1 December 2005
The fall newsletter is done and will be in the mail this week. We have ordered a few more of the DVDs about life in Gilead in 2004. The cost of the DVD is $25 plus tax ($1.25). Members will receive a discount. Call 836-2987 and place an order.

8 December 2005
So far everyone seems to have enjoyed the great articles [in the newsletter] written by Howard Reiche and Hugh Chapman on “Ice Harvesting,” and the one written by Tammy MacDormand on the “Chapman Homestead.” They did a great job. The following is a paragraph out of the article on Ice Harvesting: “Back in the 1800’s, keeping the family warm and fed kept a Gilead farmer pretty busy. Most of what fed them was raised on his farm, and a lot of it was perishable: milk, butter, meat, etc. The vegetables and fruits could be kept a while in the cold ‘root cellar’ under the house. Much of this food was preserved or dried in order to keep it longer. There was no handy refrigerator, or deep freeze.” The article written by Tammy gave a history of the Chapman Homestead (now owned by Ginny McCoy) from the time it was built until present day. Her great-great-great-grandfather, George Whitefield Chapman, built it. An excerpt from her article: “George Whitefield Chapman, the fifth of Rev. Eliphaz and Hannah Jackman Chapman’s nine children, was born on Christmas day in 1780. He was 10 years old when the family came to Bethel. In 1810, at the age of 21, he purchased a large tract of land 4 miles upriver just across the Bethel/Gilead (then Peabody’s Patent) town line."

15 December 2005
The big wreath (a creation of Audrey and Amber) has been put up and the decorations for the Town Hall are finally complete. It looks very nice to see the Hall lit up again this year.Hugh and I went to the Bethel Historical Society’s annual “Christmas with the Masons” this past week. It was nice to walk through the house that was lit by only candles like it would have been many, many years ago. Not much light to see by, but the fireplaces added some light along with a little comfort and warmth. After we visited the Moses Mason House, we went next door to the Robinson House and viewed the recent “Made in Maine” MPBN show that was based in Bethel. Lou McNally interviewed Stanley Howe about the “Barn Again” Smithsonian Institution exhibit. After “Made in Maine,” there was a showing of an episode of “Chronicle” from Boston’s Channel 5. It showed several interesting sites along Route 2 from Vermont right through Maine.Randy has done a great job with information about the GHS on the Bethel Historical Society’s web site. There are so many connections from the past with Gilead and Bethel. A big thank you goes out to Randy and the Bethel Historical Society for helping to get the word out about the GHS. Now, Randy has inspired me to include a few facts about Gilead in this column. The following is an excerpt, regarding the Wild River Bridge, from The Smile of Providence: A History of Gilead, Maine: "It wasn’t until the summer of 1811 that Gilead got around to dealing with the Wild River situation by authorizing a bridge to be 'paid for with neat stock and bread corn.' However, the War of 1812 put the building of the bridge off until 1813. Maintaining the bridge became a financial burden for many years afterward, almost every town meeting had to deal with rebuilding or repairing the Wild River bridge! Anyone looking at the river at ice-out, or in a freshet, can understand the problems of a wooden bridge with log piers in the center of the river. Finally, the river was bridged in 1813, and with rough roads on either side, the stage companies started to use that route. The Peabody Tavern by Bog Brook, with Thomas Peabody as landlord, was in business caring for the need of the passengers of the Lancaster, New Hampshire, to Portland, Maine, Stage Company." Just a little fact about the beginning of the many bridges built over the Wild River!

