Knox and Lincoln Counties — My dear readers, thank you for commenting on my stories here at Beyond the Southend. This blog was inspired by Ellen Linn of Worchester, Massachusetts, who wrote to me in regards to a story I did on Alonzo Gibbs in January of 2013. He was a well known writer who resided for a time in Bremen. I will discuss her email later in this story.
Today we will revisit Bremen, Maine, one of my favorite places. I have written a few stories on this area already, mostly in the November 2011 archives. I have also written about the Hilton Homestead along with my cousin Mary Sue Hilton Weeks, who as the last surviving Hilton, now owns and continues to lovingly care for and restore the Homestead. Much of this information will be new to you. I thought it only right that a place where I spent so many happy hours deserved a more complete picture. I hope this blog inspires you to travel over that way and visit the area.
William Hilton originally of Plymouth, Massachusetts settled the area now known as Bremen in 1735. As the story goes, Hilton settled the area as part of Bristol. He was driven off during the French and Indian Wars, but returned after the Battle of Louisburg in 1745. In May of 1755 Hilton and his three sons were ambushed by Indians while getting out of a boat. William was killed and his namesake was wounded.
Bremen, named after a town in Germany by the same name, was settled largely by German immigrants and developed as a farming and fishing community. The town was incorporated on February 19, 1828 and at first was known as Broad Cove.
Bremen is on the Pemaquid Peninsula and its eastern mainland border is situated on the Medomak River, and is bounded by Waldoboro on the northwest; Damariscotta on the west; and Bristol to the south. Bremen includes the villages of Broad Cove, Turners Corner, Medomak and Muscongus. Several large islands lie offshore on the Medomak River and Muscongus Bay. Bremen Long Island had a year round population of 143 in 1880. Hog Island, now owned by the National Audubon Society, was a gift from Dr. Millicent Todd Bingham and Dr. James M. Todd. In 1936 the Todd Wildlife Sanctuary was opened as a nature camp to the public. Every summer teachers and students of wildlife visit the area.
Bremen is in Lincoln County. The population as of the 2012 census was 806.
The Hilton Homestead
(from the Hilton Homestead blog, written by Mary Sue Hilton Weeks)
I am living on a 100-acre farm that has been in my family through my great-grandmother's side for over 200 years. My great-grandfather William Bainbridge Hilton bought the farm from his wife Rhoda Little's family, and from then on it was known as the Hilton Homestead. I live next door to the family home where I grew up in the one-room school house where I went to school grades 4 - 8. In 1998 my sister Diane and her husband Lee retired from Washington, DC and took over the family home. They both passed away last year, and having no children, I acquired the family home.
Diane Hilton O’Connor
My twin cousin, Diane Hilton O’Connor, built a modern home and connected it to the old farm house via the country kitchen which was remodeled. She was instrumental in revitalizing the old Homestead including renting the land to experimental farmers who are still active on the farm.
(From her obituary in the Lincoln County News)
She spearheaded the Bremen Town Forest Trails Project. Feeling a need to conserve the open space in Bremen, she sponsored an article in the town warrant to establish a conservation commission in the town and to establish a Land Conservation Reserve Fund to make land conservation and future land acquisitions possible. She was the first chairman and wrote the first conservation plan for Bremen which resulted in Bremen being named the 2009 Sterling Dow State of Maine Conservation Commission of the Year.
Residents of Bremen
Many people from away, including Alonzo Gibbs, have made Bremen and that area home. Which brings me to the latest communication I had with Ellen Linn. Ellen is Music Director for a church in Worchester, Massachusetts. Her email reads in part: “I was actually reading about Alonzo Gibbs…very interesting stuff (in regards to my story on him). My connection with Bremen is that my parents, Elly and Joe Kelly lived there from 1986 until last March, (when they came to live with her). For many years they ran JoEl Pottery in Bremen, making beautiful blueberry pottery. They also belonged to the Bremen Union Church, and that’s how I know that it’s up and running…and very friendly church that’s becoming more and more active in the community.”
She referred me to their blog space and I also found them on Facebook. She’s right, they are very active today, and unlike I reported in the story on Gibbs.
The following history of the church was the reason I didn’t realize the church is now active again. I remember it as a place for special events in the 1940s such as the wedding of my cousin Cynthia Wass. Cousin Diane and I were flower girls at that wedding. They celebrated their 50th anniversary a few years ago and she passed away last year. That is the only time I remember being in that church.
History of Bremen Union Church
( excerpted from their blog site)
Around the time of the Revolutionary War, the original meeting house was constructed at Greenland Cove on what is now the Old Shore Road in Bremen. Three buildings were constructed: one in Greenland Cove, another in Walpole, and the Harrington Meeting House. As travel by roads replaced travel by boat, more people moved from the islands to the mainland, and the Meeting House from Greenland Cove was taken down and reconstructed at the present site on Route 32, where it stands today.
The church reopened as the First Congregational Church of Bremen, and by 1829 services were again held in the church building. It remained active year round until the end of the tenure of John J. Bullfinch who was pastor from 1878-1912. Services were not held consistently after that and from 1929 to the 40s, the church was used mostly for summer worship.
Many natives of Bremen remember coming to the church for graduation from the Bremen School.
In 1991, Sadie Ames and a group of former members meeting for Bible study and prayer became the backbone for the re-opening of the Bremen Union Church year round. It opened June 11, 1991 and has been serving the Bremen community ever since. It continues to be a non-denominational Christian church.
If you would like to read more about Bremen, please go to their site: www.bremenmaine.org/
Diane has a wonderful slide show on Bremen at www.tidewater.net/~bremen/ This is the Bremen home page. Just hit the slide show link at the end of the story.
Thanks for listening.
(Note: For many more pictures related to this story, please see