Category Archives: September 28

Working to preserve a precious heritage with the help of dedicated volunteers

Soon after Joyce Davies and her husband Don Folkers moved into the parish house at the Ridge Church in Martinsville several years ago, Davies became aware that the Ridge Cemetery, which is owned by the Ridge Association, was in need of some serious attention in terms of maintenance and administration. “When I came up here and retired I needed a project so I volunteered to be in charge after Harold Wilson died. People were knocking at the door asking did I know where their ancestor was buried.”

The oldest section of the cemetery, in particular, had become overgrown, making many of the gravestones inaccessible. “The last three years we’ve cleared out a lot of brush and removed some trees so that now you can walk up to every stone. And now we’re in the process of getting the stones cleaned and repaired.”

This year, under Davies’ leadership, the Association hired Joe Ferrannini of Grave Stone Matters out of Hoosick Falls, N.Y., to perform conservation work on some of the oldest stones. He came in early September and was aided by volunteers from the Maine Old Cemetery Association (MOCA), a group of more than 700 members founded in 1968 to promote the preservation of Maine’s neglected cemeteries. MOCA billed their work with Ferrannini at the Ridge Cemetery as its annual four-day “Conservator-Led Cemetery Workshop.” A few years ago MOCA also held a similar workshop at the North Parish Cemetery in Wiley’s Corner (the Ridge Cemetery was historically known as the South Parish Cemetery).

According to MOCA president Jessica Couture, working under the tutelage of an experienced conservator like Ferrannini is a valuable opportunity for participants to learn hands-on the skills needed to clean and straighten stones—it is key never to use bleach or to sandblast, for example—along with finding out what’s involved in resetting dies into bases, making new bases, making epoxy repairs and replacing pins. “People will come into a cemetery with no training and do more damage than good,” Couture says. “It’s better if you don’t have any training to not do anything. What happens is that someone finds a grave stone laying unbroken on the ground, picks it up and sets it back into the ground improperly only to have it fall again—this time smashing into pieces.”

The Ridge Cemetery workshop attracted nearly 30 people—some of them, like Peggy Gillespie, Nancy Krusell, Ray Emerson and David Lowell from St. George, but others from around the state and beyond. One man, Joe Furlong, drove all the way from Iowa to get a chance to learn new techniques from Ferrannini.

“With these workshops what we want is for people either to observe or come do the work because it is really important that they take this information on what proper stone care is and bring it back to their towns because if your town is paying for this work to be done, it should be done right,” Couture explains. “We talked about it in our classroom session on the first day of the workshop. There was a town where they were going to power wash the grave stones and somebody who had been to one of these workshops spoke up and said, ‘Please don’t power wash our stones,’ and gave the town information on how destructive that can be. That’s what we want, for people to come to one of these workshops and then take the information elsewhere.”

Another benefit of the MOCA workshops, Couture adds, is that the participants provide free labor for the host cemetery project. She cites the example of the recent DAR project at Tolman Cemetery in Rockland. “The project was funded by a grant from the national DAR and Joe Ferrannini was hired to do the restoration work. But we put the word out that anyone who had done a four-day MOCA workshop could participate. They probably had thousands of dollars of free work done by people who had been trained at one of these workshops.”

An interest in preserving the stones in old cemeteries, Couture says, often stems from an interest in genealogy or local history. That was certainly the case for the Ridge Association’s Joyce Davies, who was a trustee of the cemetery association in Kingston, N.H., before moving to Maine. “My family had been in the Kingston area since the 1600s. It was my interest in genealogy that got me involved with the cemetery there.”

Joyce Davies of the Ridge Association. The grave stone of Artemas Davis shown here had apparently fallen over on its back and become completely buried until MOCA volunteers detected its presence next to the grave of Artemas’ wife during their four-day workshop at the Ridge Cemetery in early September. They cleaned the stone, repaired it and reset it into the ground.

While Davies doesn’t have the same personal connection with the Ridge Cemetery as she had with the cemetery in Kingston, she says she is keenly aware of how precious the heritage represented in the grave stones here is to this community. That also makes her very practical-minded about how best to ensure there are resources for continuing the preservation efforts she has been pursuing with Ferrannini and MOCA. As she points out, a key source of revenue for any cemetery is the sale of burial plots. “Right now you see about 10 acres of cleared land here being used for burials,” she says. With a note of satisfaction, she adds, “The Ridge Association has another 20 acres of forested land here as well—so there is plenty of room for expansion.”

