Message from the beyond

By Daniel Dunkle | Jan 17, 2019
Courtesy of: Sue Thurston of South Thomaston Katharine Hepburn visits the Midcoast in the 1930s. This picture is among those in the scrapbooks of Earl C. Dow, a correspondent for The Portland Press Herald.

I've been having a lot of fun poking around on the Rockland Public Library website, where The Courier-Gazette archives have been digitized from about 1846 to 1920.

Now, from the comfort of my office, I can look at all the old stories in those vintage papers at https://rocklandmaine.gov/municipal/departments/library/resources/archived-rockland-newspapers. I still have to go over and visit the library to look at the microfilm for the 20th century, but I tend to visit there fairly often anyway.

On a personal note, I have been doing research into my own house here in Rockland, which is a Victorian built around 1897. Over the years it has been home to a carriage smith, a foreman for the Limerock Railroad, a mail carrier, and now a newspaperman.

Here are a few stories I found from 1897 and 1898.

Ghosts take Liberty

Aug. 7, 1897

Thousands of people have seen ghosts, says the Lewiston Journal, and nearly every town has at some time had its haunted house.

This time it is at South Liberty, just over the line from Washington, on a road running from the Belfast stage road through what is known as “Fish Town.”

This house is now, like most haunted houses, a mile or more from other houses in a lonely spot surrounded by woods and far from the road, but it is near the roadside and but a very short distance from the home of John Patterson. Many people in passing by have seen the house lighted up on dark nights, but have said but little about it until lately.

Some time the first of July, Charles Curtis and his brother, Clarence, of North Washington, hired out to get the hay on this place and moved into the house, taking with them their sister and Charlie’s wife and child. The story told of their experiences there is as follows: —

In a short time strange noises were heard and when they were away from the house a few rods at work they have several times seen a man looking out of the chamber window.

They would go to the house immediately to investigate, but could find no one.

Several times they have seen the house lighted in the daytime.

One day, Miss Curtis was returning from the well and saw an arm hanging out of the chamber window and soon saw the form of a woman, silvery white.

She went in and told Mrs. Curtis, and they started for upstairs. They heard footsteps, but though they hurried upstairs they found nothing.

After they finished haying they moved back to North Washington, and last Saturday night A. L. Grotton, F. S. Collins and several others went and stayed in the house, but neither saw nor heard anything.

Three or four years ago, perhaps more, Harrison Hannan, a young man, and his family lived there. He was taken suddenly ill with pneumonia and died in a few days.

Some of his folks claim that it is his spirit that has come back to communicate something in regard to his sudden death, or to tell something he wanted to before dying. They are talking of getting a spiritualistic medium to find out what his message is.

Gold rush of 1897, or "Got Bacon?"

Those Maine men who have the Klondyke gold fever, says the Lewiston Journal, may be interested in this list of things to carry along on going there, prepared by a man who has been: Bacon, 200 pounds; flour, 800; assorted dried fruits, 150; corn meal, 200; rice, 50; parched coffee, 75; tea, 40; sugar 75; beans, 150; condensed milk, one case, and an assortment of evaporated vegetables and meats; 2 suits of corduroy; 3 pairs of rubber boots; 3 pairs of heavy shoes; 2 dozen heavy woolen socks; half a dozen woolen mitts; 3 pairs of woolen gloves; 3 suits of heavy underwear; 2 suits of mackinaw; 2 hats; 4 heavy woolen shirts; 1 heavy coat and three pairs of heavy woolen blankets. This outfit ought to cost about $175, and somebody has been so unkind as to add a coffin to the list.

One also needs to carry in his head the knowledge that Klondyke is in a remote Arctic waste where Winter lasts nine months and where the mosquitoes are so plenty and so ravenous during the three months of Summer that they have been known to blind and kill bears; and that there’s not even a drug store in which to buy oil of pennyroyal.

You almost had me at 200 pounds of bacon. I wonder why it mattered that the suits be corduroy? Also, does anyone know if oil of pennyroyal is safe and effective, since we have plenty of mosquitoes right here in Maine? This list almost makes me want to break out my old Jack London books.

Notable moments in local history

The Holmes Packing plant fire was Jan. 21, 1985.

Editor Daniel Dunkle of The Courier-Gazette lives in Rockland. He is author of the novel, "The Scrimshaw Worm." Send in your stories, photos and memories via email at: ddunkle@villagesoup.com; or snail mail to: 91 Camden St., Suite 403, Rockland, ME 04841.

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