CHERRYFIELD, Maine — A recently restored pre-Civil War cannon will be the centerpiece for a new Veterans Memorial Park on the banks of the Narraguagus River.
Legend passed down through generations in Cherryfield holds that the old cannon sat on the Narraguagus River bank in the downtown area and was fired on April 10, 1865, in celebration of what was probably the end of the Civil War.
A Union Soldier, Robert Willey (1841-1914), who was on leave from Company H 1st Maine Heavy Artillery, was entrusted to fire the cannon, Margery Brown, president of the Cherryfield-Narraguagus Historical Society, said in a press release.
“Unfortunately, on what might have been a second firing, the cannon went off prematurely and resulted in the loss of his arm,” Brown said. “He lived but the townspeople were so irate at the cannon that they threw it in the river. The cannon rested there in the river until 1905 when a weight was needed for the town clock, which was being installed in the Baptist church. People remembered the cannon and it was pulled out of the river to be used as a weight for the clock.”
The cannon, which appears to be of British origin and dates from somewhere between 1650 and 1750, hung in the church steeple until about 20 years ago when the clock was removed. The cannon then was given to the Cherryfield-Narraguagus Historical Society. Four years ago, a fundraising campaign began, and the cannon was restored.
Plans are under way to create a park to honor residents who have served to defend the U.S., Brown said. The cannon will be displayed on a carriage, and a history board at the park will tell its story.
Brown said many individuals and businesses have contributed funds and services. A grant of $4,596 was received from the Davis Family Foundation in Falmouth, which allowed the project to move forward at a faster pace.
More funds and services will be required to give the final touches to the park.
“We are looking to complete it this year,” Brown said. “This is probably the most valuable historic artifact that the townspeople possess.”
Donations to the cannon project may be made to the Cherryfield-Narraguagus Historical Society, P.O. Box 96, Cherryfield 04622. Mark the check “Cannon Fund.”
To donate time or materials, contact Neil Tenan at 546-7903.