To find out more about the Maine Old Cemetery Association (MOCA) go to www.moca-me.org. On Saturday, September 30 MOCA will hold its Fall Program hosted by the Thomaston Historical Society at Watts Hall in Thomaston. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. (cost is $3) and the program begins at 9:15 a.m. Peggy McCrea, Historian of the Thomaston Historical Society, will speak about Black Thomaston Marble. Susan Devlin will also speak about the restoration of Major General Henry Knox’s grave site. Guided tours of the oldest parts of the Elm Grove and Thomaston Village cemeteries will follow at 1pm.—JW

PHOTOS: Top, Betsy Welch; below, Julie Wortman

St. George place names

A common question historians get regards the origin of a place name.  In many situations in St. George the name relates to the owner(s) of the property in the area in question, such as Martinsville, Wiley’s Corner, Smalleytown, Harts Neck, Wheeler’s Bay, Clark’s Island, Willardham, Wallston, etc.  Other place names have some interesting—and often not agreed upon—histories.

Tenants Harbor
There are several beliefs concerning the origin of this name.  Trying to stick with the theory that the name is associated with a resident, a common story is that the town was named after Joshua Tennant.  I find this difficult to believe because I find no evidence that Joshua Tennant lived in the Tenants Harbor area.  In fact, his family is associated with the South Thomaston area.  Plus, he was living in Harpswell in 1773 when his daughter was born.  To support this further, Tenants Harbor is identified on several maps prior to the Revolutionary War era with the names Tarance Harbor, Terrence Harbor, Tarrent’s Harbor and Talant’s Harbor.  One of these maps was done as early as 1754.  I’m sure some of the misspelling could be attributed to a scrivener’s error, but it seems safe to say that the area was not named after Joshua Tennant.

Elmore
This is the area also known as Harts Neck.  As you can guess, there was a large family by the name of Hart back in the day.  In 1901, this section of town was eligible for a post office.  It was a short-lived post office, closing in 1923.  George Carey, who I always considered as the historian of Elmore, said that the name Elmore came from the U.S. Postal Service, and that of the three possible names that the community was given to choose from, Elmore was the least offensive.

Port Clyde / Herring Gut
This will probably require some more research, but at this time the usual sources don’t provide a solid story as to the origin of these names.

Albert J. Smalley, in his History of St. George, Maine published in 1976, says that this area was once known as Lobsterfare, plus it was also known as Herring Gut, “supposedly so called because of the great shoals of herring passing through the narrows into the river.” The 1932 “Chronicles–Town of St. George” tells us that the village was once known as Herring Gut but that postal authorities decided that Port Clyde “was a more euphonious name.”  The 1857 Lincoln County map gives us no mention of Port Clyde, but rather has the name “Herring Gut” placed in the harbor area.  Smalley also cites several mentions in the 1830s that the post office in Port Clyde was known as South St George, with its first postmaster being appointed in 1829.

Turkey/Glenmere
Here is another place name without solid background on its origin.  Smalley mentions the names, but offers nothing as to how the area it got its name.  Smalley does mention the acceptance of a road from Turkey Cove to Mosquito Harbor in 1818.  As to when the name seems to have changed from Turkey to Glenmere, the 1932 “Chronicles” says, “to the old timer the name ‘Glenmere’ would mean nothing as he knew of the village as ‘Turkey.’”

Long Cove
This is obviously a descriptive name and can be traced back to an Atlantic Neptune map from the 1770s when it was called Long Creek (see the accompanying picture).
Mosquito Harbor
A 1785 deed from Vickery to Martin mentions the name “Moscheto.”  Smalley seems to offer the best explanation for this place name–a phonetic spelling for the Indian word for muskrat. Then again, it could have been named for that pesky insect. What do you think?