22 December 2005
I was talking to Joe Taylor the other day, and we got onto the subject of Hastings. He said that he did a tour for the Forest Service this past summer. I am in hopes that since he is a member of the GHS, he will consent to do a tour for the members this next summer. He can point out sites where the lumber mill was, the wood alcohol mill and later on the CCC camp buildings site; just to mention a few. This is all very interesting to us, since Hastings had such a connection to Gilead. A couple of days after talking with Joe, I saw his brother, Ted Taylor, and we got to talking about the Bog Brook area. We have talked to Ted in the past, and he mentioned where there were several house sites that were still visible. Both Joe and Ted have knowledge of both of these areas. Their father, Harry Taylor, Sr., worked in Hastings and told them many stories. They have hunted and explored the Bog Brook area for years.And now a continuation of the building of the Wild River Bridges with excerpts from The Smile of Providence: A History of Gilead, Maine: "In 1834, money was set aside to 'rebuild the Wild River Bridge again.' At that time, it was made a toll bridge and a tollhouse was constructed. This meant there was a locked gate on the bridge. There are stories about the gate being tossed into the Wild River on occasions . . . In 1835, Gilead approved of the Wild River Bridge Co. again, and decided to rebuild the bridge ‘again’! Apparently, the private bridge was a constant source of irritation to the Gilead townspeople . . . These early Wild River bridges were not covered ones. We say ‘bridges’ because there were a number of replacements and many rebuilds before the last wooden bridge which was a covered bridge . . . By 1856, they needed to build another bridge and formed a committee to look at the chain suspension bridge in Kingfield. They dropped that idea and voted to build a 14-foot wide bridge. In 1857, the bridge still unbuilt, the selectmen voted $1000 to build a bridge and a tool house. The tool house was to go with the contractor when the bridge was finished . . . In any event, bridge building was a major industry in Gilead. This continued until 1868 with the building of the final wooden bridge, a covered bridge.""Building bridges was hard work and required lots of rum. In 1826, it took an appropriation for 32 gallons of New England rum to start a rebuild of the Wild River Bridge and another appropriation for 15 gallons to finish it. In 1858, after 40 years of bridge building and rum drinking, every single Gilead voter (all male) voted in favor of a prohibitory temperance law! The last wooden bridge, the only covered one, and the only one built without rum, was completed in 1868. It was 246 feet across, with two spans, a granite pier in the center of Wild River, and an 18-foot wide roadway. It lasted until 1926, when a truck broke through it and fell into the river below. After being repaired, it was replaced by a concrete bridge in 1926. "There are still books available for sale from the GHS. Just give us a call at 836-2987.

29 December 2005
I hope those interested in Gilead history have had a chance to check out the Bethel Historical Society website mentioned in the last column. If not give it a try at www.bethelhistorical.org. Randy is doing a great job. Each week, I want to add a little about Gilead’s past, and this column, I would like to share a little about Bennett’s Tavern. J. W. Bennett was a very prominent businessman from Gilead’s past. He will be included in future articles. The following is taken from a little booklet that was published to advertise the Tavern and included several pictures:“Bennett’s Tavern is located among the White Mountains, overlooking the beautiful Androscoggin River, in Gilead, the extreme northwestern town in Maine, adjoining the popular resort town of Shelburne, NH, and eleven miles from Gorham, NH, twenty-eight miles from the summit of Mount Washington, eighty miles from Portland, Maine. Gilead is a small but beautiful little village on the Grand Trunk Railway, having express, long distance telephone, telegraph and post-offices and church. No better natural scenery can be found anywhere, pure spring water right from the mountain sides, nice roads and drives, and many points of interest easily reached from here.""Bennett’s Tavern, not over three minutes’ walk from the depot, one minute from church or post-office, five minutes from the Suspension Bridge across the Androscoggin River, is a new house, fitted with bath-rooms and closets, open wood fire-places, broad piazzas shaded with maple trees, and a short distance from the woods with a nice pine grove within two minutes’ walk. A grove of large maple trees shades the house and piazza, making a cool, airy place, while for good, pure, dry air this place is not surpassed in any region. The house accommodates fifty to sixty guests.""Wild River, which is famous for the speckled trout, is within a quarter of a mile of the Tavern, and it is but a short drive to several of the best trout brooks to be found. Good partridge shooting, and deer in fall and winter are very plentiful, having been seen within a year crossing the field within gunshot of the tavern, and up Wild River three or four miles is a spot noted for these trim, sleek-looking animals. Half a mile west is Mount Ephraim, with its round, shapely summit covered with green forest growth in sight from the piazzas. Looking north from the front, across the river, rising majestically in plain view, are the mountains of Tumbledown Dick, Cambo, Bear Mountain and Robinson’s Peak.""A large farm is connected with the Tavern, from which fresh vegetables, milk, cream, etc., are supplied. As are the pork and lamb for the table. The house is heated throughout by a wood furnace. The beds and cuisine are excellent. A livery is connected, with good teams of most any description from one to four-horse turnouts at moderate prices. The Boston & Maine Railroad runs through cars without change from Boston to Gilead."
No posts.
No posts.