cypress. Mother said it was so beautiful in the raw wood she hated to see it varnished. A new concrete cellar was constructed under the new ell. The next project was the building of the barn - one of the largest and finest in the neighborhood. The old barn that was there when Aaron came was torn down and the stable was the only reminder of things as they had been in another generation.
Dad devoted most of his energies now to farming. He cleared acres for fields and gardens. It was tough going as the farm seemed to produce boulders naturally. Dad drilled the huge rocks with a hand drill and sledge hammer and then inserted dynamite to break them into moveable chunks. The Fall of 1915 John McLaggen, a neighbor, helped Dad dig the rocks in the back field. Mother said it was not a month after they were married. She left the dinner dishes from a boiled dinner just as they were when they finished eating to go up to see them dig the rocks. When she came back to the house Ada Hopkins and Leila Bowman came to call. Mother was some upset that callers should find the new bride had left dirty dishes in the kitchen sink!
Dad had a few close calls clearing the land. The long field, or 12-acre field,(the field by the pasture that bordered Foster White’s land) was cleared in part by Dad. The drain by the brook was cleared largely by dynamite about 1920 when Clarence Basford worked for Dad. Dad said he saw a rock about the size of a bushel basket coming toward him. He stepped aside and the rock landed exactly where he had been standing.
Another time Dad had a narrow escape. He had dug a deep hole to sink a large rock in the upper end of the field near the pasture bars in back of the garage. When he came back from lunch he saw the rock had tipped into the place where he had been standing just before he left for dinner.
New dimensions were added to Dad’s life. He became a father. David Carleton was born 29 august 1916. That year a new road was built by the house. The engineer in charge asked if he could board at ‘Bey-‘Aven but David’s birth was imminent so Mother and Dad declined his request. For David’s first birthday Dad made a wooden holder for one large candle to sit down in the center hole of the cake.
Two and one half years later Betsey was born. In 1916 when David was born. Dad had lived just over half his life span. I have tried to chronicle the early years from notes David and I had gleaned. Of the next 42 years of his life much is included from personal association in the story of my early years and in the accounts of the first eighteen years of each of you children. Until an exclusive account of Dad’s later 42 years is written, these accounts will have to suffice.
It seemed as if Dad (and Mother, too) lived for his children - they were his life. As I look back I wonder if we appreciated the sacrifices, the concerns, the ambitions, the interests and the boundless love that Dad had for us.
- The Libby Family in America 1602–1881 , p.23
- Ibid, p. 16
- “The Last Mile, or The First Journey to
‘Bey-‘Aven,” by David C.Libbey, 5 July 1954,
Jamaica, New York
- David C. Libbey, “History of
- Ibid, pp.3 & 4
- Copied from a sheet from Maine State Library (obviously from an
- David C. Libbey, “History of
‘Bey-‘Aven,” pp. 5 & 6
- Christian Science Monitor, John Gould, nd.
- David C. Libbey,”David Freeman Libbey, and His Family at
‘Bey-‘Aven, 1860–1885,” pp 9 & 10
- Somerset County Register, p. 102
- Edna M. Libbey Title, Me2A395, pp
2 & 3
- David C. Libbey, “History of
‘Bey-‘Aven,” pp 7 & 8
- “Maine Central Railroad Co., and Its System,”
Bangor Historical Magazine, May 1886, I, p. 192
- David C. Libbey, “History of
‘Bey-‘Aven,” pp. 10–12
- Detroit, Maine, 1828–1978, by Douglas Ira Fernald, 1977,
- The Pittsfield Advertiser, 25 June 1943, “Local
Universalist Church Has Had Long and Interesting History,”
Vol. 61, #26, pp 1–6
- Ibid, p. 6
- Copied from David C. Libbey’s notes of
- The Pittsfield Advertiser, July 1882, vol 1, #4, p. 2
- Linnette’s diary of 1884
- The Pittsfield Advertiser, April 26, 1894, Vol. 1, p. 3
- David C. Libbey, “Everett E. Libbey, A Brief Chronology
for the Years 1867–1915,” December 1962, p.3
- Christian Science Monitor, October 10, 1985, Thomas V.
- From printed news article found in a Universalist Ladies Aid
Society Minutes book, May 12, 1904, (probably from The Pittsfield
- The Pittsfield Advertiser, October 6, 1910, vol. 30, #40,
- The Valley Times (formerly The Pittsfield Advertiser), May 17,