Post Offices, year opened and year closed
Clark Island, 1884-1961
Elmore, 1901-1923
Glenmere, 1892-1942
Long Cove, 1901-1940
Martinsville, 1878-1918
Port Clyde, 1880-current
St. George (at Wiley’s Corner), 1828-1993
South St. George, 1829-1880
Spruce Head, 1880-current
Tenants Harbor, 1853-current
Turkey, 1892-1892

—John M. Falla

A watercolorist who approaches his art with a ‘diligent, disciplined process in four phases’

The year 2017 is significant to Spruce Head artist Robert Steinmetz because it marks the time when his twenty-seven years as a full-time painter equals the previous twenty-seven years that he worked as a professional architect. Reflecting upon this pivotal year, Steinmetz also recognizes that both careers relied upon his drawing and painting skills, which began in his childhood. Therefore, his singular life-long passion for creating art has been satisfied in two ways.

Born and raised on the north shore of Long Island, N.Y., Steinmetz faced many serious challenges in his youth. He contracted a form of polio (from which he eventually recovered), and that same year his brother died.  The family struggled to regain their footing—and Bob found a measure of stability in drawing and painting.

As a young man, Steinmetz needed to select a course of study to forge a career. It was his father, a graduate of Cornell University, who set Steinmetz on the path that “opened doors for me that I knew nothing about.” Realizing that his young son was a gifted artist, but also that a career in the fine arts might lead to financial instability, Steinmetz’ father decided that he would only pay for architectural schooling for his son at Cornell. At that time, Cornell’s program was design-oriented in the Beaux-Arts tradition, which emphasized sketching, highly finished presentation drawings, close attention to details, and also the use of watercolor paints.

Upon completion of his B.Arch degree from the College of Art, Architecture and Planning at Cornell in 1961, Steinmetz was hired by the architectural firm SMS Architects, PC, in New Canaan, Conn. Over time, he rose to the rank of Vice President and part owner of the firm. There, he was responsible for the design of 140 corporate, institutional, commercial, educational and residential buildings and planning projects. And, all during that time he continued to design, draw and paint. He also learned an important lesson that would govern his future career as an artist: “If you don’t satisfy yourself that you’ve achieved everything you possibly can, then you have to live with whatever you didn’t explore.” Therefore, Steinmetz always seeks the best resolution for whatever challenges he encounters.

By 1990, Steinmetz and his wife made the joint decision to radically change their lives. So, he retired from SMS and they bought a condominium in Bermuda as well as a home in Spruce Head. It was then that Steinmetz decided to become a full-time artist. Rendering watercolor interpretations of colorful Bermuda scenes, it was only one year before his paintings were accepted by the Windjammer Gallery, which sold them nearly as quickly as Steinmetz could paint them. This early success in his career as an artist acted as the catalyst to his present career.

“McLoon’s Wharf”

In 1996, Steinmetz’s wife passed away after a long illness. It was three years later that he had the good fortune to meet and marry Pat Ashton, who is very active in the St. George and regional communities. Now, residing in Spruce Head during the summers and South Carolina in the winter, Steinmetz works from two studios. His process for creating a painting is very similar to the disciplined process he used to render architectural drawings, which required thinking through every detail from beginning to end. He explains, “My approach to painting is a diligent, disciplined process in four phases.” During the first phase, Steinmetz finds a subject that appeals to him and photographs it, carefully composing the frame to capture the interplay of structure, shadows and values. Once he is satisfied with the composition of the photograph, he begins the second phase where he projects the image onto watercolor paper and establishes the forms and values in pencil. Moving to the third phase, Steinmetz creates a monochromatic value painting with thinned acrylic paints, which serves as an underpainting. It is in this phase that the artist establishes a strong image that kindles his interest to keep going. The fourth, and final, phase is the application of watercolor paint over the underpainting. At this point, Steinmetz departs from photorealism by imposing his own color sense that often ignores local color in favor of a more dynamic interpretation of the scene.

