Hunting for the Hunts
It has been an interesting hunt for a fascinating family, who were prominent businessmen of Camden. While researching in various books, cemetery information, etc., the writers do not always agree on vital statistics or spelling and some resources give them the wrong wife.
In this family I shall begin with Simon Hunt (also referred to as Simeon). He was born in Concord, Mass., Oct. 11, 1784, within the sight:
“By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.”
That incident gave the first check to British tyranny, and opened the way for the establishment of American liberty.
Simon came to Camden in 1806 as a manufacturer of harnesses and saddles. It continued in the family name rounding out a full century. He was a leading citizen of Camden and his name is lovingly remembered as the man, who, first of all, is identified with the forestry movement for cities and towns in Maine, in preserving their trees.
However, his life was interrupted during the War of 1812, when he and several other men went sailing in the bay to get a better view of the hostile English fleet. He was taken as a prisoner to Castine (held by the British then), and he was held “in durance vile” for several days. I assume that phrase means “in forced unpleasant confinement.” For this so-called service to his country he did receive a pension in later years.
In 1818, Simon Hunt married Hannah Bradford, daughter of Capt. Thomas and Hannah Rogers. Capt. Thomas was in charge of the shipyard of Gen. Henry Knox in Thomaston. That gave Hannah opportunities to visit the home of Lucy Knox. Being gifted in conversation, she recalled those visits were full of interest and the days of the Revolution.
After Simon and Hannah‘s marriage, he bought a home on 72 Elm St. that a Mr. Wood built in 1810. He wanted closets, even though at that time they were taxed as rooms. His closets were ideal with built in shelves and bureau drawers. The home has been preserved with its antique black hardware on the front door and the “Beehive” kitchen. Simon and Hannah had children: Thomas H., Simon, Hannah R. and Abel.
Simon lived a quiet life and a strong sense of humor. He attended church services throughout his life. He died June 20, 1865. Thomas H. and Abel inherited the business and the property was divided among his children.
It took quite some time to search out all the Hunts and relatives before Capt. Frank Swift and wife Mary could buy the house at 72 Elm St. The Swifts owned the home for 20 years and kept it very much the way it always had been. In 1978 Capt. Swift’s will left the home to his wife as long as she lived (or remarried) and when she died in August 1989, the estate went to his children by a previous marriage. It was sold in 1993 to Mr. and Mrs. Tom Filip of Virginia and stayed empty for eight years. The Filips returned on a Windjammer vacation year-after-year and eventually decided to settle in Camden and run a B&B. They preserved the home and welcomed me to see it. They removed the fourth bedroom because due to fire codes they needed another hall and exit. They built in the back a two story addition with wheelchair access, a modern kitchen (in order to preserve the old kitchen) and their own quarters. It was then opened as the” Captain Swift Inn.” The Hunt/Locke House was sold by the Filips in 2004 to Mr. and Mrs .Henthorn, continuing as a Bed & Breakfast, keeping the same name.
Simon and Hannah’s son, Thomas H. Hunt was born in Camden on April 13, 1820, in the homestead at 72 Elm St. He married Sarah Keene of Appleton who was his helpmate for nearly 50 years. He was a quiet man, much like his father, and joined him in his business in the shop on the corner of Elm and Chestnut streets, before the Village Green was built. After his father’s death, he continued the business giving it his full attention almost up until he died. He was also methodical and worshiped regularly at St. Thomas Episcopal Church for 47 years. Thomas H. and Sarah had three children: Carrie I., (who died in infancy), Thomas A. and Fred (who died in early manhood). They lived in half of his father’s home on Elm Street, with his sister Hannah Locke in the other half. He left his share of the family homestead to his son Thomas A., who also carried on the family business for a while.
Hannah Rogers Hunt Locke was the only daughter of Simon Hunt. She was born June 11, 1833, at 72 Elm St. and died in the same house 96 years later. Hannah married Rev. John L. Locke, who wrote the first History of Camden 1605-1859. We would have not known those early years about our town had it not been for John Locke.
He was born in Belfast where he learned the jeweler’s trade and came to Camden in 1854, setting up a business on Main Street. He gave up his business in the early 1860s and went to the Theological Seminary in New Hampshire. He returned to Belfast and died in1876.
John and Hannah had one son, Herbert H. Locke, who after having worked in the Knox Woolen Company’s office, went to Alaska, at the time of the gold rush to the Klondike, and supposedly lost his life by drowning in a small boat with some other men.
Hannah did her own house work up to the age of 90 and attended her own affairs. She was somewhat of a recluse and when she died Feb. 2, 1929, she left her share of the house to Elizabeth Pendleton, who had been a seamstress. Lizzie became a cripple around 1934 and lived in the front room of the Locke/Hunt house, and they say she kept her radio on constantly…maybe for company.
I still have more to write about the Hunt family: Abel and Thomas A.,etc. This will be the next column of Who's who at Mountain View.
Barbara Dyer is Camden's official town historian.