Vaughan Woods & Historic Homestead Newsletter
January/February 2016
                                                                                                                                                                                            Photo by Peter Spiegel
History Mystery
What in the World Are They Doing?

While digitizing  old photographs with volunteers, we came across this:

The poles they are holding baffled us at first, but with a little research, we quickly solved this mystery. Do
you  know what they're doing? 

Hint: This activity is still widely enjoyed in Maine.  
The Bountiful Bookcase
Staff Picks from the Homestead's Shelves. . .  

The Foyer Bookcase
Drafty windows and the chill air have us turning to a hot cup of tea, an afghan on th e lap, and books. At the turn of the 19th century, Benjamin Vaughan's library of 10,000 books was reportedly second in size in New England only to that of Harvard University. Family lore holds that the walls in the Homestead were covered in books two-deep! 

Today only a small sample of Benjamin's library remains at the Homestead, but his descendants inherited his love of literature, and the house currently contains an eclectic library of thousands of volumes. With their cultural gems from the 1960s and classic hardcovers from the 1800s, the shelves in any room of the Homestead will elicit both giggles and gasps from any lover of books.   

In the foyer, for example, a quick glance at the shelf reveals  The Social Life of Old New England, published in 1914, and the 1918  Eminent Victorians. One can just imagine the ladies of the Homestead sitting in the shade of the front porch and sipping cold lemonade while immersed in these page-turners! And that's what's fun about the collection of books in the house: not just the stories inside, but what the books themselves can tell us about the people who owned them and the time when they lived.

This month's staff pick, from the foyer bookcase, is a perfect example. The Trail of the Maine Pioneer,  copyright 1916, catches the eye with its embossed green and gold cover, and upon opening it, one is instantly delighted to find the lovely old signature of its owner, Ellen Twisleton Vaughan. But especially intriguing is the author, or more accurately, authors. The Trail of the Maine Pioneer  is a compilation of historical stories by members of the Maine Club Women. Who were they ?* The intrigue continues in the romantic foreword:

Women of Maine we salute you. Proud are we and beyond measure are we enriched by your diligent research and your poetic sensibility . . . Just here the tragic history of Maine begins.  Just here heroes and heroines stain the forest glade with blood while others sail up and down the uncharted coasts of The Gulf of Maine. Just here, ye women of Maine, do you illuminate our annals. Right here you kindle our imaginations by re-animating definite persons, marshaling them before us, not handmade inanimates, but animating leaders of universal democracy, consecrated by heroism unto martyrdom.

Blood and martyrdom! If that doesn't make you want to read it, then perhaps these chapter titles will: "A Mystery of the Bagaduce," "A Romance of Mount Desert Island," "Queen of the Kennebec," "A Hero of Bunker Hill," and, by Hallowell's own Jessica Haskell, "A Man and a Maid." Whoo whee! 

Lovers of Maine history, grab a cup of tea and an afghan and discover these stories for yourself right now! The book was digitized by the Library of Congress through an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation grant, and the full version is downloadable for free in multiple formats: online archive

Stay tuned for more Homestead staff book picks in the next installment of "The Bountiful Bookcase!" 

* The Federation of Women's Clubs, whose roots extend to 1868, still exists today, and its own fascinating history is available on the Maine chapter's website
Still Time To Vote!

In just three simple steps you could help us win up to $5,000 in grant money from Bangor Savings Bank.

Step 1: Click on the link below.

Step 2: Fill out the form, scroll down to Kennebec County, and write in: Vaughan Woods & Historic Homestead.

Step 3: Hit Submit - that's it!

By the way, you are allowed to vote for up to three organizations (many will be awarded), so we encourage you to also write in two of our favorite Kennebec County non-profit partners:  Hubbard Free Library and the  Kennebec Land Trust! 

Upcoming Programs

Winter Exhibit on display at the Hubbard Library.  

Stay tuned for a new date for our annual sledding party, which was postponed in February due to high winds. If we get enough snow, we'll set a date and spread the word! 

April 20

Backdoor Tour for Kids

May 1
Maypole Dance & Spring Celebration 

June 18
Guided Meadow Walk 

June 20-23
Nature Camp: Hosted by the Kennebec Land Trust, Friends of The Cobbossee Watershed and VWHH
History Mystery

In our last newsletter, we presented this picture in the third installment of our "Behind Closed Doors" series. The hint was: It involves both fire and water.

This door sits at the bottom right of the kitchen hearth. On this side, the hearth extends beyond the mantel and is not enclosed by a wall. Instead, it has this addition on the side: 

Its a water basin!  Our mystery door opens into a space below the basin where a fire may be built to heat the water. It is our understanding that this is a fairly rare feature. The hearth dates to the late 18th or early 19th century.
Like us on Facebook