As a self-taught artist, Steinmetz found inspiration in the works of others such as Henry Roderick Newman, John Singer Sargent, Charles Demuth, and Charles Sheeler. These four renowned artists have in common the use of precision to create strong designs. This masterful style of painting has earned Steinmetz prestigious signature membership in the American Watercolor Society, the National Watercolor Society and the North East Watercolor Society. Additionally, his work has earned the top award in notable national and international juried exhibitions, and has been included in publications such as “Splash”, “American Artist” and “Watercolor Magazine.” Additionally, his work has been included in juried biennial exhibitions at the Portland Museum of Art, the Center for Maine Contemporary Art, and the 2013 Shenzhen International Watercolor Biennial in Shenzhen City, China. Steinmetz’ paintings are included in the corporate collections of Ace Insurance, Ltd., the Bank of Bermuda, Duracell USA, MBNA America, and Volvo America to name a few. Presently, he is represented by the Charles Street Gallery in Beaufort, South Carolina. You may view his works at www.thecharlesstreetgallery.com.
 —Katharine A. Cartwright

“Rockland Lobstermen”

 

PHOTO: Katharine Cartwright

Peregrine falcon sighted on Tenants Harbor dock in began life in Cambridge, Mass.

On September 2 Molly Haley noticed an unusual falcon-like bird on her Water Street dock in Tenants Harbor, reached for her camera and snapped several shots of it. The next day she sent an email to Charles Todd, coordinator of Endangered and Threatened Species in the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Haley wrote: “This falcon landed on our dock in Tenants Harbor yesterday. After enlarging the photo I noticed that it is banded. As far as I can make out the black band has a 04 and green band has what looks like 9 and a V. Can you tell more about this bird and where and when it was banded?”

Todd realized the 9 was a B and passed on Haley’s inquiry to Thomas W. French of the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife in Westborough, Mass. French’s response was as follows:

“Thanks for this report and photo.  This young female falcon has a small following of people who will be very happy to learn of her travels to Maine.  She was raised in a very urban setting in Cambridge, just a very short distance from MIT.  Her parents actually nested on two different buildings on the MIT campus in previous years, but her father came from the mountains of New Hampshire.  Here is her original banding information:

“Band numbers:  1947-35706, and 04/BV black over green

“Banding date and location:  May 22, 2017 – MA, Middlesex Co., Cambridge, Edward J. Sullivan Courthouse, 40 Thorndike Street, nest box on 18th floor balcony.

“Sex:  Female

“Siblings:  Two males (02/BU, 03/BU)

“Previous reports of 04/BV:  August 19, 2017 – MA, Norfolk Co., Quincy, Squantum pans by Moswetusset Hummock–photographed perched on power lines by William Loughlin.  Was observed coursing the salt marsh harassing a Northern Harrier and scaring up the shorebirds.”

French also noted this information about the young falcon’s parents:
“Mother–80/AD (1947-02321)–First seen unbanded in 2009 when the pair first formed.  Finally captured and banded at the nest site May 18, 2012.

“Father–2/1 (2206-70215) – Banded as a chick May 13 2005 – NH, Grafton Co., Rumney, Rattlesnake Mountain.  This male is very unusual in being just as aggressive as the female.  Both aggressively, and repeatedly, hit anyone who comes near the nest.”

Haley received a Certificate of Appreciation from the North American Bird Banding Program thanking her for reporting the falcon’s band. The program is under the general direction of the U.S. Geological Survey and the Canadian Wildlife Service, which notes that, “Data from banded birds are used in monitoring populations, setting hunting regulations, restoring endangered species, studying effects of environmental contaminants, and addressing such issues as Avian Influenza, bird hazards at airports, and crop depredations. Results from banding studies support national and international bird conservation programs such as Partners in Flight, the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, and Wetlands for the Americas.”

Bands can be reported at www.reportband.gov or by calling 1-800-327-BAND.

PHOTO: Molly Haley

Letters

To the editor:
The St. George Volunteer Firefighters & Ambulance Association recently held their annual Lobster Stew Supper. The event was a great success and raised over $6,000! We would like to thank all of the local businesses for their donations of milk, butter and ice. Special thanks to the lobster wharves and lobstermen, who generously donated over 700 pounds of lobster, making it possible to feed an extra-large crowd this year. We would also like to thank the dedicated volunteers that are always willing to help with our events. From making pies and coleslaw to volunteering countless hours making sure our events run smoothly, we couldn’t do it without you.  Thank you all for your contributions and continued support, it is greatly appreciated!

The St. George Volunteer Firefighter & Ambulance Association